1974 Recall

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The tables on the Bicycling Chains page indicate possible routes that the film prints took over the years. The final country in each chain was therefore the one instructed by the BBC to return or destroy the films after the BBC had decided the films were no longer needed and were to be taken out of circulation.

A number of episodes are known to have been returned to the BBC in 1974 and 1975, in what may have been a carefully co-ordinated action…

Episodes -- Expiring and Withdrawn

BBC sales, the effect of the NZ and ABC switch to colour; BBC Handbook 1975

Between 1972 and 1976 the majority of the Hartnell and Troughton series were coming to the end of either their second five year sales rights period, or their first seven year rights period. The BBC had the option to either renew the rights (by firstly getting an agreement from the original script writer/s) or to let them expire. The BBC did the latter.

What may have influenced that decision?

It's likely that the sale of the colour Jon Pertwee stories to US markets from 1972, and the commencement of colour broadcasts across New Zealand and Australia had something to do with it. (The NZBC had launched colour in October 1973 and the ABC was transitioning to begin colour broadcasts in March 1975. The last ever repeat of b/w episodes of Doctor Who on the ABC was The Claws of Axos in February. If the ABC hadn't switched to colour when it did, would it have played regular repeat runs of all the Hartnells and Troughtons throughout the 1970s?) [see extract from the BBC Handbook 1975 at right])

Although there were still many new broadcasters to whom the black and white serials could be offered, there were too few of them to make the rights renewal effort cost-effective. And the BBC needed a Major Commonwealth country to basically "fund" the bulk of the renewal costs. With Australia, New Zealand and Canada out of the picture, there was really no one else for the BBC to approach.

The last regular sale of first and second Doctor stories (as opposed to a small sub-set of random stories) to a Commonwealth country was to Singapore in 1972 and Gibraltar in 1973; in both cases, the sale was "back-catalogue" as they had already commenced screening Jon Pertwee stories by that time and those sales were to use up the BBC's Minor Commonwealth "quota" that was still in hand.

We'd hazard a guess and say it was the BBC that approached and offered those stories (probably cheaply) to those countries rather than the countries asking the BBC for more episodes; the BBC wanted to use up rather than waste the remaining pre-paid sales rights before withdrawing the episodes. And since the BBC knew which countries were holding the film prints, it was able to arrange for bicycling from the nearest (and therefore cheapest) source.

  • To explain the "quota" system: under agreement with Actors Equity, when the BBC sold a programme to a Major Commonwealth broadcaster (such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Gibraltar) it could sell the same to one Minor Commonwealth country at a price lower than their already discounted cost. The ABC purchased one screening plus one repeat, which meant two Minor Commonwealth broadcasters could therefore buy at the reduced rate. And an important step in this process was that when the BBC paid out to the rights holders for the sale to Australia, it also paid out to Equity for two Minor Commonwealth sales in advance. To recoup this cost, the BBC had to actively chase and secure two Minor sales. This wasn't a problem in the first few years given the high level of sales of seasons one and two, but with seasons three onwards, the gap between each sale widened, the BBC was often left with already paid for but unsold rights still to use up the same year that the rights expired. (This could be why we get what appear to be desperate sales of the Spanish-dubbed serials to Costa Rica in 1971, the "back-catalogue" sale of seasons three and partial four to Singapore in 1972, and the last minute sale of the Arabic-dubbed serials to Algeria in 1973; these were done to buy-off the quotas before the remaining rights expired in 1974.)
  • Picking The War Machines as an example, Australia purchased first, with the two Minor Commonwealth quota being taken by Barbados and Zambia. New Zealand (Major) was next, followed by Sierra Leone (another Major). After two years with no sales, Singapore used up one of the two Minor quota with the late in the day "back catalogue" sale in 1972. The second and final Minor quota was sold to Nigeria in 1973, which was when the story expired.
  • And for a second example, The Web of Fear had Australia purchasing first, followed by the two Minor Commonwealth broadcasters Hong Kong and Singapore. New Zealand (Major) was next, followed by Gibraltar (another Major), leaving two Minor sales in hand. Zambia (Minor) took up one of them in 1973, with the final "quick, use it up before it expires this year" 1974 sale to Nigeria taking the other.)

If the biggest markets in the world (i.e. the most profitable) did not want the black and white episodes of Doctor Who and other markets had all but dried up, was there any need to keep them?

