Does the African nation of Zimbabwe really possess the holy grail for Doctor Who fans? A British newspaper is claiming that the country may have the last remaining collection of the series' 1963 first season.
Thanks to an economy-conscious 1970s BBC erasing many of the early years of Who episodes, a large part of the series' history has been considered permanently lost - at least copies of episodes appear in the most unlikely of places, like yard sales and potentially-illegal private collections. Currently, 108 out of the show's initial 752 episodes are still missing, and according to British newspaper the Sun, some of them may be found in Zimbabwe.
The reasoning behind this unexpected announcement comes from two disparate facts. Firstly, the country purchased the first season of Doctor Who for transmission in the mid-60s. Secondly, the BBC have never been able to visit the country to find out exactly what tapes the Zimbabwean broadcasters actually possess, thanks to President Robert Mugabe banning all BBC personnel from entering the country at the beginning of this century. According to British newspaper the Sun, a BBC source explained,
We have looked all over the world for missing Doctor Who episodes but there are still some broadcasters we have not spoken to, [and] Zimbabwe could prove a problem as there is so much red tape.
Of course, there's no evidence that the Zimbabwean broadcasters still have any of the transmission tapes, but hope springs eternal. If nothing else, the Doctor himself has often demonstrated that even the most unlikely of things can turn out to be true.
Zimbabwe 'hoarding lost 'Who' episodes' [Digital Spy]