They have long been considered as lost as the Ark of the Covenant, but the Holy Grail of sci-fi aficionados, the lost tranche of 106 Dr Who episodes from the early years of the programme, wiped in a cost-cutting cull, may be about to resurface.
Rumours of the existence of a specific archive of 90 of the lost episodes have been circulating online for weeks, although the stories were initially dismissed by Dr Who fan historians and sources within the broadcasting industry.
However, new rumours circulating over the last 48 hours have given hope to sceptics and aficionados alike that some of the lost episodes may be seen again for the first time since their initial transmission.
Archivist Ian Levine, formerly one of the most staunch deniers of the recovery rumours, has now reassessed the position and believes former BBC archivist Philip Morris may be in possession of 90 previously lost episodes.
“I've just been given proof that backs up the entire story, from 2011. So yes I now really believe he has found 90 missing episodes,” he tweeted.
The proof is thought to relate to a blog posting in 2011 from a worker at a logistics company who claimed a shipment from Zambia via Nigeria containing BBC tapes and 16″ films for archi9ving had been collected, which he said contained recovered 60s material including episodes of Doctor Who.
The collector of the archive is said to have told the dispatcher that “we’d be hearing all about it before the end of the year.”
Morris had previously discovered lost episodes of other programmes, and had appeared on Radio 4 to discuss the recovery of Doctor Who missing episodes in 2009.
Levine apologised to Morris via Twitter today, saying: “And I really do mean my apology. I apologise to Phil Morris from the bottom of my heart. And I'm the first to say I WAS WRONG.”
It may not be the end, but the moment has been prepared for…