Fifty Years since its initial broadcast, The Power of the Daleks will finally be seen again, in newly animated form, when the BBC release all six episodes this coming November.
But what happened to the original film recordings?
The master tapes of the complete serial were erased at Villiers House in 1974 (even though they weren’t “officially” junked), while the additional 35mm film negative of Episode 6 was junked by the BBC Brentford film library some time prior to 1970. Due to an error on the library film card, there has been long speculation that the Brentford record indicates that Power of the Daleks 6 was not “officially” junked and the film can remains missing, indicating the episode made its way onto the black market. This is not the case however and the error is a mere double entry, the film being junked that year.
Due to restrictions on sales of Dalek episodes placed by the Terry Nation estate between late 1966 and December of 1967 (Nation refusing permission to sell the Dalek stories while he was trying to sell his spin-off Dalek series in the United States), the likes of The Power of the Daleks saw relatively few international sales compared to stories around them. BBC Enterprise had two 16mm copies of the serial for foreign sales, the first of which was sent to Australia for July 1967 broadcast. The films were all returned to the BBC and junked on June 4, 1975. The second foreign-held copy has long been the source of much speculation, having been sent first to New Zealand for broadcast in August of 1969 and then sent on to Singapore in January of 1972 for broadcast in May of that year. The fate of the prints is unknown and Singapore says that it currently holds no material. The serials sent as part of the batch to RTS were The Savages, The Smugglers, The Tenth Planet and The Power of the Daleks.
Various clips from the landmark story still exist, taken from other programming, alongside 8mm footage filmed off-air by an Australian fan, which includes the first moments of the Second Doctor in the TARDIS.
Due to its key status as the first story to feature Patrick Troughton, its status as a classic of the era and of course it being a Dalek story, Power has long been one of the “holy grails” of missing episode hunting. The story has been subject to rumours and hoaxes ever since the 1980s, even though the Singapore prints are realistically the only hope of recovering the serial in its entirety, beyond the possibility of episodes marked for junking being purloined in London.
One of the earliest and most persistent rumours was that the serial was shown in its complete form in 1986 in Ghana, as reported in Doctor Who Bulletin #105 in September of 1992, when contacted over the matter the station claimed that the archive had burned down in 1989 (which was relayed in DWB #107). However, Ghana never bought the serial and there is no record of the Ghanian archives ever suffering such a fate.
In December of 1990 it was reported that a private collector was in possession of a poor quality copy of Episode 2 and episode hunter Bruce Campbell was in negotiation for the return of the episode. The return of the episode hinged, perhaps unbelievably today, on the collector receiving a copy of an extended Laserdisc edition of Aliens, a product only available at the time in the United States. Despite obtaining the Laserdisc, the Power episode never surfaced and the incident can only be put down as a hoax on the part of the collector.
Rumours later spread that a consortium of dealers bought a 35mm film print of Episode 1 for the princely sum of £15,500. No record exists of the episode in question having ever been on 35mm film, the BBC having recorded little of the show on the format and by 1994 further rumours spread of an oil-rig worker being in possession of Episode 2 of the serial, for which he’d paid £5000. A hoax in 2001 meanwhile said that Episode 3 had been located and sent to the BFI and the notorious Darren Gregory claimed at various points to be in possession of all or part of the serial.
The serial was the subject to a notorious earlier hoax in the 1990s when a collector in Australia attempted to defraud others out of material by using stills from surviving clips of the episode, the clips in question having featured in a 1974 edition of the education series Perspectives entitled C For Computer. The “Dalek production one” clip was later returned to the BBC.
The 2013 return of The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World brought a new level of speculation as all manner of rumours and hoaxes combined into the so-called “omnirumour” of which Power of the Daleks was often stated to have been recovered. That a recovered Power had a special screening for select individuals at the BBC was regularly speculated alongside insistence that the story would be the final release of the Doctor Who DVD range in 2016, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Patrick Troughton taking the role. Which we guess might somehow have actually come true! Of course these rumours were equally encased within tales of 97 episodes being recovered and regular DVD releases of material.
Yet others told tales of The Power of the Daleks being found “independently” of the main search alongside The Daleks Masterplan and yet in January of 2014 there seemed to be something more concrete as information surfaced that both Power and Evil had possibly been broadcast in Taiwan.
While rumours continue to persist to this day, the new animation from the BBC perhaps shows that the Beeb find little confidence in ever recovering the episodes and hold no information to the contrary. The excellent new production is the best that we could possibly hope for and the first chance most fans will get to see them in a broadcast medium. Here’s hoping for many more to come!
Power of the Daleks will be released digitally at 5:50pm on November 5 via the BBC store, with a DVD release following on November 21, preorders are available now via the Amazon link below.