Three Joyously Christmassy Doctor Who Events


Mark Gatiss, Terry Burnett and Ralph Montagu at the BFI
Until yesterday, there were 108 Doctor Who episodes missing from the BBC's archives.  Now there are 106, thanks to a brilliantly surprising event at the London BFI.

The BFI annually shows a Missing Believed Wiped programme, which presents various footage which has been pulled from the jaws of obscurity over the previous year (see, the BBC didn't always safely archive everything - they didn't know video and DVD were going to happen).  This year, I was tipped off that I really might want to go along, which made my legendary Spider senses tingle.

Plenty of Doctor Who-related folk were present in the NFT1 theatre (nothing suspicious about that at all, then), as we sat down to watch a mixed bag of footage which might have vanished forever, were it not for the efforts of historians like The Radio Times' Head of Heritage Ralph Montagu, Missing Believed Wiped presenter Dick Fiddy and many more.  We saw Dennis Potter's 1966 TV play Emergency Ward 9, some amusing footage of the Mumford Puppets (including one playing the piano while smoking a cigarette) and a great Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch which memorably saw Cook almost corpse at one point.

All good fun, of course, but anticipation was growing.  Doctor Who-loving corners of the internet had swollen like a storm about to break.  It's truly amazing that the news didn't burst forth days before the event, but no - Who/Sherlock writer and actor Mark Gatiss stood up to inform us that two previously MIA episodes of 60s Doctor Who had been rediscovered!  We then saw the first five-or-so minutes of Galaxy Four: Air Lock (1965) and Part Two of The Underwater Menace (1967) in its entirety.

What a joy it was.  Sure, these are not the most highly regarded Doctor Who stories of all time, but it's amazing to have them back.  It's great to see things like the Rill creature in Galaxy Four, which has hitherto had to exist purely in most of our imaginations.  Most of all, though, it struck me that it's magical (or "a Christmas miracle" as Gatiss later put it) to regain the performances of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.  The latter is especially brilliant in this 'new' episode - the moment when he brands Professor Zaroff "mad as a hatter" is one which really has to be seen to be fully appreciated.

The last time a Doctor Who episode was recovered was in 2004 - a fact which led some fans' hope to slowly ebb as time passed since.  This time, two episodes were discovered by the same man - retired Southampton broadcast engineer Terry Burnett, who ironically worked for ITV.  Terry has been oblivious that the episodes were officially missing and seemed genuinely delighted to bring them to the world's attention.  By luck, he sat next to me during the episodes' screening, and it was great to personally thank him afterwards.  Tremendous.  And here's a video report by Ed Stradling, about the whole thing:


That Brilliant Book Of Doctor Who signing I mentioned in the last post?  It went splendidly well.  It took place on November 30 at London's excellent Forbidden Planet store.  Pretty much all the authors and creatives who contributed to the book were there, including me.  We all sat along a lengthy table, signed books like our lives depended on it, cursed our overly complex signatures, and felt sorry for the people queuing outside in the cold.  It looked rather like this (photo by @TheGazulator):

Gary Russell (far left), Paul Lang, David Llewelyn, Me, David Bailey,
James Goss, Benjamin Cook and his amazing HAIR OF SATAN
Just out of shot are all manner of wonderful people, including Mark Gatiss (gets everywhere, that bloke), Book editor Clayton Hickman and Doctor Who showrunner himself Steven Moffat.  I grabbed a picture of them myself here:

And here's the wonderfully inevitable but very welcome fez which we scribbled on:

A fine time was had by all signers, and hopefully by signees.  Hello, and thanks, to everyone who came along to the event.  Great to meet you all.  Here's another video - this time of Steven being interviewed mere feet away from our table and speaking at an admirable 666mph:


Why, it's only the release of my Doctor Who audio play, Army Of Death!

Yes, this epic four-parter is now available through the Big Finish site, on CD and download.  It features:
  • Walking, murderous skeletons
  • Exploding cities
  • Gunfire aplenty
  • Political intrigue and treachery
  • Flying robots
  • Mary Shelley
  • Paul McGann!
  • A great supporting cast, including Julie Cox, David Harewood, Christina Pickles, Eva Pope and Mitch Benn.
Surely, I can't say fairer than that.  In the new Christmas issue of Doctor Who Magazine, I'm interviewed about Army Of Death - and also write the magazine's annual Review Of The Year.

Right, I think that's you fully abreast of Joyously Christmassy Doctor Who happenings.  Kindly uncork the sherry and pour me a cheeky snifter.  Have one yourself, while you're at it.  Good day to you.

My Amazon-acclaimed ebook How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else is out now on Amazon UK, Amazon US and  You can also get a Triple Pack of files (PDF, ePub, Kindle/mobi) direct from me.  Full details here, you splendid individual.

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