Well, we got a real treat earlier today when Phil Morris took questions from fans on the Doctor Who Missing Episode Discussion Group on Facebook.
The event was pretty spontaneous, stemming from a post by Phil at 4 AM UK time that he would take some questions from the fans. It was a daunting task for the admin team, how did we make this work?We asked for your questions and let them pile up for a couple of hours. Then we took a read through and picked out 20 that we thought were good. We are realists and pragmatists, we knew that there are certain topics Phil would never open up about, so when making those question selections we avoided the ones that would illicit a “no comment” right away. Plus we didn’t want this to be a boxing match with Phil getting hammered from every side about missing episodes. We let a few light hearted questions into the mix as well.
And the result was, in my opinion, sheer magic. There were answers to questions that we never expected to be answered, and some surprisingly candid ones at that. The only hindrance was the lag of the internet as 1000-2000 people breathlessly waited for Phil to answer each question. Watching “likes” pile up on that first question is a sight I will never forget and I feel truly honoured to have been chosen by the admin group as the one to talk to Phil on this occasion.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Q&A, here is a full transcript, I have omitted the names of the people who originally asked the questions for their privacy, but they can be viewed if you join the facebook page and look at the original thread.
Phil Morris Facebook Q&A session July 20, 2014
Thank you Phil for taking the time to answer the questions that the fans have been dying to ask. Thanks to everyone who has posted a question. Obviously we don’t have time for every one of them to be answered, and there were a lot of duplicates. This thread is only for Phil and myself. Any other posts will be deleted automatically and the posters banned for the duration of our discussion. If you wish to discuss Phil’s answers we will have one thread set up to do so. Please keep your comments within that thread started by Wyn Lewis. Any others will be deleted as redundant. Whether Phil answers any questions within the group beyond what we have here will be up to him.
Dan Collins Where did your interest in all archive Television come from-not just Doctor Who?
Philip Morris My pleasure. It actually started with doctor who around 1981 when I discovered things were not all there.so it was a growing interest from there really which just grew.
Dan Collins Let’s get the obvious one out of the way- have you found more missing episodes of Doctor Who?!! A simple yes or no would be fine.
Philip Morris Plus I think any tv show this country has produced good or bad are all part of our shared cultural heritage.
Dan Collins Sorry I jumped in too fast
Philip Morris a tricky one to answer And fans will just want a yes or no haven’t you or have you. But its complex all I can say is the wind is blowing the right way be patient.
Dan Collins What is your position on the announcement of finds from sources other than yourself? Happy to see them announced ASAP?
Philip Morris I dont wish to jeopardise the ongoing project in any way .And feel the fans of all lost tv will be very happy with the outcome.
Philip Morris I am more than happy with finds from other sources.Thats there choice to
Philip Morris However im not aware of anything only rumour.My mantra is believe it when you see it.
Dan Collins Are there plans to release a documentary or a book about the search once it’s complete?
Philip Morris We are looking at a documentary something which covers all bases and highlights the issues. And who knows maybe a book
Philip Morris Everything has been recorded and photographs taken of the journey.
Dan Collins Given the remarkable work of the individuals who made up the “restoration team”, is it your hope and expectation that the same experts will continue to work on any new Doctor Who recoveries? I wonder whether as a business going forward you have or would consider developing in house your own expertise and equipment for producing commercially viable restored material?
Philip Morris the restoration team do the most stunning work im sure you all agree and they are good friends of mine . However due to the scale of the business T.i.e.a do restoration work inhouse with restored materials to exacting standards .
Dan Collins Aside from bringing back gems of British TV, what has been your proudest moment of this search? How have you helped other cultures and countries come to grips with their cultural heritage? Through recent searching in old magazines, there is a reference to an oil rig worker who held at least one missing episode in the early nineties. Is this you?
Philip Morris we are all aware of the mistakes we have made as a nation regarding archive tv we cant change that . However we can learn from it and the most exiting thing for me is to export that idea to other countries so they dont make the same mistakes Which indeed they have .So probably taking that idea and saving other cultures heritage is my proudest achievement. The article on the oil rig worker is certainly not me .just another rumour of which there are hundreds .
Dan Collins Which Hartnell adventure and which Troughton adventure would you ideally like to recover? And why those particular two stories?
Philip Morris ooh good question I think Tenth planet 4 is a key episode and probably power of the daleks. Again key episodes. But after that I think and all fandom like me anything really thats missing .
Dan Collins Do you feel your search/work has been hindered in any way by chat and speculation online, including Doctor Who forums?
Philip Morris Yes and no really .It doesn’t hinder the work and you can never stop speculation. But I think some of the things being touted are plain nonsense. It really is hard work research lots of very long 18 hr days that counts not the nonsense of somebody hiding behind a keyboard.
Dan Collins On the topic of rumours… Can you give examples of any ME rumours from the last year with are 100% untrue?
Philip Morris I would be hear for days. Doctor who has always been rife with rumours and speculation. From the production team to the missing episodes team .But the only thing that matters is the production team are making the new show.The recovery team are trying to recover the old shows .
Dan Collins What was your most dangerous incident during your worldwide quest when searching for missing tv episodes, where and what happened?
