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Wiped! Doctor Who's Missing Episodes Paperback – 30 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Telos Publishing Ltd; First Edition edition (30 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845830377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845830373
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 332,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By P. Rowe on 31 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
That a book about the systematic wiping and subsequent rediscovery of episodes from a popular tv show like Who could run to 480 pages is remarkable. That it presents a gripping account of the BBC's slipshod marketing and archiving of one of it's most popular creations is even more so.

Richard Molesworth has written what must be the definitive story the 'missing' episodes. It's all here, in painstaking, but rarely dull, detail. So that by the end we know which countries made purchases of the Hartnell and Troughton episodes, we know when the tapes or film cans were returned, stored or junked and many popular myths (such as the Blue Peter/ Tenth Planet part 4 story) are revealed to be just that - myths. The fact that so many episodes 'junked' by the BBC have subsequently come to light is amazing when you realise that in the case of the Troughton Whos few countries actually bought them. Equally tantalising are the near misses where episodes were a breathe away from preservation but lost and those that almost didn't get anywhere near a video release let alone a DVD one did thanks to someone on secondment who noticed a pile of cans abandoned on a loading bay!

This book joins the rich history of Doctor Who and continues to ensure that when historians return to analyse television in the late 20th Century they will invariably look at the show about the time traveller and a blue box. No other show attracts such passion and such erudite writing. And, bearing this in mind this means that Wiped is a massive achievement since it gets my vote as the best book about Who published in the last 5 years.

It's brilliant and no doubt makes the fantastic Who researchers like Andrew Pixley who showed just how interesting the minutiae of TV could be justly proud. Get it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bob Marlowe on 22 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the definitive look at how Dr Who episodes were lost/destroyed & then in some cases recovered.
Molesworth sets his scene very well by establishing the culture that led to so much destruction of TV history(and not just Dr Who. Basically it was not seen as a permanent medium and there was a built in destruction in that without additional agreement, transmission and 1 repeat within 2 years was allowed. There was a haphazard system whereby anyone could request retention of a programme (and many directors of early Who did just that) but with no guarantee their request would be granted or not rescinded later.
Molesworth establishes how Dr Who was recorded, transmitted and then copied for possible overseas sales before wiping. Some of this is very sad e.g Troughton's second story The Highlanders was wiped before his last one War Games was even written! There's also a few near misses e.g. the Yeti stories survived a bit longer as potential repeats.
A very illuminating fact is that at the time of Troughton's Dalek stories, creator Terry Nation was trying to launch a Dalek spinoff & an agreement restricted foreign sales of new Dalek stories which meant that as Troughton's 1st story had Daleks, it was difficult to sell his others without it.
The depth of Molesworth's research is impressive in areas such as the factors which needed to change to make mass TV preservation possible e.g. Equity renegotiating what actors needed to be paid for the out of time repeats was a big step.
When he moves on to the recovery and restoration of old stories, it's a much happier tale, full of unsung heroes but as the even handed Molesworth points out-there are no real villains. Those responsible for junking stories were doing their job!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By davetonbridge on 1 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback
"Wiped!" is an absolutely fascinating but saddening and often frustrating read, as it documents the wholesale destruction of the BBC's original Dr Who video recordings of all of the TV episodes that were made between 1963 and 1969.

The first half of the book dispationately details the dates that the BBC engineering department cleared their original tapes for wiping and reuse and it also lists foreign TV transmissions dates and (where known) the ultimate fate of the film print copies that were sold to overseas TV stations around the world; whether that fate would be to be returned to the BBC to become the only surviving copy of the episode in the TV archives, or to be destroyed, shredded and disposed of in a foreign landfill site.

The chapters covering 1978 onwards are more uplifting as the BBC began to formulate a proper archive of old TV shows and it describes the efforts of fans and BBC employees to try and track down the missing shows with some degree of success, as film copies began to filter back to the BBC from some overseas broadcasters and some private film collectors.

This really is the most comprehensive book ever written on the subject and Richard Molesworth has really done his research and he goes into great detail covering the sucesses, failures, hoaxes and the ongoing work to try and locate copies of the 108 episodes that remain absent from the BBC film and TV library.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By GordonD on 24 Feb 2011
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In 1968, when I was nine, I watched a Doctor Who adventure called `The Web of Fear' in which the Doctor battled robotic Yeti in the London Underground. Four years later I visited London for the first time and as soon as I went down into the Underground the memories came flooding back. I wished there was some way I could watch the adventure again, but even then this was no longer possible. At that time the BBC just didn't repeat programmes like `Doctor Who' (partly, though not entirely, due to the agreement with the actors' union Equity, which for obvious reasons preferred that new shows be made) and so, believing that they would never be needed again, they began wiping the master copies of the video tapes on which they were recorded. By the time I stood on the Piccadilly Line platform at King's Cross, not a single master tape of either William Hartnell's or Patrick Troughton's adventures remained in the BBC library.
To be fair to the BBC, the tapes were bulky and expensive and it made sense to reuse them. They could not have imagined that within a decade video recording technology would have advanced to the point where home machines were practical, using a cassette which could hold an entire six-episode Doctor Who story.
So the question is not `Why did the BBC dispose of so many episodes?' but `If the tapes were wiped, how come so many still exist?' The answer, as Richard Molesworth explains, is because copies were made on 16mm film for sales overseas. Unfortunately the contracts with the foreign TV stations required them to return the films to the BBC when they had shown them the maximum number of times, or to destroy them and send certified evidence that they had done so. This book attempts to trace the fate of these film versions, and explains how many of them escaped destruction.
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