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The Lion's Tale

By Paul Scoones
(With thanks to Graham Howard and Jon Preddle for additional research and input)

On the afternoon of Sunday 4 April 1999 a car pulled up outside the Auckland Airport Centra Hotel. Wearing a black T-shirt, a florescent yellow baseball cap, and hunkered over slightly by the weight of his backpack, Bruce Grenville walked through the hotel's lobby, carefully carrying a slim metal film can and flanked by three men dressed as security guards. As camera crews from both TV1 and TV3 news, and newspaper photographers scurried around him Bruce began a slow walk down the hotel's main corridor. He held the film can in front of him in the manner of, as one newspaper journalist later succinctly put it, "a priest carrying an offering to the altar".

Inside the can was Bruce's 16mm film print of the recently rediscovered The Lion, the first episode of the 1965 Doctor Who serial The Crusade. This previously lost episode has been the subject of an unprecedented level of media attention since its rediscovery in early January 1999. The occasion was the first public screening of the film itself. A video copy supplied by the BBC had "premiered" at an American convention a few weeks earlier but this was to be the first - and only - public showing of the actual film print, projected on the big screen. Bruce Grenville later sold the film in an online auction.

The screening of The Lion was a scheduled event at Conquest II, 1999's NZ science fiction convention, a four-day event drawing in around 250 SF fans from around the country. A number of these fans witnessed Grenville and his security guard escort making their slow walk through the hotel. (The so-called 'security guards' were in fact friends of the convention organisers, dressed up to look the part at Bruce's request). The reaction of these assembled fans was of mounting amusement and some incredulity at this unusual and unexpected spectacle. The news media were not slow to pick up on the reactions of the onlookers, and one unidentified fan was later reported in the Herald as describing Bruce as: "the kind of guy who gives science fiction a bad name."

The screening of the episode was a major drawcard for the convention, packing out the main room set aside for events. Conquest II's organiser, Norman Cates, said that a significant number of people had paid to come along on the Sunday just to attend the screening.

The full story of the 16mm film of The Lion, how it came to be in Bruce Grenville's possession and the media attention its discovery has attracted, begins soon after the episode first aired on BBC Television in 1965, thirty-four years ago.

Original Recordings

The Lion was recorded on two-inch, 405-line monochrome videotape at the BBC's Riverside Studios on the evening of Friday 5 March 1965. This tape was the master-copy of the episode and was used for the broadcast on BBC1, Saturday 27 March 1965 at 5.40 p.m.

After the broadcast the tape was held by the BBC's Engineering Department and was requisitioned by BBC Enterprises, who arranged for a 16mm black and white film recording (called a 'telerecording') to be made for the purposes of overseas sale. The master videotape would then have been returned to the BBC Engineering Department's videotape library (where tapes were usually eventually either erased for re-use, or destroyed). BBC records state that the 405-line videotape of The Lion was wiped on Friday 31 January 1969.

BBC Enterprises stored their 16mm film telerecordings as negatives from which positive prints could be struck whenever a fresh print was required. Every time an overseas television company purchased the rights to a story, BBC Enterprises would either have a 16mm film positive struck from the negative, or arrange for an overseas broadcaster who had previously purchased and transmitted the story to pass on their film copies to the new broadcaster.

The BBC Film Library (a separate department from BBC Enterprises or Engineering) held a 16mm film copy of The Lion for a time, but the print was junked sometime prior to 1972. BBC Enterprises' 16mm film negative of The Lion was destroyed sometime between 1972 and 1978.

Overseas Sales

The Crusade was purchased and transmitted by ten countries between 1966 and 1971, as listed below. These countries received 16mm film prints of the story's four episodes.

  • Australia - January 1966
  • Gibraltar - May 1966
  • Singapore - May 1966
  • Nigeria - July 1966
  • Zambia - October 1966
  • Barbados - June 1967
  • Mauritius - November 1967
  • Sierra Leone - August 1968
  • Jamaica - March 1969
  • Ethiopia - October 1971

Some countries, like Australia, would have received newly struck 16mm prints; others would have received films sent on from prior broadcasters (a system often referred to as ‘bicycling’).

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) purchased The Crusade in early 1966. The episode was given a G rating by the Australian Film Censorship Board and was passed with no cuts required. It was broadcast on a regional basis starting in March 1966. It was later repeated, with the last regional screening taking place in February 1968.

The Crusade was received by the NZBC (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation) as part of a batch of seven stories (31 episodes) that had a screening rights start date of 19 September 1967.

This batch included everything from The Reign of Terror to The Crusade. The first four stories (17 episodes) of this batch were sent to New Zealand by the ABC in July 1967. The origin of the other three stories (14 episodes) - including The Crusade - is unknown. (They were either dispatched from the BBC in London, or from one of the other countries who had already screened it. They almost certainly did not come from Australia, as the ABC's prints were still needed for upcoming regional repeats.)

The batch of seven stories was catalogued by the NZBC as episodes B-271-21 through to B-271-51. The first part of this code, "B-271" is the programme identification number ('B' was the NZBC code for a programme running between 20 and 30 minutes) and the second part was the sequential episode number. Twenty episodes (100,000 BC to Marco Polo) had previously been acquired and catalogued by the NZBC, so the first episode of The Reign of Terror was therefore logged as episode B-271-21, the second as B-271-22, and so on. The Lion had the NZBC catalogue number B-271-48.