Philip Morris easy I was in Syria. Missed a shell attack by about ten feet how lucky was I.But there have been lots of tricky moments bandits armed militia but that was the closest.
Dan Collins Why did you (or your company) say “all gone, the End” last year regarding lost Doctor Who episodes?
Philip Morris It was a statement of fact all the original video recordings were wiped.All the known m.e negatives were junked and all out of contract film copies sent to landfill .they are the facts sadly .However moving on from that you have non returned prints audition films. And things which people thankfully thought to take home.
Dan Collins During your search, which country was the most inspiring?
Philip Morris Good question .probably India. And Ethiopia. Because they are very innovative people who find the most amazing ways of doing things with little funding.
Dan Collins Have you found anything non-Who related that you know people will go “Oh my God, I can’t believe he found that!” when news of the find is officially released?
Philip Morris Nice Question I hope so but everything to me thats found whatever that maybe is another lost piece of our national heritage that belongs to all of us.
Dan Collins Your return of Web and Enemy were pretty much unprecedented in terms of numbers of episodes returned, what are the biggest changes in terms of the way searches are conducted and the way episodes are handled now compared to say the return of Tomb 20 years ago?
Philip Morris Totally different to 20 years ago .Things now much more focused .Thats not to denigrate the work of the past but the application and approach has changed.
Dan Collins Have your endeavours uncovered evidence that more prints of Doctor Who were produced than is common public record, such as audition prints or duplication for simultaneous broadcast? You tweeted photos of yourself in Sierra Leone, there has been much speculation surrounding the fate of the SLTV/SLBS film store with allegedly burned down in 1999. Can you confirm this is the case and all film held within was indeed destroyed?
Philip Morris yes I have found evidence of audition prints.Yes I have visited sierra leonne .and I do posses there programme traffic records .I can tell you all Doctor Who prints were sent back to london in 1974.
Dan Collins You’ve been at this almost ten years now. Do you feel like the search has changed you in any way, and if so how?
Philip Morris it has changed me immeasurably I have seen so much conflict .However the people I have met on the journey are friends for life .I have an infectious way of exiting people about there heritage which I absolutely love.
Dan Collins Is it still true that you have never found an unsalvageable episode of Doctor Who? Does part of your work include dealing and negotiating with private collectors?
Philip Morris Thats not true I did locate some b/w jon pertwee episodes that were mush . ambassador of death part two I think .Thankfully nothing that was missing.
Dan Collins Who should play you in a movie? (if they ever made a movie about your life)
Philip Morris hadnt thought of that. However funnily enough I was at the aftershow party at the 50th anniversary .I was talking to bernard cribbins and he said look over there and it was Mark Gatiss .He said he had heard Mark wanted to write a screenplay about my life .With Mark playing me .Maybe just bernard having fun.
Dan Collins Once your search is over, what plans are in store for TIEA? Will it become an archive of sorts like the BFI? Will it help educate archives and perhaps private collectors across the globe in how to protect and preserve films/videotape
Philip Morris There is still so much to do .We already provide a vital service to archives all over the world.So there are no plans at the moment but in business things change quickly .
Dan Collins And the final question of the night, the one asked by every fan of Hartnell and Troughton… Will the second half of 2014 see the announcement of good news from T.I.E.A. and /or the BBC regarding your search?
Philip Morris There are no announcements in the pipeline at present.It can sometimes be the wrong thing with ongoing work and investigation. An example would be during the last announcement I was in a very hostile part of the world and suddenly I was everywere on tv my anonymity was compromised. Which made the team a target .So we must plan these things carefully for the greater good of the project and the safety of the personel involved .
Dan Collins Thank you Phil for giving us a considerable amount of your time tonight! We appreciate the opportunity to ask the questions that we’ve been arguing about for months, both the serious and the frivolous and you have certainly given us plenty to discuss. Thank you for all your efforts thus far, it is appreciated. Thanks to everyone who submitted a question, they were all appreciated even if they weren’t used in the Q&A session.
Philip Morris Thanks Guys .A lot of misconceptions have been doing the rounds since 1978. About who did what .I dont want to name call its not helpful but im sure the true account of things can now begin to come forward .There are lots of people who in the last 40 years who have done a fantastic job . However some people have been absolutely vilified .Pamela Nash for instance a woman who really deserves huge respect .It was she who ordered the sales prints in the first place. A woman I hugely respect made into a hate figure by a minority as have others sadly with no conception of the wider issues and the task at hand.We all share a common goal .lets all unite on that note.
So there you go, a word for word transcript of what happened on the facebook group, only omitting the names of those who asked questions for their privacy.
But what does it all mean? I will let you know another day. Right now I am just grateful for the opportunity to talk to a man who has already made Doctor Who history, and who may be poised to eclipse all other episode hunters.
One thing that must be acknowledged is the hard work of the admins on the page. We were totally unprepared for this, but managed to do an amazing job, so thanks (in no particular order) Wyn, Adam, Gary, Tony, Jason, Pascal and pinch hitter Mark. Special thanks to all the fans who submitted questions and kept things friendly and courteous throughout!