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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
An interview with Andrew Martin, Steve Roberts & Richard Molesworth regarding the surprise finds of 2003/2004
by Mark Parmerter, February 2004

Over the last 25 years, missing Doctor Who episodes have found their way back to the BBC Archives by way of numerous means.  Most of the recovered material has been sent back to the UK by foreign broadcasters (i.e. Tomb of the Cybermen), while the rest has been returned by film collectors (i.e. The Lion) or those who have stumbled upon material (i.e. The Daleks' Master Plan episodes 5 & 10).  With each passing year, the realization is renewed that the longer fans wait, the less likely we are to enjoy future recoveries.  In fact, during the past five years only one full episode and a collection of New Zealand censor clips is all that has been found;  yet surprisingly enough, 2003/2004 has unearthed some unexpected and rare archive material of fascinating variety and within a very short period of time.  Here Andrew Martin of the BBC will discuss the material from both Fury From the Deep and Power of the Daleks which he discovered in 2003, plus members of the BBC's unofficial Doctor Who Restoration Team will discuss the surprise return of The Daleks' Master Plan Episode Two in early 2004.

Andrew Martin has worked for the BBC at Windmill Road since 1989, and in his present job since 1992.  As he explains, "I am what is called a Senior Media Assistant (which sounds quite grand but is in fact the ordinary working grade for the section), working in the Intake department:  this means I am involved in identifying and logging film and videotape components using the 'Infax' computer system, checking and correcting existing records, and working on various preservation and 'housekeeping' projects."  In fact, Martin credits Doctor Who for the path in which his career has followed.  "Doctor Who 'fan' is a bit of a limited description, but it's certainly my background, how I came to be interested in television - from about twenty years ago or so I was involved in fan activities, which culminated in co-writing the BBC's Doctor Who book of lists that came out in 1997.  I'm also a big fan of series like Z Cars and 60's and 70's television in general, as well as the whole history of TV in a broad way, and I'm involved with research for Kaleidoscope."

It was during Martin's work at the BBC in late July of 2003 that he made an unexpected discovery while checking through some reels of old waste film which had been stored away to use as filler and leader material- 3 minutes and 32 seconds worth of negative from the climactic weed creature attack scenes in Episode Six of Fury From the Deep.  Originally shot at Ealing Studios, the film consists of several near-complete scenes which, because only various short clips still exist from this 1968 Patrick Troughton adventure, provide a rare glimpse into what may have been one of the most frightening Doctor Who stories produced during the black-and-white era of the 60's.  The footage itself is not that which was originally broadcast, it is in fact trims - or unused takes of the shots that were finally used in the episode - and they are mute.  The trims include shots of the production crew preparing the control center set for the weed attack scene;  foam filling the control center as the tentacled Weed Creature splashes about;  The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria crouching in fear during the attack and control center staff reacting to the chaos.

As Martin explains, this material was very well hidden:  "I had been conducting a kind of search of the archive's film holdings, having found one or two bits of waste film used as fillers from time to time in an ad hoc way.  It seemed logical to do this more methodically, and I turned up one or two misfiled cans, some things we had no record of having - and no idea how long they had been there.  The main source of waste film is in dubbing tracks, which are the basic elements of film soundtracks, that get mixed together to make premixes and then the final mix track.  Often the bits of isolated sound track are spaced out by blank film, but sometimes old waste film is used.  A lot of these are just mute rushes for programmes, sometimes unidentifiable, often poor quality.  Some however are more interesting:  I've found one complete and three partial (nearly complete) episodes of the 1958 Peter Sallis serial The Diary of Samuel Pepys that way, as well as a few other fragments.  The reel with the Fury From the Deep footage was one of two in a can, which also contained material from Twice a Fortnight, Adventure Weekly, The Dave Allen Show, Scobie in September and The Forsyte Saga - very odd to get so many interesting bits in one reel!"

Being a Doctor Who fan, Martin immediately recognized the rarity of what he had stumbled upon.  "I knew what it was almost at once - the first image on the footage is just part of the set, but it had that 'look' of a science fiction production - and my heart did leap a bit at the thought it might be Doctor Who, and indeed Fury From the Deep, which was in fact the first Doctor Who story I recall seeing.  It's the earliest thing I remember watching on television that I can be sure of the date of:  since I was four at the time it's a very fuzzy memory.  My family had been watching the show for at least 3 years before then, so in discussions I was able to piece together what I had seen, helped by the Radio Times Special in 1973 which we read nostalgically! What I remember is the scene in the impeller shaft with the Doctor and Jamie, a bit like the censored section recovered from Australia, but it is very vague!  I've noticed, seeing episodes again which I remember from the time, that my memory sometimes has different camera angles!"