All television programmes had to be viewed and assigned a rating by the New Zealand Government film and television censors before they could be cleared for broadcast. This batch of 31 episodes was viewed and rated between 26 September and 27 November 1967. The Lion itself was viewed on 21 November 1967. A 'G' rating meant that a programme was suitable for general viewing, whereas a 'Y' restricted the broadcast of material with this rating before a certain time of the evening. This demarcation, or 'watershed', is believed to have been around 7.30 p.m. in the mid-sixties on New Zealand television. The first batch of Doctor Who episodes acquired by the NZBC (100,000 BC to Inside the Spaceship) were rated 'Y' and had start times no earlier than 7.57 p.m. Subsequently the programme was screened around two hours earlier in the evening. This required that the censors had cleared each and every broadcast episode with a 'G' rating.

From this batch of seven stories, three were rated 'Y' and therefore not screened. These were The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Web Planet and The Crusade. Although two sets of records (independently researched by Graham Howard and Nigel Windsor) indicate that The Crusade was rated 'G', other sources (more on this later) gives the censor rating for The Crusade: The Lion as 'Y'. Although the question remains as to which of the contradicting records is correct, the fact that all other sixties Doctor Who stories rated 'G' were screened weighs heavily in favour of a 'Y' rating for The Lion. It is even conceivable that both records are correct - the episode may have originally been given a 'G' rating, but subsequently reviewed and re-rated.

Whether the rest of The Crusade was also reviewed and rated 'Y' is unknown. Certainly the sword-fights early in The Lion may have accounted for the decision to assign a 'Y' rating to this particular episode, but surviving censors' records indicate this kind of act of violence was usually cut or trimmed. Whatever was the reason, the very fact that one episode was classified 'Y' was reason enough for the whole story to be rejected for broadcast in Doctor Who's regular time-slot.

On a hypothetical tangent, if The Crusade had been screened (but The Web Planet - which was also rejected by the censor - had not), The Lion would have most likely been first broadcast in Christchurch on CHTV-3, at 5.30 p.m. on Friday 10 May 1968, since the last episode of The Romans screened in this slot the previous week. Extending this hypothetical scenario, The Lion would have subsequently screened in Wellington on WNTV-1 on Friday 21 June, in Dunedin (DNTV-2) on Friday 12 July, and in Auckland (AKTV-2) on Friday 7 September 1968.

After broadcast by the last of the four New Zealand television regions (usually Dunedin), all film prints were returned to TV Head Office in Wellington, who then dispatched them to the film store located on Harriett Street in Thorndon. Every year on 1 April, the NZBC undertook a stock-take of their film holdings at Harriett Street (HS). In the 1970 stock-take, all stories from this September 1967 batch, barring The Web Planet (which had not been transmitted), were still held. All four episodes of The Crusade are marked "HS 1.4.70".

The first two stories from the 1967 batch, The Reign of Terror and Planet of Giants, were subsequently destroyed in mid-1971. Records do not show what happened to The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Rescue, The Romans, The Web Planet or The Crusade after 1970. It appears likely that most if not all other Doctor Who film prints from the 1960s had by this time either been destroyed or 'bicycled' to other countries. (A large number of episodes, including everything held by the NZBC from Galaxy 4 to The Power of the Daleks, was sent to Singapore in 1972, and The Time Meddler was sent to Nigeria in 1973 - from where it was later returned to the BBC).

Down at the Dump

By early 1973, the NZBC was preparing to relocate to the new TV Centre that was still undergoing construction at Avalon, in Lower Hutt. While the main studios and other technical facilities were not due to be completed until March 1975, some of the administration departments were able to relocate early. One of these departments was the film store. The store at Avalon was a lot smaller than Harriett Street (which had been in service since late 1964), mainly because by the early 1970s the NZBC was gearing towards broadcasting more and more from colour video tape, so the storage requirements for tape were not as extensive as that required for film stock. To avoid the time and expense of moving all the films from Harriett Street to Avalon, a final stock take was undertaken with a particular emphasis on identifying films for which the screening rights had expired and the distributors had said they did not want returned. Amongst the piles of these thousands of unwanted film prints was The Lion. (Whether any other episodes of Doctor Who were also present is unknown.)

The consignment of films was signed off by the NZBC and in the spring of 1974 loaded on to trucks to deliver to rubbish tips around Wellington. These films were supposed to have been buried forever, but a Wellington-based film collector was forewarned of the dumping, and arrived at the Karori landfill in time to intercept the delivery. The film collector persuaded a workman at the dump to let him take as many of the 16mm films as he could fit in his van. He might have taken more but he was told that he had to leave some as evidence that the films had actually been delivered to their destination. To aid this deception, the collector removed some of the film reels and left the empty film cans to be buried. There probably wasn't time to pick and choose which films to take, so it was good fortune that The Lion was among the 321 films the collectors took away with him.

In 1975 the collector typed up a catalogue of his hoard (the catalogue bears the heading "16mm FILM CATALOGUE 1975" on its cover page). This list included much of the detail from the labels that was still attached to the film reels or film cans, and included NZBC and censorship information. On page 12 of the 17-page document is the following entry:

DR. WHO" BRT. BBC 24 min. "Y" The Lion B-271-48

This is the only Doctor Who episode on the list. It is this document that provides the sole evidence of the 'Y' rating assigned to the first episode of The Crusade. BRT indicates it is British, and "24 min" is the approximate duration (the actual duration of The Lion is 24 minutes, 56 seconds). The catalogue number, "B-271-48", matches to the notation on the NZBC's Programme Traffic records.

