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TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time

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1992-10-14 Daily Telegraph.jpg

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A DOCTOR WHO series has been restored using technological wizardry worthy of the Doctor himself and will be shown on BBC2 in January.

Called The Daemons, the series featured Jon Pertwee and is said to be one of his favourite stories.

Mr Ralph Montagu, a BBC graphics designer and Doctor Who fan, who restored the series with Mr James Russell of Rank Cintel, said: "It's actually quite frightening.

"There are strange occurrences on an archaeological dig when they find a spaceship that's been buried for millions of years with demons inside.

"It caused an uproar when a church was blown up at the end. I believe there were quite a lot of complaints."

The technique used to piece together the five-part series was "pretty brilliant", said Mr Adam Lee, BBC TV's archive selector.

It is now being used to salvage three more lost stories: Terror of the Autons, which will be shown at the National Film Theatre in London in December, Doctor Who and the Silurians, and the Ambassador of Death.

The early colour videotapes of all but one episode of The Daemons were lost when the BBC wiped them for reuse.

"After the rise of Doctor Who as a cult programme in the late seventies, it was suddenly discovered that they were junked as part of a clearout," said Mr Montagu.

"Domestic videos-sales were just beginning to be realised but the BBC short-sightedly didn't see their potential."

Only black and white copies made for countries not yet using colour were available. A colour version was only recovered after a British Doctor Who fan, Mr Ian Levine, asked an American fan to tape a version edited for American television in the 1970s.

"I had to send a collector in Chicago the money to record it because he was broke," said Mr Levine.

"He hired a machine and bought two one-hour tapes. We were both very excited."

However, because the American broadcast standard is different from the European one, the tape could not be shown here and only now is the technology available to bring them together. When Mr Montagu and Mr Russell began copying the colour from the American tape on to the European one, the first attempt to match them up failed.

The black and White signals were distorted because the copying was done by filming a TV screen, warping the shape of the picture.

"By digitising the film and using special effects usually used on programmes like Top of the Pops to twist, and turn the picture, we managed to iron them out," said Mr Montagu. A computer was used to match the tapes and the engineers added colour themselves, using the colour in the US version as a guide, to the sequences edited out of it.

The process cost £1,500 per episode, but was "cheap at the price", said Mr Lee.

Other black and white Jon Pertwee films are The Mind of Evil, Invasion of the Dinosaurs (part 1) and Planet of the Daleks (episode 3). Mr Lee said they too could be transformed if American versions are found.

Caption: Bok, left, and Azal, right, with Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who in the reconstructed 1971 series The Daemons

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  • APA 6th ed.: McGourty, Christine (1992-10-14). TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time. The Daily Telegraph p. 11.
  • MLA 7th ed.: McGourty, Christine. "TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 1992-10-14, 11. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: McGourty, Christine. "TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 1992-10-14
  • Turabian: McGourty, Christine. "TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time." The Daily Telegraph, 1992-10-14, section, 11 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/TV_wizards_save_Dr_Who_classic_from_mists_of_time | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages=11 | date=1992-10-14 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 October 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=TV wizards save Dr Who classic from mists of time | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/TV_wizards_save_Dr_Who_classic_from_mists_of_time | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 October 2021}}</ref>