The 12 Most Tragically Lost Doctor Who Adventures


?Doctor Who is the longest-running science fiction show ever made. It was originally broadcast by the BBC from 1963-1989, came back briefly for a TV Movie in 1996, and has been going strong since its revival in 2005. But if you wanted to take on the monumental task of watching Doctor Who from the beginning, you’d soon encounter a major hitch — many episodes from the program’s first six years no longer exist, thanks to the BBC themselves. They weren’t trying to be evil, but they had limited tape, limited storage, and no idea the home video market was going to exist for most of the show’s existence. Still, goddammit.

Some lost Doctor Who episodes were eventually recovered from sources such as overseas broadcasters and fan-made recordings, but of the 253 episodes in the show’s first six seasons, 108 are still missing and quite possibly extinct, most of them of the adventures of the tetchy but grandfatherly First Doctor (William Hartnell), and the childlike yet clever Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). For these, only audio soundtracks (thanks to fans) and “tele-snaps” (professional photographs taken throughout the course of an episode’s filming) are all that remain.

Since unlike today, Who storyarcs were longer and consisted of multiple half-hour episodes, this means many of the Doctor’s adventures will never be complete. While it’s a sin that any Doctor Who serials were deleted, these are the 12 stories that are most sorely missing, and that people pray to the heavens will one day be discovered on a dusty shelf some remote TV station. Thanks to the members of Gallifrey Base for help in compiling this list.

12) The Highlanders

This early Second Doctor adventure involved him in events following the
British defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. While
there were no immortal Scottish swordsmen involved, this four-episode
story introduced the simple but noble, loveable and kilt-wearing Jamie
McCrimmon, who would go on to serve a long tenure on the show and become
one of the Doctor’s favorite companions. The Tenth Doctor even assumed
his name as an alias on a return trip to Scotland in the episode “Tooth
and Claw,” showing Jamie had not been forgotten. This serial was also
the last Doctor Who story for a long time that was a purely
historical adventure.

10-11) The Moonbase and The Wheel in Space (Tie)

It’s a shame that most of the Cyberman’s early adventures are missing
from the BBC archives, because the Doctor’s cybernetic rivals were
originally a larger threat than the laughingstock they eventually became
in the series. It got so bad by the Seventh Doctor’s era that the
Cybermen, who had a weakness to gold, could be killed simply by throwing
gold coins at them, like they were vampires being sprayed with holy
water. The Cybermen in the New Series (who are from an alternate
universe and are not the originals, by the way) had some of their
original threat level restored, but it didn’t help that the Daleks soon
showed up and completely mopped the floor with them.

Anyway, “The Moonbase” and the “The Wheel in Space” were two classic
Cybermen stories from the Second Doctor’s era; only one episode  of each
serial survives (for a total of two out of 8). The Cybermen made their
second appearance in “The Moonbase,” planning to use a weather-altering
device kept in a station on the moon to destroy all life on Earth. (Hey,
maybe the Cybermen are responsible for global warming!) In “The Wheel
in Space,” the Cybermen attempted to take over the titular space station
as a launching pad for another invasion of Earth. These stories
featured memorable sequences of the Cybermen marching across the moon
and through space, respectively.

9) The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve

This four-episode story was a deadly serious drama, an anomaly in Doctor
. It starred the First Doctor and his companion, Steven, a
dashing but troubled space pilot who for a time carried around a stuffed
panda that had been his only friend while stranded for two years on a
planet without human contact. The duo (the Doctor and Steven, not Steven
and the stuffed panda) landed in 16th Century France just before the
religious-based slaughter of the Huguenots. After a harrowing series of
events (including Steven meeting an evil abbot that was an exact body
double of the Doctor), the Doctor forced Steven to leave the night
before the violence erupted on a mass scale. Steven became angry that
the Doctor forced them to leave and possibly abandon a French girl to
which he had become close to her death, but the Doctor argued the
immutability of the historical event. Disgusted, Steven quit the TARDIS
and left the Doctor to ponder his loneliness in a powerful soliloquy
that was a perfect example of William Hartnell’s strong acting chops.
The First Doctor was known to sometimes make decisions that seemed
heartless to his companions but were generally done for what he saw as a
greater good. He could also be a grump, but displayed on several
occasions a warmer and mournfully poetic side. In any case, Steven
returned to the TARDIS after meeting a seeming descendant of the girl
they had left behind.