Over the years, the collector sold many of the films to other collectors; including fellow film buff David Lascelles who bought The Lion. Lascelles long ago sold the episode on to another collector, but came forward in January 1999 in the aftermath of the media publicity, to tell the story of the NZBC dumping.

The 16mm film print of The Lion had several owners within New Zealand over a period spanning nearly a quarter of a century. In all of this time it seems that no-one assigned any special significance or value to this film print, and certainly not one owner or viewer of the film appears to have realised that this was one of many episodes sought after by the BBC, that is, not until 1998.

On the Lion's Trail

Shortly after the discovery of The Lion in January 1999, Wellington Doctor Who fan Graham Howard discovered more about the film's provenance. Graham takes up the story: "The fact that there were film collectors around New Zealand who held episodes of old overseas television programmes came as a surprise to me. Although there was always the possibility that the odd episode might have slipped out of the NZBC or TVNZ, the extent of the 'slippage' appears to be far more widespread than I could have imagined.

"A Wellington film collector I contacted to discuss the likelihood of there being other missing material, perhaps in private collections, mentioned that he knew the person who sold The Lion to Bruce Grenville. Since Bruce did not know the identity of the person who sold him the film, and previous attempts to track this person down had failed, I asked if I could contact him myself.

"Around January 1998 Larry Duggan, a film collector from Featherston, bought around 40 reels of film, for which he paid $150. The films purchased by Larry were mostly newsreels and documentaries. However, among these items was the pilot episode of an old British sitcom called The Rough with the Smooth, and an obscure episode of Doctor Who called The Lion.

"The person who had previously owned the films, an 'eccentric' Wellington painter, had been storing them with at least a hundred or so other films, and a huge quantity of other items - in fact, some 150 tonnes worth - on an isolated property near the Wahine Gorge. This unusual situation had come about because around two years previously this collector had sold the house he had previously been using to store all of these possessions (including The Lion, which had probably been stored there for at least the previous ten years), and so needed an alternative site. Dean Fletcher, the owner of the Wahine Gorge property, had agreed to store the collector's possessions for six months in exchange for a storage fee. However, two years later he had still not received any money. The gear was stored in boxes and crates, but was exposed to the weather and was deteriorating noticeably. So Dean decided to sell off what he could, while he still could, and dump or otherwise destroy the rest. This decision quite possibly saved The Lion, because in his view it is unlikely the films would have survived another winter. Since Dean knew Larry was a serious film collector he asked him to have a look through the films, take what he wanted from them and make him an offer. Perhaps ironically, Dean and his wife enjoy Doctor Who, and he would never have sold the episode to Larry if he'd known it was in there!

"Larry remembers enjoying Doctor Who years ago, so he picked out The Lion from the collection, but says he didn't particularly care for this episode, so [in May 1998] he sold it at a film collectors' convention in Napier, for five dollars. Larry never showed it to anyone else - it never occurred to him that the print was in any way unique. He was therefore surprised to learn of the systematic junkings by the BBC in the 1970s. Of course, I had to ask him if he had ever come across any other episodes of Doctor Who over the years he had been collecting films. The answer was an emphatic 'no', but that he would now be very alert to any future 'sightings'! (He has my number!)."


In May 1998 the Film Buffs Association, a New Zealand club for film aficionados, held in Napier the first of their bi-annual conventions. The Lion film reel was on sale at this event on a trader's table as one of a pile of films regarded as having little interest or value to buyers. The seller of these films, as mentioned above, was Featherston film collector Larry Duggan. Bruce Grenville attended this convention, and was on the lookout for interesting items to add to his own collection of 16mm films. Grenville enjoyed Doctor Who as a casual viewer and noticing the film can marked 'Dr Who', he offered to buy it. Larry informed Bruce that it was an incomplete story, part of a larger adventure but that the rest of the episodes were missing. For this reason Larry considered that the film had little value - it would have been much more collectable (and therefore more valuable) as a complete adventure - and was therefore apparently happy to sell it to Grenville for just $5. Grenville brought the 16mm film print of The Lion back to Auckland with him and stored it away in a cupboard with his many other 16mm films at his Grey Lynn flat.

Grenville has many interests; he is a doctor of archaeology and also operates his own letterpress printery. In the early 1980s he was involved in science fiction fandom and produced a whole range of printed stickers and other paraphernalia for a Dunedin SF convention called Octacon. These days Grenville produces newsletters and postage stamps, all relating to the fantasy kingdom of Sedang. He has recently signed a contract with a London film producer to make a movie about Occussi-Ambeno, a fictitious country of his creation.

Grenville also runs Sedang Cinema, which he describes as "a mobile picture service that specialises in providing movie shows for functions and children's parties in the client's own home". Grenville also screens his films in his flat for his friends. Grenville's collection contains over 200 films, and these are all documented in a catalogue he has produced and distributed, as well as featuring on a website (www.sedang.hm) created and maintained by a colleague in Canberra, Australia. The Lion first appeared in both Bruce's printed catalogue and on the Sedang Cinema website sometime in the latter half of 1998. Perhaps remarkably, despite being accessible on the Internet throughout the world, no one picked up on the listing, at least not to the extent of following it up with Bruce. The catalogue and Internet entry was as follows:

Doctor Who (BBC) B/W, episode one of a mini-series "The Lion". Starring William Hartnell as the First Doctor, King Richard the Lion-heart in Jaffa fights with the Saracens, who capture one of the doctor's female travelling companions.

