An updated animation of The Power of the Daleks has been announced, due out on DVD and Blu-ray in July, but some of you will have spotted a curious special feature: The Highlanders, listed as “additional bonus material”.
So what exactly is this?
While many will no doubt be hoping for some form of reconstruction of the entirely-missing four-part serial, this is, in fact, the audio soundtrack.
BBC Studios told Sci-Fi Bulletin:
“Sadly it was never archived by the BBC film archives. However, audio recordings do survive and are presented here with narration from Frazer Hines.”
This was Hines’ first appearance in the series, playing Jamie McCrimmon, who would become the longest-running Second Doctor companion.
It’s well placed here: The Highlanders follows The Power of the Daleks (which is, of course, Patrick Troughton’s debut as the Doctor). And it’s a neat extra to have!
Nonetheless, we do worry that this could mean The Highlanders won’t be getting the animation treatment anytime soon: after all, if they’re going to the trouble of releasing it separately, why would they include the narrated soundtrack alone on The Power of the Daleks Special Edition?
As Rick Lundeen points out, the release may not be great news for Doctor Who fans:
“While it’s great that they upgraded the animation, is it worth re-releasing the thing now? I guess, if people buy it. How extreme is the improved artwork? I don’t know, I don’t plan on buying it. Maybe it would have been a better idea to wait and release the updated version when they collect all of Season 4 on Blu-ray? Perhaps, but maybe it’s just an indicator that that Blu-ray season collection is many years away yet… Currently, the Season 4 to-do list includes animating all four parts of The Highlanders, probably all of The Underwater Menace (including the two existing episodes) and The Evil of the Daleks (including the one existing part).”
Time will tell. It always does.