ComicMix Politics: Zimbabwe’s Mugabe holding missing Dr. Who episodes?

Glenn Hauman

Glenn is VP of Production at ComicMix. He has written Star Trek and X-Men stories and worked for DC Comics, Simon & Schuster, Random House, arrogant/MGMS and Apple Comics. He's also what happens when a Young Turk of publishing gets old.

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25 Responses

  1. Lord Snooty says:

    There was no "bozo" at the BBC just getting rid of things just to make room for others !! the sad fact was that the tape could be reused and was ALOT back in the early days of the BBC to save money and it was not just Dr Who it happened to !!

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      Sadly, no– it was still a dumb move on the BBC's part, just as it was dumb to tape over many of Johnny Carson's Tonight Shows, Your Show Of Shows, a lot of Ernie Kovacs material, etc. The BBC, and many other TV companies, are at their heart intellectual property firms– and it amazes me how poor their control of their intellectual property was. Many have gotten better– alas, too late for a lot of classics now lost.

      • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

        "What's a rerun?"–Jason Hervey, Back to the Future.We also laugh at the stars of those shows from the 50's who didn't get residuals in their contracts. Back then, yesterday's TV shows were like yesterday's newspapers – who'd want to watch this AGAIN?Steve Allen knew better, and when his sister in law got a role on The Honeymooners, he urged her to get residuals added to her contract. Audrey Meadows was the only person other than Gleason to make further money on that show. There are COUNTLESS stories of shows that were erased to save two cents a foot on video tape, and film archives that were thrown away or burned because of the high costs of storage. Television was a gutter medium, and not considered worth keeping. Period.Ironically, if they knew then what we know now, early TV wouldn't have been as creative and free as it was, as people would have been negotiating for future unimagined recording and broadcast media, second guessing what future generations would think of their work, etc.

  2. nick eden says:

    Alas, this is pure speculation. Rather like the story running a couple of months ago about how one of the key early stories was in Thailand.Sure, episodes may have been sent to both places, but without being looked after the tapes rot very fast indeed. And perhaps Zimbabwe has a nice air conditioned film archive, but I doubt it.

    • PJP says:

      With respect, it's only a dumb move when looked at in hindsight. In 1963, the whole concept of intellectual property rights as applicable to TV shows flat out did not exist. There was no home video market, BBC shows were not repeated ad nauseum or sold on for syndication until the 1970's. In the context of that time, the tapes only had value as tapes that could be re-used, which is what happened. As regards the quality of any recovered tapes, it doesn't require a special air conditioned film archive, tapes have been recovered from as far back as 1960 by a specialised team funded by the BBC. Google "BBC film restoration team" for more info.Cheers.

      • Glenn Hauman says:

        Look, film studios knew enough to save prints of their films. Newspaper publishers knew to save copies of their products. Comics publishers… well, let's not talk about the state of Marvel's archives. DC's are damn good, thanks to Allan Asherman and all his predecessors. (Hello, Kevin Nash, wherever you are.)TV studios executives probably could have made a guess that somewhere along the line, there might be a call for their product later on, just from seeing that film studios sold all their product to TV networks. It's not like there wasn't precedent.

        • mike weber says:

          Ummm, you might want to re-consider that remark about film studos – how many "lost classic" films are there? Not to mention films that were butchered by the releasing companies or whoever and for which the cut footage no longer exists? (And, yes, i am looking at you, original Wicker Man, Metropolis and several Leone films…)

      • Lord Snooty says:

        Very true PJP as it was shown over xmas here in the UK with a "Dads Army" night with two "lost" shows that were found in a ex BBC gardeners shed after he took them out of a skip at the BBC ! The most interesting thing about it was that they were one of the first to be shot in colour but the tapes he had were black and white but the colour dots were still on the tape so with software they have managed to add it back in and the BBC are now looking at over other lost colour tapes to see if they can do the same thing I bet Dr Who will be on the top of that list

        • Lee Houston, Junior says:

          An interesting thought. But the Doctor's adventures have only been in color since Jon Pertwee's tenure in the role.Granted, not everyone abroad had color broadcasting back then, so if there are any black and white copies with the color codes…But then again we're right back to just the Pertwee episodes, because color broadcasting was in full force by Tom Baker's turn as the Doctor.Wasn't it?

          • Lord Snooty says:

            Your right Lee they started colour on Dr Who with Jon Pertwee onwards ! but I know a few of them are missing colour and with the dads army's tape's just thought the BBC would be looking into seeing if they couldn't use the software to put back the original colour I'm not sure why they ended up with a colour tape and a black and white one but they did say but I just forgot !!