Over the second half of 1998, Bruce screened The Lion many times for his own enjoyment as well as for friends and visitors to his flat. Bruce was completely unaware of the film's rarity. As far as he knew, the BBC held a full set of Doctor Who stories. One of his friends for whom he screened The Lion was Cornelius Stone, a former TSV reader (he was one of this journal's earliest subscribers back in 1987).

Some weeks after Cornelius saw the film, he encountered his friend Neil Lambess in Pop Culture, a comic shop in central Auckland, on Saturday 17 October 1998. Cornelius told Neil that he'd watched an episode of the animated television series Escape from the Planet of the Apes, projected on 16mm film at Bruce's place. Neil, a devoted fan of Doctor Who, had long believed that missing episodes still exist in New Zealand, and has pursued rumours and tenuous leads about various episodes. When Cornelius told him about the Planet of the Apes film, Neil asked if Bruce also had any Doctor Who on film. Neil says, "This throwaway comment jogged Corn's memory and then he remembered! I've often thought since that if I hadn't said that, none of us would be any the wiser" You should always follow up any lead: if I'd assumed that Corn' knew Bruce didn't have any Who I'd have never asked - I almost didn't!"

Cornelius told Neil that he'd seen an episode from a William Hartnell story set at the time of the Crusades, which he thought was called The Lion. Neil was immediately interested, but thought it likely that this was in fact The Wheel of Fortune, the surviving third part of The Crusade, an episode that has always been held by the BBC (and has been available on video as a featured episode on The Hartnell Years tape). Neil did however encourage Cornelius to speak to Bruce, both to confirm the episode title and to check if it was okay for him to contact Bruce.

For various reasons it wasn't until the beginning of January 1999 that Cornelius and Neil was able to confirm that the episode was apparently called The Lion. Cornelius put Neil in contact with Bruce on the morning of Sunday 3 January. Neil arranged for himself and one other to go to Bruce's Grey Lynn flat that evening to view the episode, and gained Bruce's permission to videotape it at the same time. Neil then phoned Jon Preddle in Hamilton, but Jon decided not to make the journey up to Auckland on what might prove to be a false lead. In addition, Jon didn't have a video camera, and knowing that I did, suggested that Neil phone me instead. Neil and I arranged to meet up and go to visit Bruce together. All Bruce had asked for in return for showing us the film was a copy of his favourite Doctor Who story, The Sun Makers, which he remembered seeing on its 1987 broadcast.

Upon arriving at Bruce's flat at the arranged time, Neil and I discovered that Bruce and his flat mates had begun to watch a German language film on video, Veronika Voss, which continued to run for nearly two hours. This 1982 black and white Fassbinder movie has consequently become a part of mine and Neil's memory of seeing The Lion for the first time, not least of all because we were forced to sit and politely endure what seemed like a very long and slow-moving film when what we really want to see was the Doctor Who episode!

Neil had asked me to bring along a video camcorder so that we could record the episode off-screen. I set up the camera on a tripod, and we stayed very quiet during the screening to avoid extraneous noises on the soundtrack.

We had checked the Titan script book of The Crusade in advance, so when the episode opened with two knights entering a forest clearing, we knew straight away that was indeed the story's first episode. Concrete evidence came thirty seconds later with the episode title "THE LION" superimposed over a shot of the TARDIS materialising with a most unusual sound effect!

After the final credits had rolled on screen, Neil and I were excited, but remained deliberately restrained in our excitement for fear of harming our chances of negotiating for the loan of the film. We didn't know how Bruce would react if he knew exactly how sought-after his film print actually was. We did however explain that it was a missing episode, and that the BBC would very much like to borrow the film for a few weeks in order to clean it up and take a copy.

Bruce appeared pleased and surprised. He had believed that the BBC possessed a complete collection of Doctor Who episodes, and that his was just one of many film copies in circulation. He explained that he had previously been seeking to trade the film for another Doctor Who film in colour, or with a science fiction plot, but above all, he wanted a complete story rather than his single episode. Fortunately for everyone concerned, Bruce had not encountered another film collector with a Doctor Who episode to trade. The Lion ends with the words 'Next Episode: The Knight of Jaffa', and not knowing how long the story was meant to be, Bruce hoped that if he could locate this next episode, it would perhaps complete the story.

Neil and I established that Bruce would be willing to loan the film to the BBC, but wanted some time to consider this first. We agreed to get back in touch in a week, and departed with our off-screen camcorder recording as the only hard evidence that we'd just seen a episode believed to be lost forever by the rest of the world's Doctor Who fans.

Negotiating the Return

At 2 a.m. in the morning on Monday, 4 January, following a late night celebratory phone-call by Neil and myself to Jon Preddle, I emailed Steve Roberts. Steve is a BBC engineer who heads the unofficial 'Doctor Who Restoration Team', the group responsible for, among other projects, restoring The War Machines and The Ice Warriors, and recolourising successfully three Pertwee stories. I wrote in my email:

My name's Paul Scoones. I run the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club. I have some awesomely good news. Another fan and myself have tracked down a film collector in New Zealand with a missing episode of Doctor Who; namely The Lion, episode 1 of The Crusade. I was initially very sceptical, but tonight we went to visit this collector and he played us the film print on his projector. We couldn't believe our luck - it is indeed The Lion!!

Steve replied within a few hours, beginning his message "Excellent news mate, much kudos to you and your mate for tracking that one down!" Arrangements were made to send him a VHS copy of my off-screen recording so that Steve could make an advance assessment of the amount of restoration work involved.

