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Are 17 Missing Episodes of Doctor Who Being “Held to Ransom” in the Middle East?

A rumour that missing episodes of Doctor Who are being “held to ransom” has resurfaced.

17 episodes of the show, featuring William Hartnell’s First and Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctors, were reported to have been found, but, earlier this year, it was believed that they were being “held to ransom” by parties who sourced the lost tapes in Japan, New Zealand, and Australia.

There is, however, some confusion over whether these are supposed to be 17 episodes or 17 stories of which some episodes are currently missing, thanks to the BBC’s policy of junking tapes. Currently, 97 episodes are still missing from the archives; the most significant find in recent years was by Philip Morris, who located The Enemy of the World and most of — or perhaps all of — The Web of Fear. He previously teased that he knew of at least six more missing episodes held by private collectors.

The claim that more episodes were in the Middle East was made by Craig Cabell, Doctor Who fan and author of The Doctors Who’s Who – The Story Behind Every Face of the Iconic Time Lord.

It’s implied that, among this haul, is episode 3 of The Web of Fear (significant for being the first appearance of soon-to-be-Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart), and two instalments of the fourth ever Doctor Who serial, Marco Polo.

However, we need to take this with a pinch of salt. The episodes are apparently being held as a “political bargaining tool”. As much as we love Doctor Who, we very much doubt recovering stories from the 1960s would hold any political sway whatsoever. We can’t see Boris Johnson holding special meetings in parliament because he can’t wait to see The Space Pirates.

But wait! What if it’s The Daleks’ Master Plan…?

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Are 17 Missing Episodes of Doctor Who Being “Held to Ransom” in the Middle East?

by Philip Bates time to read: 1 min
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