Press Release 1

by Paul Scoones

After a thirty-year absence from the BBC, a William Hartnell Doctor Who episode has been found in New Zealand. The Lion - the first episode of The Crusade - was wiped by the BBC in January 1969. In January this year a 16mm film print was discovered in Auckland, New Zealand, and returned to the BBC.

The complete film print was bought at a film collectors' fair in Napier, New Zealand in June 1998. It was purchased by Auckland film collector Bruce Grenville from another collector who was unaware of its rarity and sold it to Bruce cheaply as an "an incomplete Doctor Who story".

Bruce was equally unaware that the episode had any special significance, and regularly screened it for his friends. One such friend, Cornelius Stone, mentioned to Neil Lambess, a member of the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club, that he'd seen the film of "a Hartnell historical episode set in the time of the crusades".

Neil learned that the episode was apparently The Lion, and following up on this lead, he and Paul Scoones, the NZDWFC's coordinator, visited Bruce on 3 January and viewed the film to verify that it was in fact the long lost first episode of The Crusade.

Bruce was surprised to learn of the rarity of his film print, and readily agreed to loan it to the BBC's unofficial Doctor Who 'Restoration Team' so that the film can now be cleaned up and a duplicate made. Paul Scoones contacted Steve Roberts of the 'Restoration Team' and handled the safe dispatch of the film to the UK.

The Lion joins The Wheel of Fortune (episode 3) as the only other episode of this highly-regarded 1965 four-part historical adventure known to exist.

Although many film clips have been unearthed in recent years, the last discovery of complete lost Doctor Who episodes was seven years ago when The Tomb of the Cybermen was recovered from Hong Kong in 1992.

Although neither the film or its can provide any clues to the route by which it came to be on sale at a film collectors' event in Napier, it is likely that the print was received by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation from the BBC around late 1967. Although NZBC records show that the New Zealand censor rated the story suitable for broadcast, it remains one of several sixties stories that were received by the NZBC but never screened.

The Lion is the only lost Doctor Who episode found in New Zealand. Although Bruce Grenville (who is a regular visitor to film collectors' fairs in NZ), says he has not yet come across any other Doctor Who film prints, this find raises renewed hope that further lost episodes may still exist, just waiting to be rediscovered.

Related: The Lion's Tale