With the release of Doctor Who: Fury from the Deep recreated using animation, let’s look to the future and speculate. What could be next?

Missing episodes of Doctor Who have been recreated through animation for several years now. Animations have therefore been firmly established as the ideal format for bringing missing stories back to life. It was back in 2006 that the missing two episodes of The Invasion were created for DVD release. Several stories, such as The Ice Warriors and The Reign of Terror, have now been completed using animation. Now we are getting full missing stories, such as The Power of the Daleks and The Macra Terror. With the release of Fury from the Deep the number of animated missing episodes has reached 29 out of 97.

So what might be animated next? Of course there are a number of factors to consider. How many episodes are missing? Is there reference material available? How many actors/characters are required? Are there multiple costume changes? How many sets need to be created? What is the quality of the audio soundtrack? How marketable will the story be? Will the Doctor Who: The Collection range be a factor?

So let’s take a look through the contenders in chronological order.

Season 1 – Marco Polo

With the animation of the missing two episodes from The Reign of Terror, Marco Polo remains the only story from the first season of Doctor Who to not have been released in a visual format. It seems like an obvious candidate for completion, especially if there is going to be a Doctor Who: The Collection box set for Season 1. The soundtrack was prepared for a recent vinyl record release so that will surely aid any potential animation. However, as we have seen from the behind the scenes colour photographs which do exist, Marco Polo is a colourful tale. Given the decisions to animate in colour as well as black and white, the elaborate colours may complicate matters. There are also lots of characters and changes of location, making the animator’s job that little bit harder.

Doctor Who: Marco Polo – Marco Polo (Mark Eden), The Doctor (William Hartnell), Susan (Carol Ann Ford), Ian Chesterton (William Russell) (c) BBC

Also Marco Polo was one of the most widely sold stories to other countries during the 1960’s, along with the rest of Season 1. So, it is far more likely that episodes of Marco Polo might turn up in a vault than others. After all, there were more copies of The Roof of the World than other episodes which miraculously do still exist in the archive. But whilst we all cross our fingers that all seven episodes of Marco Polo are sat on a dusty shelf somewhere in the world, the only option for a release onto DVD and Blu Ray at the moment is through animation. The problem is that it wouldn’t be a simple task to animate.

Verdict: An outside bet.

Season 2 – The Crusade

Much like Marco Polo, The Crusade is the only story from Doctor Who’s second season to be missing from the archive, and only half of it at that. Following the return of ‘The Lion‘ in 1999, only Episodes 2 and 4 remain unaccounted for. So in order to complete Season 2 for The Collection range, only two episodes of The Crusade require animation. However, this story has even more characters than Marco Polo, plus extras, and elaborate costumes to convert into animated form. The quality of the audio is also not brilliant and may be another deciding factor against animation.

The Doctor (William Hartnell) enountered Richard I (Julian Glover) in The Crusade (c) BBC Studios
The Doctor (William Hartnell) encountered Richard I (Julian Glover) in The Crusade (c) BBC Studios

It could also be a controversial story with actor Bernard Kay in the role of Saladin. Unfortunately we can’t change that casting decision but it would be a shame for this story to go incomplete because of it. The decision to animate or not will also be based on whether all four episodes would require animation for a release. The Reign of Terror saw only the missing episodes animated but The Faceless Ones saw all episodes, including those that do exist get animated. This decision, to animate two episodes or all four, will probably be the biggest contributing factor.

Verdict: A fair shout.

Season 3

The third season of Doctor Who is heavily hit by missing episodes and currently is untouched by animators. But let’s break down all the stories individually and assess their suitability for animation.

Galaxy 4

Happily the third episode of Galaxy 4Air Lock’ was found in 2011. Unfortunately, it has not received a proper DVD release with that rediscovered episode made available only on the special edition of The Aztecs. This reconstruction and the lengthy surviving clip from Four Hundred Dawns are great but animation provides an opportunity to tell the story over four episodes as originally intended and broadcast. Even using animation it could neatly cut between the available live action material, although that might be a bit jarring.

