Yesterday saw the broadcast of the first of the Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes. Using a new cast, episodes of the classic BBC sitcom missing from the archives have been recreated. Could the same method be used for Doctor Who?
As with a large proportion of BBC programming from that era, Dad’s Army is a television show which suffered from the junking of recordings. Of the 80 transmitted episodes, only three remain lost from the archives, plus two Christmas sketches. The scripts of the three lost episodes, plus versions adapted for radio broadcast, do however exist. UKTV and Mercury Productions have used this material and recreated these episodes. August 25th 2019 saw the first of these episodes broadcast on GOLD in the UK. So could a similar thing happen for missing Doctor Who episodes?
It seems quite a while ago now that we were treated to the triumph that was ‘An Adventure in Space and Time‘. This docu-drama required the re-casting of the various TARDIS crews from the 1960’s. David Bradley also reprised his role as William Hartnell/The First Doctor in ‘Twice Upon a Time‘. His other co-stars from ‘An Adventure in Space and Time‘, Jamie Glover (Ian Chesterton), Jemma Powell (Barbara Wright) and Claudia Grant (Susan), have also returned to those roles for Big Finish audios. With an established cast, who have had the opportunity to become accustomed to their characters, these actors seem the logical choice. With a potential cast in place it is simply a matter of remounting the production. Simple eh?
Live Action versus Animation
Animation has largely been the preferred method for retelling lost stories. It had also been used to recreate the Dad’s Army episode ‘A Stripe for Frazer‘. However, this process can take a lengthy period of time. The classic Doctor Who story ‘Marco Polo‘ for instance has seven episodes and 20 different characters plus multiple locations and therefore scenery to animate. Of course, mounting a recreation of these episodes will be costly but an episode could be filmed, as it was back in the 1960’s, relatively quickly. The benefit of animation is that it utilises the original audio and therefore the voices of the original cast. Both are effective methods of telling stories and ultimately it may simply boil down to cost.
Recently students at the University of Central Lancashire remounted lost Doctor Who episode ‘Mission to the Unknown‘ so remounts are certainly achievable. These new ‘lost episodes’ of Dad’s Army also prove that. The Dad’s Army episode ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker‘ is an unquestionable triumph. It allows fans to enjoy the story, as it was originally written for the familiar characters, just with a slightly different cast in those roles. Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes continues at 8pm on GOLD tonight and tomorrow evening.