The distribution information contained in some of the early issues of the newsletter is now out of date. Please consult the main reconstruction website for up-to-date information on obtaining copies of the reconstructions mentioned in the various issues of the newsletter.
Although I have nothing major to report (such as the release of a new story), I was keen to prepare an issue before Whovention III in Sydney. There are a still of number of interesting things to report in the world of Doctor Who reconstructions :
I’ve received a significant amount of feedback for The Savages reconstruction. A brief overview of the comments will be provided. In particular, the idea of integrating the script as part of the reconstruction, has opened up the proverbial can of worms. * I have made some changes regarding distribution of videos (perhaps more conscious of the issues of copyright ...) * I am interested in expanding the scope of this Update. This doesn’t mean I intend adding graphics and fancy text – it will still remain primarily an E-mail newsletter. Read on for more details.
Finally, as I mentioned above, I will be in Whovention
for all four days. I hope to see some of you down there!
Like other newsletters, I will need to devote an entire section to correcting mistakes made in previous issues.
(a) The Soundtracks
This is not so much a correction, but an addition to what was provided regarding the soundtracks. I mentioned a British fan who recorded episodes in the sixties – his name was Graham Strong. He recorded stories from episode 8 of The Dalek Master Plan, up till The Wheel in Space. However, there were a few gaps in his collection – episode 11 of Master Plan was lost, and The Celestial Toymaker was erased as Mr Strong disliked the story!(b) The Telesnaps
The second fan I mentioned (the one concerning the recent discovery) is David Holman. Although it is not 100% certain what stories he did record, it appears he made copies of everything from Marco Polo to Planet of the Spiders.
Both Mr Strong and Mr Holman had access to high-quality recording equipment, which explains the excellent condition of the tapes, even after 25+ years. The combination of these two collections means that all the missing episodes still remain intact in audio form.
However, there is at least one piece of a missing episode that can’t be found – the William Hartnell “Merry Xmas” line at the end The Feast of Steven. The person recording this episode was so irritated by Hartnell turning to the camera and speaking directly to the audience, that he removed it from his copy! However, it is a distinct possibility that the complete version does exist somwhere ...
Thanks to Brian Pearce for this info.
Last issue I mentioned that stories from The Savages to The Wheel in Space had been telesnapped, but I was not certain about other stories. Well, I can now shed a little more light on the subject.(c) “A Change of Identity”
First of all, John Cura did NOT work for the BBC. He was an independent contractor, who was in the business of providing a service to others, in particular, television producers. Obviously, there were no such thing as personal VCRs back in the sixties, so people had to look elsewhere if they wanted to retain a permanent record of a programme.
John Cura would take approximately sixty to seventy snaps for each episode (simply off the television screen), and then sell the snaps to all interested parties (in the form of a contact sheet). A number of early Doctor Who stories exist in this format – The Daleks, The Rescue and The Romans. In fact, it is quite possible that most of the missing stories were telesnapped (and as reported last issue, maybe even Marco Polo).
Many people who have been associated with Doctor Who, have telesnaps in their possession. For instance, director Christopher Barry, has copies of stories that he directed, e.g. The Savages and The Power of the Daleks. Like the missing stories themselves, more copies probably do exist – it’s just a case of tracking them down.
This information is courtesy of Doctor Who : The Sixties (a book which I highly recommend). Thanks also to Brian Pearce and Simon Hunt for pointing me in the right direction.
And finally, a very quick correction. Last issue, I stated that A Change of Identity was episode 5 of The Reign of Terror. Not correct! It is in fact episode 3, and this episode definitely does exist.
By now, most of you have probably seen The Savages reconstruction. First of all, thanks to everyone who responded with comments. Most of feedback was very positive – any criticisms that were received were of a constructive nature (and in most cases, I agreed with it).
So what exactly were some of the comments received?
(a) the video footage is too small. This was a fairly common complaint, and one which I would also make! Unfortunately, when I produced The Savages, I did not know a lot about video-capturing onto a PC. And while I am still a relative novice in this area, there will be a DEFINITE improvement with The Power of the Daleks. I have found a method to increase clips almost to full-screen size, without causing a significant drain on the PC's resources. Of course, the quality suffers a little, but keeping in mind that the original footage isn’t all that crash hot, I believe most people will find it acceptable.