Once the discovery was made, Martin checked with his managers then emailed Steve Roberts of the BBC's unofficial Doctor Who Restoration Team with the exciting news.  Martin had already met Roberts via a mutual friend and, needless to say, Roberts was quite pleased with the find.  An announcement was posted on the Restoration Team's online Technical Forum as well as the BBC's official Doctor Who website, and the silent clips themselves were soon made available for online viewing.  And what is the likelihood that more rare footage exists in the form of waste film?  Martin believes that "Waste film is a continued possibility, but a slim one - I have found very few cans out of the hundreds of thousands we hold that have such material in them, and I have nearly exhausted the possibilities.  Even if I find any more waste film the chances of it being Doctor Who are incalculable - it would just depend on what the film editor had to hand.  I always assume that I'm never going to find anything else, but I'm still looking!"

Martin's diligence paid off again later in the year with another unexpected find, a partial trailer for the lost Troughton debut adventure The Power of the Daleks. Originally broadcast in late 1966, all six episodes of this story - as with Fury From the Deep - are also missing from the BBC Archives, and only a few clips remain to tantalize fans.  The now-restored trailer announces "Doctor Who begins a new adventure on the planet Vulcan in the year 2020," then shows the Doctor, Ben and Polly examining the crashed Dalek spaceship in Lesterson's laboratory as the Doctor whispers "Ben, come in and meet the Daleks!," and closes with "The Daleks are back tomorrow night in Doctor Who at 5:50."  Martin describes how this discovery was made:  "This was due to another project of mine, to check live telerecordings for trails.  I had come across a few of these by accident and thought I should check for them methodically - and again I've found some quite interesting bits and pieces.  The one thing I never expected to find was a Doctor Who trail, as these were mostly broadcast on Fridays after Crackerjack, etc, or after the last episode of Doctor Who stories, and in both cases they tended not to be adjacent to live programmes that were recorded.  For some reason the Power of the Daleks trailer was broadcast later in the evening than usual, before a current affairs programme, so I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least."

Once Martin's latest discovery was passed on to Steve Roberts, the Restoration Team cleaned up the footage and presented it a few weeks later during a surprise announcement at the Panopticon's 40th anniversary Doctor Who convention.  And once again, the trailer has been made available for online viewing.  Mark Ayres, BBC Composer/Sound Designer and Restoration Team member, was called upon to help resurrect the trailer.  As Ayres explains, "The film recording was actually made from a live feed during the transmission.  Charged with recording the actual programme, and not continuity material, the operator stopped the film recorder soon after the trail started and it came to a gentle stop over the space of a few seconds.  He then restarted it again moments later, having saved a few feet of film.  On playback of the resulting print, the effect is that we get the start of the trailer, then the sound of it speeding up to very fast, followed by a sudden lurch as the film recorder stabilizes into the recording of the end of the trailer.  I used a programmed varispeed to counteract the speedup of the tape and get as much of the voice-over back as I could. There's still some missing, though.  I then rebuilt the end of the trailer sound using my restored episode sound- track.  The pictures were then remastered to fit the restored soundtrack."

To further illustrate what a fortuitous find this was, Martin points out "Unlike today, trailers in the 60's were very rare things - usually transmitted only once, twice if you were very, very lucky.  And the Doctor Who trailer I found I didn't expect to find, as Doctor Who trailers tend to have been transmitted in places where they are unlikely to have been 'accidentally' recorded.  I actually went through the PasB documents (These list all transmissions, with details of artists, film and music used, etc) looking for Doctor Who trailers that I might then try to find on telerecordings, but they were all in 'unhelpful' places."  But even now the search continues:  "To begin with I found stuff while doing my job proper, which has led me to spend a bit of my own time doing more in-depth searches which I couldn't do otherwise during the working day.  We're still doing projects which can lead to finds (in theory, at least) and I keep an eye out for that sort of thing."  As for the likelihood of future discoveries, Martin remains cautiously optimistic:  "until I've checked every last bit of film we have it's impossible to give a final answer, and that might take quite a while.  Still, we live in hope!"

As full missing episode finds have become so infrequent over recent years, fans have delighted in the discovery of clips from lost material, such as the censored clips from Australia and New Zealand.  Martin recognizes that even short clips and recovered trailers contribute to the mythos of 60's Doctor Who as well as the continuous search for lost material long or short.  He notes that "It's nice to get any material from missing shows back, and even a short clip will add to our knowledge of the style of the programme, whatever it is, Doctor Who or any other.  Complete shows are obviously better, though the chances of finding many of them are slim.  That said we have found several in recent years that were misidentified in one way or another – the Adam Adamant Lives! For example, so until we have checked every film can you can't be definitive."  And are there advantages to searching for lost material within the BBC's very own archives?  "Working in the archive is not the same as trying to find material as a film collector or even approaching other broadcasters - you have more time, easy access, but by its nature, the chances of making finds are slimmer because for one thing, the easy routes have already been checked by other enthusiasts in the past:  all cans that say they are Doctor Who definitely are because people have checked them!"

