The Missing Episodes Gift Guide

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Tags: Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright, Jamie McCrimmon, Victoria Waterfield, Polly, Ben Jackson, Featured, War Machines, Steven Taylor, Gift Guide,

Of the First and Second Doctor’s 253 episodes, only 147 are held complete by the BBC. It may seem difficult to understand why this happened to such a well-loved programme, but it was part of the way television was made at the time.

The original run of Doctor Who was recorded on videotape, which was relatively new, expensive to buy and costly to store. Like domestic videos, it could also be recorded on multiple times, erasing the previous content and saving money. And unlike now, there was no way for the public to enjoy episodes at home: no DVD, Blu-ray, video-on-demand platforms or digital downloads.

As a result many BBC programmes of the era - not just Doctor Who - had episodes junked. This process occurred until work by fans and BBC archivists stopped it in 1978. Since then, many episodes have been returned from overseas television stations, exist as off-air audio recordings or have been recreated with animation, meaning that all episodes of Doctor Who exist in some form. Here are some of the best that survived: