Ever since the release of the BBC’s animated take on the “lost” Doctor Who episode “Power of the Daleks” back in 2016, fans of the classic series have been clamoring for more. Other animated remakes have followed, including of classics such as “Fury From the Deep” and “The Evil of the Daleks”; however, that may now all be at an end.
According to new reports in the print version of the UK Mirror, the animated releases of incomplete or entirely missing Doctor Who stories from decades past will end with the forthcoming release of “The Abominable Snowmen” on DVD and Blu-ray later this year.
Between 1967 and 1978, the BBC regularly destroyed programs from its archive to save space, believing the material would never be needed again. Of course, they failed to foresee the rise of home video. Ninety-seven episodes from Doctor Who‘s early years remain missing, despite efforts to recover the material from private collectors and TV outlets abroad. Of those episodes, 39 have been recreated through animation.
The decision to end the releases will shock many Doctor Who fans, as each animated episode has received a warm welcome. Ending the efforts to animate the missing serials also calls into question any future plans to release the early William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton seasons on Blu-ray. Fans have been hoping that the 1960 seasons would be released in their entirety when the animations were concluded to complement the ongoing release of the “Collection” series, comprising everything from the Jon Pertwee era onward.
The animation project is a collaborative effort between BBC Studios and BBC America. The Mirror reports that it’s collapsed thanks to BBC America withdrawing funding. All current projects beyond “The Abominable Snowmen” are now canceled.
“It’s a real blow for the fans, who hoped they would be able to watch every story from the early years,” an anonymous insider told the newspaper. “It’s a shame the funding has gone. Four of the first six seasons only needed one story to be animated to complete them.”
While new animated episodes were always highly anticipated, there were some Doctor Who fans who criticized them, noting the differing styles and quality in the finished releases, as the BBC used a variety of studios over the years. Others have criticized liberties undertaken by the production teams, arguing that the episodes have been changed too much for modern audiences.
However, most fans will be hugely disappointed with this news. While it’s possible another funding source will be found — BritBox was mentioned — it’s far from certain, and the future of the range now seems tentative at best.