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By Paul Scoones

“If they were going to turn up they would have turned up. We would have found them. I don't think there's anything else left to find. Please prove me wrong but I think there will always be 110 missing Doctor Who episodes.”
Ian Levine, film collector
Doctor Who - The Missing Years, BBC Video 1998

As I sit here and type this piece, just a few days before the issue goes to print, my gaze wanders across my cluttered desk, at the multitude of books, magazines, paperwork and other paraphernalia - all of which are associated in some way with the production of this issue - and my attention is drawn to a small piece of telephone message paper. Written on it is a meeting place and a time, and below it the words “16mm telecine print of The Lion (The Crusade 1)”. It's a poignant reminder of the day my world was turned upside down by a single phone call from my friend Neil Lambess.

I've known Neil off and on for a decade now and, although our paths infrequently cross, when we do get the chance to chat Neil is invariably excited about some new theory he's worked out or a dubious rumour about the programme (many of which, I tend to suspect, start with Neil himself), or yet another highly tenuous lead he's got on finding missing episodes... yes, well, ahem...

So when Neil phoned me last Sunday (my goodness; was it really only a week ago?), with the news that he'd made contact with someone who allegedly had a missing episode in his possession, you can perhaps be a little understanding of the scepticism I felt at the time. But I agreed to meet up him in town and go together to visit this collector and check out whether he really had a copy of The Lion - an episode, I hasten to point out, which has never been screened on television in New Zealand. The rest, as they say, is history.

It's too early for the news to sink in. I've just packaged up and sent off the film to the BBC. As I write, all of the Doctor Who fans in the world who know about this amazing discovery can still be counted on my fingers - with a few to spare. Everyone has been sworn to secrecy until the film is safely in the hands of the BBC just as a precaution.

This issue of TSV is (fingers crossed), the first SF-related publication in the world to break the news of the discovery. By the time you read this, the word will have started to spread like wildfire through fandom. It is, after all, the first missing episode find for seven years and the only Hartnell episode found in the last fourteen years.

Hopefully it will not be too long before the episode surfaces in some form of special video release from the BBC and then everyone will be able to own a copy of this remarkable episode. Until then, we can all be proud of the fact that what will probably be the greatest Doctor Who news of 1999 was made in New Zealand by a couple of fans from the NZDWFC.

Oh, I almost forgot: sorry, Ian Levine, but we've done what you asked and proved you wrong. It's 109 now.


This item appeared in TSV 56 (October 1998).