Clips from the largely missing Doctor Who serial, The Smugglers, will be screened at the upcoming Missing Believed Wiped event at the BFI — and will be presented in colour for the very first time!
The Smugglers is a First Doctor story from 1966, and while no individual episodes are known to exist anywhere, there are still clips and photos from the four-parter. Some of these have been colourised by Kaleidoscope and That’s Chroma, partly to celebrate 35 years of the former company.
And while these coloured clips won’t replace any black-and-white footage, they’re an interesting glimpse into making the series, as Chris Perry, Kaleidoscope CEO, explains:
“We always wondered: what would [1960s] Doctor Who look like in colour? [The Smugglers] was made in colour but shown in black-and-white. So we went back to original production photos shot on set and tried to match the colours to the recording.”
A That’s Chroma spokesperson said:
“The existence of some colour reference material, on-set production stills, was definitely a consideration too, and I also thought that out of the suggested clips, The Smugglers would work best in colour.
“Generally using ‘original’ colours (when known) presents no major difficulties. Occasionally some colours were deliberately ‘wrong’ on-set to look right in the black-and-white transmission which has to be taken into account.
“White objects in particular were frequently a pale colour other than white, as pure white tended to flare on the black-and-white cameras. It wasn’t an issue with this particular material however.”
And yes, this process could be used to colour other episodes, complete episodes no less. But it is very time-consuming: just one second of footage takes between 30 and 60 minutes to turn into colour.
You can get an early look at The Smugglers in colour via the Radio Times. And you can get tickets for the BFI Missing Believed Wiped event now; it takes place this Saturday (5th August 2023).