According to available records:

  • By mid-1974, there were nine Hartnells still available; by mid-1975 there were only four.
  • By mid-1974, there were twenty Troughtons still available (The Evil of the Daleks was the only one that wasn't); by mid-1975 there were only eight.
  • Similar records for the following year are not available, but one expects that by mid-1976, there were no Hartnells still available; and the number of Troughtons was probably just the final three serials from season six (which were sold to Zambia to use up the "quota"). And those three were off the menu the following year…

It's clear from this that by mid-1977, all the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton stories were off the catalogue.

  • FACT: the BBC had withdrawn all the first and second Doctor stories from sale by 1977, and junked the negatives and film prints they held, with the bulk of those being disposed of in 1974. (The final batch of the original broadcast video tape masters had also been wiped, in August 1974.)

But what if that wasn't where the story ended?

  • HYPOTHESIS: The withdrawal process was more than just crossing the story off a sales catalogue and junking the negatives and prints. WHAT IF the process also involved the complete removal from circulation of ALL the film print copies overseas?

Episodes -- Recalled? (A Hypothesis)

The following reported events did take place in 1974:

The following reported events did take place in 1975:

  • RTV in Hong Kong aired Doctor Who in colour
  • The ABC in Australia returned a batch of some 130 prints to London in June

So, that's two countries recorded as returning the bulk of their film prints to the BBC in 1974 and 1975, and those film prints subsequently being junked by the BBC.

Coincidence or careful co-ordination?

We think it's the latter; all the above events happened at the same time on purpose. These events took place because of the bulk sales withdrawal rather than independent of it.

If that hypothesis (please note!!! There is no documentary evidence to back this up!) was indeed the case, here is a likely chain of events:

