It’s a shame – possibly a crime – that the majority of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor Who episodes were erased. The BBC, in their infinite wisdom, erased many shows to recycle the tapes they were filmed on. They never dreamed that content could be a valuable or profitable resource. There was a certain attitude that TV drama was disposable back in the 1960s.
“Fury from the Deep” is one Doctor Who story that remains completely lost. Only clips and fragments exist – stills, 8mm behind-the-scenes footage, the odd snippet, a sound clip or two, and the original typewritten script. The most complete version is the Target Books novelisaton by original writer Victor Pembleton.
The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria investigate horrors caused by an oil company’s experiments in the sea. Cue toxic sentient seaweed poisoning people and controlling their minds, as you do. The story ran for six half-hour episodes and marked the departure of Victoria from the TARDIS at the end.
“Doctor Who”: New Life in Animation
Now the BBC has commissioned an animated version of the story, to be released in 2020. They unveiled a teaser trailer on the Doctor Who YouTube channel – you can check it out for yourselves below:
Animated versions of lost Doctor Who episodes are a tradition now. They proved popular with hardcore fans of old school episodes of the show. The blu-rays and DVDs are consistent sellers, though I feel ambivalent about them.
The animated episodes may give new life to the lost stories, but it’s obvious they’re made under a limited budget. I find the character movements often stiff and see many corners the animators have to cut. Granted, you could say the framing and camera are replicating the more staid style of filming that was the norm in those days – but animation somehow makes those flaws even more glaring.
The animated episodes often play like less-witty versions of Archer. They lack the sense of spontaneity, authenticity, and emotions that come from live action, as the recent recreation of “Mission to the Unknown” proved – but then, that was a special project from a film production class at the University of Lancashire. They could do it because none of the main cast were in the story: to film the scripts of the lost stories at the BBC would be far too expensive.
But I shouldn’t complain so much: at least animation is giving us a chance to experience these lost stories at long last.