And so 2003 came to a close having provided fans of 60's Doctor Who with a few pleasant surprises.  What those fans didn't know was that the biggest surprise of all was waiting just around the corner.  In early January, 2004, Steve Roberts was contacted by Francis Watson, Head of Engineering at Yorkshire Television in Leeds.  Watson explained that, while working for the BBC during the early 70's, he had rescued from a room being cleaned of rubbish two 16mm film cans marked Doctor Who, film cans which would surely have been destroyed had he not walked away with them.  He was now ready, after over thirty years, to return the films to the BBC - one of which was a copy of The Daleks Episode 5: The Expedition, already owned by the BBC.  But the other film was a genuine missing episode, William Hartnell's The Daleks' Master Plan Episode Two:  Day of Armageddon, which would now join Episode Five and Episode Ten as the only survivors of a twelve-part epic which was broadcast during a three-month span in the winter of 1965/66.  And so five years since the last full missing episode recovery (The Lion in '99) and over ten years since the recovery of a complete 'lost' story (The Tomb of the Cybermen in 1992), the missing episode count would now finally shift from 109 to 108, another small step forward.

Steve Roberts explains that "First contact with Francis was made through the generic Restoration Team website contact address and was basically just asking for more explicit contact details, as he had something of interest to us.  He e-mailed me the next day and I must admit that I spent about ten minutes verifying that his phone number was actually a genuine YTV one, even though his e-mail address certainly was.  However, as soon as I spoke to him I knew that he was entirely genuine and that he did have what he said he had. I spoke to him on the Tuesday afternoon and the episode was in my hand on the Thursday lunchtime.  I watched it through, alerted BBCi and the BBC Press Office and then we announced it less than two hours later."  Watson had initially decided to return the film cans because he still felt awkward at having walked off with BBC property so long ago, and it wasn't until he did some research on the Internet, including the Restoration Team website, that he discovered Day of Armageddon was a missing episode and that the Restoration Team were the right people to contact.  Watson politely declined an interview for this article, hesitant to discuss at length his 'borrowing' of these films, although the BBC and Doctor Who fans are only too happy to overlook any past indiscretion in light of the revelation that this episode has survived into the 21st century.

The Restoration Team's Richard Molesworth was told about the possibility of a missing episode find, and explains "I was just hoping it wasn't a hoax when I first heard, which was followed by the 3-4 day wait until the episode turned up at the BBC and was confirmed as existing by Steve Roberts.  Once I knew it was definite, then I was chuffed.  Obviously I was optimistic before it was confirmed, as it seemed a genuine tale, but we've been let down so many times in the past."  Roberts explains that once news of the recovery began to quickly spread, "Francis was rather shocked by the publicity - even though I had told him that there would be some and made sure he approved the text I released."

Day of Armageddon has always been one of the most highly regarded episodes of the twelve which make up The Daleks' Master Plan, and serves to firmly establish characters and plot threads which run throughout the course of the adventure.  The setting is the planet Kembel in the year 4000AD - while the malevolent Mavic Chen [played by Kevin Stoney] assembles Daleks and other allies to aid in his effort to conquer the universe, the Doctor, Steven, Katarina, and Space Security Service agent Bret Vyon attempt to determine the Daleks' plan and warn Earth.

The physical condition of the recovered film is quite good, and according to Roberts, so too is the quality of the finished product.  "I think that by chance it's probably the best episode of the story.  It's got a good balance of characters and a strong performance by Nicholas Courtney [Bret Vyon].  We get to see the Daleks being a bit sneaky and, of course, we see the delegates for the first time.  There's some really nice interplay between Mavic Chen and Zephon too.  On the downside, we find out what a wooden performance Adrienne Hill delivered as Katarina, and some of the sets are very 'Flash Gordon.'  The interior of the Spar [Chen's spaceship] is nicely done though!"  Molesworth agrees with Roberts' assessment, proclaiming "It's a great episode, and it's as good an example of a missing episode as you could hope to turn up.  It has Daleks, Billy [Hartnell] on top form, lots of different aliens, Nick Courtney, Katarina…oooh, loads.  Some great camera moves and directorial touches by Douglas Camfield.  And Celation…wow!  People will love Celation!"  Perhaps the greatest strength of the episode is that, as Molesworth notes, "There is so much in Episode Two that's new.  Apart from the Daleks, Chen and Billy, it's all new sets, new monsters, new backdrops.  And a new companion - we'd not seen Katarina before if we were under 40!"

