Category Archives: Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group On Facebook

Sue Malden Q and A from DW ME Facebook group

A little while ago the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook approached Sue Malden to see if she would be interested in doing a Q & A session to shed some light on her past involvement in stopping the junking of old TV shows, including Doctor Who. They took questions from the group, picked out 20 and sent them to Sue. Well, she has given us the answers. Here is a transcript with only the names of those who asked the questions redacted for their privacy. There are no bombshells in here, but there are some very interesting little tidbits!

What do you believe was your most important rescue for the archives, the recovery you are most proud of, for a) Doctor Who b) general TV? And if you could have saved a single missing episode of Doctor Who, which would it have been?

Sue: I think that just finding any missing Dr Who episode was a tremendous achievement. With regard to other tv progs – the missing Dads Army finds were great and have been shown by the BBC so many times.

 

What were your impressions on Philip Morris finding most of ‘The Web of Fear’ and ‘Enemy of the World’? And do you think of ‘what if’ we went to went to search physically in the first place we could have at least had those episodes back and possibly others?

Sue: Phil’s achievements are amazing – a tribute to his determination and tenacity . I agree if we had been able to visit foreign archives in person all that time ago we might have found these and others earlier, but we relied on letter contact with people in these other archives

What do you think happened to Tenth Planet 4 and Master Plan 4 after their visits to Blue Peter for clip usage?

Sue: This is a mystery I could not get to the bottom of. I am checking details again now

(Note: Sue originally provided the above answer with her partial response. She provided the follow-up answer below when she sent us the rest of her answers…..)

Sue: There was a loan record set up for the Master Plan episode it was sent to the BP film editor in October 1973), and it was logged that the print never came back to the Library. The Tenth Planet episode was not originally logged on Infax/FLOL which implies that it was accessed from Enterprises at Villiers House, as with certain other clips that survive from missing episodes of Dr Who.

Apart from doctor who which is your most wanted missing TV show you would like to see recovered?

Bob Dylan appeared in a play called MadHouse on Castle Street transmitted in 1963

When did you realise just how much material was missing, and were you shocked by the amount or had you expected to find so much missing?

When I first began working in the BBC library like many others, I presumes that everything that had been broadcast had been put away safely on their shelves. I became the Archive Selector in 1978 against a background of the Asa Briggs report into the BBC Archives and it was then that I realised that not everything had been kept and I was most shocked and needed to find out why programmes had not been kept in the archives. This is when I learned about live transmission, technology issues, re-use value of videotape, contributor rights issues   – all of which led to tapes not surviving.

Many Dr Who fans demonise Pamela Nash for the destruction of overseas duplicates…

Given that she he had ordered the creation of many of the film negatives in the first place (without which we may not have many of the episodes now….and that It wasn’t her role to keep backups – they were just overseas prints and the BBC’s attitude then was that TV was ephemeral…

Do you have a view of Pam Nash’s role back then….Is it right that she should be vilified, or do you think that the situation was more complicated than that?

Sue: I think it quite wrong to vilify Pam Nash.

You are quite right. Her job in BBC Enterprises was to (among other things) organise the copying and distribution of BBC productions for BBC Enterprises clients. As I understand it this involves arranging for duplicating masters from the original BBC masters to be made solely for Enterprises use – to copy from, thus saving wear on the original BBC master . Sometimes this would be a film recording from a 2” tape copy(and sometimes a black and white copy of a colour original). Pam was not aware of what the BBC subsequently chose to do with its masters. She was fulfilling her role meeting Enterprises requirements. Even then the BBC was not a “joined up “ organisation!

As you say – the fact that this BBC Enterprises activity was in operation parallel to the main BBC functions of production and transmission does at least mean that additional copies of programmes were being made and distributed to many countries which has meant that the chances of at least one copy of a programmes were increased.(to later be found )

I found that once Pam understood what had been happening to BBC master tapes she was helpful to our quest, but very clear that she was not responsible for the BBC wipings.

Hi Sue how are you? Thanks for all your hard work over the years trying to recover Doctor Who, Z Cars and many other programmes. Are you still involved in trying to recover missing episodes?