I asked Steve to keep the news under wraps because I was worried that if word leaked out before the BBC could borrow the film, Bruce might be tracked down and made an offer for the film by another fan wanting it for their collection. We mutually agreed to try and give Doctor Who Magazine the exclusive story on the find, and although the timing of the next issue meant this wasn't to be, DWM did get articles written especially for the magazine from Steve and myself.

Neil lives in Whangarei (which is around two hours drive north of Auckland) so Neil and I agreed that I was in a better position to negotiate with Bruce and to handle the return of the film to the BBC. We had intended to give Bruce a week before approaching him again but after communicating with Steve, I began to worry about the possibility of Bruce having second thoughts, someone else tracking him down, or worse still, the film becoming accidentally damaged. So three days later I phoned Bruce and sounded him out again on loaning his film to the BBC. He agreed, and I arranged to pick it up on Thursday 7 January.

When I turned up at Bruce's flat on the Thursday evening, however, he had changed his mind. As Bruce pointed out, I could walk out the door with the film and never be seen or heard from again. I could appreciate his point of view, but I was frustrated at having made a wasted journey across town. I returned home to print out emails from Steve Roberts and write a personal letter of assurance setting out the intention to copy the film and promptly return it to Bruce. I delivered these documents to Bruce later the same night, and these proved to be enough to set his mind at rest. Bruce permitted me to leave with the film in my possession. I left with a sense of relief and triumph, and the next morning dispatched the film to Steve Roberts at the BBC by Federal Express international courier. It arrived on Monday 11 January. Steve held on to the film for a month, during which time it was cleaned and copies were taken of the episode. Steve returned the film on Friday 5 February, and I received it the following Monday. I hand-delivered the film back to Bruce on the evening of Tuesday 9 February.

Media Circus

With the film safely on its way to the BBC in early January, there was nothing to stop us going public with the news, but I thought that if the find could be kept under wraps for ten days, then TSV would get the world exclusive. Neil and I devised a press release that we intended posting to the Internet and faxing to the media timed so that the news would hit the papers just as most local readers were receiving their copy of TSV 56. Steve Roberts and his restoration team, and Gary Gillatt and the rest of the DWM team all agreed to this plan of action. What Neil and I failed to realise, however, was that Bruce was making plans of his own.

A journalist for the local Sunday Star-Times newspaper, Annie Kearns, was told about the find by her friend Cornelius Stone and recognised the episode find as an opportunity for an exclusive story for her paper. Kearns interviewed Bruce on Sunday 10 January. The article was planned to appear in the following Sunday's paper, breaking the news about this lost episode of Doctor Who being found in New Zealand. I learned of this on the Monday when Kearns phoned me at work to get my views for the story. It was then that I realised that TSV wouldn't get the scoop we'd hoped for, as the issues would not be ready to post out just after Kearns' story went to print.

On the afternoon of Tuesday 12 January, Bruce typed up a one-page press release and faxed it off to television stations, newspapers and radio stations. Bruce later explained to me that he had had a change of heart about giving Kearns the exclusive story. The release gave the full story about the episode find, included my name and contact number, but unfortunately omitted any mention of Neil Lambess. I only became aware of Bruce's actions when Deborah Diaz, a reporter at the New Zealand Herald, phoned me on Tuesday afternoon for an interview. I got Diaz to read parts of the release to me and I stressed the importance of Neil Lambess's name being included in the story.

In this press release and in subsequent interviews and releases, Bruce made mention of screening the film at Conquest II, the National SF convention at Easter, and then auctioning the film via the Internet. Neil and I had suggested to Bruce that he should screen the film at the convention, so that as many people as possible could share the experience, but the notion of an Internet auction was not something we'd discussed. For obvious reasons we steered clear of any suggestion of selling the film in conversations with him, lest he change his mind about loaning it to the BBC. When I spoke to Deborah Diaz, she wanted me to put a price on the film. I was reluctant to do so, but when pressed, offered the figure of £1000, which was subsequently quoted in Diaz's article.

Radio and television stations began phoning that evening, and it was at this point that I emailed everyone I could think of with our own version of the press release that had been intended to go out the following week. Overnight, it appeared on most of the major Doctor Who-related Internet sites and newsgroups, with fan reactions on rec.arts.drwho ranging from sceptical to overjoyed. Understandably, some fans thought it was yet another hoax, but this soon quashed by Steve Roberts' own postings to the newsgroup, assuring everyone that the find was genuine.

Deborah Diaz's story made the front page of the Metro (Auckland) edition of the Herald on Wednesday 13 January. This high profile was undoubtedly due in part to the lack of major stories. Michael Jordan's retirement from basketball, the ongoing Clinton impeachment proceedings and a possible development in the hunt for missing teenagers Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were not enough to shunt a short piece about a Doctor Who episode found in New Zealand off the front page. The story had been distributed via the NZPA (New Zealand Press Association) to all other newspapers around the country and at least fourteen daily papers - including both editions of the Herald - carried the story.