Doctor Who: Galaxy 4 – Steven (Peter Purves), The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Vicki (Maureen O’Brien) meet the Chumblies (c) BBC

A recent Galaxy 4 release on vinyl record suggests that the audio has been tidied up, although the original material is not of the best quality. Now all it would need is some animated images to go with it. Unlike other stories, such as Marco Polo and The Crusades there are a limited number of characters. The TARDIS trio, Drahvins, Chumblies and Rills doesn’t sound too challenging for animators but I’m no expert in these things. There are also very few sets required to be created in the computer. Although William Hartnell stories haven’t been a focus recently I feel like this story is a strong candidate to be animated, either in full or of the three missing episodes alone.

Verdict: Strong contender.

Mission to the Unknown

As with Galaxy 4, I feel this is another strong contender to be animated. There is only one episode with a limited number of characters. The audio was also recently spruced up for release among The Daleks’ Master Plan vinyl set. If this episode was to be animated it is logical that it would be positioned within a Daleks’ Master Plan release. Otherwise, charging a DVD RRP of £20.42 for a single episode animation may be a tough sell. Even if it does have the Daleks in it.

Doctor Who Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC
Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown (c) BBC

Things get a little more complicated with the knowledge that lifelong Doctor Who fan, and hero for recovering missing episodes, Ian Levine has already produced an animation. Plus there is also the UCLan recreation. Last year students at the University of Central Lancashire remounted the episode which is still available to watch on YouTube. Releasing that recreation on a DVD would be very unlikely, which brings us back to animation. If a wide number of special features could be delivered to fill out the disc space then Mission to the Unknown would be welcome addition to DVD shelves. However, if it is to be animated it will unlikely be released in isolation. Putting it alongside the next story, although accurate chronologically, also doesn’t make much sense.

Verdict: Easy decision in theory but unlikely without The Daleks’ Master Plan.

The Myth Makers

Historical stories have not been chosen for animation thus far. Supposedly, The Highlanders came close and perhaps the absence of an alien menace was a deciding factor in it failing to be selected. The Myth Makers would encounter a similar problem. This story is also somewhat of an oddity. Largely played for comedy it also has the pretty grim scenes of the slaughtering of Trojan soldiers. Comedy can be difficult to convey through animation so it presents unique challenges when compared to other stories. I imagine that sword fighting scenes would also be tricky to animate.

Doctor Who: The Myth Makers (c) BBC

Also working against it is the fact that the audio recordings available for pairing with animation are not of the same quality as those produced by Graham Strong for other stories. Similarly, there aren’t any telesnap references, although this does give animators more creative freedom. In it’s favour this story did see the departure of Vicki from the TARDIS crew, being replaced by Katarina. Vicki’s departure is quite poignant and touching so it would be nice to have that available. Maureen O’Brien, who played Vicki, would also be a worthwhile contributor to bonus material for a DVD release. The Trojan horse model, would also be a great centre point for the cover artwork.

Verdict: Probably one of the least likely stories to be animated.

The Daleks’ Master Plan

The Holy Grail. The Daleks’ Master Plan is an epic story which many would like to see released. As with Marco Polo and Galaxy 4 the soundtrack has been released on vinyl record which should provide the best possible sound recordings to pair with animation. But where to start with this exhausting 12 part story. There would be a huge number of characters and locations to animate, making the process very time consuming. If it was to be attempted it would take a long time and therefore require a significant budget. With a quarter of the story still in the archives it also seems a bit futile to animate those episodes as well. But that still leaves 9 episodes to animate in order to complete the story. Or should that be 8 episodes?

The Daleks burn the jungles of Kembel in The Daleks' Master Plan (c) BBC Studios Doctor Who Terry Nation 1960s Dalek Flamethrower
Doctor Who: The Daleks’ Master Plan – The Daleks burn the jungles of Kembel (c) BBC Studios

There is debate as to whether you include The Feast of Steven in an animation release. The original Christmas special of 1965 doesn’t add anything to the plot of the wider story. As a result it wasn’t included in the copies for overseas sales. However, given it is practically impossible that it will ever be returned to the BBC, animation is the only way for fans to watch it. Therefore, a decision not to animate The Feast of Steven would be met with quite a backlash. Overall, The Daleks’ Master Plan would be a mammoth undertaking for animators but strong sales of other animations could help finance this release. So if we want to see The Daleks’ Master Plan fully animated then it is vital that fans prove that the range is popular and worth the investment.

Verdict: A tough challenge for animators but surely will be done eventually.

The Massacre of St Bartholemew’s Eve

Yet another Doctor Who story which has seen the audio spruced up for release onto vinyl record. Although delayed The Massacre, as it is often shortened to, has now been released as a part of Record Store Day 2020. Four episodes is an easier amount to animate than The Daleks’ Master Plan for instance. Unfortunately, there are a fair number of characters that would need to be animated, complicating matters. Making things worse, there is a limited amount of visual reference material to work with. There aren’t any telesnaps, only a few publicity photos. This does however mean that there would be an element of creative freedom to any animation project.

Doctor Who: The Massacre – The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) (c) BBC

In favour of The Massacre, the final scenes showed Dodo Chaplet join the TARDIS. William Hartnell also plays the dual roles of the Abbott of Amboise and the Doctor. Hartnell’s performance as the Abbott is currently lost but deserves reappraisal alongside Patrick Troughton as Salamander in The Enemy of the World or Tom Baker in Meglos. Similarly, Hartnell delivers a beautiful monologue in the final episode which deserves to be seen. Perhaps animation can allow that? Although historical stories are not necessarily as marketable as those with a sci-fi leaning, the Massacre of protestants in 16th Century Paris is perhaps not as widely known an event which could work in its favour.

Verdict: Slim chances but could be an unpredicted hit if commissioned.

The Celestial Toymaker

This would make for an excellent choice to animate. Given the fantastical element of this particular story there could be some very creative possibilities using animation. Animators would also not be hampered by following telesnaps as there aren’t any. It could allow an animation company to embrace the surrealist element and deliver something truly creative which couldn’t have been achieved in 1966. Of course, any deviation from the televised episodes may lead to dissension in fan circles. Many prefer that animations remain as close to the televised stories as possible so going beyond that might cause discontent, harming sales.

Doctor Who: The Celestial Toymaker (c) BBC

Complicating animation matters further there are a number of characters, costume changes and sets, all of which would need to be created from scratch. The Celestial Toymaker is a fondly remembered story with a unique villain who sadly hasn’t returned on screen. It also benefits from having good quality audio recordings from Graham Strong and the Randolph tapes. Although Episode 4 The Final Test does remain in the archives, it would be remiss not to animate that episode at the same time. Given that colour animations are being created alongside black and white, this story could be a gloriously colourful prospect.

Verdict: Could be an exciting release but not an easy task.

The Savages

Much like The Massacre, The Savages has significant potential for animation although it could easily be overlooked in favour of stories with Daleks, Cybermen and other monsters. With only four episodes needed to animate, good audio recordings and roughly the same amount of characters as The Faceless Ones, which has been animated, it could be a strong contender. There is however a costume change required for William Hartnell, which complicates matters. It does also have a futuristic setting and, given the current political climate, could make for an interesting selection and trigger debate. Additionally, we do have telesnaps to provide reference points.

Doctor Who: The Savages – The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Jano (Frederick Jaeger) (c) BBC

The Savages saw the departure of Steven Taylor and, as in many of his stories, he is at the forefront of the action. A DVD release of this story could also have a significant Steven Taylor theme with supporting material focusing on his character and the actor who played him. Peter Purves is a wonderful interviewee and could contribute significantly to bonus features and commentary. At the time many dismissed The Savages as indicative of a series in need of a refresh, which would happen soon after. A re-evaluation of the story through animation could however see it become far more highly regarded.

Verdict: Definitely has potential but easy to overlook.

Season 4

Much like Season 3 the following season remains badly affected by holes in the archive. It has however already received attention with Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet, Power of the Daleks, The Moonbase, The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones all being animated. So where are the gaps?

The Smugglers

Following on from The War MachinesThe Smugglers saw new companions Ben and Polly take their first adventure with The Doctor. This story kicked off Season 4 so would provide continuity for the story arc from The War Machines through to The Power of the Daleks. Elements in favour of animating The Smugglers include the limited number of characters and only four episodes requiring attention. It also has a set of telesnaps available to provide reference material, plus some censor clips deemed unsuitable for Australian audiences.

Doctor Who: The Smugglers (c) BBC

Personally, I’m a big fan of The Smugglers and would be particularly excited about it being animated. Unfortunately, it is potentially a tougher sell than other stories. The censor clips for instance suggest a more violent adventure than usual. It is also a simple historical and this type of story hasn’t been animated as of yet. However, The Smugglers could be a good test case to demonstrate the sales that historical stories can generate. Given the relatively simple nature of this story I think it is a strong contender and will be animated at some point. The question is, will it be the next animation?

Verdict: Strong contender and an opportunity to prove that historical stories can sell.

The Highlanders

Apparently, The Highlanders was a contender to be next in line to be animated. Unfortunately, the absence of an alien menace and the fact that it is a purely historical story, and therefore potentially less marketable, went against it. Set in Scotland, the amount of tartan and exterior locations also presented a challenge for animators. Also The Doctor disguises himself a couple of times, complicating the animation further. On the plus side we do have telesnaps for reference and good audio available. Plus there are some very brief snippets of footage, all of which help paint a picture that can aid the animation team.

Doctor Who - The Highlanders (c) BBC
Doctor Who: The Highlanders (c) BBC

This is a momentous story which saw Jamie McCrimmon join the TARDIS and become one of the most fondly remembered companions. Frazer Hines, who played the character, always has great stories to tell, featuring prominently on Fury from the Deep recently. Anneke Wills would also be a worthy contributor alongside her fellow companion. Perhaps a trip to Frensham Ponds in Surrey, which doubled for the Scottish Highlands, may make a suitable location for reminiscing about the story. Although The Highlanders failed to be selected before, the fact that it was in with consideration should suggest that it will be animated at some stage.

Verdict: Strong chance.

The Underwater Menace

We almost had this one. A DVD release with animated reconstructions of Episodes One and Four had been planned for release during 2014. Animation company Qurios, who had provided the animated episodes for The Ice Warriors, were due to create animations for The Underwater Menace too. Unfortunately, the company went into liquidation causing the entire DVD release to be cancelled. This was deeply disappointing as the return of Episode 2 to the archives in 2011 was exciting but the majority had to wait years to watch it.

Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace
Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace (c) BBC

When the story was finally released Episodes One and Four were provided in the form of telesnap reconstructions. It wasn’t ideal but we were finally able to watch Episode 2, the earliest example of Patrick Troughton’s performance as the Second Doctor. The Underwater Menace has a fair number of characters, telesnap references and good quality audio available to assist. Given how close we came before it seems perfectly feasible that we may get an animated version in future. Add in the context of other stories in Season 4, The Power of the Daleks, The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones having already been animated, it would be very logical for The Underwater Menace to also be completed as well.

Verdict: Even money.

The Evil of the Daleks

Recent speculation suggests that The Evil of the Daleks along with The Abominable Snowmen, are going to be animated for release in 2021. Following the animation of The Power of the Daleks, which has now been released twice, another Dalek story would be another potential money spinner. As with Power, The Evil of the Daleks is also highly regarded as a lost classic. It is notable for seeing the introduction of new companion Victoria Waterfield and seeing intriguing developments of the Daleks. The audio was also refreshed for vinyl record release and has telesnap reference material available to guide the animation. All positive signs so far.

The Power of the Dalek's Animation (c) BBC
The Power of the Daleks Animation (c) BBC

Assuming the surviving Episode 2 would also be animated, there would be 7 episodes to animated, making it a time consuming process. However on a more positive note there are fewer characters needed to animate than a story such as Marco Polo, plus Daleks of course. Chronologically Evil would also fit nicely on a shelf next to the already animated version of The Faceless Ones and would conclude Season 4 nicely. The imagery of the Emperor Dalek in the throne room on Skaro also offers up endless possibilities for cover and promotional artwork. Therefore, Evil of the Daleks is definitely a strong contender to be animated next. It is also a story crying out for some detailed ‘making of’ documentaries and commentaries. Maybe in 2021?

Verdict: One of the favourites.

Season 5

With the release of Fury from the Deep, a good chunk of Season 5 has now been animated with two stories, plus one episode remaining to complete the season.

The Abominable Snowmen

Recent speculation suggests that The Abominable Snowmen, along with The Evil of the Daleks, are to be animated for release in 2021. As with other stories this one has also been refreshed for release on vinyl record benefiting from audio recordings from Graham Strong. Although there are six episodes to animate, assuming the existing Episode 2 is also animated, there are a limited number of characters, fewer than some stories already completed. The exterior locations may not be as easy to animate than some of the static sets but could I’m sure be handled admirably.

