Since Rich Johnston’s original article regarding the possible recovery of a substantial number of missing episodes of Doctor Who first appeared on his Bleeding Cool website, several other sites have picked up on the story.

Kasterborous, blastr.com, tvshowsondvd.com, io9.com and aintitcool.com have all carried the story, while back at Bleeding Cool, Johnston published a follow-up article titled Reaction To Those Doctor Who Lost Episode Rumours.

Of course this rumour has been around for quite some time in one form or another. On May 7 Doctor Who expert Paul Vanezis,  stalwart of the Missing Episodes Forum, wrote:

Just very quickly to nip this in the bud. Someone forwarded me the text of one of these tweets and the main gist appears to be that Tenth Planet 4 was returned to the BBC last year (untrue) and the Restoration Team are working on a lost Troughton adventure (also untrue).

As far as I’m aware, Tenth Planet 4 has not been returned to the BBC (and I would surely know about it). The Restoration Team are not working on a lost Troughton and readying it for release. In fact, at the moment, nothing is being worked on, on the DW front. I should also add that nothing has been returned to the BBC in the form of a missing Doctor Who since I last posted i.e. one of the known to be lost 106 eps. Nothing has changed since I last came here to say nothing has been returned.

What I think has happened though is that someone has pooled together all the current rumours about the so called return of lost DW and is purporting to be an insider to justify his claims. Whatever the rumour, it’s an anonymous one and not based in fact. Disappointing I know, but there you go. As usual, this will be my only comment on the matter.

Now, as far as we’re concerned Vanezis is a well respected figure in Who fandom, so his intervention should have been enough to put this rumour to bed, right? Wrong. While many fans accepted what Vanezis wrote, others remained unconvinced. For some his denial was simply not specific enough.

One fan responded with:

He simply debunked a couple of elements of the tweets and ignored the substance of them.

And so discussion continued on internet forums with various missing stories rumoured to be possible recoveries – but very soon posts were being deleted hither, thither and yon, and threads locked…

On Gallifrey Base well known American fan Steve Manfred, wrote:

I can report that BBC Worldwide Americas have no knowledge of any plans for any box sets of anything (apart from Complete Series 7) for the rest of this year, and they’ve heard absolutely nothing about any new missing episode recoveries.

He later wrote on the Planet Mondas Forum:

I made that post on GB in response to someone upthread who was claiming that not only have three whole stories been found, but that they were already being scheduled for a DVD release in a box set by the end of the year.  If that latter part were true, BBC WA would know about it by now to get it scheduled for their version of the release, as they’ve always seemed to need more advance warning for any releases than their UK counterparts. 

I’ve no knowledge one way or the other about whether a recovery has happened or is happening or is about to happen.  I’ve been hearing the same rumors you’re discussing here since last November, and I still hold out hope there could be something to it this time.

On twitter yesterday Doctor Who author Jonathan Morris tweeted:

Three words regarding rumours raising fans’ hopes of missing episode recoveries: cruel, irresponsible, bullshit

Uberfan Ian Levine also tweeted :

“There will always be 106 Doctor Who episodes missing”. And yes you can quote me on that

My previous tweet was not ironic. I too wanted to believe ninety episodes had been found. I now believe none have been found. A massive hoax

Meanwhile fandom’s very own version of The Time War was breaking out over the original Bleeding Cool article, between Gallifrey Base (The Time Lords) and Doctor Who Online (The Daleks).

Steven Hill of Gallifrey Base, wrote:

IMO they were all being irresponsible and deserve no apologies. All three of them just wanted the empty accolades that would come later if the story is proved true.

DWO responded:

We didn’t claim anything to offer an empty accolade, Steven, and regarding the tweet that started this whole thread off – we had permission from the BBC to do it.

And regarding the announcement, it is still to come – possibly by the end of this month / early July.