Sue: Hi

Many thanks. I am not directly involved these days, but do like to help out where and when I can

Thanks for the Q&A Sue. My question is how much of a process was it back in the 1970s to realise there had been a mistake in junking the BBC’s archive? Was there apprehension from other departments to abort junking in favour of retaining the status quo (i.e. continuing to junk)? What was the reaction (if any) of the unions when the BBC began retaining material for potential domestic sales?

Sue: The Asa Briggs report on BBC archives in 1978/9 was crucial in highlighting the need to review and bring consistency to the BBC’s retention activities. This report, among other things, recommended the creation of the post of Archive Selector. When I first began it was so helpful to have this report to refer to if I met any resistance from production managers!

Video recorders have been around for decades, when did staff at the BBC first think as a germ of an idea, “in the future people will have these things in their homes and they might want to access these old programmes”. Or did it just suddenly dawn on them just before the Revenge of the Cybermen.

Sue: I do not know when home video sales first appeared, but I would presume as soon as Enterprises (now Wordwide) became aware of the commercial opportunity. But unti then there were no domestic video rights negotiated or paid to the contributors so the back catalogue would need to be re-cleared – another commercial decision Going forward when a programme was made Enterprises would have to express an interest in it so that the appropriate rights could be negociated with all the contributors. Eventually these rights were written into most BBC contracts

When you started checking the archive for doctor who were there any records of non-theatrical sales (generally donated to areas like the armed forces etc ) or was there nothing like that i believe there were index cards for each DW story held by what is now BBC worldwide

Sue: I never found any formal records of non commercial distribution. There were certainly index cards for a Enterprises (now Worldwide) holdings and distribution

Was it true Sue that the directors or producers of a programme had to sign a form saying that there was no merit in keeping a story on tape? If they said no, it was junked?

Sue: It was certainly a production decision to wipe or keep and I think the wiping sheets may have been signed by the department managers, but I don’t think every individual tape was signed away!

Beyond broadcasters, is there a possibility other organisations such as government departments obtaining episodes from the 60’s?

Sue: The BFI did; govt overseas depts. did, but I don’t know on what basis and we did try to get programmes back from remote places such as the Ascension Islands

This is broader than Doctor Who I hope that’s alright, here goes. We’re told the BBC, and I assume other broadcasters, couldn’t keep everything. So was there a specific set of rooms or a building designated for this. Was it running some sort of system were new programs went in one end and the oldest programs went out the other to the skip to make space. I’m making it sound very simplistic, I’m sure it must have been much more complex. Thank you for giving some of your time to answer questions.

Sue: In the early days The VT programme tapes were managed by VT Engineering on behalf of the Production departments who would decide which of their tapes they wanted to retain depending on the significance of their content, the copyright and contractual arrangements for that programme and repeat or sale potential. In the late 1970s the library became responsible for this store and when I was appointed I could override the production decisions to wipe – using the BBC’s section criteria thus taking a wider view of the value of the programme

Not limited to Dr Who, but can Sue tell us what to do if us fans stumble across BBC material at boot-sales, junk shops etc? I live quite close to London and I often see material that may or may not be of interest, usually on old video formats, or reel-to-reel audio tapes. Is there any value in this material and should we try and get it all back, or are they just junk copies on obsolete formats that have been thrown out by the corporation on purpose, as they switch to digital formats? Also what is a fair price for us to pay and would we be reimbursed for expenses by the BBC/BFI if we have to pay out on material that might be of interest to the corporations, but might not be of any immediate interest to us as individuals? I’d be fascinated to have some advice and guidance.

Sue: It is always worth following up on any old tv or radio recordings you come across. Dick Fiddy who organises “Missing Believed Wiped” at the BFI is the best person to contact. In genera it is not likely that vhs are worth collecting because the broadcast master probably has been retained. Most interesting would be film recordings and 2 and 1 inch videotapes. All BBC material that is not required was supposed to be wiped first recycled or sent for landfill, but I know things slipped thru this process!

I cannot advise on a fair price to pay or whether it would be reimbursed by the rights owners – but I would hope so. Dick is the best person to check with, especially if possible before buying. I realise this is not so easy at a boot sale .