Doctor Who - The Abominable Snowman
Doctor Who: The Abominable Snowman – The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) observes the Yeti (c) BBC

The Yeti are a popular villain but they and the Great Intelligence remain the properties of their creators Haisman & Lincoln. Some negotiations may therefore be required but Big Finish have managed to use those properties so I doubt there’ll be any issues. Similar to the Fury from the Deep release, a trip to Snowdonia, which doubled for the Himalayas, with Frazer Hines and other cast and crew could provide some entertaining bonus features for a DVD release. All indicators therefore point to The Abominable Snowmen being animated in the near future.

Verdict: Highly likely.

The Web of Fear – Episode 3

Here we have a bit of a tricky situation. When Philip Morris discovered The Web of Fear in Nigeria, Episode 3 was amongst the film cans. Unfortunately, before it could be returned to the UK and the BBC, it mysteriously disappeared. Recent interviews allude to the possibility that the location of the film can is known but negotiations for its return are bound to be delicate. So in the meantime, could Episode 3 be animated?

Doctor Who - The Web of Fear
Doctor Who – The Web of Fear (c) BBC

In the same way that The Enemy of the World was treated to a special edition DVD release, The Web of Fear is certainly worthy of similar treatment. On release in 2013 The Web of Fear DVD was sorely lacking a ‘making of’ documentary. That could be rectified with some particularly excellent special features being produced for releases recently. So the question of Episode 3 remains. Animation should be relatively straight forward with five other episodes of reference material. But why go to that effort when we know that the actual episode is out there?

Verdict: A long shot but a special edition release would be popular.

The Wheel in Space

Given that Fury from the Deep has just been released in animated form, perhaps logic dictates that the next story chronologically might make a good selection. The Wheel in Space also benefits from having the Cybermen as the villain and popular monsters often equal even stronger sales. It also sees the debut of new companion Zoe Heriot and significant moments in the programme’s history such as this are worth recreating.

Doctor Who: The Wheel in Space – Animated Episode 1

Curiously, a ten minute cut down version of Episode 1 of The Wheel in Space has already been animated. This was for screening at the BFI in London at the end of 2018 and was then included on the release of The Macra Terror. The decision to produce this mini-episode seems to have been as a technical exercise or to generate interest or even revenue. Results speak for themselves and the animation is very slick and impressive which makes it all the more disappointing that a full animation hasn’t been completed. Yet.

Verdict: Surely will be animated sooner rather than later.

Season 6 – The Space Pirates

With the missing Episodes 1 and 4 of The Invasion having already been animated, The Space Pirates remains the only story from Season 6 to not have been released onto DVD. Episode 2 does exist in the archive and in fairness it isn’t exactly the most exciting. However, Doctor Who fans are completionists. Animating The Space Pirates would also open up the possibility of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 6. Although there are a few locations and characters to contend with, this story is far more feasible than other options.

Doctor Who: The Space Pirates – Jamie (Frazer Hines), The Doctor (Patrick Troughton) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) (c) BBC

Unfortunately The Space Pirates is not a particularly highly regarded story and lacks the selling point of a popular monster. There is also nothing momentous about the story, such as a companion departure or introduction. It is however the second story to be penned by Robert Holmes, one of Doctor Who‘s great writers. Admittedly, it isn’t his best work for the show but an animation would allow for a re-evaluation of the story. Animating The Space Pirates would also open the door for a Doctor Who: The Collection release. This story definitely has potential but is probably down the list.

Verdict: Fair chance but wouldn’t generate much excitement.

So, which missing Doctor Who story do you think will be animated next? What stories do you most want to see? Are there anything you think will never be animated? Will The Daleks’ Master Plan ever be released on DVD? Let us know what you think…

3 COMMENTS

  1. i think in 2022 after evil and abominable snowmen, they will animate wheel in space and one hartnell story could be anything from galaxy 4 to celestial toymaker to the smugglers. anything hartnell would be make me so happy, especially masterplan. i don’t think there will be stories that will never be given a dvd release, however the crusade, myth makers, marco polo and web of fear 3 will probably be left till last, only because either they are very hard to animate or their episodes are likely to have survived somewhere as is the case with web and marco polo. I have a feeling this may be the case with underwater menace as they maybe think they can find it, otherwise i feel they could have just found another animation company to complete it for a dvd release

  2. Any of the historicals would be a boon. They have a real sense of danger and that’s there’s something to be learned. Also you don’t really get these purely historical adventures outside the earlier years of Doctor Who.

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