  • With the option to either expire or extend the sales rights of the Hartnells and Troughtons looming, around 1972 the BBC may have approached certain major broadcasters to find out if they wanted to buy the episodes (for first screenings and/or repeats over the next two years, which was when the bulk of the serials came up for renewal): The NZ and US markets were not interested in black and white material (but the colour Jon Pertwee episodes were taken), and the ABC confirmed that it did not want to repeat the older black and white episodes again as a lead-in to the switch to colour in a few years' time.
  • On that basis, the BBC withdrew the serials from sale when the "use by" dates came up during 1972 to 1976, and commenced the bulk destruction of the negatives and prints it held.
  • The destruction was staggered to take into account that not all serials of each season expired at the same time (the renewal / expiry of each serial was a period starting from the date of original UK broadcast), with some serials from later seasons expiring before serials from earlier serials on account of an overlap when the renewals had been granted – i.e. The Web Planet expired in 1975 (five years plus one five year renewal: 1965+5+5=1975) whereas The War Machines expired in 1973 (seven years with no renewal: 1966+7=1973); both serials had been sold to Nigeria in 1973 to use up the "minor Commonwealth" quota that was still in hand on those two serials (see explanation above).
  • The NZBC had already destroyed its copies of The Reign of Terror back in June 1971; that's seven years after its UK broadcast. That NZ destroyed the prints in that year strongly suggests that all the other "end of the chain" countries that still had that serial in their possession were also requested to destroy or return the prints. Ethiopia was the last country to screen the story (in July 1971; a late sale probably to use up the sales "quota" that remained before the serial expired that same year). In terms of the new tables, only the prints that were used last in Thailand, Kenya and Ethiopia have not been accounted for. If those three countries returned, destroyed or retained their prints of The Reign of Terror, then they'd likely have done the same with all the other film prints they ended up with.
  • HYPOTHESIS: To ensure that its obligations to the rights holders were upheld, the BBC had to remove all copies from worldwide circulation and thus requested the recall of ALL prints held overseas that had not yet been destroyed. The films did after all belong to the BBC; broadcasters merely leased them. This was implemented to not only account for all copies but also to ensure that no "out of contract" screenings could occur. (It is known that some African countries, such as Rhodesia, operated a sort of "Black Market" trade for British television programmes, but this usually applied to programmes recorded on tape during broadcast in the UK with the video tapes then smuggled into Africa. But the complete removal of film prints from circulation was at least one way of ensuring this market was deprived of its supply.)
  • The Macra Terror had expired by June 1974, hence NZBC destroying its prints later that month. The screening rights to season five expired during 1973 or 1974 (for instance, the rights to air The Web of Fear expired on 31 March 1974). Later that same year, and at the BBC's behest, the NZBC began destroying or junking its expired film holdings (including The Crusade, an episode of which was saved from its fate, and returned to the BBC in 1999).
  • Also during 1974, the BBC made a last-ditch effort to use up the remaining Minor Commonwealth quota (see explanation above) that was still in hand on some Troughton stories: this is why The Abominable Snowmen, The Enemy of the World, The Web of Fear, The Wheel in Space, The Dominators, The Krotons, The Seeds of Death, The Space Pirates and The War Games were flogged off (cheaply?!) to Nigeria and Zambia between 1974 and 1976. (The BBC probably approached them with the offer rather than the broadcasters approaching the BBC.) (One of the two stories missing from that grouping – The Mind Robber – had already been withdrawn; a similar situation presumably applied also to The Invasion, hence neither being offered to Africa.)
  • And being aware that these were the final sales of those stories, the BBC was able to issue "destroy / return after screening" instructions to Nigeria and Zambia in advance. (The final "back catalogue" sale of the season three and four stories to Singapore in 1972 would have come with the same post-transmission condition.)
  • The BBC contacted (by telex or cable) all the countries that hadn't already returned or confirmed destruction of prints, requesting that they return or destroy what they held. The cost of shipping the films back to the BBC would have presumably been at the BBC's expense: Sierra Leone sent back a shipment in 1974. Other countries presumably did so during 1974 and into 1975…
    • To account for the complete set of Arabic prints held by the BBC in 1976, Algeria, who had aired them in 1973-1974, was likely to have been the returnee of those in 1974; and likewise to account for the handful of Spanish prints also held, they came from Costa Rica.
    • Given the sheer number of prints it held (including any dupes still held), the ABC delayed until 1975, when it sent back to London what was left after an initial cull performed locally (see Australia – Fate of the Prints for more on this). (If the ABC did retain dupes from regional screenings, presumably those would not all be sent back to London with the BBC's prints, and instead disposed of locally. That would certainly explain the existence of a couple of episodes supposedly sent to London in 1975 that later surfaced in Australia…)
  • By the end of 1974, the last of the video tape masters of the Hartnell and Troughtons had been wiped. (By August, the video master for Invasion of the Dinosaurs part one had also been wiped; a certain legend has been built up around this, with claims that it had been wiped in error for The Invasion part 1, which had already been erased in 1971. But if, as we propose here, Enterprises was ridding itself of the back-catalogue in 1974, it's very possible that during the clear out it was procedure to also check the VT holdings at the same time, and maybe just maybe someone misread the library records, and mistook the video tape of "Invasion Part One" for "The Invasion Episode 1" that according to records should have been wiped in 1971; and along with the black and white film negatives for the Troughton story, the VT of the first episode of the Pertwee serial was withdrawn and went bye-byes under a giant magnet…)
Films on cores junked: Was this the fate of foreign prints of Doctor Who? (NOTE: This is a generic photo: no Doctor Who prints were harmed in the making of this picture… Or were they? Hmmm…)
  • All the recalled prints were themselves eventually junked in London. (Films held at the BBC were generally wound onto a central core rather than a reel; the core was knocked out and the "spaghettified" tangle of film was thrown into a skip to be taken away to be incinerated. But the films that were returned from overseas were often still on reels, and were junked whole; those films on reels (and possibly also in cans) were easy targets for opportunists to liberate from a skip, since they could be grabbed and carried away surreptitiously. (It should be noted that the light-fingered Larrys were probably all BBC staff members; the projection rooms, loading docks and dump-skips where the films were placed awaiting disposal were all within enclosed BBC premises, not on the curb where members of the public were free to access them.) Some of these "salvaged" prints were later returned to the BBC many years later, supporting the likelihood that all are overseas returns rather than "on the shelf" copies held by the BBC, which would have been on cores.)
  • Some of the prints that had been returned prior to 1974 may have been handed over to the BBC Film Library; the library held all the original film negatives of those episodes that had been recorded on and broadcast from 35mm film. A 16mm print returned from overseas may have been retained to use as a viewing copy of those episodes. In late 1976, most of if not all the 35mm film prints also had an equivalent 16mm print on file. These may have been overseas returns, with any foreign leaders / labels replaced by standard BBC ones…?
    • Neither The Underwater Menace part three nor The Moonbase part two appear to have been held at the BBC in 1976 but were a year later; are these actually the first "missing episodes" to be returned to the BBC? In the early 1980s, a collector had in his possession some 21 film prints of Doctor Who – the earliest being An Unearthly Child episode one, and the latest being the then-missing Invasion of the Dinosaurs part one – if all were acquired around the same time (on reels, and from the same skip?!), it looks like the bulk of this collection may have come from the 1975 Australian return…)
    • Were serials junked only if they were complete? By that we mean if, say, a country returned all episodes of a 4-part story, those four were crossed off the list and junked. But if only two of the episodes were returned, these were retained until such time as the "missing" two were accounted for? (That step was probably done for accounting purposes; prints in circulation were regarded as "stock" in the fixed asset side of the annual balance sheet, and as such each had a nominal value. In order to reduce the 'value' of those withdrawn episodes of Doctor Who to 'nil' – i.e. depreciate – ALL sets of prints made for each story had to be accounted for as best as possible.) If so, that could explain all those "orphan" prints that were held prior to and after 1976. Take The Invasion for instance: were the six prints that exist today not junked because they couldn't be until prints of the other two showed up?
  • By the end of 1975 only four Hartnell (N, Q, S and T) and eight Troughton stories (QQ to ZZ, but not UU and WW) still had broadcast rights to play out and/or Minor quota left to sell, although it appears that no further sales of those twelve serials eventuated beyond the 1976 sale of XX, YY and ZZ to Zambia.
  • By the end of 1976, those twelve had also expired. At the time of pre-production on the Lively Arts / Whose Doctor Who documentary in November 1976, the few positive prints still held at the BBC's film library and at Enterprises was all that was left of the incomplete serials that had slowly trickled back from overseas (and which couldn't be junked until each set was complete?).
  • By early 1978 the BBC was taping up the first of the remaining batch of season one negatives ready for destruction, a state in which Ian Levine had found The Daleks when he visited BBC Enterprises. (No wayward negatives have ever surfaced; is this because they were all "spaghettified" and not disposed of intact on easy to steal reels?)

