January 8th is William Hartnell's birthday. A day to celebrate by watching any one of his Doctor Who stories, whether it be An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, The Space Museum, The War Machines, The Tenth Planet... or any of his other classic adventures in space and time. But sadly, not all of them survive to this day, thanks to the BBC's junking policy of the 1960s and 70s, meaning that huge chunks of early Who is missing, presumed wiped.
Obviously every Doctor Who fan wants to wake up one day and read about the recovery of every single missing episode, but here I've highlighted five stories from the Hartnell years that I, for one, would love to see in all their glory.
All seven episodes missing.
Back in 2013 Marco Polo was heavily rumoured to have been rediscovered along with The Enemy of the World and Web of Fear. Even after those two stories made their way on to DVD the rumours persisted that Marco Polo just needed additional restoration work but would be released soon. Over two years later and it seems that these rumours were nothing more than wishful thinking.
But there's a good reason why so many people want to see Marco Polo returned to to archives. It was only the fourth ever Doctor Who story to be broadcast, the first in the pure historical format and possibly the largest in scope, and set design, that the series attempted back in its early days.
Written by John 'The Aztecs' Lucarotti, across the seven episodes of Marco Polo, the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara join the legendary Marco Polo’s Caravan as it makes its way across the majestic Himalayas mountains, Pamir Plateau, the Gobi Desert, and on to Imperial Cathay, the mighty summer palace of Kublai Khan in Shang-Tu and finally the Imperial palace at Peking.
Episodes 2 and 4 (out of four) missing.
Another pure historical, this time from David Whitaker, The Crusade is set in 12th Century Palestine and sees the Doctor caught up in the political machinations of Richard The Lionheart and Saracen ruler Saladin. There are a lot of plot lines to juggle in this one, and it's said that they were handled remarkably well.
The Doctor and Vicki come into conflict with King Richard’s advisor, the Earl of Leicester and end up on the run. King Richard plans to end the war by marrying his sister Joanna to Salidin’s brother Saphadin - only she's not too happy about that, and Barbara is taken prisoner by the vicious Saracen emir El Alkir.
The Dalek's Master Plan
Episodes 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 (of twelve episodes) missing.
Where to begin with this? Crossing a jungle world, an ice world, a volcano planet, Ancient Egypt and a return to 1960’s England, The Dalek's Master Plan is the epitome of epic adventures. The twelve part story includes so many important moments from early Who that it has to be near the top of every fans list of episodes they want to see rediscovered.
We have the first ever death of a companion when Katarina is blown out of an airlock. The first Christmas episode, The Feast Of Steven, in which the Doctor himself breaks the fourth wall to address the audience and wish them a happy Christmas. The first appearance of the iconic Nicholas Courtney as the villainous time agent Bret Vyon. The return of the renegade time lord The Meddling Monk. The tragic death of the second companion Sara Kingdom, horribly aged by the Dalek weapon, the Time Destructor. And it is the first story to feature a prequel, Mission to the Unknown, which in itself is also missing.
The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve
All four episodes missing.
Yes it's another pure historical written by John Lucarotti (sue me, I'm a fan), and it's one which follows straight on from the epic horrors of The Daleks Master Plan. Set in Paris in 1572 it centres around a plot to massacre 3,000 Protestants. This isn't light and fluffy stuff.
It would be an important rediscovery for many reasons. Firstly it's essentially a Doctor-lite story, as the Doctor is missing throughout episodes 2 and 3, but William Hartnell is very much on screen because he also plays the sinister Catholic Abbot of Amboise. So if you thought that Patrick Troughton did this first in Enemy of the World then think again. Hartnell's secondary character faces a shocking demise at the end of episode three.
Elsewhere, the story focuses on Steven’s involvement with the Protestant movement and his encounter with a servent girl Anne Chaplet who is tragically left behind in the end of episode four, just as the massacre begins. Yep, straight after the death's of two companions in the previous adventure, Steven faces losing a potential third. The Doctor delivers these words,
“My dear Steven, history sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand. Why should we? After all, we’re too small to realise its final pattern. Therefore don’t try and judge it from when you stand. I was right to do as I did. Yes, that I firmly believe.”It gets better with possibly one of Hartnell's finest moments,
“Steven… Even after all this time, he cannot understand. I dare not change the course of history. Well, at least I taught him to take some precautions; he did remember to look at the scanner before he opened the doors. And now, they’re all gone. All gone. None of them could understand. Not even my little Susan. Or Vicki. And as for Barbara and Chatterton – Chesterton – they were all too impatient to get back to their own time. And now, Steven. Perhaps I should go home. Back to my own planet. But I can’t…I can’t…”If you recognise the name Chaplet it's possibly because in the closing moments of this story The Doctor and Steven arrive in 1966 London, where they encounter new companion Dodo Chaplet. And we're left with the question, is she Anne’s descendant?
The Celestial Toymaker
Episodes 1, 2 and 3 (out of four) are missing.
The Celestial Toymaker is the Doctor Who equivalent of Sudoku. Puzzle solving at it's finest.
We start with the TARDIS landing in the celestial toy-room where the Doctor is rendered invisible. Steven and Dodo meet an immortal being named the Celestial Toymaker who reveals his game - that the Doctor must solve a puzzle in the exact same time as his companions or they will be his subjects for eternity.
It's an interesting format as with each episode a new riddle is posed, and the battle of wits between the Toymaker, the Doctor and companions Steven and Dodo continues. The Toymaker is a great adversary, he's equal in intelligence to the Doctor and always seems to stay one step ahead of him - at least it seems that way up until the last part.
The Toymaker was played by Michael Gough (often remembered for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman series) and he was set to reprise the role in the season 23 story The Nightmare Fair. If you've never heard of that story it's because it's also lost, although in a very different way. The Nightmare Fair was one of the proposed episodes for Colin Baker's second series of Doctor Who but after the BBC put the show on hiatus it was dropped and replaced by The Trial of a Timelord. And so we are denied two Toymaker adventures in all their glory.
Which stories from the Hartnell era would you like to see rediscovered?
Nathan is getting too old too quickly and is rapidly approaching his pipe and slippers phase.