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UPDATE: Doctor Who and the Saga of the Missing Episodes

UPDATE: The Guardian have announced that after the back-and-forth over an announcement, BBC Worldwide will be holding a press conference on Thursday (it is expected that missing episodes will be announced and some will be available to fans) – but that reports of 100 episodes being found are greatly exaggerated.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the latest Doctor Who rumours, you’ll probably be aware of this year’s most enduring rumour – that a cache of an awful lot of Doctor Who‘s numerous black-and-white missing episodes has been found – and today, we had a few more developments of the rumour.

First of all, notorious tabloid The Mirror posted a story this morning claiming at that at least 100 missing episodes had been found in Ethopia:

A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia. 

It was feared the BBC ­programmes from the 1960s – featuring the first two doctors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton – had vanished for all time after the Beeb flogged off a load of old footage. But after months of ­detective work the tapes have been unearthed at the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency.

If the tapes are returned in time the BBC hopes to announce the news during ­celebrations to mark Doctor Who’s 50th ­anniversary next month. 

The recovered episodes from the 60s include much-loved scenes from The Crusade, The Enemy of the World and The Ice Warriors series. 

After each airing only once between 1964 and 1969, copies were sold to the Ethiopian Agency and the BBC then lost or wiped the originals.

However, several closely connected figures have taken to Twitter to deny the rumours, including brand manager Edward Russell, the Doctor Who Restoration Team’s Paul Vanezis and Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury. Later on, fellow news site Doctor Who Online sent out an intriguing series of tweets, claiming that missing episodes have been found after all, reading:

“There is definitely some misinformation with the #DoctorWho Missing Episode rumours in todays @DailyMirror. We will finally break our silence on subject by saying missing episodes HAVE been found and some official news will be released within the next month. Can’t say anything further, but it seems various outlets are reporting this now. As far as we’ve been told, it’s not as many as 100.”

At the time of posting, the Radio Times have claimed that two unidentified Patrick Troughton episodes will be released by BBC Worldwide on several digital outlets such as iTunes… on Wednesday morning. They also go on to report that further missing episodes have been found, but they will not be made available until a later date.

It’s an intriguing story and it would certainly make quite a 50th anniversary treat – but as usual, a pinch of salt needs to be taken, and all will be revealed (or not) on Wednesday morning…

[Sources: Radio Times & Doctor Who TV]