Were there any countries or types of countries that is it was difficult to get a response from when asking for old material to be returned, for example, countries like Ethiopia when it was under a dictatorship, and we know that some Dr Who was sold to Iran. It’s obviously rather a difficult place to approach. Do you know if they have been contacted again since the classic “Who in the name of Allah are you talking about” response many years ago?

Sue: I think almost everywhere I contacted responded, mainly because I was contacting people in the libraries . I cannot remember any rejects. Whether they all looked in the relevant stores is another matter. I do not recollect the quote, but certainly an archivist in Iran Tv was most helpful some years ago

Do you think there are any more missing episodes out there ?

Sue: Never say never!!!I think it is possible that more will be found – but who knows where!!

I’d like to ask Sue to tell us a little about her career leading up to becoming the BBC Archive Selector? Also, I’m interested in hearing about what she’s been up to since leaving the BBC.

Sue: I did a degree in Economics specialising in Economic history. My first job after leaving college was for about a year in the library of Birkbeck College London. I enjoyed library work so I decided to persue this as a career and left Birkbeck to undertake a Post grad diploma in Information Management at the Library School of the Polytechnic of North London. This ran for a year from Jan – Dec. Whilst I was there the BBC Film library advertised for student holiday relief work and I was a successful applicant. I returned to work there in Dec when I qualified – as an assistant librarian. I worked in all areas of the library including intake. In c 1975 I was sent to Lime Grove to work as librarian/researcher for the current affairs programme “Midweek”. The position of first Television Archive Selector was advertised in c 1978 and I applied.

I went on to work on the BBC’s 50th anniversary celebration, became Assistant head of the Film Library. Following management reorganisation I became head of BBC TV Broadcast Archives covering News, Photos, Music, Grams and later Radio archives. For a short period I was Head of Marketing for BBC Information and Archives I was Corporate Affairs Manager when I left in 2001. Since then I have been a freelance film researcher working mainly on current affairs productions, but also on the History of Ealing Studios and the Great War repeat. I have worked in a range of countries in the Middle East and Caribbean as a management consultant and training in archive work and research. I am currently chair of FOCAL International and also chair of the media Archive of Central England (MACE)

Hi Sue. Its 2015 now, looking back when you started cataloguing and preserving Doctor Who back in the late 1970`s, could you have possible envisaged how your work has brought joy and delight to the legion of Doctor Who fans all over the world with the releases on VHS then DVD, and do you receive much fan mail these days?

Sue: I had no idea what I was taking on when I began investigating Dr Who episodes. I just chose what I thought was an iconic, significant long-running series to investigate in order to earn about what had happened to programmes in the past. I do not get any fan mail these days!

How easy was access to the archives in the 1960s and 1970s – could items have been removed by any producers, editors and simply not returned?

Sue: In the early 1960s the library was based in Ealing studios so it is possible that “physical ” access was easier than when the archive moved to the Brentford site but I don’t know. Anyone working for the BBC with a legitimate production number could borrow from the library – it was unusual to loan a negative or master copy unless to the editor or the labs for transmission. There was also an overdue chasing process to get items back – but not always successfully. In fact the copy lent for the 1973 special did not return, but there was a master in the archive

Were copies of programs ever made for persons such as the royal family or celebrities to view at their leisure?

Sue: Hi, Copies of BBC programmes were made for contributors and others, but I do not know if Dr Who was ever copied for them.

 

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Facebook Q&A with Sue Malden

Over on Facebook, the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group are currently inviting questions for another of their popular and successful Q&A series. This has already featured Philip Morris (the man who returned Enemy of the World and Web of Fear in 2013), Richard Molesworth (author of the popular book Wiped!) and Paul Vanezis (documentary producer and member of the Restoration Team) and next up to answer fan questions will be archivist Sue Malden.

Film and TV Archivist Sue Malden.
Film and TV Archivist Sue Malden.

For those whose memory is hazy at best on the saga of the missing episodes of Doctor Who, it was Sue Malden who was instrumental in the discovery and return of many thought lost episodes in the late 70s and early 80s, having been alerted to the junking of archive TV by Who fan Ian Levine. She also put together the first paper trail of episode sales, building on the work of Pamela Nash who had established a stock of 16mm prints to be sent to foreign TV stations. These along with the episodes held by the BBC were brought under one roof in the new BBC Film and Videotape Library, aka BBC Archives. Sue Malden became its first ‘archive selector’, responsible for deciding which programmes were worthy of storing there.

