Even the TARDIS couldn’t travel back through time to revive early Doctor Who episodes from the ‘60s that seemed to have been exterminated by Daleks, but one of these seemingly vanished episodes is regenerating in animated form.
The BBC has been making an effort to digitize older episodes before they turn into cosmic dust. It has already re-released several stories that had all but disappeared in animated form, including Douglas Adams’ lost serial Shada and Second Doctor Patrick Troughton’s 1967 episode Power of the Daleks. Now part of another epic Troughton story, The Wheel in Space, is finally landing on Earth.
The Wheel follows the infiltration of the Wheel, a doomed spaceship, by Cybermen who want its bernalium to fuel their X-ray lasers. The part being animated is from the first episode (which still hasn’t been found) in a six-episode series, so The Wheel really is bigger on the inside.
The 10-minute glimpse at this Cyberman invasion will premiere at the British Film Institute next month as part of the BBC’s “Missing Believed Wiped” series, which will bring missing TV episodes back to life.
Over 90 episodes of footage from the adventures of the first two Doctors has been lost in space, whether thanks to obsolete recording media or the infamous BBC strike later in the ‘70s that was behind the destruction of most Troughton stories. It is because of dedicated Whovians who recorded the episodes on broadcast (before the era of VHS tapes) that these episodes aren’t forever languishing in a graveyard somewhere in the wastes of Galiifrey.
For anyone who has no way of traveling through time and space to get to London, the 10-minute sequence will make it onto a future BBC DVD release. While The Wheel in Space has not been restored in its entirety — yet — you never know what universe that incarnation may happen in.