  3. PJP says:

    Glenn, you're still comparing apples and oranges to come up with the statement that it was "a dumb move on the BBC's part". Film studios saved film because films could be re-released, newspaper publishers kept copy as reference material and in case of litigation. What I'm saying is that for the BBC, in the UK, in the 1960's, there were no such critters as "TV studio executives", there were people from theatre and radio making it up as they went along. Certainly there were no film studios over here selling their product to TV networks, and no realistic precedents from which "we'd better hang on to these" becomes a logical conclusion.Reusing the tapes is as sensible a move in context as your mom throwing out your first issues of Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, or someone saying "let's save disk space by holding the year as a two digit number". It only becomes a head-slappingly dumb move with benefit of hindsight, which is the point I'm making!Cheers.

    • Russ Rogers says:

      There may have been not resale market for this stuff, but somebody should have at least considered preserving a historical record. I think that movie makers, TV production, record producers, even comic book companies have been guilty of undervaluing history. People take the present for granted and give very little consideration to what is preserved or how it's preserved. Let's take an example from Comics. Jack Kirby fought for years to have his original artwork returned from Marvel Comics. Marvel made the claim that it was just "holding the art for the artist, to preserve the historical record." This claim was made so that Marvel didn't have to get taxed on the increasing value of the art in it's vaults. BUT, when Kirby finally won the rights to take his art, the world found that much of his original artwork had been looted or discarded already. When it came time to give back the art, there wasn't much left to give back. Nobody thought, "This has GREAT historical value and has to be preserved intact." Nobody thought that far ahead.I think there's a moral lesson to be learned here. How are we honoring the future by what we are doing today? The question reverberates in several ways. How are we respecting and protecting the past? And what are you (personally) doing today worthy of being preserved for tomorrow? Are you doing your best work? And are you creating and cataloging a legacy that can be left for the future? Who is the ComicMix Historian? And is the stuff that's getting produced for this site being preserved and archived properly for the future? Because this is important. You are building history.Somebody, fifty years from now is going to say, "Where is the missing final episode of Mike Baron's Black Ice? It's obvious that the story doesn't just stop there! Where are the other episodes of The Original Johnson and The Pilgrim?" No wait, I said that just two weeks ago!

      • PJP says:

        Interesting food for thought…An archaeologist friend of mine pointed out recently that we are living in the most documented age ever, if you consider that in earlier periods, there were less people who could record data and much less durable media on which they could do so even if they had the skills, the time and the inclination to do so… HE pointed out that the sheer volume of data held and recorded on the web, in print and on digital/tape media may actually be a problem for future archaeologists, particularly as technology moves on but doesn't retain compatibility. The secrets of the universe, held on 8-track cartridges and Betamax videos!! Speaking of honoring the future though, there was something on QI last night about how many time capsules are in fact lost!"The International Time Capsule Society is an organization dedicated to tracking the world's time capsules to ensure that those that are created are not lost as many have been throughout recorded history. The ITCS has set up a registry database of time capsule projects worldwide. In the last few years alone they estimate that there has been over 5,000 time capsules made.The ITCS estimates there are between 10,000 to 15,000 time capsules worldwide. Most of these time capsules' whereabouts are presently not known and there is no recorded information on them. Paul Hudson, one of the International Time Capsule Society's original founders and a history professor at Oglethorpe University, estimates that more than 80 percent of all time capsules made are lost and will not be opened on their intended date. He says about 1,400 groups have presently registered with ITCS. He figures an estimated 10,000 time capsules' whereabouts are not known and forgotten about by the original builders and society. He thinks that only about one in a thousand will ever be opened."Cheers!

    • mike weber says:

      Actually, in the earlier days of the film industry, re-releases were fairly uncommon, and, of course, after talkies arrived, no-one thought that silents would ever be re-released.Re-releases are primarily (i say "primarily") a feature of the post-studio/television years.

      • PJP says:

        I plead guilty to a lesser charge of using sloppy short-hand terminology…In the early days, studios owned the movie theatres too, which allowed them to control film distribution. Without mass copying technology and overnight delivery, there could be delays of weeks or months between a film opening in a major city and the same film playing in a small town. During the '50s, the government forced the studios to disinvest from owning theatre houses, which changed the distribution pattern significantly. A lot of non-profitable theatres couldn't find buyers and were abandoned, the studios also introduced 'floor' fees which meant they not only got a rental fee but a percentage of the take from each show based on tickets sold… Some theatres were operating on an annual profit margin of 3%.This resulted in theatres being a LOT more savvy about what films they showed and when they showed them, often waiting quite some time for rental fees to come down. Which meant the studios had a commercial incentive to keep films available for much longer.Cheers.

  4. Amy Goldschlager says:

    Personally, I'm still waiting for the UK to dig up the M3 and recover the original print of THE WICKER MAN.