The film can for the existing second episode of The Evil of the Daleks
The film can for the existing second episode of The Evil of the Daleks

So, if anybody is interested in asking Sue a question about Doctor Who missing episodes in particular or Film and TV archiving in general, follow the link above to the group and add your question to the pinned thread. All questions to be received by 9pm BST (UK time) on Wednesday July 1st please.

TIMD Featured on Gallifrey Stands Podcast

Last Friday I rushed home from work, shovelled some food into my mouth and then ran to the computer. Why? So I could participate in the Gallifrey Stands podcast. When you add in the time difference between Canada and the UK, it made for a late night session for host Doctor Squee! We talked about Patrick Troughton (of course), AM Audio Media’s Dark Journey, missing episodes, missing episode discussion groups and of course Troughtonismydoctor.com! Take a few minutes and check it out!

Dark Journey Age Of Banishment Review

Doctor Who Dark Journey Episode 3, “The Age Of Banishment”

So far this series we have been privy to some shocking revelations from the Doctor’s past. We learned how his most loved companion and his most bitter enemies were involved with the Noble project and in this episode that project’s true intent is laid bare. On Gallifrey the Doctor tries to extinguish evil, but his pure motivations go astray and lead to his exile from his home planet.

The first two episodes of this season have been full of action and revelations in equal measure and they keep ramping things up! Our heroes destroy a British landmark during the pre-title sequence, have just 18 minutes to save the day, see ghosts from Holmes past and tinker with reality all during this episode.

There is also a special guest voice. AM Audio Media donated a super amazing prize to the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group On Facebook back in November when they were holding a contest to celebrate DW’s 51st birthday. That prize was a small role in this series and we get to hear the winner in this episode during the Noble project flashback scene.

This week’s episode was released on the Who Wars Podcast which features an interview with the Cool Beans Doc himself afterward! Check it out!

 

Celebrate the 51st With The FB Group

Everyone knows what November 23rd is. It’s the anniversary of the first ever broadcast of An Unearthly Child back in 1963. This year the Doctor Who Missing Episode Discussion Group on Facebook are celebrating the entire black and white era of Doctor Who with a double comment a long featuring the first and the last black and white episodes! It starts with An Unearthly Child at 7PM UK time (2PM EST)  on the 23rd and finishes with War Games episode 10 at 8 PM UK.

The event, dubbed “From Totters Lane to Time Lords”, will also feature some very unique prizes. The good folks over at AM Audio Media have donated a small speaking role in season two of Doctor Who Dark Journey. Your voice could be featured in Canada’s premiere Who related audio drama and heard around the world!  Also up for grabs is a brand new t shirt designed exclusively for this event by Loogyhead. The winner will get the first ever pressing of that shirt. Other members will be able to purchase one after the competition is over.

So save the day, join the group and answer the quiz questions for your chance to win!

Celebrate Web and Enemy With the Facebook Group!

October 10th will mark the one year anniversary since Enemy Of The World and Web Of Fear were announced. What an amazing day that was, breathlessly waiting for the embargo to lift so the world could find out just what missing episodes had come back!

Well the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group on Facebook is having a week long event to celebrate those stories and the man who found them, Phil Morris. Starting October 5th, the group will be discussing those seminal stories and the return their impact has had on fandom.  The week long celebration will culminate in a special Comment A Long, the “Double 6’s” as it’s been dubbed. On October 12th at 7PM UK time (2PM Central NA) group members will have the opportunity to watch episode 6 of Enemy of the World simultaneously and talk about it live as it happens via a facebook thread. There will be a short break after Enemy and at 7:45PM Web of Fear 6 will be watched and discussed.

But the fun and good times don’t end there. After the dust has settled from the double 6’s there will be a draw for some extremely exclusive and unique prizes. More details to come as they are announced!

f you are already a member of the Facebook group you will get an invite real soon and if you aren’t a member, now would be the perfect time to get on board!