If you’re hoping that all missing episodes of Doctor Who will make it to DVD, at least in animated form, then you’re probably out of luck – for the foreseeable future, at least.
We’re a little under a week away form the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Macra Terror, and we recently reported that further animated serials might be in the pipeline. Sadly, producer and director, Charles Norton has suggested that some classic stories won’t be available in a similar way:
“It’s one of my favourite stories, but I don’t think The Crusade is terribly likely to have its missing episodes animated. Episodes one and three survive on film, episodes two and four don’t, and in episodes two and four, there’s something like 26 speaking characters, and most of them have three different changes of clothes, and aren’t in episodes one and three!
“In the ’60s, particularly the Hartnell era, they used to do historical epics and they were great because the BBC had the resources to do that… When you’ve actually got to draw it, particularly on a budget, and you’ve maybe only got a year to do it, it does get a little bit tricky!”
He similarly wonders whether Marco Polo and The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve could ever be realistically achieved through animation.
“I don’t think we could say that every Doctor Who story is going to be animated, at least not any time soon.”
There is a further reason serials might not be animated, and it’s an unexpected one. Paul Hembury, Executive Producer for BBC Studios, says:
“For all 97 missing episodes, we’re blessed with recordings made by fans, but the truth is that some of them are not great quality… which means we will never be able to animate if we’re going to use the original soundtrack. Some of those stories just can’t be done.”
This is something of a shock, given that we can already enjoy the soundtracks, often remastered by Mark Ayres, and given the work of incredible folk like Graham Strong – and the news that high-quality audio recordings have recently been discovered.
So do we have any hope? Apparently so – because Hembury left us with the implication that missing episodes would somehow be part of upcoming Blu-ray seasons, as part of Doctor Who: The Collection. He argues:
“Because the fans are, rightly so, completists.”
Yep, that sounds like us!
So are you taking this to heart? Do you think it’s a smokescreen for furious behind-the-scenes activities? Or are you stealing a pinch of salt?