Lost Doctor Who story The Power of the Daleks may find new life through animation
Updated 9/6/16: The BBC has officially confirmed the release of the animated “Power of the Daleks” six-episode serial. The animated set will be released on November 5, 2016, exactly 50 years to the day after the original first debuted.
Original Post 9/2/16: If you’ve read more than a few articles on DBP you may already know that we take rumors of missing Doctor Who episodes seriously. As fans, we’ve also been burned several times, enough so that we tend to treat any new news with skepticism until it is 100-percent confirmed.
With that in mind, we highly recommend that you take this news with a huge grain of salt. Given that it comes from what some may generously call the “inconsistent” UK paper/tabloid The Mirror, make that a boulder of salt.
A report published in The Mirror claims that the BBC has commissioned an as-yet unnamed animation studio to recreate the long lost Doctor Who serial, “The Power of the Daleks.” The six-part story is the first complete serial featuring the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and it has been lost for decades. Given its place in Who history, as the first story with a freshly regenerated Doctor, and given that it comes from the run of the mostly lost Troughton years, it has been one of the most wanted stories from fans holding out hopes for a miraculous find of lost episodes.
From 1967 through 1978, the BBBC decided to go through its archives and destroy thousands of hours of old programming to free up space. Most of the destroyed content didn’t cause much of an issue, but most of those shows haven’t survived over 50 years. Of the 253 half-hour episodes created during Doctor Who’s first six years, 97 are still gone, leaving 26 serials incomplete.
But while the episodes themselves were destroyed, the audio remained. That has led to a cottage industry of sorts, mostly from individuals and small groups willing to piece together old production images from the episodes to pair with the audio, creating “telesnap” recreations. Some of the more ambitious and talented fans even went a little further and created animated recreations.
These have been few and far between though. It’s a costly and time-consuming process for an individual to animate lost episodes, and there is always the risk of running afoul of the BBC if people try to sell their recreations. It has left many to wonder why the BBC doesn’t just hire them, but the BBC does what the BBC does.
If the Mirror’s report is true, it would make sense for several reasons. Doctor Who is more popular than ever, and there is still a strong following of fans holding out hope that one day someone will discover a cache of lost episodes, so there is an eager audience. It has also become significantly easier to animate projects thanks to computer assistance – and given that the animators in this case would be working from a well-documented project with set stories, storyboards, and audio, it would be relatively inexpensive.
Of course, all of that has been true for a while now and the BBC hasn’t taken advantage of it. One big change, however, is that the BBC has recently undergone significant budget cuts. This would be an easy source of revenue with very low risk and relatively low costs. And if it proves successful, the BBC has 25 more potential projects it could animate and sell.
Again though, for now this should all be taken as rumor. Even if it is true, there is a chance it might not happen. In 2015 it was announced that another Second Doctor serial, “The Underwater Menace,” would be released with a combination of two live-action and two animated episodes. That project was officially confirmed, but the studio the BBC hired met with financial problems and the release was officially canceled. In its place, the BBC released the two surviving live action episodes, along with two telesnap recreations.
In the meantime, you’ll have to wait a little while to get your Doctor Who fix. The tenth season of the new iteration of the show won’t be out until spring 2017. The new spinoff Class, however, will debut this October.