1/12/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes by Richard Molesworth. pub: Telos. 480 page small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP14.99 (UK), $29.95 (US), $31.95 (CAN). $35.00 (AUS). ISBN: 978-1-84583-037-3.
check out website: www.telos.co.uk
If you’re a ‘Doctor Who’ fan and want to know what happened and the reasons why some of the early Harnell stories and practically most of the Troughton stories are not available to be put on DVD for your entertainment, then this book, ‘Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes’ by Richard Molesworth, is the one you need to read. Granted there is a lot of explanation of the recording formats back in the 60s but the way things were organised as to what is kept was chaos in motion with different departments of the BBC having a priority as to what is kept or not, let alone being transferred onto film. Let’s not even discuss why some episodes rather than entire stories are kept, Molesworth does it better for me in this book. I’m also in a fortunate position in that I saw all the stories when they were shown in the 60s, something even modern ‘experts’ haven’t seen because they weren’t born until much later.
It’s interesting that the BBC Film Library was run by archivists who once it had been set up sensibly kept copies of anything handed over to them than wiping indiscriminately. I can appreciate the video tape was wanted back to be re-used because it was expensive but not to preserve on film stock, if for no other reason than sells abroad is crazy. Molesworth goes into all the ins and outs of this.
An interesting thing I noticed from looking at the statistics for material that was translated into Arabic for Algeria was their lack of interest in the stories set in early British history. Is that a recognition that SF could be universal? Well, not quite. It’s interesting how much censorship Australian TV did so as not to scare their children.
Notice how I used ‘interesting’ three times in the last two paragraphs. You would think that a book such as this would be dry reading but if you’ve been watching the original series DVDs, knowing how much hard work has been done to locate and restore prints then this book has to be, well...interesting. It also points out what material from the first three ‘Doctor Who’ Doctors has yet to be released. The best observation is when are we going to see the last Pertwee story, ‘’Planet Of The Spiders’, especially as all the episodes are available and it is a crucial story. See what you can learn from reading this book.
If you want to know the full story behind the lost ‘Doctor Who’ stories and how they were got back then this is the authoritative book to own and should be on your reading list. A brilliant study.
Please note, anyone with a time machine should ensure that they take suitable recording equipment if they go back to the 60s to watch the shows when they were first released.
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