Confession #59: I'm Sick of the Omnirumour

Part of the mythos of our show is the sad fact that many of the early episodes from the first two Doctors are no longer in the BBC archives. Pretty much ever since the advent of home video, fans have hoped that some—or preferably all—of those would some day be recovered. We've had our share of happy surprises, most recently when The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear were returned last year.

There are nearly a hundred still absent, though, and someone somewhere always brings up the idea that more are out there, just waiting to be revealed to the public. It's the Omnirumo(u)r—the rumor that will not die—and it has many forms. One particular collector is hoarding ["The Smugglers" / "Marco Polo" / all remaining missing episodes] (strike as relevant). The aforementioned episode(s) have been found in some backwater of Africa / Asia / wherever. And so on.

Of course the BBC's tendency to deny things that later turn out to have been fuzzy versions of truth keep fans frothing. "The BBC's just being coy!" "They're covering their behinds!" "If Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) denied it, it's just that they don't know better!" And I really think the BBC buys fully into the old saw about there being no such thing as bad publicity.

But those "in the know" keep throwing out things that are supposed to inform other fans (I speak particularly of Ian Levine, and his frequent comments on the subject, like this week's screed on Philip Morris's role in all the latest hoo-hah), but do nothing but feed the rumor mill. Frankly, I'm sick of it all.

Obviously, I was as thrilled as anyone when we got those nine episodes back last year, but to keep banging on and on about how so-and-so did such-and-such that should/shouldn't have happened, or to speculate about various parties' motivations, stakes, and roles in potential transactions serves no one. It's especially useless when there's no solid evidence on which to base our opinions. Some may cite DWM or Levine or some BBC bigwig, but what have any of those sources actually given us besides opinions and "is not in possession of"s?

And that's the big problem with the Omnirumour: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Fans know it, and as we are wont to do, cling to that idea for all we're worth. Every time we get a denial (like that from DWM), someone pipes up with the idea that the BBC (or Philip Morris or whoever) is being deliberately obfuscatory.

So much as some folks are claiming the recent DWM article heralds the end of such speculation, I know better. The same passion and fire that kept our show alive during the Hiatus (or the Wilderness Years, as long-term fans are more likely to call that period) is going to keep the damn Omnirumour alive ad infinitum. More's the pity.

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