Tag Archive for missing episodes
Herein lies the tale of the missing Doctor Who episodes, lost forever (depending on whatever rumors you read) to the annals of time. For the purpose of this series, any story arc with some or all missing episodes is considered wholly missing.
A number of episodes during the first and second Doctor are reported as missing, presumably destroyed by the BBC.
Marco Polo starred William Hartnell as Doctor Who and he is accompanied on his adventure by Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian (William Russell). Marco Polo was shown in seven parts:
- Part one, The Roof of the World, aired on 22nd February, 1964
- Part two, The Singing Sands, aired on 29th February, 1964
- Part three, Five Hundred Eyes aired on 7th March, 1964
- Part four, The Wall of Lies aired on 14th March, 1964
- Part five, Rider From Shang-Tu aired on 21st March, 1964
- Part six, Mighty Kublai Khan aired on 28th March, 1964
- Part sevem Assassin at Peking aired on 4th April, 1964
Of the seven parts, no evidence has been seen; and only stills and fragments still exist.
Marco Polo is the completely missing fourth serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in seven weekly parts from 22 February to 4 April 1964. The story is set in China, in the year 1289, with the regular series characters interacting with Venetian merchant-explorer Marco Polo and Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan. The historical period and context avoids science fiction elements beyond establishing the way by which the Doctor and his companions have traveled to the past. Although audio recordings and still photographs of the story exist, no footage of this serial is known to have survived.
Finally, ‘Marco Polo’ owes its legendary reputation in large part to its sets and costumes. Thanks to the recon, we can at least see these even though no clips survive and they are certainly impressive. Although nearly all of the action on screen takes place at way stations and camps due to the lack of location filming which would have perhaps allowed conversations on horseback, the use of Polo’s voice-over and illustrated maps of the journey manage to convey the sense that the Doctor and his companions have been traveling for weeks, which of course is the intention. It works well in creating the illusion of a journey despite the fact that really ‘Marco Polo’ is filmed on only a few sets with no actual traveling on screen. Overall, ‘Marco Polo’ is well deserving of its classic status.
Ian realizes that the footprint could be just an ordinary one enlarged by the snow melting. A more serious problem soon presents itself as the Doctor reports that the TARDIS has developed a major fault: all the lights have failed, the water supply has been affected and the heating is inoperative: ‘Everything’s gone to pot!’ As Barbara points out, they are now in danger of freezing to death.
Exploring the snowy plateau, the travelers are confronted by a group of Mongol warriors led by a man named Tegana (Derren Nesbitt), who prepares to have them put to death as evil spirits. They are saved by the arrival of a man of European appearance whom Barbara later identifies as the Venetian explorer Marco Polo (Mark Eden).
The year is 1289 and Polo is taking a caravan from the Pamir Plateau – also known as the Roof of the World – across Cathay en route for the court of Kublai Khan. He is accompanied not only by Tegana, an emissary from the rival Mongol warlord Noghai, but also by a young girl named Ping-Cho (Zienia Merton) who is to undergo an unwelcome arranged marriage to a 75-year-old nobleman at the Khan’s summer palace in Shang-Tu. Polo seizes the TARDIS, intending to present it as a gift to the Khan in the hope that he may then be allowed to return to his native Venice, and the Doctor’s group have little choice but to join the caravan. Tegana also secretly plans to steal the TARDIS, but for his own master Noghai.
Mistrust and acrimony abound as the caravan makes its way across the Gobi desert and through Cathay, stopping every so often at way stations along the route. Tegana and his Mongol allies make a number of unsuccessful attempts to kill the rest of the party, but the time travelers are unable to convince Marco Polo of the man’s treachery or to regain access to the TARDIS, which the Doctor has in the meantime managed to repair.
The caravan finally arrives at the Khan’s summer palace in Shang-Tu, where the travelers have an audience with the aging leader. The Doctor and the Khan (Martin Miller) strike up a cordial relationship, which continues when the whole party moves on to the imperial palace in Peking. This leads to a game of backgammon between the two old men, with the TARDIS as the prize. Unfortunately, the Doctor loses. There is some good news, however, as Ping-Cho learns that her intended husband has died after drinking an aphrodisiac, allowing her to continue her romance with the dispatch rider Ling-Tau (Paul Carson).
Tegana now plays his hand: his true intention has always been to assassinate the Khan, leaving the way clear for Noghai’s army to attack and overrun Cathay. Marco Polo, having been alerted by the time travelers and Ling-Tau, saves the Khan’s life by engaging Tegana in a sword fight and overpowering him. Humiliated, the Mongol takes his own life by throwing himself upon a sword.
Polo returns the TARDIS key to the travelers in gratitude for what they have done, and they make good their escape. The Khan is philosophical, commenting that the Doctor would have won it back at backgammon in any case …
It’s easy to ignore the historical episodes as dull and uninspiring, especially when compared to episodes involving the Daleks! Marco Polo really puts that theory to rest. As Peel put it, writing in Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time in 1980: Marco Polo is ‘Gorgeous, fast, tense, funny and filled with character and feel for the period – Marco Polo is one of the true classics of television.’