Though every episode of the series to date has been flagged for indefinite retention due to its popularity in foreign markets, for the first time, the BBC archive issues instructions to erase most of the first three seasons of Doctor Who. This covers every episode from An Unearthly Child through the final episode of The Gunfighters, and it is at this point that many complete stories are lost forever in video form (such as Marco Polo and The Massacre), and huge swaths of the series’ run are erased as well (much of the 12-part epic The Daleks’ Master Plan). The series thus far has been produced in 405 line PAL videotape, and a new 625 line standard will become the default recording/transmission option in 1968. Many of the erased episodes are recovered years later from the foreign markets to which they were sold, from Africa to the Middle East, but many are never seen again.
The BBC archives erase dozens more episodes of Doctor Who due to an ongoing space crunch and an impending change of video standard from 405-line PAL to 625-line PAL. Whereas the first round of tape-wiping in 1967 was targeted at episodes involving the first Doctor, this round marks episodes featuring the current Doctor, Patrick Troughton, for deletion. The fourth episode of The Tenth Planet – Hartnell’s swan song in the role of the Doctor – is erased at this time, as well as a curious scattershot selection of Troughton episodes.
In what is hailed as the biggest missing episode find in the history of fans’ attempts to recover lost segments of Doctor Who, the complete four-part story The Tomb Of The Cybermen, completely missing from the BBC’s archives, is located in near-pristine condition in the archives of a Hong Kong broadcaster. Since the tapes’ audio is the original English soundtrack and the video requires little significant clean-up or restoration, the BBC’s home video department fast-tracks Tomb for a VHS release in May 1992. As of this find, only 110 half-hour episodes of black & white Doctor Who remain missing.
Part one of the classic William Hartnell-era Doctor Who four-parter The Crusade is recovered by the BBC, thanks to a fan who obtained it cheaply from a film collectors’ sale. The film is handed over to BBC’s unofficial Doctor Who Restoration Team. There’s initially no word on any possible video release of this segment of The Crusade, since parts two and four are still missing.
The BBC announces that a private collector has returned part two of the mostly-missing twelve-part Doctor Who story, The Daleks’ Master Plan, to its archives. Last seen in late 1965, the episode has been in the possession of the former chief engineer of the competing Yorkshire Television network ever since the early ’70s – when he snatched it from the BBC archives (where he was a trainee at the time) rather than destroying it as ordered. The 25-minute episode, subtitled Day Of Armageddon, is handed over to the Doctor Who Restoration Team, which oversees the preservation and restoration of past episodes for DVD release.
The BBC announces that broadcast archive company TIEA has recovered nine missing episodes of Doctor Who, all from the Patrick Troughton era, completing one story of which only one episode was previous held in the BBC archives (The Enemy Of The World) and almost completing another story (The Web Of Fear), which is now missing only the third of its six episodes. All nine episodes have been found in surprisingly good condition in at a regional broadcaster in Nigeria, which had received the episodes from a Hong Kong broadcaster in the early 1970s. All nine episodes are made available for digital download, with remastered DVD releases due in time for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who in November 2013. The find had been the subject of wild speculation on the internet for months.