Top 10 Lost ‘Doctor Who’ Episodes We Want to See
Editors Note – we don’t make a habit of republishing articles, but the current circumstances make this worth revisiting! Tomorrow the BBC will hold a large press conference wherein they are believed to be announcing the recovery of ALL 106 lost ‘Doctor Who’ episodes. This is an exciting rumour, and he we have ten reasons why we’re excited…
Anyone who is familiar with the television history of Doctor Who know this story. Over the fifty years that the show has been in production at the BBC many of the original episodes – mostly from the 1960s – have been lost. They have been lost because the BBC once carried the policy of junking anything that took up storage space under the assumption that they wouldn’t be wanted again. This policy remained in effect until 1978 resulting in over 100 episodes from the first six years of the series being destroyed.
The BBC has since made efforts to recover missing episodes from uncatalogued archives, private collectors and overseas distributors who were better at maintaining their stock. They have made great progress in this, with more episodes turning up almost every year (sometimes in forgotten cupboards) with the BBC having a standing reward of a life-size Dalek prop awarded to anyone who returns a missing episode. Sadly 106 episodes still remain lost in time. These are the ones we most want to see.
10. The Space Pirates
I didn’t research what this story was about…the title is enough to make me want to watch it. Pirates. In Space.
9. The Massacre of St Batholomew’s Eve
When The Doctor and Steven arrive in 16th Century France they find themselves smack in the middle of conflict between Catholics and Protestants. Although the ‘history’ based First Doctor episodes were often the weakest (being intended primarily for educational purposes). The plot summary of this one sounds pretty cool, with rich characters and a story with plenty of twists. In an unusual move they make a brief stop in the 1960s at the end of the story to pick up new companions Dodo – whose existence proves that history had been influenced by the Doctor’s actions.
8. The Abominable Snowmen
This story begins with the Doctor arriving in Tibet where he would encounter both peaceful Buddhist monks and some warrior monks. In itself this sounds like a fun jaunt for the 2nd Doctor to be on, but Jamie and the timid Victoria run afoul of some yeti! Given the pattern of such encounters in the series this is likely an alien. Still cool.
7. The Power of the Daleks
This episode is the first following the Doctor’s first regeneration, and must’ve come as one hell of a surprise for the viewers. It did for companions Ben and Polly, who’d not long before joined the Doctor on his travels. Not one to gloss over sudden changes such as this, the writers opted to make Ben and Polly suspicious of this new Doctor, believing him to be an imposter. The main story concerns a human colony on a distant planet who have come across a couple of inactive Daleks who, ironically, confirm the Doctor’s identity.
6. The Faceless Ones
Many of the best Doctor Who stories are the ones that use a mystery as a framing device (such as Blink and The Mind Robber). This particular mystery is based around Gatwick airport where The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie stumble upon stories of missing people. Involving shape-changing aliens it carries plenty of potential for suspense. The end of the episode sees the TARDIS being stolen, revealed in the next story to be the work of the Daleks.
5. The Wheel in Space
When the TARDIS begins filling up with fumes Jamie and The Doctor are forced to evacuate. They find themselves on an abandoned spaceship causing a sudden change in course that sends a series of pods floating into space and the Doctor knocked out. Jamie and the unconscious Doctor make their way onto a wheel-shaped ship that is conducting deep space research. Unbeknownst to them all the pods have unleashed a number of Cybermen on the research station. Without the Doctor, Jamie is forced to prevent the intruders wiping out the human crew. He’s helped along by Zoe, in her first appearance as a companion.
4. The Highlanders
Jamie McCrimmon was companion to The Doctor for almost the entire run of his second incarnation, and the two of them had a great repertoire with each other. The Doctor’s logical (to himself) outlook contrasted with Jamie’s more blunt approach to great comedic effect. Their first meeting comes about when The Doctor (along with Ben and Polly) arrive during the Battle of Culloden early in this story. Given the strength of the relationship the two had on the show it’ll be cool to see how it originated.
3. The Celestial Toy Maker
This is an episode that sounds intriguing and, for geeks, features some very interesting casting. The Doctor, Dodo and Steven find themselves in the realm of The Celestial Toymaker – a being of infinite power who enjoys creating puzzles and games. The Toymaker puts the TARDIS at the end of a series of puzzles that the crew must solve in order to retrieve it. The Toymakers extensive powers allow him to manipulate his prisoners by muting them and rendering them invisible at a whim. Needless to say it’s a good rival for the Doctor, and would make for interesting viewing.
To make it more interesting the Celestial Toymaker is played by Michael Gough – better known to the modern geek as Alfred Pennyworth from Tim Burton’s Batman films. You can just see him playing an evil villain for the Doctor! Actually, we can’t…
2. The Daleks’ Master Plan
Nothing like a good Dalek story – and this is the ultimate in Dalek stories. To date it is the second longest running running story in the history of the series, extending twelve episodes (one shy of the multi-serial ‘Trail of a Time-Lord’) and featured a number of firsts. Like many Dalek stories it’s larger is scope than many others, featuring space battles and an invasion of Earth. It marked the last appearance of Katarina, a short-lived companion, the first and only appearance of companion Sara Kingdom, and the first death of one of the Doctor’s companions. At the time was deemed to scary and violent to be shown in Australia. Given what a landmark it is for the epic series it’s a shame to have almost completely lost it.
1. The Tenth Planet
This is an obvious candidate for the number one spot as it features two major introductions to the Doctor Who canon. Firstly we have the introduction of the Cybermen, a villain second only to the Daleks in notoriety. They had a strong impact of viewers from the get-go (although they look pretty darn goofy in their first incarnation) with their relentless, deadly mentality. Their method of conquest – converting other lifeforms to Cybermen – made them all the more terrifying with characters facing a fate of mental and physical slavery. Although their design has been revised time and time again to make them more menacing their basic traits and attacks have remained the same.
Towards the end of the episode, after an intense battle, the Doctor collapses in the TARDIS. To the astonishment of his companions, Polly and Ben, he begins to change. This was the first time the Doctor has undergone a regeneration. This unexpected turn came about in response to William Hartnell’s health issues, a creative approach to continue the character without the original actor. This decision not only allowed the exceptional longevity of the show but allows for changing interpretations of the lead character, and one of the most unique aspects of the character.