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Why are early copies of Dr Who so valuable

01:00 Mon 04th Mar 2002 |

A.� Collectors have worked up an appetite for early episodes of Dr Who ever since the BBC started its mass culling of Dr Who reels. The corporation called it 'de-accessioned' and it's been under fire for its actions ever since.

At the time the BBC said that the Dr Who films were exterminated because they had, along with hundreds of other black and white programmes, exceeded their commercial value with the advent of colour television.

When the BBC Film and Videotape Library was set up in 1978, Sue Maldem, the archivist, found 20 cans of Dr Who films marked for dumping. In among these were the first seven episodes of the daleks. To cash in on the appeal of these programmes, the BBC then launched a massive hunt to find the lost material. So far, 109 missing episodes have been unearthed.

Q.� What is still missing

A.� The most valuable of all is a missing Dr Who episode that could fetch five figures. The Tenth Planet ends with the first 'regeneration' when the actor William Hartnell transforms into Patrick Troughton. It has not been seen for 32 years.

Dalek lovers dream that the Dalek Masterplan will resurface. It's a 12-episode epic from 1965 but only one of the programmes is still in existence.� Other keenly wanted episodes include Celestial Toymaker, a 1965 Hartnell classic in which the Doctor must defeat a genius toy maker in a board game to win back the Tardis.

In 1999, a missing episode of The Lion, made in 1965, featuring William Hartnell turned up in New Zealand. The BBC had apparently sold it to a director there in 1965 but it was never transmitted.

Q.� Who devised Dr Who

A.� The series was thought up by Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson of the BBC in 1963. It set out to be a science fiction series, aimed at children between nine and 13. The idea was to explore science and history through a time/space machine, exciting and entertaining young viewers. The educational aspect was lost as the entertainment value soared. Towards the end of the 1960s and certainly by the 1970s, the programme was attracting a large adult audience.

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By Katharine MacColl

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