Last week, the BBC officially unveiled plans for one of its most intriguing attempts to restore part of Doctor Who’s missing episode back catalogue to life: the premiere of a fan-led remake, made with its official backing, of the missing 1965 episode “Mission to the Unknown.” Now, you can watch the entire thing.
Broadcast on YouTube to be timed down to the minute the original episode would’ve aired in the UK 54 years ago today, the remake – spearheaded by students and teachers at the University of Central Lancashire – is a shot-for-shot recreation of “Mission to the Unknown,” not just the only standalone story in classic Doctor Who history, but one of the 97 episodes from the 1960s era of the show still absent from the BBC’s archives.
It’s a precursor to the 12-episode serial “The Daleks’ Master Plan,” most of which is also lost to the BBC’s old policy of archive junking; just three of its episodes remain in the vaults today. “Mission” follows the story of Space Security Agent Marc Cory. After crash landing, Cory has to brave killer Varga plants and deadly Dalek patrols on the planet Kembel in an attempt to warn Earth that the Daleks are planning their most malicious plan yet: unifying the villainous tyrants of seven galaxies in a plot to conquer the entire universe, starting with the eradication of Earth.
It doesn’t star William Hartnell’s Doctor, or any of the show’s primary cast. It’s this weird, haunting, and dread-laden prelude to what remains as one of the most audaciously bold epics the earliest era of Doctor Who attempted. And for over half a century, it’s been lost to time. Now, in some small manner, it’s come alive again.
It might not be exactly what was broadcast 54 years ago today, but it’s the closest we’ll likely ever get outside of the miraculous recovery of the original and other missing stories like it. It might as well be, in truly Who style, a little bit of time travel magic.