Saving Doctor Who |

Saving Doctor Who

Underwire has a post on how the fans of the classic TV series are rescuing Doctor Who episodes by making their own reconstructions of lost footage.

The backstory is that when Doctor Who started airing on the BBC in 1963, the show was popular, but the BBC didn’t foresee that anyone would care about the episodes four decades later. Under the impression that the footage was archived at another location, and needing the film storage space, the BBC had some of the classic episodes destroyed.

In this time of living in the future, with DVDs, DVRs, DVD recorders (not to mention that reliable hanger-on, the VCR), and many digital copies of episodes available via iTunes, or streaming on sites like, it seems impossible that episodes of a TV show could become lost.  Also, DVD boxed sets of older series pop up all the time—assuming, of course, the source material still exists.

For many of the early episodes of the series, all that’s left are audio recordings (many made by the fans themselves at the time of airing), production stills, and something called “telesnaps,” where the BBC had a photographer take pictures of the episode as it played on a TV, for reference and continuity purposes.

Resourceful, skilled, and extremely patient fans have created animations set to the surviving audio. Some reconstructions employ computer animation, others manipulate the stills to suggest action. (For me, the animated stills of Mistymisterwisty on Youtube wins out for sheer inventiveness).

There’s more on the losing, finding, and recreating of classic Doctor Who episodes at Loose Cannon Productions, a fan reconstruction website.


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