The return of Day of Armageddon has not only revived fan interest in the missing episodes saga, it has also resolved a long-standing mystery regarding the existence of an empty BBC film can bearing the label for this very episode.  The film can was known to reside in the archive of the UCL (University College London) film society, and although the can was found to be empty during an inventory conducted during the late 80's, apparently it was clear from what was inside the can that the actual episode had been deliberately removed.  What had become of the missing film was anybody's guess, until now, as Watson has confirmed to Roberts that he had indeed been a member of the UCL film society and had left the film (in its can) in the care of the club at one point in time, then later reclaimed the film yet left the can behind.

As mentioned, fan interest in the missing episodes saga always surges when material such as Day of Armageddon is returned to the archives, and fans typically experience a sudden overriding motivation to begin searching for material themselves.  As Roberts surmises, "Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on how people go about it.  Making a nuisance of themselves or simply retreading the obvious ground that has been looked at in the last 25 years is obviously helping nobody."  Molesworth agrees, observing "It's certainly revitalized fan interest.  I've had to keep away from the Restoration Team Technical Forum because of the amount of posts, the majority sent with good-natured enthusiasm I'm sure, suggesting various ways to locate missing episodes.  They divide into two categories - impractical and the bleeding obvious.  We've tried the latter and laugh at the former!"  As for fans initiating investigations into whether former BBC employees have missing episodes in their possession, "I don't think fans should take it upon themselves to hassle ex-BBC employees.  They can't prove they haven't got something, and I have little faith in the ability of fans to approach people tactfully.  One swallow doesn't make a summer - I doubt if this approach would garner any results anyway."  In fact, Molesworth concludes by offering up this suggestion:  "I think we should stop calling them 'missing' episodes.  It gives the impression that they're misplaced out there somewhere…that they will be found sooner or later, behind someone's sofa, or in their film racks.  Let's call them 'DESTROYED EPISODES'!!!!"

Ahem.  Right.  Well, Andrew Martin recognizes that "The whole question of how much old TV is still out there is of course the big question!  Every time something comes back, Doctor Who or otherwise, a bit of me says "That's the last thing we'll ever find," but you never know. Doctor Who is perhaps more likely to return than a lot of things, because it obviously depends on people having been motivated to acquire material in the first place - other than production team members, etc having copies - and a lot of programmes where very little or nothing exists didn't have the same kind of fanbase.  Obviously I was delighted when Day of Armageddon turned up!"  Yet doesn't it seem likely that other individuals like Francis Watson would have been tempted to save episodes from junking during the 70's and are now waiting for an appropriate opportunity to return them?  Martin agrees "It's possible in theory, it depends very much on the individuals in question.  I doubt very much whether the majority of people at the time would have been motivated to do this sort of thing, for one thing because of the technical illegality of it, for another because not everyone would have access to projectors etc to view material even if they possessed it."

When The Crusade Episode One: The Lion was returned from New Zealand in 1999, the recovery was accompanied by a media frenzy which encompassed the globe.  Considering this most recent find features the Daleks and comes in the wake of a late 2003 announcement that the series will be returning to TV in 2005, press coverage seems to be significantly minor.  The reason for this?  As Roberts suggests, "I think that's very simple.  When The Lion was returned, Bruce Grenville [film collector] sent out a press release to news agencies all over the world. Day of Armageddon was much more low-key, in fact I don't think that the BBC Press Office even sent out a press release!"  Molesworth adds "The BBC did have a press release, but it was for anyone who asked for it.  They didn't send it out or promote the story in any great depth to other areas of the news media.  TV coverage was less, but this is down more to the 'rolling news' way of newsgathering.  At the time of The Lion this was in its infancy, and a news story that 'broke' usually stuck around for the whole day.  Now news is re-assessed every 15-20 minutes.  BBC News 24 had the item in three of its hourly bulletins on the day it broke, but it soon dropped off the radar as soon as other news stories cropped up."

Although the BBC Doctor Who website has provided fans with a few tantalizing clips from Day of Armageddon as well as a photonovel, no official announcement has yet been made as to when or how the Fury From the Deep footage, Power of the Daleks trailer, or Day of Armageddon episode will be released commercially by the BBC.  And although one can only speculate as to what the future holds in regard to further missing footage and/or episode discoveries, cautious optimism should be maintained.  We may very well never see another missing episode return to the archives;  then again, further episodes may emerge from either likely or unlikely sources.  This exciting uncertainty simply adds to the unyielding fascination which Doctor Who fans have with the missing episodes saga…and with the series scheduled to return in 2005, it is hoped that an entirely new generation of Doctor Who fans will discover its rather  incomplete televised history and themselves join in the missing episodes search.

Thanks very much to Andrew Martin, Steve Roberts, Mark Ayres and Richard Molesworth for their cooperation and enthusiasm, time and effort!