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Thursday, 14 January, 1999, 15:19 GMT
Missing Dr Who found
william hartnell
William Hartnell: The first Doctor is the star of The Lion
Doctor Who fans will soon have another episode to add to their collection - a long-lost instalment of the science fiction show has been discovered in New Zealand.

The black-and-white 16mm film is the first to be found for seven years. It is the opening episode of a series of four called The Crusade, and features the first Doctor, William Hartnell.

The film surfaced last week after the president of the New Zealand Dr Who Fan Club, Paul Scoones, and fellow fan Neil Lambess were told of its possible existence.

Mr Scoones said it was "the ultimate dream of any Dr Who fan. It's been like having a book with missing chapters".

'Could be more in New Zealand'

The episode, The Lion, had been sent to the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in 1967, but its whereabouts since then had been a mystery.

dr who
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"It means there could be more in New Zealand and people are completely unaware of what they have," said Scoones.

It was bought by collector Bruce Grenville at a collectors' fair during the summer, who then started showing it as part of his mobile movie-screening business.

The film is now with the BBC in London, which will restore the episode and release it on video. But Mr Grenville will be able to keep the original print.

Many tapes still missing

But the search for missing episodes is by no means over - 109 out of a total 470 Dr Who programmes have vanished.

In the 1960s broadcasters did not realise the potential value of vintage television, and the BBC and other broadcasters frequently wiped tapes containing what would now be considered priceless programming.

In September the British Film Institute asked television buffs to check their attics for tapes of old TV shows.

The discovery of The Lion does not even complete the whole story of The Crusade - the second and fourth episodes of the tale are still missing.

Steve Cole, of the corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, said: "The search for old episodes has been going on for some time now.

"Tapes that were sent out to foreign broadcasters were often dumped when it was considered they weren't commercially viable. With the introduction of colour, it was thought nobody would want to watch black and white programmes.

"We will now be viewing the programme and deciding in what form we will be releasing it on video."

See also:

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