A dedicated team at UCLan have resurrected the lost Doctor Who classic, Mission to the Unknown.

Students at the University of Central Lancashire have recreated lost classic Mission to the Unknown in live action. Mounted under the Sci-Fi in a Week project, its aim was not to just reproduce the original end result.  It also set out to help students understand the production methods and limitations of 1960s television production. As such the effort saw students, graduates and staff from various disciplines work together to create, light and film props, costumes and set using the same techniques pioneered by early Doctor Who. No telesnaps and very few visual references survive. However, the UCLan remount is also striving to recreate the framing of each shot in an authentically 1960s way.

Dr. Andrew Ireland, UCLan Pro Vice-Chancellor (Digital and Creative Industries), filled the director’s chair for the three day shoot.

“We kept it as close to the original as we possibly could, so everything from the props and costumes to the acting style, pace and camera techniques are designed to be very 1960s,” emphasized Dr Ireland. “I’m a huge Doctor Who fan and this episode in particular has always held an air of mystique for me because it experimented with the notion of the Daleks carrying their own storyline without the Doctor present.

“Everything from the props and costumes to the acting style, pace and camera techniques are designed to be very 1960s. It was filmed to simulate the low-resolution, black and white look of the era and we’ve been able to use the audio from the original recording to inform stage directions and the mood of the episode.”

Peter Purves, Edward de Souza and Nicholas Briggs with the cast of UCLan's Mission to the Unknown remake (c) UCLan
Peter Purves, and Edward de Souza with the cast of UCLan’s Mission to the Unknown remake (c) UCLan

Special guests from the world of 1960s Doctor Who were on hand to wish the venture luck

Famously, 1965’s Mission to the Unknown is the only episode of Doctor Who to feature none of the regular cast. Instead it focuses on 41st century Space Security Agent Mark Cory (Edward de Souza). The episode follows his cold determination to warn Earth of the impending menace of a Dalek invasion… at any cost.

The project was able to proceed after UCLan got special permission from both BBC Studios and the Nation Estate. Nicholas Briggs, who has voiced the Daleks on television since 2005, was on hand to sympathetically recreate the style of then Dalek voice actors David Graham and Peter Hawkins. Also in attendance for the first day of the shoot was Edward de Souza. Peter Purves, who celebrated his 80th birthday the same week, was another special guest at the filming. Although Purves’ character, companion Steven Taylor, didn’t appear in Mission to the Unknown, he was the Doctor’s companion during the wider Daleks’ Master Plan epic.

Purves expressed his thanks to the UCLAN team. Seeing their work also clearly thrilled them.


Being involves also excited Nicholas Briggs, who tweeted photos throughout the shoot.

There is no word as of yet when post-production on the Mission to the Unknown remount will be finished, or if it will ultimately be released in some form by BBC Studios.


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