What the Papers Said

Deborah Diaz's story appeared in more than a dozen New Zealand daily newspapers on Wednesday 13 January. Most papers ran the full story, though it was truncated in The Daily News, The Waikato Times, The Evening Standard, and ironically, in both the Metro and Northern editions of the Herald. The Evening Post and the Herald (Northern edition) both featured the story on the papers' masthead, complete with a photo of William Hartnell as the Doctor. The Evening Post and the Herald (both editions) were also the only papers to feature a photo, again of Hartnell, alongside the article. The only other significant variation across all of the papers was the title - remarkably no two were exactly the same:

  • Big thrill for 'Dr Who' fans (Daily Telegraph)
  • Dr Who episode found in NZ (Daily News)
  • Dr Who episode takes a time trip of its own (Waikato Times)
  • Dr Who film find (Wairarapa Times Age)
  • Dr Who in reappearing episode pleases fans (Herald Northern edition)
  • Dr Who travels in time and space, winds up in Auckland (Evening Post)
  • Dr Who turns up in Auckland (Gisborne Herald)
  • 'Dr Who' turns up in NZ (Otago Daily Times)
  • Dr Who? Dr Who, that's who (Evening Standard)
  • Dream find for Dr Who fans (Wanganui Chronicle)
  • Lost Dr Who emerges from tardis in Auckland (Rotorua Daily Post)
  • Lost Dr Who episode appears in Auckland (Bay of Plenty Times)
  • Missing Dr Who episode turns up in Auckland (Northern Advocate)
  • Time traveller reappears (Herald Metro edition)

I was interviewed early in the morning of Wednesday 13 January by IRN news, and Radio Pacific also ran an early morning report. I was forced to take most of the day off work as both TV1 and TV3 news wanted to interview me at home with my Doctor Who collection. TV3 was the first to record an item, followed by TV1 later in the afternoon. (The intervening time gave me the opportunity I needed to put the finishing touches on TSV issue 56 and take it to the printers). Radio 5 phoned from the UK in the middle of the TV1 interview. Bruce held a 'press conference' that evening at his flat that I did not attend, but I did however provide a copy of the on- screen video recording.

Thursday saw the story run in most major British newspapers, including large features in The Guardian and The Times. Bruce and I were interviewed on 'Radio 5 Live' in the UK. Bruce talked about Doctor Who episodes being held by the BBC on Laserdiscs and U-matic tapes, but there wasn't time on air for me to correct these inaccuracies.

Having lost her exclusive on the story, Annie Kearns salvaged an article from the material she'd assembled that focussed on the legality of Bruce auctioning what was technically the property of BBC Enterprises. Kearns quoted Steve Roberts as saying "What Bruce has is stolen property and, in fact, by buying it he may very well open himself up for legal action." (Steve was annoyed at being misquoted, as it was not Bruce's buying the film but rather selling it that was the issue.) In the article Bruce expressed confidence that no legal proceedings would take place. The story ran in the Sunday Star-Times on 17 January as planned.

Although Kearns had missed out on her exclusive, her story appears to have been the first to address the legal ramifications of Bruce's ownership - and therefore his right to sell the film.

Television News Reports

The 6pm news on TV1 and TV3 on the evening of 13 January both featured the story of the episode find. Both items were around one and a half minutes long. As the film itself was already in the hands of the BBC, both reports cleverly edited together their own footage of Bruce Grenville operating his film projector with clips from the off-screen home video footage of the episode shot by Paul Scoones.

The TV3 report by Jacquie Hudson played as one of the leading items of the news hour. The first interview was with "Dr Bruce Grenville - Film Buff", who talked about finding the film in Napier saying that he was " in the right place at the right time and bought it at a really cheap rate." After revealing that this rate was just $5, Hudson then talked to "Paul Scoones - Dr Who Fan Club", who was described as being the one who realised the significance of Bruce's purchase. I said: "We sat down to watch it, he flicked the switch, rolled the camera and sure enough it was a missing episode - so it was incredible! We just couldn't believe our eyes when we first saw it." Jacquie Hudson then described how the BBC threw the episodes out, but now encouraged people to return the films, and I commented: "Our big hope is that there are other missing episodes out there in New Zealand. Having found one makes it all the more likely there's another." Hudson concluded the report with the comment that what happened to the other missing episodes is a mystery. (I subsequently received some ribbing from friends for apparently confusing a film projector with a film camera in this interview, but in my defence what I was actually referring to was the video camera that I was using to record the episode.)

Over on TV1, reporter Paul Hobbs covered the story in an item near the end of the news hour. Like TV3, the first interview was with "Bruce Grenville - Rare Episode Owner", who talked about buying the film for $5. Hobbs then said that a "Time Lord expert" realised its significance, and this introduces "Paul Scoonese - Dr Who Fan Club" (yes, that's really how it was spelt!), who said: "Amazing - every fan's dream to find a missing episode of Dr Who." The report then featured Fred Gapes of TVNZ, interviewed in a programme storage area at TVNZ: "Obviously this film has fallen into someone's hands at the time of junking." The report then cut back to Bruce, who talked about the BBC borrowing the film. Hobbs wrapped up the item, lying on my front lawn surrounded by Doctor Who models, by mentioning the forthcoming Conquest II screening and the online auction.

The Right to Sell

The question of whether Bruce Grenville legally had the right to sell the film print of The Lion was to cause some embarrassment for the BBC. The media first raised this issue in the Sunday Star-Times on 17 January, but Steve Roberts had addressed the problem when he wrote to Bruce on behalf of the BBC on 13 January, thanking him for allowing the BBC to borrow the film. Steve had of course seen the stories in the newspapers and on the Internet that Bruce intended to put the film up for public auction. Steve said in his letter: "Because the print should have been either returned or destroyed after the contract period had expired, it is technically still the property of the BBC and therefore can be classed as stolen property... If you proceed down this path, you may open yourself up to legal action."