In summary:

  • BBC Enterprises withdrew stories then junked the negatives and prints as each "sell by date" was reached between 1972 and 1977 (due to the overlap with renewal dates, seasons three, four, five and six were disposed of before seasons one and two, although the negatives for The Romans, The Ark and The Gunfighters were somehow retained)
  • Episodes were also recalled from and returned by overseas stations as and when it was feasible between 1974 and 1977
  • The returned episodes were in turn disposed of if a story was complete, otherwise the returned prints were retained until such time that a full 'set' could be accounted for, which is why there were all those odd prints still held in late 1976.
  • A number of the junked episodes were rescued from their fate (only those still on reels, not those that were "spaghettified"), and entered the film collectors' network; some of them eventually ended up back at the BBC…
  • When the practice was halted in 1978, Enterprises had already junked all but a handful of the original negatives and a small number of returned "orphaned" prints

We know the BBC did actively withdraw from sale all the Hartnell and Troughton serials by 1977. And our hypothesis (which we can't stress that enough!) is that the BBC also removed from circulation by destruction or recall from around the world where possible all the physical film prints of the Hartnell and Troughton episodes, starting in 1974 with the task all but completed by early 1978, which was when the practice was stopped. On that note, we think it is safe to assume that the main Commonwealth players that may still have had prints in their possession in 1974 – such as Australia, New Zealand, Gibraltar, Zambia, Hong Kong, Singapore -- all did as they were instructed to do, and diligently got rid of their Doctor Who film holdings…

We asked at the top – was all this activity coincidence or co-ordinated? We think the latter. But it could very well be the former! (Who was it who said that humans are always looking for patterns that aren't there?)

And if a "withdraw / recall / junk" process was something the BBC performed with all its programmes when they reached their "sell by" dates, there should be some documentary evidence of such a "take out of circulation" cycle happening many times over the years. But as it is with a lot of BBC records, such documentation is hard to come by, and we are left with the disparate paperwork we do have access to to piece together and tell the bigger story.

(Hypothesis over…)

Episodes -- Not Recalled?

In a few known cases a very small number of films were retained by a broadcaster. But without exception, each situation was due to highly unusual circumstances; more freak chance than deliberate disregard of the BBC's instructions.

