Amateur sleuths in Britain have found two missing episodes of the long-running sci-fi TV series “Doctor Who,” but they are not willing to return them to the BBC even as the show celebrates its 60th anniversary this month, according to reports.
The film collectors fear their treasures will be confiscated by the British broadcaster and they will face prosecution, said a film historian who said he knows where the missing footage is.
The early episodes both feature the first “Doctor,” William Hartnell, an English actor who portrayed the doctor from 1963 to 1966.
Film collector John Franklin told the Guardian newspaper that he believes the answer is for the BBC to announce an immediate general amnesty on missing film footage.
“Some of these collectors are terrified,” said Franklin, adding he knows the location of the two missing “Doctor Who” episodes. “We now need to catalogue and save the significant television shows that are out there. If we are not careful they will eventually be dumped again in house clearances, because a lot of the owners of these important collections are now in their 80s and are very wary.”
Discarded TV footage was secretly salvaged from the BBC’s garbage cans by staff and freelancers between the late 1960s and 1978 when the national broadcaster had a policy of throwing away old reels.
This week the BBC said it was ready to negotiate with anyone who was holding on to lost episodes of any of their TV series from the time period.
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