8) Marco Polo

The surviving audio and photos of the seven-episode “Marco Polo” have
left fans with a high opinion of the serial, which boasted an epic story
and lavish costumes and production values. Completely historical tales
were almost exclusive to the First Doctor’s era, which utilized them as
part of the show’s then-mandate to educate the public as well as
entertain them. This also explains such scenes as Ian, the Doctor’s
schoolteacher companion, explaining the wonders of condensation to Marco
Polo. And imagine a Doctor Who story with no aliens or monsters!
Rather, this story featured the Doctor and his original companions
(teachers Ian and Barbara and the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan – yes,
he had family!) tagging along with Marco Polo’s caravan after the
explorer took possession of the TARDIS with plans to give it as a gift
to Kublai Khan. Meanwhile, an enemy spy in the caravan tried repeatedly
to sabotage it before it reached Peking. When the group finally did mean
Khan, the elderly ruler and the grandfatherly (yet chronologically
youngest) Doctor bonded over the pains of aging.

7) Fury from the Deep

The few remnants of the six-episode “Fury from the Deep” reveal it to
have been a very effective horror story. An ocean oil-drilling operation
disturbed intelligent, toxic seaweed that slowly overwhelmed all the
rigs and possessed their crew, turning them to sabotage as a mysterious
heartbeat echoed through the oil pipes. In an amusing twist, the Second
Doctor realized that his companion Victoria, a prize-winning screamer,
held the key to defeating the seaweed. Sound was the monster’s weakness,
so Victoria screamed like a she-devil over the P.A. system until the
creature retreated back into the depths. A lot of the Doctor’s female
companions had powerful lungs, but this was the only time it really came
in useful. This story is notable for the first appearance of the
Doctor’s trademark sonic screwdriver, although it looked unimpressive in
this tale like an average penlight.


6) The Evil of the Daleks

In 1967, Dalek creator Terry Nation (he was sort of like the real world
equivalent of Davros) was trying to sell the rights to his
extermination-happy aliens for a TV series in the U.S., meaning they
would have to be removed from Doctor Who. “The Evil of the
Daleks” was designed as a send-off, and it was quite a good one. The
Daleks and their Emperor used a couple of would-be Victorian time
travelers to lure in the Second Doctor. The Emperor insisted the Doctor
identify the “Human Factor” that always enabled humanity to defeat the
Daleks and implant it in a few test Daleks. The result was that they
became happy and friendly to humans! However, the isolation of the
“Human Factor” enabled the Emperor to also isolate the “Dalek Factor”
that made his warriors such bastards, and he intended to spread this
throughout Earth’s history via the TARDIS in order to turn humankind
into Daleks! (If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because similar ideas
were used in the New Series episodes “The Parting of the Ways” and
“Evolution of the Daleks.”) The Doctor, of course, turned the tables and
created more humanized Daleks, which led to a civil war and the
supposed “final end” of the Daleks, as the Doctor proclaimed. The TV
deal thankfully never materialized and the Daleks returned to the
program for good five years later. That’s fortunate, since the Doctor
and the Daleks go together like PB&J. What’s unfortunate is only one
episode of this 7-part adventure remains.

4-5) The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear (Tie)

What’s so painful about “The Abominable Snowmen” and “The Web of Fear”
is that the singular remaining episodes from each serial are so good
that it’s clear two classic stories have been lost. Both 6-part stories
depicted new Doctor Who villains, the robotic Yeti and their
trans-dimensional controllers the Great Intelligence, who rank right up
there among the greatest alien races the Doctor has ever faced. Sadly,
they haven’t appeared on TV since then, aside from a Yeti cameo in “The
Five Doctors.”

The first story, “The Abominable Snowmen,” revealed that the Yeti were
created to scare off sightseers from a Tibetan monastery, but they
eventually became the minions of the Great Intelligence, a force
encountered by one of the monks on the astral plane that decided to try
and conquer the Earth. The Second Doctor of course stopped this from
happening, but not before being mistaken for a Yeti because he was
wearing a big fur coat. A real, flesh-and-blood Yeti also made a brief
appearance at the end of the story.

“The Web of Fear” saw the Great Intelligence and the Yeti finally make
their bid for the prize of all would-be alien conquerors – London! As
seen in the chilling first episode that remains, the second invasion by
the Great Intelligence began with Yeti attacking the London subway
system, spreading a web-like fungus that killed everything it touched.
The Second Doctor and his companions, Jaime and Victoria, fought back
the invasion with the help of the British military including Colonel
Lethbridge-Stewart, who would go on to become Brigadier
Lethbridge-Stewart and the Doctor’s closest friend and ally.

3) The Daleks’ Master Plan

The most epic Doctor Who adventure in the history of the show —
running 12 full episodes! — featured the First Doctor caught up in a
galaxy and time-spanning race to prevent the Daleks and other alien
conspirators from creating a weapon that would ensure the destruction of
humankind. It included a visit to a planet inhabited by vicious,
invisible monsters; a conflict between ancient Egyptians and the Daleks;
the return of the Meddling Monk, who was the first member of the
Doctor’s people to be shown on the show outside of the Doctor and his
granddaughter, Susan; a Dalek plant that could turn anyone pricked by it
into another plant; the first of appearance of Nicholas Courtney on the
show, but in a different role than the long-running Brigadier character
he would become well-known as; the gruesome death of two of the
Doctor’s companions; and even a holiday episode in which the Doctor
broke the fourth wall and wished a Merry Christmas to the viewing
public! Aggravatingly, only episodes 3, 5 and 10 remain.

2) The Tenth Planet

Of all the missing episodes, “The Tenth Planet” Episode 4 is probably
the most vexing for Doctor Who fans. As nice as it is that the
first three parts of this serial still exist, the absence of the final
episode is a great big tease, preventing any proper DVD release or
rebroadcast. “The Tenth Planet” is a very important part of the Doctor
mythos, and the hope that it will one day be recovered is
enormous. It introduced the cybernetic Cybermen, who in their first
appearance were creepier than later incarnations, with humanoid parts
still clearly visible and speaking in odd, sing-song voices. Their
homeworld, a twin planet of Earth called Mondas, approached Earth and
began draining the planet’s energy, which also began to weaken the
Doctor (mirroring the real-life situation of First Doctor actor William
Hartnell, whose health was declining and forcing him to retire). After a
battle at the South Pole and the defeat of the Cybermen, the Doctor
collapsed in the TARDIS and changed into a younger man. Yes, this story
also presented the very first regeneration in Doctor Who history,
and of course it took place in the one missing episode of the story.
Short clips of the scene thankfully do survive, but they are from
mediocre-quality, fan-made recordings.

1) The Power of the Daleks

Doctor Who fans overwhelmingly cite this as the missing adventure
they’d most like to see, and there’s a lot of great reasons why. First
off, it’s an excellent story, as attested to by the reconstructions fans
have cobbled together from the audio soundtrack, production photos and a
few very short video clips that survive. Whereas “The Tenth Planet” and
other early Doctor Who serials at least have some episodes still
in existence to give us a taste of what the stories were like, “The
Power of the Daleks” is one of those adventures that is tauntingly
absent in full. The Second Doctor’s first journey was to the planet
Vulcan, where the Daleks had promised to serve the inhabitants of a
colony, but of course joyfully brought about death and destruction

“Power of the Daleks” was also a crucial part of the
Doctor Who mythos, in that it was the first story to feature a
regenerated Doctor. Regeneration was a shocking new concept to viewers
back in 1966. It wasn’t even called that back then, by the way (it was
“renewal”), and included oddities such as the Doctor’s clothing
regenerating with him and his ability to see his previous incarnation
when looking into a mirror. The Doctor’s companions, Ben and Polly, were
just as wary of this new Doctor (played by the late, great Patrick
Troughton) as was the viewing public. But the Doctor’s clownish exterior
hid a calculating mind and his effectiveness (as well as the Daleks’
recognition of him) finally proved to everyone that this Doctor was the
real deal. Regeneration became a core concept of Doctor Who from
this point on and contributed greatly to the show’s longevity, as the
replacement of the main character became par for the course. Major cast
changes like that are often the death knell for other shows, but not for
Doctor Who! Also importantly, “Power of the Daleks” was the
first time the creatures who pilot the murderous rolling dustbins were
revealed in full!