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The Missing Years

Video review by Graham Howard

My interest in Doctor Who and related merchandise might have waned over the last year or two, but it's hard not to be impressed with a release like The Ice Warriors and more particularly The Missing Years documentary. Perhaps the thing that stands out in this documentary, more than any particular clip or segment, is the impression that it has been put together by people who care about the programme. People who are willing to take extra effort to give fans, especially fans of the black and white era, the best possible presentation of the surviving fragments of missing stories and some background on how they became missing. Yet my impression is that the overall documentary is reasonably balanced between the need to provide a product that won't try the patience of the casual viewer, nor disappoint the more dedicated viewer.

It is appropriate that the documentary is presented by two actors whose work on Who suffered particularly badly from the junkings of the 1970s: Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines. They are filmed in one of the BBC's own film vaults, which provides a fitting backdrop for their linking material. Deborah seemed a little less relaxed than Frazer, noticeable in the delivery of some of her lines, but their overall contribution certainly enhanced the video.

The Missing Years begins with the statement that between 1963 and 1969 the BBC recorded 253 episodes of Doctor Who, but of that total, only 143 episodes remain (144 now!), and that even the Daleks did not escape destruction. This serves to introduce the surviving clips from The Power of the Daleks, bar the clip from episode six, which crops up later in the documentary (and unlike its appearance in More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS, it appears to be complete and played at the correct speed). These particular clips are typical of quite a number of those featured in The Missing Years, in that they were lifted from Doctor Who episodes when the full episodes still existed, and then inserted into other contemporary programmes. Although the Doctor Who episodes were destroyed, these programmes still exist. In this instance the clips were recovered a few years ago from an obscure Australian documentary called C is for Computer, apart from the final one - “Daleks conquer and destroy” - previously seen in the Resistance is Useless special - which originated from fan Ian Levine's collection. I have to say that, judging from the surviving audio and visual material, including that which is featured here, I am convinced that Power of the Daleks is (was?) the quintessential Dalek tale in almost every respect. These clips lead into the documentary's opening titles, reworked effectively to evoke the Hartnell title sequence.

The viewer is then presented with the surviving footage from The Daleks' Master Plan. Some of these clips (and those from Power) were recovered with the wrong, or a missing audio track. Remember that strikingly inappropriate music dubbed over the Master Plan clips on The Dalek Years? It was therefore pleasing that the producers of this release took the trouble to restore the correct audio track, using David Holman's high quality off-air recordings. The end result is that the viewer, who did not know this had been done, would not have been able to tell. From a purely commercial standpoint, it would have been easy not to bother - after all “Who fans will buy the tape anyway”, so full marks for this! Two of the Daleks' Master Plan clips are notable in that they feature Nicholas Courtney's first role in Who as Bret Vyon of the Special Security Service, and Adrienne Hill as companion Katarina. The footage featuring these characters were discovered in old episodes of the British children's programme Blue Peter.

One of The Missing Years' more eagerly awaited collection of clips is of course the “Australian censor clips”. Although I had a good copy of these from the telerecorded version, it was good to see them tidied up and put together in a logical sort of sequence, interspersed nicely with comments from Damian Shanahan, whose efforts led to their discovery. Some of the clips are pretty grisly, especially seen one after the other - I'm not surprised the censor removed them! Perhaps the highlight for me was The Macra Terror shots, since these do convey the scariness of the story, with the Macra themselves being clearly visible (for some reason they were a lot harder to make out in my previous copy of the clips). Likewise, the Fury From the Deep scenes would suggest there was a lot of hiding behind the sofa going on during this story, so perhaps it's not surprising that the New Zealand censor rejected the story. Of note, the scenes from The Dominators cut by the censor are not on the tape, presumably because they are being held over for inclusion in a possible re-release of the story on video. Of course, the censored scenes from The War Machines were included on the BBC video release of that story in 1997.

Two items that were known to exist, but which weren't originally expected to make it onto this release, were the location footage from Fury from the Deep and Evil of the Daleks. Apparently the holder of these items, Jan Vincent-Rudzki, was unwilling to release them. However, poor quality - but useable - copies of these items were anonymously mailed to the documentary's producer, Steve Roberts, so we are treated to a taste of them on The Missing Years. The original footage was shot on silent 8mm colour film. For understandable reasons, only small portions of this footage have been used in The Missing Years (for example, I've heard that the Evil footage is around 20 minutes long), but what has been used is well presented. In particular, the segment from Evil of the Daleks has been reworked superbly to tie in with sound recordist Graham Strong's off-air audio soundtrack, evoking effectively the probable feel of the actual television scenes featuring the Dalek battle at the end of episode seven.

I was particularly interested in seeing how the silent off-screen 8mm clips were going to be presented having, I like to think, played a role in their ‘re-discovery’ a few years ago. Although the clips were known to exist back then, they had not been circulating within fandom, to the point that they had apparently acquired an almost ‘mythical’ status. The ability of the production team to access the original film reel containing these clips, Graham Strong's ‘crystal clear audios’ and the equipment to tidy them up professionally and to correct the speed, means the clips featured here are of the best possible quality. Given this, my one real disappointment with The Missing Years is that more, if not all, of the 8mm clips from missing episodes were not given this treatment and included on the video. Given the dodgy nature of the original film this might have involved a fair bit of work, but in my view it would have been worth it.

Another clip that had gained mythical status, or perhaps even notoriety, was the two segment six minute excerpt from episode one of Galaxy 4 (a story which I believe holds the distinction of being the last Doctor Who story to be destroyed during the junkings of the 1970s). This footage had been given to founding Doctor Who Appreciation Society members Jan Vincent-Rudzki and Stephen Payne as a ‘thank-you’ for their help on the 1977 Whose Doctor Who documentary, and up until a year or so ago had rarely been seen since. Although perhaps not the most exciting of clips, largely involving the Doctor and companions talking to the Drahvins on their spaceship, it does allow the viewer to get an idea of the ‘flavour’ of the story - and see the Chumblies! So definitely good to have it released officially at last.

