I have begun listening to early Doctor Who episodes in the car in audiobook form. I started with this episode, “The Power of the Daleks.” It was the first to feature a regeneration scene, and the first episode in which Patrick Troughton replaced William Hartnell, who up until that time was the only actor to play the Doctor on the TV series.
The Power of the Daleks is one of the many lost episodes from the earlier period of Doctor Who, episodes which were erased or destroyed by the BBC. I learned recently that the audio for all these lost episodes has been saved thanks to fans who recorded the audio from the television when the episodes were broadcast. All of them have been released as audiobooks, with narration added to allow the listener to envisage what is going on. (They are also available in paperback and the scripts can be found online).
I found the audiobook version a really wonderful way to experience this lost episode. I think that anyone who is a big fan of Doctor Who would find it a delight to go back and experience the early days of the show in this way. Given the enormous gap between the special effects capability of the BBC in the 1960s and 1970s and what can be done today, there is a sense in which listening and imagining may be a preferable way of experiencing some of these stories.
I’m debating whether to go back to the William Hartnell era and try actually listening all the way through the first two doctors’ eras (and perhaps beyond), or to carry on with the next episode. I’m inclined to see what it would be like to start from the very beginning. It has been a while since I last watched “An Unearthly Child.”
For those who would like to see what remains of such lost episodes – audio and telesync still images – many can be found on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RFr-V9zYZk&feature=related
And there are also some quite funny attempts at restoration by fans – such as this one, which adds not only color but movement: