Last updated 30 March 2023

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22 Apr 1999The Lion Roars Again

Halk supplied by Mr John Holmes, Formakin Animal Centre, Icknield Way, Benson, Oxon

Thirty years after the last print was thought to have been destroyed, a copy of the first episode of the 1965 William Hartnell story The Crusade, The Lion, has been rediscovered in New Zealand.

The 16mm print was bought by film buff Bruce Grenville at a collector's fair in Napier in June 1998 but Bruce was quite unaware of the episode's rarity. He regularly screened the episode for friends and family and it soon came to the attention of New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club member Neil Lambess Neil was the first person to realise its true value. Earlier this month, Neil and Fan Club co-ordinator Paul Scoones contacted Grenville to arrange a screening and verified that it was, indeed, the missing episode. Grenville immediately arranged to have the print sent to the BBC, where it currently resides with Restoration Team leader Steve Roberts.

The story is highly regarded among Doctor Who fans. Written by the series' first script editor, David Whitaker, it is rivalled perhaps only by The Aztecs as the show's finest historical adventure. It features Julian Glover as King Richard the Lionheart; arguably the most auspicious piece of guest casting the series had achieved at the time. Glover would later star in the 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only, and alongside Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He also appeared as Scaroth in the 1979 Doctor Who story The City of Death. Playing Richard's sister, Joanna, is Jean Marsh, perhaps best known as Rose in the long-running TV series Upstairs, Downstairs, which she helped to create. Marsh was once briefly married to Jon Pertwee and also appeared as Morgaine in the 1989 story Battlefield.

Two episodes of the four part story are now known to exist. Episode three, The Wheel of Fortune, is also held by the BBC - and was released on The Hartnell Years videotape in 1991. The discovery of The Lion is the first time that a complete missing episode has been recovered since 1991, when all four episodes of The Tomb of the Cybermen were found in Hong Kong. Since then only a handful of clips have been discovered, including a lengthy extract from the first episode of Galaxy 4.

The discovery is especially unusual because the story was not widely distributed abroad. Because of the sensitive subject matter, it wasn't part of the batch of stories distributed in Arabic-speaking territories. Some copies of the last episode of the previous story, The Web Planet, were altered to announce the next episode as The Space Museum, skipping over The Crusade entirely. What's perhaps even more ironic is that, although passed by the New Zealand censor as suitable for broadcast, the story was never actually transmitted there. The Lion is also one of only five episodes that were officially wiped by the BBC's Film and Television archive, even though a copy of episode three had been retained, as a representative example of a historical Doctor Who story.

Episodes two and four of The Crusade are now the only ones missing from the show's second season. Sadly this is in stark contrast to the third and fourth seasons, where only fifteen of the forty-five episodes of the third, and only nine of the forty-three episodes of the fourth seasons survive.

Steve Roberts is, understandably, delighted: "After so many years without a single complete episode being recovered, it's heartening to know that there are still some out there! It's particularly pleasing that the guys in New Zealand acted so selflessly and ensured that the film print was returned to the BBC as quickly as possible. In fact it only took eight days from its discovery to its arrival in the UK! The print is a little bit battered but we hope to be able to restore it to something like its former glory without too many problems."

LinkCredit: BBC Online - Doctor Who