The only other existing clips from a missing episode that might have been put on the tape were the two very brief scenes from episode four of The Abominable Snowmen. Presumably these were considered too fleeting to be worth using, but my preference would have been to have them anyway, if only for the sake of completeness.

One of the things I wasn't expecting, but which really added some colour to potentially dry stories about missing episodes and clips, was the inclusion of interviews with people who had been involved over the years in recovering previously missing material. All very interesting, especially the interview with the person who returned episode two of The Evil of the Daleks and episode three of The Faceless Ones, and the person who found episode three of The Wheel in Space.

For me, perhaps the acid test for The Missing Years is to consider how different it would have been had I been given the opportunity to select its contents. I would have to say the answer would be “not a lot”. 9 out of 10.

Following on from the documentary a ‘bonus episode’ is included. The episode chosen is the previously unreleased surviving episode from The Underwater Menace (episode three). This episode is the earliest surviving episode to feature Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, and Jamie as companion. And it does contain Zaroff's classic “Nothing in the world can stop me now!” line. However, apart from the interest derived from these facts, it is probably not the most auspicious of episodes.

The Missing Years Clips

Compiled by David Brunt

The Power of the Daleks Episode Five
0:09“We are not ready yet to teach these human beings the law of the Daleks.”
The Power of the Daleks Episode Four
0:10Daleks leave their ship.
0:06Model Daleks on production line conveyor belt.
The Power of the Daleks Episode Five
0:08The Daleks wait for their chance to destroy the humans.
0:30The Daleks leave the ship, chanting "Daleks conquer and destroy!"
0:25Opening title test footage (recorded 20/08/1963) overdubbed with Title Music by Ron Grainer
The Daleks' Master Plan: The Nightmare Begins
0:21Spar lands on pad beside Dalek city.
0:54Kert Gantry killed by Dalek.
0:12TARDIS materialises on Kembel.
(These clips are overdubbed with the original audio soundtrack.)
The Daleks' Master Plan: Day of Armageddon
1:19Daleks burning the jungle of Kembel with their 'pryoflames'.
The Daleks' Master Plan: Devil's Planet
1:37Spar drawn off course to planet Desperus; Daleks report success of randomizer.
The Daleks' Master Plan: The Traitors
0:57The death of Katarina.
The Evil of the Daleks Episode 2
0:14Title sequence shown on projector screen.
0:27Victoria weighed by Dalek.
The Faceless Ones Episode 3
0:30Doctor and Jamie find cupboard in hidden room.
The Wheel in Space Episode 3
0:26X-ray of Cybermat - the Cybermen are involved!
The Tomb of the Cybermen Episode 4
0:23Cybermen refrozen in tombs forever.
The Highlanders Episode 1
0:10Sergeant supervising hanging of prisoners.
The Power of the Daleks Episode Six
0:07Destruction of Daleks.
The Mutants [The Daleks]: The Expedition
0:17The Doctor tells Susan they really do need mercury.
0:21A Dalek goes mad after taking the Thal drugs.
The Highlanders Episode 1
0:03Alexander kills redcoat.
The Smugglers Episode 4
0:03Pike kills Cherub.
The Wheel in Space Episode 4
0:03Duggan is shot and killed.
The Smugglers Episode 3
0:04Kewper killed by a knife in the back.
The Smugglers Episode 1
0:23Churchwarden killed by Cherub.
The Smugglers Episode 3
0:15Pike kills Jamaica.
The Underwater Menace Episode 1
0:13Polly forced onto operating table.
The Underwater Menace Episode 2
0:14Polly injected.
The Underwater Menace Episode 4
0:04Zaroff drowns.
Fury from the Deep Episode 3
0:48Oak and Quill attack Maggie Harris.
The Macra Terror Episode 1
Opening Titles - cine footage.
The Macra Terror Episode 2
0:29Polly and Ben attacked by Macra (comprises three separate sections of the same scene).
0:02Macra attacks Controller (includes reprise segment from Episode 3).
Fury from the Deep Episode 4
0:17Jamie and the Doctor in the Impeller shaft, the foam erupts (Two short sequences, edited together).
0:13Van Lutyens attacked in the Impeller Shaft.
0:17Robson attacks guard to escape.
0:02Robson's weed covered hands start helicopter.
0:11Doctor calls to Robson to return.
0:19Cine footage - filming of Fury from the Deep Episode 6. Overdubbed sound, picture backed by title sequence test footage (recorded 20/08/1963).
1:14Cine footage - filming of The Evil of the Daleks Episode 7. Overdubbed sound, picture backed by title sequence test footage (recorded 20/08/1963).
The Tenth Planet Episode 4
0:39The Doctor leaves the Cyberman ship; the Doctor sets the TARDIS into motion as Ben and Polly arrive. (Cine footage, overdubbed with audio soundtrack.)
0:26The Doctor regenerates.
The Power of the Daleks Episode One
0:29Ben and Polly muse over the change in the Doctor, as he sees his old face in a mirror. (Cine footage, overdubbed with audio soundtrack.)
The Lively Arts - Whose Doctor Who
0:16Title sequence.
Galaxy 4: Four Hundred Dawns
5:50The Doctor, Vicki and Steven are led to the Drahvin ship, where they meet Maaga and are present when a Chumbley is attacked.
0:47Opening title test footage (recorded 20/08/1963) overdubbed with Title Music by Ron Grainer.

This item appeared in TSV 58 (September 1999).