Duplicate Doctor Who prints in Australia – Is this proof?

What we have discovered is a film can of an episode of The Macra Terror. As you can see from the photos we have provided exclusively anywhere for the first time, this can is marked as a DUP.


The current holder of the film can, who we have chosen to dub ‘Lord Melbourne’ to help mask his identity, purchased it from a collector in the last decade or so. We have spoken with this previous owner, who has provided his recollections of acquiring the can.

‘I bought the collection of 78 discs sometime around 1997.

Although there is no doubt the lot of cans originated from the BBC, the collector I got it from didn’t get it directly from there. They bought them from an auction house in Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne) in the late 70’s / early 80’s – they couldn’t remember exactly when. There were two pallets of films for sale, and the family I got them from bought one of the pallets.

The price they paid for a pallet of film seemed ridiculously cheap! I think it was either $20 or $50 the lot. They were bought for the film cans to be used as 78 shellac record storage, as the 10″ tins were exactly the right size to store them. There was only a handful of the larger cans in the lot I saw, and they were empty – no records, and no film. All the films had gone to the dump, even the ones in the larger cans that weren’t used to house 78’s. These were thrown out because they were to heavy to carry with the films in!

I don’t remember anything else of particular interest being in the collection, I do remember there being either a surfing documentary, or a Bells Beach documentary being on the label of one of the cans. I remember this because I had found films before that were surfing related, and thought the odds were against finding any others again!

I didn’t really think it was that important as it was an empty can, and wasn’t even BBC, and only had a written label on. I did write to whoever was in charge of BBC archives at the time – I think Adam Lee, but never got a reply.’

It is unknown whether other film cans marked Doctor Who were purchased as part of this lot from the ABC. We believe that the print of The Macra Terror 3 has been disposed of and is now lost forever.

But what it does provide, we believe, is proof positive that, based on the information contained on the can, that yes, the ABC struck multiple prints of at least one story (and likely many others) to ship around Australia. We do know that around 130 episodes were returned to the BBC from Australia in 1975. But if multiple prints were struck, and only one set each were sent back to the BBC, then it is a possibility that others may still exist here in Australia, if not on the hands of the ABC, then in the hands of film collectors.

Our other item, which has provenance from Bonham’s, appears to be model shots on film from The Colony in Space. Being ultra careful, the owner has never viewed the print, so we are unsure if the model shots appear on the DVD release.




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