Asia TV (ex-RTV) in Hong Kong, where The Tomb of the Cybermen was found in 1991 (This building was demolished in 2008)
Fire at ATV, as reported in a Singapore newspaper dated 25 November 1987
  • Cyprus had been in the middle of a civil war and was then invaded by Turkey in July 1974, so sending back film prints was hardly a priority. The political instability continued for a number of years; the Doctor Who prints were found and returned in 1984…
  • The episodes that later surfaced in Nigeria in 1984 were not sent back to London in 1974 probably because at that time the NTA was in the early stages of being set up, and while stations were instructed to send their film holdings to a centralised storage facility after screening, some did not do so immediately. BPTV in Jos had not yet screened the 24 episodes they had, so those would not have been included in the recall. But the prints should have been sent to the NTA after screening in 1975, but some of them – The Enemy of the World and five episodes from The Web of Fear at least - weren't. (The still-missing third episode of The Web of Fear may have been sent to the NTA in 1975 along with the other prints that BPTV had.) The NTA was in a bit of a shambles for the first few years of existence, so it is only expected that the inventory of what was held was in a poor state, which was how The Web Planet, The Time Meddler and The War Machines (from the 1973 MidWest station broadcasts) came to be found together at the NTA in 1984…
  • In the mid-1990s, a station in Africa contacted the BBC asking what to do with episodes of Doctor Who. After establishing that what was held included episodes from seasons one and two (and possibly others as well), the unhelpful receptionist told the caller that the episodes were not wanted and to destroy them. It's highly likely that it was the NTA that called, in which case the circumstances behind the retention of the ex-RKTV prints would be the same for MidWest and BPTV noted above.
  • The Australian print of The Celestial Toymaker part 4 was retained due to being misfiled at the bond store where all the ABC's print were held, as we've noted here. It was found again in 1984…
  • The Tomb of the Cybermen had an unusual screening history (Hong Kong may have sent the films to Singapore without having aired the story, the RTS sent the films back to Hong Kong after screening, and RTV was never issued with subsequent bicycling or disposal instructions; see that page for further details); RTV changed owners several times between 1970 and 1984, and also suffered a major fire on 24 November 1987 which destroyed a lot of their records, factors all of which combined would certainly have contributed to the four prints being overlooked for 22 years. (Indeed, it may have been during the clean-up after the fire that the Tomb films were first discovered. But if RTV / Asia TV had also accidentally kept further episodes of Doctor Who, it's almost certain they too would have been discovered at the same time as Tomb, or much later in 2008 when the broadcaster relocated into their brand new premises.)
  • It is a matter of record that in late 1981 / early 1982 a number of Doctor Who episodes were returned to the BBC from overseas, but these were junked despite the "do not destroy / junk" order that had been placed in 1978. It is not known what stories or Doctors these were, nor from which country, but on balance it's highly likely that a good number of them (if not all) would have been Jon Pertwee episodes, and based on the likelihood that the prints were returned soon after broadcast, the Middle East is a likely source, so that batch of episodes probably wasn't part of the 1974 recall anyway.

It's interesting to note how many of the episodes that were supposed to have been disposed of (or recalled?) in 1974 turned up overseas exactly ten years later! And on that note, many of the episodes that were later recovered from private collectors in the UK can be back-tracked to having entered the collector's networks between the key period of 1972 to 1975 (the surviving print of The Wheel in Space part three had been junked circa 1973 or 1974 along with a copy of The Dominators part five (neither can be Australian prints, but might be from Gibraltar).

Another big question is, did any other country not respond to the 1974 mass withdrawal due to circumstances totally beyond their control? And what could those circumstances be?

Episodes -- Retained?

If, as we have assumed, the majority of the BBC's customers returned or destroyed the film prints as instructed (as an ongoing obligation before 1974, in 1974 and into the 1980s), what is the likelihood that some of the "minor" broadcasters failed to comply?

Current rumours offer that as many as 90 of the missing episodes have been secretly recovered from one or two or more locations in the last few years. For such a mind-blowing concept to be true, it could only be possible if...

  • … more than one country at the end of certain chains deliberately ignored the specific instructions of one of their major suppliers of programming (a supplier with whom they would presumably want to continue to do business for many years to come! The article from the 1975 BBC Handbook reproduced above identifies some of the familiar countries the BBC was selling to in 1974.)


  • …several countries experienced "unusual circumstances" that prevented them from returning or destroying prints…

… and all of those broadcasters hung onto those unusable film prints that would take up valuable shelf space for 40-odd years.