  5. Andrew Pepoy says:

    Just a few comments….Iran is another country that's often been mentioned as a possible soource for missing Doctor Who. Not too likely they'll be very helpful.Glenn suggested film companies kept their movies and newspapers their files. Not so. It's well known that the reason many silent films have disppeared, as well as many 1930's movies, is that they weren't seen as having any future use, so the cash-strapped studios of the depression melted them down for the film stock's silver content. And it happens through the years to this day. Many movies over the years have been lost. Mamie Van Doren and June Wilkinson, as well as their fans, would love to find 1963's "Party Girls for the Candidate" (with Ted Knight as the candidate). Many tv shows of the '80's and even into the '90's can only be released as syndicated cuts because no one thought to preserve the original cuts. Granada Films, not even 10 years ago, dumped the film negatives and wiped the video masters for the late '80's "Rik Mayall Presents", thereby depriving this Helena Bonham Carter fan of a great copy of one very special scene. As for newspapers, most have made very poor microfilm copies of their backrun, not good enough to reproduce art or photos from, and then dumped the originals. I'm working to put together a reproducable run of an old comic strip not from the '30's or '40's, but from the late '60's into the early '70's, and can't do it. Can't find a complete run in a well-printed still-existing paper. The syndicate doesn't even have a record of having distributed it, much less a set of proofs. I've seen Marvel reprint my own work on '90's X-Men comics from the printed comics. A couple years ago I had to supply copies I'd made of some pages to another publisher as the 8-year-old files had become corrupted and there was nothing else to work from. What if I hadn't had copies?And it'll keep happening. 10 years from now when something else has replaced this kind of internet forum, someone will wonder what happened to all the messages posted by some person who will become famous a few years from now. No one knew to save it.

    • MARK WHEATLEY says:

      Years ago Insight Studios produced the color work on a handful of X-FILES comic books. It was early days of our computer production work – but we kept back-up copies of our files at somewhat great expense (compared to the over-all fee we got for doing the work). It paid off. As publishers around the world purchased the right to do translated editions of those comics, again and again they came to us to get new sets of the files. And they paid our fees again and again. Why no one ever thought to keep a copy of the files we gave them makes no sense to me even today. But I was happy to take their money to the bank.BTW – Insight Studios has kept repro-quality line art on every series and comic and illustration we have ever created. And as soon as there were good ways to keep color we started doing that. That's how we were able to do that remastered MARS graphic novel from IDW. Rather than have a second rate collection, that book turned into the most impressive printed representation of any comics I've ever created.

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      It's well known that the reason many silent films have disppeared, as well as many 1930's movies, is that they weren't seen as having any future use, so the cash-strapped studios of the depression melted them down for the film stock's silver content.If memory serves, there was also a demand for the war effort. But even still, saving one copy would be helpful.The company that has the best archival process I've ever seen? The Coca-Cola Company. They have a digital archive of just about every ad they've ever run in their 120 year history, available to all of their bottlers all over the world. Which makes sense– at the base, The Coca-Cola Company is nothing but an IP firm.As for this conversation, Brewster Kahle and Google are doing a hell of a job archiving just about everything on the web nowadays, and working backwards.

  6. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    "Iran is another country that's often been mentioned as a possible soource for missing Doctor Who. "If they ever need an excuse for invading Iran, that's it right there. Photoshop a picture of the Ayatollah with his gun pointed to a videotape.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Andrew, I'm sure you're probably already aware that the whole series of Rik Mayall Presents: is out on DVD (…). Not having seen it, I presume that the print must be poor quality though and that's the point.

  8. Jay says:

    so what is the problem just send in Unit and Torchwod and see what happens about getting thses back!Hmmm!or better yet send in all the Doctors at once then you get just overwhelm hti s nutjob and take them a ll out of there!this can be done!

  9. jock123 says:

    Just a point – Doctor Who wasn't distributed abroad "on tape"; it was as film prints, which will stand up very well in all sorts of conditions. However, diligent research by motivated and savvy individuals within the industry (working in tandem with the Doctor Who Restoration Team) have tracked the movements of episodes around the world, and have exhausted all credible leads to date. Not to say that there won't be episodes lost out there, but they probably won't be with Mr. Mugabe.On the fallacy that the BBC were philistines who couldn't be bothered blah blah to preserve stuff – you have to remember that there were severe restrictions imposed on them by Equity in regard repeats; this was to ensure that actors were kept in work, as it was more favourable to them to have new versions of things go out than for old shows to be repeated. You also have to remember that it was economics and geography not a love of the arts which had so much stuff preserved in the U.S. – sending things from coast to coast and to all the affiliate stations saw to that. The U.K. didn"t have a need for that – shows which were delayed in the regions would just get sent up a wire from London and rebroadcast in Wales or Scotland.