Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

2 yeti in Doctor Who - The Web Of Fear
It’s the future world of the 1970s, Earth is surrounded by a gigantic cobweb, and an army of Himalayan yeti have invaded the London Underground. (maybe they came over through the futuristic channel tunnel)

It sounds like an episode of Doctor Who.

There’s even an army colonel who clearly has a hidden agenda that, strangely, is never resolved at the end of the story. Hold on a minute – he’s played by Nicholas Courtney. And that bumbling misfit is… Patrick Troughton! This is an episode of Doctor Who!

(I should have suspected as much when I typed the title of this post)

But – but after its original transmission in 1968, wasn’t The Web Of Fear subsequently destroyed by the BBC? On the somewhat flimsy basis that no-one would want to see it in 2005?

Curse you, BBC. Curse you and all your razorblade-happy, 2”-tape slitting lengthways friends.

Well, just for that, I decided I was going to watch the whole darn serial anyway – whether it existed or not.

You see, as well as failing to anticipate my interest, the BBC also made 3 other silly mistakes:

1. A TV station in Hong Kong was a little more responsible, and kept a copy of episode 1.

2. Viewers at home were a little more responsible, and tape-recorded the soundtrack off the telly.

3. The New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation were super-responsible, and kept all the scenes that they had edited out as too violent for transmission.

Can you tell where I’m going with this?

Yep, 30 years later, enterprising fans Michael Palmer, Richard Develyn and Robert Franks would match-up the aforementioned soundtrack with as much of the surviving footage and still photographs as possible, to reconstruct the missing episodes as a slideshow.

And they’re pretty good. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve made the adjustment to Jackanoryvision, watching the non-existent episodes again is just Heaven.

(Really – I believe all the original shows do exist in Heaven.)

The greatest joy however is to be found in watching the odd surviving clip in context - at a point in the story where I only know as much as the original viewers in 1968 would have done.

And those magic moments probably feel even better than watching the original.


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