Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling... and the Yeti

Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling… and the Yeti

The Enemy of the World (1967) and The Web of Fear (1968) (with a reconstructed episode three) are now available to download from iTunes at www.iTunes.com/DoctorWho

Seems incredible, doesn’t it? Almost as unbelievable was the way this news was revealed to the press, a full-on PR launch at London’s Soho Hotel held on 10 October 2013 at midday. Hosted by Dan Phelan, Head of Communications for BBC Worldwide in the UK, we were repeatedly advised everything we were about to see and hear was embargoed until 12.01am on Friday.

Mark Gatiss was in attendance. “On Mark’s Twitter profile page he describes himself as actor, writer, strangler,” said Phelan. “But I’ve agreed with Mark that he’s come here today only in the first two capacities… as long as everyone agrees to stick to our midnight embargo.”

The event began with Roy Robinson, the archive coordinator at Television International Enterprises Archive Limited (TIEA) reading out a statement from Phillip Morris – the man who is responsible for the recovery of these episodes…

Phillip Morris’ statement

Welcome everybody to this historic occasion. Firstly I would like to thank everybody at BBC Worldwide and BBC Television for their mammoth support during this project. What you’re about to see has not been seen since its original transmission in 1968, which was 45 years ago. It is my greatest pleasure, in the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, in a joint project between my company TIEA and BBC Worldwide,  to unveil two classic adventures.

Sadly due to other archive commitments overseas, I am unable to be with you today. My work, as you appreciate, is endless, and as you know the search must continue.

I would like to dedicate these episodes to everyone who has ever worked on the show and to all Doctor Who fans around the world. I have the Doctor Who fans’ best interest at heart, believe you me. On behalf of myself and everyone at TIEA, thank you for your continued interest and I hope our paths will soon cross again.

Does that final sentence portend to further discoveries?

The statement was followed by a short video interview with Morris. Here’s the transcript…

Phillip Morris’ video interview

I’m the Director of Television International Enterprises Archive Limited, and we assist overseas stations with the storage and migration of their material, and on the outside of that, we recover lost British television programmes.

I wouldn’t describe myself in the manner that other people say. They normally describe me as “the Indiana Jones of the film world”.

Christmas seems to have come early for Doctor Who fans, in the 50th anniversary of the show. We’ve managed to recover two Doctor Who stories, The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World, starring Patrick Troughton, from the late 1960s. I think they’re pretty much classic adventures. Probably the largest haul of missing episodes recovered in the last 25, maybe 30, years. We’re very pleased to return them.

These episodes were discovered on a project we were working on in Nigeria. And they were found in a TV station in Jos, just sitting on the shelf. I remember, now, seeing a piece of masking tape, it said ‘Doctor Who‘ on it. And I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting”. I pulled the cans down. I read the story code. Instantly, of course, recognised what the stories were – The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World – and realised they were missing from the BBC’s archive. A lot of Doctor Who fans around the world are going to be very happy. So it was a very pleasing discovery, really.

I can remember when I was probably about six or seven years of age, my mum used to buy me the Target novels of the stories. They were something that one day I hoped I would see. And, guess what? Now I can.

These episodes come from Hong Kong and had been on what’s called a bicycle system, so they traveled from this country to the next country. And they came to be in Nigeria through this bicycle system. Not at the station in Nigeria they were actually sold to – they were at a relay station.

The kind of condition that those programmes were in when we found them, we were quite lucky considering the temperatures which can be the upper 30 degrees. Fortunately in this case they have been kept in the optimum condition.

I think the work the BBC does now with its archive and the restoration and recovery of these programmes is second-to-none. The quality they restore these programmes to for a new audience – as it were – is phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.

I think the best thing about it, and the most fantastic thing is, these things that people thought were gone forever – no they’re not. They’re back, and you can enjoy them now. So, get watching…

And then an instalment from each was screened; episode one of Enemy and episode two (one already existed) of Web. There will be plenty of analysis of both out there – doubtlessly concentrating on Patrick Troughton’s hilarious dip in the sea in Enemy and his flirtation with Mary Peach’s Astrid. So let’s cut to the after-screening Q&A with Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling and Mark Gatiss.

Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling and Mark Gatiss face the press

Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling and Mark Gatiss face the press

A jolly affair – here are the edited highlights.

Deborah [on Pat rushing into the sea]: I remember the take. He said, “I’m not going to enjoy this”. But he did it. But, I remember, “Oh dear, it was freezing!”

Frazer: But I remember it was his idea to strip down to his long-johns. And that was it. It was cold and windy – you can see the wind was blowing our kilts and hair.

Deborah [on seeing the episodes again]: It’s not a foreign land to me, not at all. The music started, there was Pat’s face – and we went into the scene and I knew it. Extraordinary, after all these years. At one point, when Victoria was talking, I knew the next line she was going to say. Now that is eerie.

Frazer: You didn’t know it on the set, did you? It’s taken you 45 years to do the bloody line!

Deborah: Jack Watling – my father! He had a big part in that one. It was good. Saw my dad again on the screen – that’s brilliant. Lovely.

Deborah [on what made Troughton such a good Doctor]: Pat had a wonderful sense of humour and he always had a twinkle in the eye. And he was like – how can I describe it? – comic in a way. But he was a very, very good actor. He combined everything into that. And it came across on screen as you can see today. We all got on so well – we were like a family. And Pat was always to me like another dad or an uncle. We had a chemistry and I don’t think you can beat that. I think it showed today.

Frazer: He was that sort of an actor, he wasn’t, “I’m an ac-tor”. He never took himself seriously. We were always looking for a gag.  Looking at that today, Patrick, when he’s flirting with Mary Peach, which, you know, on the page it would just say, “The Doctor looks at her”, but Patrick would add that sort of thing. “I might be attracted to her”. So he would add little bits like that.

Mark: It’s worth saying how much you miss from reconstructions and stills and soundtracks. You think you’ve got the whole story until you see it on screen. With Patrick it’s the tiny nuances of his performance and the little flirtations. And the deathless, never celebrated line [from Enemy of the World  when Astrid is asking our hero if he’s a doctor of law or philosophy]: “Who’s law? Who’s philosophy?” That’s the Doctor, that’s it. No one’s ever talked about that before.

Deborah [on learning the episodes had been returned]: When I heard, I couldn’t quite believe it. There have been hoaxes before, let’s face it… But then after a few days it was sort of confirmed-ish. And I thought, “I’m still not going to believe it. I’m not going to raise my hopes thank you very much after all these years”. And then I got it from a higher authority and I thought, “My God – back on the screen again!” All these years later and I can see some of the work I did as a young 19-year-old. And it’s amazing. And I love watching it, and it brought back so much to me – and the people I worked with as well. I’m thrilled – that’s all I can say. I’m thrilled.

Frazer: Me too. Patrick was disappointed a lot of his stories were missing, but this gives me hope that more stories of Patrick’s will come out of the woodwork, so to speak… I found out – Debbie was at a convention. She said, “Have you heard the news?” I said, “What news?” “Oh, I can’t tell you”. So I gave her a Chinese burn. “Alright, I’ll tell you! We’re going to the Soho Hotel on Thursday to watch Doctor Who“.

Deborah: And he said, “I’m not booked! I’m going away, I’m going to Scotland!” I said, “No you’re not!”

Mark [on whether or not Doctor Who could do another story set on the underground]: We are due a return to the London Underground. In fact, the first episode of Sherlock – because I’m obsessed with the tube and I think it all comes from that story from when I was a kid – is explicitly about the London Underground for exactly that reason. Because I love The Web of Fear. But Doctor Who? Yes, I’m sure. Why not?

And here’s a thing. Leaving the screening we were presented with t-shirts – t-shirts! – with the following legends on front and back…

LOST FOUND

And finally, this is what you came to see, right?

The reel deal

The reel deal

Ends

One Thought on ““My God – back on the screen again!”

  1. Pingback: Doctor Who: Radio Free Skaro » Blog Archive » Radio Free Skaro #387/A – Missing Episodes Special

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