Which of the two scenarios is the more likely? Since ongoing "return or destroy" instructions would have been issued for other BBC programmes over the years, the broadcaster/s would also had to have ignored some of those requests as well; they wouldn't just continue to hold onto Doctor Who and nothing else. And surely the BBC would have followed-up (and more than once!) if even one such request was not confirmed?

If films were being systematically destroyed or returned to the BBC on a regular basis all throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s – and there is solid evidence that this was so - it's entirely plausible that the vast majority of the Doctor Who episodes that were distributed overseas (including the Audition prints) had already been disposed of or returned to and junked by the BBC by 1977… After all, those random episodes that film collectors acquired as early as 1973, the "orphaned" prints that the BBC still had in late 1976, those that turned up in 1977 and 1978, and the ones returned by private collectors in the 1980s and later had to come from somewhere

Generic image of a room filled with old films in Kabul

In order for dozens of episodes, complete stories or even complete seasons to have survived any of the recalls and be retained by a broadcaster for 40+ years, some of the following factors would have to be in play:

  • The station/s did it intentionally. (But what would be the motive behind such an action and what would be gained by deliberately ignoring the instructions? And if the BBC was fully aware that a broadcaster was wilfully ignoring its orders, it would stop selling programmes to that broadcaster. BBC programmes were still being sold to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone, Malta, Zambia, Thailand, Nigeria, and the various Caribbean nations well into the 1980s, and all of them were at some point at the end of our proposed chains, so it's unlikely those countries held onto any material intentionally…)
  • The station/s did it unintentionally. (This would be due to circumstances beyond the control of the broadcaster and/or the BBC. Such factors could be of a geographical, social or political nature – for instance, war, civil strife, the closure of the Suez Canal. But such factors would generally be temporary - the Canal did reopen in 1975, so the delayed return of material could still have been actioned eventually. And as far as the recorded history of those countries named above go, none of them experienced anything obvious that could result in the non-return of film prints to London. A couple of them have moved premises at least once in the past 40 years, which would be when any uncatalogued (and, with many broadcasters switching to video by the late 1980s, also unusable) film prints would have been discovered. A couple of the "last in the chain" countries in the tables were not members of the British Commonwealth; could that have had a bearing on their inability to act on the BBC's requests?)
  • The BBC failed to send "destroy / return" requests to some countries. (These instructions would have been sent by telex or cable. But why would neither party have followed up later, since similar "destroy / return" instructions would be issued by the BBC for other programming before and after the 1974 Doctor Who withdrawal, and the broadcaster would surely contact the BBC after a period to ask what to do with all the films they were still holding, particularly as they transitioned to colour, and black and white film prints would be taking up valuable space they'd want to use for storing video tapes…)
  • The BBC didn't send "destroy / return" requests to some countries on purpose. (But what would be the reasons for doing this, if the whole exercise was to remove the prints from circulation?!)

Have dozens of missing episodes been lurking out there somewhere untouched for 40-odd years?


But there would have to be circumstances EXTRAORDINAIRE for that to be true. As we've noted above, there have been unusual (and in some cases extreme) circumstances that did result in the survival of a small number of films prints overseas. But those have all been isolated cases, event-specific to the histories of the countries in question, which are statistically unlikely to be repeated anywhere else.

For so many episodes to be retained by however many countries in however many continents AT THE SAME TIME without one person in one of those places asking "What are all these films still doing here? Perhaps we should contact the BBC?"…? at any point during the past 40 years does defy the odds...

And why are there no frequent discoveries of copies of the extant episodes? There were just as many if not more of those in circulation -- plus all those Jon Pertwee stories -- and therefore just as many as likely to have been retained under the exact same circumstances. Why have none of those been found?

In conclusion, our gut-feeling is that:

  • a number of all the film prints ever struck were routinely and duly returned to the BBC or destroyed after seven years of their first UK broadcast between 1971 and 1974 (with a small number salvaged after junking)
  • most of the other film prints ever struck were destroyed / junked in 1974 (recall or no recall) (with a few salvaged after junking)
  • a handful of the few remaining film prints ever struck were destroyed / junked between 1975 and 1977 (with a few salvaged after junking)
  • a very small number of the remaining film prints ever struck were not destroyed / junked due to unusual circumstances (with a few that have been subsequently recovered and returned)
  • with maybe a very small fraction of what remains still out there waiting to be found…