Two long lost Doctor Who episodes, with the first doctor William Hartnell, has been found in Britain but the keepers are reluctant to hand them over to the BBC for fear of reprisals.
Veteran film collector John Franklin told The Guardian he hopes BBC will offer an amnesty on missing film footage.
“The collectors involved are ex-employees and so are terrified. The rule was that you didn’t take anything, even if it had been thrown out. But if you loved film and knew it would be important one day, what did you do? So what we need now is an amnesty,” he said.
While collectors are in no real danger, the infamous arrest of comedian Bob Monkhouse in 1978 has not been forgotten, Franklin suspects: “Monkhouse was a private collector and was accused of pirating videos. He even had some of his archive seized. Sadly people still believe they could have their films confiscated.”
Mark Stuckey, a film and projector restorer who appears on the BBC’s The Repair Shop said, “These collectors were seen as criminals, but now we can see they are really saviours. An amnesty would stop them being frightened of prosecution.”
Until the recent discoveries, it was believed that a total of 97 Doctor Who episodes were missing from the show’s first six years. Chris Perry, head of the TV archive Kaleidoscope, has recently claimed that he knows of many in private archives that could be returned, with the right assurances.
Doctor Who‘s 60th Anniversary takes place in November.