(b) the opening titles could be improved. It has been suggested to me that I create my own opening titles, rather than using the standard BBC ones. This is something that might be considered in future stories, but basically time is the major problem at the moment.
(c) the soundtrack was excellent. Thank you – and I couldn’t agree more! But I certainly can’t take the credit for this. We must all be eternally grateful to those two fans mentioned above, who went to all that trouble (and expense) back in the days of monochrome.
(d) the telesnaps were clearer than expected. Thank you again – but you’d be amazed at the difference between a TV screen and a PC monitor. I can assure you that some of the telesnaps don't look all that wonderful on a monitor. Because the TV displays images at a much lower resolution, many of the imperfections are ‘disguised’. So as long as you have half-decent telesnaps, it’s enough to make a fairly decent reconstruction!
But what totally amazed me was the reaction to having the script as part of the reconstruction. The variety of opinion was just incredible! So much so, that I have devoted an entire section to it (see below).
I'm interested in publishing a few “mini-reviews” of reconstructed
stories. They can be reviews of the reconstruction itself, or simply a
review of the story. About 200 words would be ideal. Any takers for The
For those who have not seen The Savages, a full copy of the script is integrated as part of the reconstruction. In other words, as the soundtrack is playing, captions appear on screen. These captions either describe the current events taking place in the story, or display the lines of dialogue being spoken at that time.
Most people considered that having the script was a good idea for non-dialogue scenes. However, a few people commented that they thought the WHOLE script was unnecessary, particular where long scenes of dialogue were involved.
However, others liked the idea. One person thought it made The Savages different from other reconstructions, while another remarked that it reminded him of the old Star Trek photonovels. Another also remarked that it gave you something else to look at apart from the telesnap, which was particularly useful for long scenes!
Basically, there are a number of reasons why I have decided to incorporate the script. As I’ve told some of you already, they are :
(a) when I first had the idea of doing the reconstructions, I only had access to rather poor quality audios. I realised that the only way I could compensate for the deficiencies in the soundtrack, was to provide an on-screen script.
Obviously, this reason isn’t so important these days, as I have access to much improved soundtracks. But since I still have the scripts at hand, I’ve decided I may as well use them (I like the idea of doing a “multimedia” presentation).
(b) some people may not be aware that reconstructions of missing stories have already been attempted by other fans. The best example is a slide presentation of The Power of the Daleks, which has been floating around on the fan network for a number of years. Next issue, I’m hoping to have a small piece about another fan’s efforts to reconstruct missing stories.
While I am completely supportive of the attempts of other people, I do like to have something in my reconstructions which make them a little different. I concede that the other reconstructions are probably superior from a technical point-of-view. I don't use any super-duper hardware to perform the reconstructions – just a standard PC and VCR. This means that any unusual special effects (such as lighting changes, zooms and fades) are probably out of the question. However, there are some things I can do, for instance, I am able to change a telesnap to “negative”. This is particularly useful for the firing of a Dalek ray!
Therefore, the only way I could think of to make the reconstruction different was to incorporate the script. Granted, it mightn’t be the most exciting addition, but I believe it gives the reconstruction that extra ‘missing ingredient’.
(c) to understand the plot more thoroughly. I’m the sort of fan who likes to follow stories closely (OK I admit it – I’m a writer at heart who still has ambitions of writing a Doctor Who novel). One of the problems I have with existing reconstructions, is that the story can be difficult to follow in places. This is not surprising, considering that the stories were made for television, and were never meant to be audio plays.
While I have no problems picking up the actual dialogue, it is sometimes difficult to work out WHO said the line, WHO they were speaking to, and WHAT they were speaking about. Of course, it is even more problematic when there is no dialogue in the first place!
Having the script allows me to understand the characters, and what ‘makes them tick’. This is particularly useful in The Power of the Daleks, where there are a number of intangible relationships between the characters. I don’t believe this can be picked up from the soundtrack alone.So I guess the scripts are here to stay! What do the rest of you think?
As of writing, the introduction and episode 1 of The Power of the Daleks have been completed, and transferred to video tape. For reasons totally unconnected with Doctor Who, the project has reached a bit of a grinding halt at the moment. However, it should hopefully be back in action very shortly (probably after Whovention).
