Way back in January, Doctor Who Worldwide explored the troubled history of the Underwater Menace DVD release, from Episode 2‘s discovery in 2011 and the announcement that both the episode in question and Airlock, the missing third episode of Galaxy 4, would be given release dates later that year.
Airlock was released in March 2013 with no word as to when The Underwater Menace could be expected, the missing Episode 2 leaking to the internet just a few months later. By August the first concrete news on the release came from the Restoration Team as Steve Roberts stated he had no further commissions on the Doctor Who DVD range after the completion of The Moonbase and The Underwater Menace, both of which he was commissioned for “months ago” and all seemed to be going well as the RT posted images of their work on Twitter the coming month.
Those Fish People get everywhere! Nothing in ze vorld can stop them now! pic.twitter.com/PakAWnqSsY
— Restoration Team (@RTnewsfeed) September 5, 2013
Following the return of The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World and subsequent release in October, the waters surrounding The Underwater Menace become murky as speculation arose that many more episodes were back, speculation that the episodes in question had been found only increasing after a certain missing episodes hunter told all and sundry that he wouldn’t bother with the a release containing animation, Steve Roberts meanwhile stating that they were “twiddling their thumbs” while waiting for the animated content from Planet 55 Studios, the Beeb stating that:
“We have yet to confirm the exact content of this release or its release date. We hope to have more information in the Spring… The 2014 Classic Doctor Who schedule is still being worked on.”
By December of 2013, Dan Hall, commissioning editor of 2|entertain’s classic Doctor Who DVD range, seemed to indicate that the animation of the missing episodes had barely begun, stating that work on the release was in “the early stages,” the VAM having already seemingly been completed. Yet despite concerns, the BBC seemed confident of releasing the episodes, going as far as to include a trailer for the future release as part of January’s Moonbase release and making the DVD available for pre-order on Amazon.com (where it still remains today).
Confirmation that the issues with the release appeared to be at Planet 55’s end seemed to come in March 2014 when Steve Roberts stated that as far as he was aware the DVD was still going ahead, but Planet 55 were “working flat out” on their animation series in Australia and by May, the projected Spring/Summer release date seemed to have been taken off the table entirely with Doctor Who Magazine announcing the serial was still scheduled for release, but with no projected date beyond a vague “later this year.”
More black clouds loomed throughout the summer, not least when Roberts proclaimed the range dead in June:
“We’re the team that remasters the episodes for DVD release and even we don’t have a clue what’s going on with TUM now. From where we’re standing, it’s looking like the range is dead.”
In August it appeared that any hope for a release of The Underwater Menace was over when Planet 55 issued the following statement, suggesting they had never worked on The Underwater Menace at all and had no plans to do so in the future:
“There have been many queries about Planet 55 Studios’s work on Doctor Who and whether we are doing any more. To date, Planet 55 Studios has completed work on three Doctor Who animated reconstructions for BBC Worldwide’s DVD range: The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet and most recently The Moonbase. We really enjoyed creating those but they are the only Doctor Who stories Planet 55 Studios have worked on and there are no plans to work on any more. At the moment the company is focused on animation projects completely unconnected to Doctor Who.”
After all being quiet for month, in December of 2014, BBC Worldwide proclaimed it was hopeful of a release for the DVD in 2015, saying:
“We hope to release ‘The Underwater Menace’ in 2015. We delayed the release to ensure that our publishing schedule is phased appropriately across the year and the episodes will be animated.”
By as short a time as February of this year however, the BBC had removed The Underwater Menace from it’s DVD schedule for 2015 entirely. The Consumer Products Department issuing a statement which read:
“We appreciate that some Doctor Who fans are disappointed that we have not yet been able to release The Underwater Menace on DVD. We would like to reassure everyone that we are currently reviewing the best way to bring fans more Classic Doctor Who titles. Please bear with us – we’ll let you know more as soon as we can.”
There has been no movement on the issue since and the BBC are said to be “exploring options” for the future of the range with rumours of complete DVD Sets to echo those currently beginning release in Germany alongside further expansion into new mediums surrounding online streaming.
Whether The Underwater Menace will ever see a release on DVD, or any other future medium, is as ever up in the air, as is the reasons behind the delays and potential cancellation, a release unfortunately now seeming as distant as it’s ever been.
Anneke Wills for one wasn’t taking it laying down!
Oi! What's the hold up with releasing the final @bbcdoctorwho DVD? We recorded a commentary and documentary ages ago. Sounds fishy to me.
— Anneke Wills (@AnnekeWills) March 11, 2015
Anneke even going as far as signing a fan petition to get the Underwater Menace released:
— Anneke Wills (@AnnekeWills) March 13, 2015
At it’s close the petition had received 2,761 signatures and was submitted to BBC Worldwide on May 1. The petition’s organiser Chris McAleer said:
“Thanks so much to everyone who’s added their support over the past couple of months – thanks to your support and efforts in sharing information about the petition, we’ve collected over 2,750 signatures to help strengthen our case to BBC Worldwide…”
“If you’ve missed out on adding your support to the petition, or have supported the petition and are looking for other ways to show your support, please consider writing to BBC Worldwide directly about the issue. Even though the petition has now been submitted, direct contact is another key method for showing that there’s support for this title’s release on DVD. Enquiries about specific titles are passed on periodically within the organisation, so more enquiries shows there’s more demand for the DVD’s release!”
You can contact BBC Worldwide directly in any of the following ways:
Send a letter stating your support to the following address:
BBC Worldwide Ltd
101 Wood Lane
Send an enquiry about the DVD to BBC Worldwide using their online contact form