Saturday, September 08, 2007

Have You Seen These Reels?

(Note: This post was guest blogged by my oldest daughter, aka gategirl.)

Those who know me know that I'm a bit of a sci-fi junkie. So it's little surprise that I recently became an avid fan of the British sci-fi show, DOCTOR WHO. DOCTOR WHO, which is extremely popular in Britain, is about a man called simply the Doctor, who travels through time and space in his blue-box-of-a-spaceship with a couple of companions. This show originally aired in the '60s.

Due to complex science-fiction laws, multiple actors could play the Doctor without any of the audience so much as blinking, giving the show a life span of a couple decades. Recently, the show was revived again, and it is now airing in the U.S. on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Being my mother's daughter, I was naturally curious about this early incarnation of my latest addiction. So I poked around online, trying to find DVD sets. Strangely, given the recent craze for putting old television shows on DVD, there were few to be found. After a bit of research, I discovered the horrifying answer to this mystery: many of the original reels of DOCTOR WHO were purposely destroyed by the BBC.

In the 1970s, the BBC, not understanding the need to preserve television shows for posterity or rerun value, especially black and white shows, began to destroy footage from old TV shows in order to clear out space for storing newer shows. The result: hundreds of TV episodes from dozens of shows -- including DOCTOR WHO -- were destroyed, lost forever.

A small glimmer of hope remains. As fate would have it, some episodes of shows have been found in vaults in various countries, due to foreign distribution. Slowly, full copies are being pieced back together, but the damage is still tremendous. At least 108 episodes of DOCTOR WHO alone are still MIA.

And so, the call goes out. One website, (subject link), has posted lists of TV shows and episodes that are missing, hoping that someone out there will stumble across a dusty old copy of a show that managed to survive these decades. If you, or anyone you know, has any information concerning these episodes, please contact an archival authority immediately!


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