While a number of vintage Doctor Who episodes will be lost to history, ambitious recreations continue breathe life into some of these missing stories.
Doctor Who News reports a recreation of the 1965 episode “Mission to the Unknown” will stream on the official Doctor Who YouTube account on October 9th at 5.50pm BST — the transmission time of the original episode 54 years earlier. The recreation, complete with era-appropriate staging and camera positions, was orchestrated by students, graduates, and staff of the University of Central Lancashire. And as seen in this trailer, the results are startling.
If those Dalek voices sound familiar, it is because official Dalek voice Nicholas Briggs lent his talents to the production.
The original version of “Mission to the Unknown” — the only episode of Doctor Who to lack the Doctor and their companions — was destroyed sometime in the mid-70s when the BBC burned many vintage film recordings of live and live-to-tape programs from the prior decades. While some episodes have been recovered thanks to early international distribution efforts, some 90+ episodes are still missing with at least two (“Mission to the Unknown” and “The Feast of Steven”) more or less confirmed lost forever.
For the last decade or so, animated reconstructions of some lost stories using surviving audio have been commissioned for home video release, but “Mission to the Unknown” reflects the first time a live action remount has been acknowledged by any wing of the BBC. And as it serves as prologue to the massive “The Dalek Master Plan,” we can’t help but wonder if an attempt to rebuild that story is underway. The mammoth 12-part serial saw The Doctor (William Hartnell) and his companions thwarting a major Dalek offensive across space and time. Sadly, only three episodes survived the 1970s culling; effectively destroying the show’s third season. But as season sets of the classic series and reconstructions of the Patrick Troughton era are proving commercially viable, it is possible “The Dalek Master Plan” may live again in some way.
In the meantime, though, we can enjoy this new version of “Mission to the Unknown” when it debuts on October 9th.