I now have enough material for Power. Thanks to everyone who sent in pix or magazines!
One notable aspect about the Power photos – as compared to The Savages ones – is that there are a reasonable amount in colour. Apart from being able to do a full-colour video sleeve print, I am also able to produce a more expansive introduction, i.e. display more of the photos. Many of the photos are publicity shots of Patrick Troughton. There are also a few behind-the-scenes pics, such as one where a couple of controllers are climbing into the Dalek casings.
Let’s hope I can report the story’s completion in the
My collection of JPG files is slowly growing – I now have about 130 stills from the story. When one considers the total lack of video footage from MP, I am quite pleased with this collection. In particular, I would like to thank Simon Hunt for his recent contribution of pics.
But I am still very keen to see more! So if you believe you have Marco Polo photos I might find useful, please write to me.
Simon also suggested an idea for Marco Polo’s journal entries – and this is something that I have considered myself. As you might be aware, Marco Polo contains Polo’s entries presented in a “Captain’s Log” style. As Mark Eden (the actor playing Marco Polo) narrates his diary entry for the day, a map appears on the screen. This map displays the most recent path taken by the caravan. Furthermore, there is also a moving hand on the screen, representing Polo’s hand as he writes the entry.
I now believe it is possible to do a simplified version of these scenes. One tricky aspect might be finding a suitable map – obviously many of the place names mentioned in Marco Polo do not exist, or (more likely) have changed their names. Some research will obviously be required.
Then, of course, there is the purely technical side. I
would like to provide some sort of simple animation, i.e. a map with a
dotted line slowly forming between two place names. While I have a few
ideas on how this could be done, I would interested to hear any suggestions
others have. Because it will be some time before I start the reconstruction
(maybe 2-3 months), I have plenty of time for experimentation.
Due to a couple of factors (e.g. lowering of costs, concerns about copyright), there have been a couple of changes in this area.
First of all, there is no longer any set price for the videos. It will just be a matter of how much a blank video costs at the time a story is requested. There will also be a few other incidental costs, e.g. the plastic video case, and return postage. As stated last issue, I am still very amenable when it comes to making swaps.
Just a quick mention about copyright - while I concede that the project does infringe copyright, I don’t believe any monetary damage is caused to anyone. The BBC have no intention of releasing these stories (well not yet anyway ...), so I don’t feel as if I am depriving actors of royalties. Like many of our laws, copyright is basically a question of degree. If this still causes problems to anyone, well, I’m sorry, but not much more can be done – except cancellation of the whole project.
Once again, I want to emphasize that this is a completely
NON-PROFIT venture. If anyone feels I am making a profit, you are quite
welcome to just send me a blank video tape to receive a copy – with money
for return postage if you require the tape sent back to you. However, you
might miss out on some of the extras – such as a plastic case, and colour
cover (and yes, future releases will have FULL colour covers – it’s just
that I couldn’t find a colour photo from The Savages).
Since this newsletter is going out to quite a few people (and many with good DW collections ;-)), I thought it would be a good idea to have a small requests section.
Simon Hunt is after the DWM archive for The Hand of Fear, which was published in the Sarah Jane Smith Holiday Special (1992). If anyone is able to help, please write to me, and I will pass the message on to Si.
A few people have asked me about scripts. Many of the missing episodes can be found at the “Behind the Sofa” web page at :
If anyone else wishes to place a small request / advert,
please write and it will be included in the next issue.
My email address is still firstname.lastname@example.org. If for some reason, you need to contact me during the week, my work E-mail is
Just a few quick “thank you”s in other areas. I would like to thank Trevor Gensch for obtaining some publicity for the project. And I would like to thank the BDWFC (in particular, Mark Jones) for allowing me to make a small presentation at one of their meetings. Thanks chaps!
Also a thank you to all those people who are distributing The Savages video to others, particularly to overseas recipients. As I stated in the last issue, I encourage you to provide copies to anyone you feel may be interested. I’m sure there are still many people out there who would like to know more about Doctor Who in the monochrome days.
I hope to see you in Whovention!
Doctor Who is copyright the BBC and worldwide affiliates. “A Change of Identity” is a completely non-profit venture. No attempt is made to supersede existing copyright. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the editor. Some editing of contributions has been made.