The letter had potentially serious ramifications not only for Bruce's case but also for anyone else that might be in possession of a missing episode film. If the BBC's position was that the films were stolen property, would any holder of a Doctor Who episode risk prosecution or confiscation of their film by approaching the BBC? In effect, the BBC were cutting off the possibility of further missing episodes being returned. Steve Roberts later explained to me that Bruce's case had put the BBC in a position that they had not been in before. "Basically, all these things were written on the basis that the print was the property of the BBC and Bruce wasn't in a position to sell it - this was the official Press Office line at the time we were asked to talk to the press. However, since then, Sue Malden in Information & Archives has unilaterally moved to overrule this line. I'm not sure if this applies to anyone, or just to this particular case. Obviously though, some damage has already been done."

As a result of Malden's overruling, Steve Roberts again wrote to Bruce on 18 January, apologising for any worry or confusion his first letter might have caused. He wrote: "I'm pleased to be able to confirm that the BBC's official position is now that the film is your property and that you may sell it on or otherwise dispose of it as you please. You bought the print in good faith and therefore you are entitled to be considered as the legal owner... I have been asked to point out, however, that the ownership of the print is limited to the physical acetate film, not to the copyright of the programme contained on it. This must also be made clear to anyone who wishes to buy the film from you."

Mindful that Bruce would most likely receive his first letter several days before the second, Steve asked me to contact Bruce to explain the situation before both letters arrived. I duly reassured Bruce in a letter dated 18 January that there was no legal threat from the BBC, enclosing the relevant passages from Steve's letters, which had been e-mailed to me.

Despite both Steve and I moving quickly to inform Bruce of the revised decision, he nonetheless chose to issue another press release after receiving the first letter. In his statement, Bruce claimed that the film was about to be the subject of a court case. "If the BBC wish to make a legal battle out of this and bring the galaxy's most famous time-traveller into the courtroom, we will certainly fight the issue, and will have top legal daleks in action to defend our ownership of the film."

Although the story was not nearly as widely publicised as the initial news of the episode find, it did get picked up by at least two New Zealand radio stations, and articles appeared in the Herald, the Dominion and the Evening Standard. Deborah Diaz again wrote the Herald report, which appeared on Wednesday 27 January. The reports said that the BBC was threatening take legal action if Bruce persisted with his plan to sell the film, and in both cases quoted extensively from Steve Roberts' first letter.

I wrote to the editor of the Herald the same day as the article appeared, refuting the claims made in the article and quoting from Steve's second letter. For reasons best known to the newspaper, my letter was not printed until two weeks later. In the meantime, the issue had been resolved. Bruce issued yet another press release, on 28 January, this time quoting from Steve's second letter. The Herald, the Dominion and the Evening Standard reported the 'resolution' of the so-called dispute on Friday 29 January.

Bruce wrote to TSV in late January, giving his response to the BBC's suggestion that the film was 'stolen property': "What a lot of rubbish! As I put it to some radio stations that rang me, it's like having an old chair that you decide to dump, so you put it out for the garbage truck. It is taken to the tip, where your neighbour sees it, and brings it home. Next day, you walk past your neighbour's house and see the chair on his front veranda. 'That's stolen property!' you scream, racing up his driveway. 'Give it back!' No, more like 'found' property, or flotsam & jetsam. Hardly stolen! If it weren't for us film buffs rescuing stuff like this from the tips, there would be many more missing episodes than the 109 presently lost."

I later asked Bruce why he had chosen to publicise Steve Roberts' first letter, aware as he was from my own letter to him that the BBC's stance had already changed on the issue. Bruce explained that he wanted to generate additional publicity for both the episode's screening at Conquest II and the subsequent Internet auction.

According to Bruce Grenville, his publicity-seeking actions brought him criticism and the threat of ostracism from the New Zealand Film Buffs Association, of which he is a member. The association's members apparently felt that Bruce should have kept quiet about his find. Bruce was defiant; feeling that he had raised public awareness of the need to hunt out missing Doctor Who episodes and hoped that the exposure his story had been given would result in other episodes coming to light. As for the film buffs who apparently felt that he has brought their hobby unwanted public exposure, Bruce points to the February 1999 issue of the film-collecting fanzine Reel Deals, in which editor Mike Trickett applauds the BBC's recognition of Bruce Grenville as the film's rightful owner. Trickett cites the BBC's stance as "a big step forward for film collectors. We now have a major film producer, accepting that the person holding the film has legal ownership of it and with certain restrictions regarding copyright, he can sell it... I believe most collectors will be happy with this result." Bruce's conduct over the Doctor Who episode was on the agenda to be discussed at the business meeting at the Film Buffs Convention held in early May 1999. Bruce had been prepared to defend his actions, but was approached by the association's president just prior to the meeting and told that it had been dropped from the agenda. "I assume his change of attitude was caused by the favourable editorial in Reel Deals," says Bruce.

The Lion and the Lottery

The discovery of a lost Doctor Who episode attracted huge media interest in the UK, and resulted in the story of Bruce's find being featured on the BBC1's live jackpot National Lottery draw, hosted by Carol Smillie and her special guest for the occasion, Frazer Hines, wearing his Jamie costume. The show regularly featured a segment called The National Lottery Amazing Luck Stories, and the lottery draw was recorded in front of a live audience of Doctor Who fans on Wednesday 10 February. The pre-recorded documentary briefly covered the lost episodes and the rediscovery of The Lion. Interview subjects included William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Gary Gillatt (Doctor Who Magazine Editor), Sue Malden (BBC Archives), Paul Vanezis (BBC Restoration Team) and Bruce Grenville.

The documentary recreated the film collectors fair, using The Lion film can itself as a prop, though the fact that it clearly had a Sedang Cinema label, attached by Bruce after he bought the film, rather destroyed the illusion for the few who were in the know!

