Anyone recall that wonderful little syndicated US TV show entitled 'In Search Of...' from back in the late seventies?
It was about strange phenomena, missing persons, myths & monsters, magic & witchcraft, extra terrestrials etc... - the sort of stuff that science in the 21st century has now proved does not exist any more! It was fronted by TV's Leonard Nimoy - he who plays Mr. Spock in anything with the 'Star Trek' logo on it.
Now, Len (he won't mind me calling him that!) is a huge fan of 'Doctor Who' and back in the late seventies, he got wind of the BBC's dumping of the series and set out to find as many missing episodes as he could. He has fond memories of watching the series in the 1960s on an old black and white TV set in his dressing room on the set at Desilu Studios. He once joked about having to hide behind Bill Shatner's pet doberman when the Cybermen were on. He also pissed himself laughing when William Hartnell banged his head on that ledge in episode four of The War Machines.
Anyway, he convinced his then producer - Alan Landsburg - to devote an episode of his show - 'In Search Of...' to the subject of the mythical search for the lost episodes of 'Doctor Who'. Landsburg agreed as he wanted to keep his star happy.
The episode was apparently only shown once in the States and over here in the UK, it was relegated to a late night slot when a repeat of 'Space 1999' - scheduled to replace a strike-hit edition of 'News at Ten' - was cancelled due to industrial action on the moon.
For years it remained unseen and was thought lost as it wasn't included in the syndication package for the show when it was re-distributed in the 90s.
I managed to record it on my old clockwork, bakerlite VHS recorder when it was originally broadcast and I was hunting through some boxes in the attic last Sunday when I came across it. After I had cleaned the mess up, I realised what was on the tape and managed to play it on my slightly more modern machine. The quality isn't too good as the screen-grabs show but it is all there.
Alas, one of the clips used in the edition is from 'Mission to the Unknown'. When Nimoy made the episode, it wasn't missing. (Rumour has it that Nimoy kept the print and privately shows it to visitors at Christmas parties who often don't know what the heck it is...!). The episode reveals that the alien delegates - when they were seated in the Dalek conference room - all sat behind cards that revealed their names!
In the clip, these names are ALL clearly visible!
As all fans of 'Doctor Who' know, this is the answer to the last question. The great question that when answered will result in the total cancellation of 'Doctor Who' and all it's spin-offs, comics, magazines and figure collections. Their names must never be revealed. Even Ian Levine keeps his copy of Terry Nation's original storyline for 'Dalek Cutaway' in a specially built vault beneath the Bank of England lest someone accidentally reads from it aloud.
For that reason, I am holding a barbecue next Sunday at my place when I will ceremoniously burn the VHS tape to safeguard the future of the world's most successful TV science fiction show.
I'm an angel for doing this, aren't I?
I've invited Leonard but he hasn't RSVP-ed yet!