So: Have Missing Doctor Who Episodes Really Been Discovered? UPDATED

News reaches SFX that previously missing Doctor Who episodes have been discovered and will soon be unleashed on the public. But are they true? It was only last spring that rumours swept the internet about a haul of Hartnell and Troughton stories being found – which were then, apparently, rubbished.

Two news sources have been claiming slightly different things – The People had this story yesterday, claiming that more than 100 episodes had been found. The Radio Times website has this story with the more sober (but still exciting) claims that two Patrick Troughton episodes have been found and will be made available digitally this week.

So what are we to make of these latest claims? Let’s take the story in The People first. Hardly the most reliable news source at the best of times, their claims are the more difficult to digest – in full at least. There are indeed 106 missing episodes of Who but it seems all too convenient that they suggest that all 106 have been found. And a sentence like this doesn’t boost confidence in the veracity of the claims either: “The recovered episodes from the 60s include much-loved scenes from The Crusade, The Enemy of the World and The Ice Warriors series.”

“Much-loved scenes”? “The Ice Warrior series”? Mmm, forgive us for being all sci-fi pedantic, but these forms of words don’t appear to quite ring true. Most of the rest of the story is fleshed out with historical detail – there really isn’t much in the way of hard evidence, although a Doctor Who “expert” is quoted.

Moving onto the Radio Times story, it’s probably wise to first of all remember that although the Radio Times‘ word probably means more than The People‘s, the RT is no longer directly owned by the BBC. But because its claim is scaled down – they say just two eps have been found – it seems more plausible. And it wasn’t that long ago that two episodes of the show were discovered, so perhaps they are marching back, two by two (if it continues at this rate we should have all back in the vault by the year 2066).

The one detail that makes us a tad suspicious is that the RT claims that both episodes will be available digitally “on Wednesday morning”. That seems curious. After all, episode two of “The Underwater Menace”, rediscovered at the end of 2011, has yet to be released in any form; there is talk of a 2014 DVD release. So why make these two episodes available now? And wouldn’t they need a bit of cleaning up? And if they were going to be released online, why Wednesday 9 October 2013? Why not a more significant Who date – like, just to pluck a date out of the air, 23 November 2013? (Or maybe the day after, eh?)

But maybe the story is true. Heck, maybe The People‘s story is true! We can only wait and watch. Doctor Who fans have patiently hung on for many years, hoping every year that those golden missing episodes will one day be returned from dusty corners. Hope has sometimes spilt over into unrealistic expectations and rumours have spun out of control. But maybe this time – and this year, of all years – some of the missing episodes will be found. SFX will be reporting on any stories that confirm the rumours, if and when they emerge.

And let’s hope that the episodes are good!

TUESDAY UPDATE A press conference concerning the rediscovered episodes originally said to happen today has now apparently been postponed to the end of the week. The Mirror has the story, following on from their sister paper The People‘s on Sunday. We’re still in a fog of differing signals and jumbled information, but dare we say that it looks that there definitely seems to be substance to these rumours this time. Like Amy Pond in Tom Macrae’s fine season six story, we continue to wait…

FURTHER UPDATE! It looks like it really is happening, folks. Check out this story on the BBC website, which says that a press conference revealing the number of rediscovered episodes will be held towards the end of this week. Believe, people, believe.