Bruce had been invited to the UK for the recording of the documentary, but problems with his passport prevented him from making the trip. In his interview, which was recorded in Auckland, Bruce says: "So he and his buddy came around that evening... We chatted about it, and I said not a problem to put it on, so I put it on for them and they were just ecstatic. It was like a really big religious experience for them."

Limited Edition Video

When The Tomb of the Cybermen was recovered in 1992, the BBC hastily released the newly found story on video. The same happened with The Lion. By Friday 22 January - less than three weeks after the episode was found - the BBC had plans in place to put The Lion out on video for the middle of the year. The special 'Limited Edition Box Set' included both existing episodes of The Crusade, paired with The Space Museum on one tape.

William Russell presented The Crusade in character as an elderly Ian Chesterton, recalling his adventures aboard the TARDIS, and reminiscing about The Crusade. Russell provided a brief summary of each episode's events, filling the gaps created by the missing parts two and four.

The full-length soundtracks of the two missing episodes were included on a CD along with the video, entitled Doctor Who - The Crusade and The Space Museum. The box also included a TARDIS key-ring and a set of four photo postcards featuring stills from the two stories. Both the video sleeve and the CD case booklet contained detailed descriptions of the rediscovery of The Lion and the restoration of this and the other episodes included in the set. Bruce Grenville's name was included, but both Neil Lambess and I were omitted (although my name did appear on the video's closing credits). This oversight was unfortunately not noticed until it was too late to be corrected on the UK set, which was released in June 1999, however Steve Roberts swiftly arranged for the text to be corrected on the packaging for Roadshow's Australasian release in July - just six months after The Lion was rediscovered.

The Auction

Bruce never made any secret of his plans to sell the film. Early on, he decided that the best way to do this was via auction, and apparently phoned Bonhams (the UK auctioneers responsible for selling off the BBC's Doctor Who props and costumes in the early 1990s). Bruce asked if they would sell the film for him with a reserve of £1 million. It seems they turned him down.

The sale was instead handled by Auckland-based Turners Auctions, who took out colour magazine advertising for a 'Doctor Who Live Internet Auction'. Turners set up an Internet web page to promote the sale, and interested buyers were encouraged to advance register their interest in taking part in the auction.

When arrangements for the auction were still in the early stages, Bruce said: "We will also throw in a second-hand Eiki projector and take-up spool, so the successful bidder can watch it... I am hoping to get over $1 million, and feel I would be silly to sell such a unique item at any less. I should be able to buy a house and get a bit more organised with that sort of money. This all presupposes that there are some millionaire American Doctor Who fans eager to spend large to get a unique collectable bit of paraphernalia. Let's hope this is the case. Doctor Who made a big impact in the States in the late 1980s, so hopefully some of those fans are now rich and eager!"

The internet auction was due to take place 17 September 1999. Interested bidders were required to register in advance, but just a few days before the sale was due to take place Turners pulled the auction because there were just five registered bidders. The auction was rescheduled in October and sold for US$850 to a New Zealand bidder.

Bruce Grenville later revealed that he didn't make any money from the sale of the film. The money raised wasn't enough to cover the auction company's expenditure on advertising. Fortunately for Bruce, he wasn't required to pay the deficit.

The film was subsequently listed on eBay in November 1999, selling for US$3150 to a UK bidder called David Goldstein. However the sale fell through when Goldstein failed to pay. The film was listed for a second time on eBay in January 2000, where it attracted 43 bids, and this time sold for US$1275. The current owner of the film print is unknown.

Lost in Time

In November 2004 the BBC released the Doctor Who DVD box set Lost in Time, which featured 18 episodes from incomplete 1960s stories, including The Lion. DVD producer Paul Vanezis invited Adam McGechan and I to contribute a video segment about The Lion to appear on the DVD as a coda to The Missing Years documentary (which had previously been released in 1998 as part of The Ice Warriors box set several months before The Lion was rediscovered). Interviews with Neil Lambess, Bruce Grenville and myself were recorded on the evening of 26 May 2004 in my living room. The interviewer was Adam McGechan and the cameraman was Nigel Windsor. Eight short segments from this material appeared on the DVD.


The original version of this article was published in TSV 57 in July 1999. This revised version was compiled in March 2007, and contains numerous corrections and additions, including information about the NZBC film archives and New Zealand government censorship, provided by Jon Preddle from the research that Jon has conducted in recent years.

I concluded the original article expressing regret that the awareness generated by all of the publicity surrounding The Lion in the first half of 1999 hadn't resulted in any further missing episode discoveries. I wrote 'we can only hope that there won't be cause for The Lion to be described in some future Doctor Who reference book as "The last of the rediscovered Doctor Who episodes.'" In fact that hope was rewarded first with Graham Howard's early 2002 discovery here in New Zealand of several short censor clips from missing episodes of The Web of Fear and The Wheel in Space, and in January 2004 with the discovery of Day of Armageddon, the second episode of The Daleks' Master Plan, in the UK.


For assistance, material and/or advice, thanks to Jon Preddle, David Lascelles, Graham Howard, Steve Roberts, Bruce Grenville, Nigel Windsor, Cornelius Stone, David Ronayne and, most importantly of all, Neil Lambess - without whom there would be no article!

For details of how The Lion was restored, check out article on the Restoration Team website. The information on this page originally appeared as part of this article, with Steve Roberts' permission.

This item appeared in TSV 57 (July 1999).

Index nodes: The Crusade