Rassilon Hill (picking up his scary metal glove thingy) replied:

Permission is irrelevant to the hoped-for accolades, Dave, and only slightly relevant to the irresponsibility.
I’d be grateful if you could post the exact contents of the original tweet, so we can all see that no claims were made. I don’t recall the words any more, but I am pretty sure there was a claim about an exciting announcement coming soon

The Dalek Supreme Online (levelling his blaster):

The original tweet simply stated:

“Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day for #DoctorWho fans – and not just because the new series is back… ” (29th March)

then after the announcement of Tennant and Piper in the 50th we tweeted:

“Oh, by the way, the recent 50th Casting announcement ISNT the ‘exciting news’ we talked about yesterday – It IS exciting though ” (30th March)

The original announcement – for whatever reason – was, and still is, held back. We still stand by the decision to put it out, as we believe the permission behind it is qualification enough to have done so.

Rassilon Hill (toying menacingly with his glove):

I certainly respect you standing by your decision. I stand by my opinion that it was irresponsible. Just because the BBC said you could didn’t mean you should, and certainly didn’t mean you had to.

I’d be careful with saying “we didn’t claim anything” though…your claims, nebulous though they may be, are right there above. And I describe the expected eventual accolades as “empty” because it’s not your announcement. See how many people are already lofting the name “Bleeding Cool” for posting a detailed rumor – it’s not as if BC are the ones who found episodes*, returned episodes*, or had any bleeding cool thing to do with any of it – yet they will still get accolades (and are already doing so). That’s how that works, and we all know it. It always leads to that phrase, “You heard it first here, folks!”

*Disclaimer: I’m not saying anything has been found or returned, nor am I saying the DWO tweets had any correlation to the missing episodes rumor.

Finally the war was time-locked when Doctor Who Online published this article on it’s news page:

Missing Doctor Who Episodes Rumour

As a Doctor Who website, posting a news item relating to missing Doctor Who episodes is a particularly conflictive task. On one hand you want to hold off on posting news due to the possible reaction you might get from smaller circles of fandom, whereas on the other hand, it’s surely our duty to report it – after all, news is news, right?

Some of our readers may remember a news item we posted a few years ago about the possibility that The Web Of Fear may have been found – note the words ‘possibility’ and ‘may’. While we also added that our source was reliable in the past and had no reason to disbelieve them, this particular news item turned out to hit a dead end and despite the majority of our readers who were grateful for the reporting of the story, we did face a backlash from some smaller circles of fandom on online forums.

A couple of days ago, Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool News, posted a news item relating to some of the rumours that have been doing the rounds for the past few months – rumours that, up until now, we have avoided reporting on.

The rumour is that a considerable number of lost Doctor Who episodes have been found by “an eccentric engineer who worked for broadcasters across Africa with a taste for science fiction and a habit of taking things for safe keeping”.

DWO can confirm that we have been approached with news from several high-profile sources, some of which confirm these rumours and some that conflict with them and the actual figure of the number of episodes rumoured to have been found.

Whilst it would be easy to blurt out everything we have been told, we retain the caution from previous rumours and hoaxes, and will simply hold out for official confirmation – when and if it comes. What we will say is that *should* the rumours be true, despite the initial excitement at the possibility, it would be wise to sit back and let the BBC do what they need to do to secure these episodes *if* in fact they have been found.

And with that hostilities appear to be over, at least for now – and there’s still not an official word been said – or a single missing episode returned to the BBC vault.

In a final desperate bid to find out if there is any truth to the rumour a reporter from Planet Mondas telephoned lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat last night, at his luxury penthouse apartment in Cardiff Bay, he said:

“Ach! I’m tryin’ te watch some Doctor Who wi ma wee pal Gareth Roberts, son… [line becomes muffled]put Web on, Gar, I dinna like the Hartnell historicals… [line becomes clear] Sorry I have nee comment ta make. Ring back at the end a November, son. Gidneet!”

Okay, we made that last bit up.

The final word goes to your humble site owner, Mike Nuttall:

I’m just wondering how long we can all continue discussing this when not one of us has a single piece of evidence to prove that any of it is actually true.

I love being a Doctor Who fan sometimes, we’re such an optimistic bunch.

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