The Crusade, like many stories from the 1960s, is incomplete in the BBC's archives. This four-episode adventure, first broadcast in 1965, is a victim of the BBC's junking of many Doctor Who episodes in the 60s and 70s - which has left 106 still missing.
Luckily, audio recordings were made by a handful of fans at the time of transmission, so while the original moving pictures of episodes two and four of The Crusade are gone, the soundtracks survive.
If you're a collector of the BBC's classic Who DVDs, you will have noticed a few stories with animated episodes springing up. The latest is The Ice Warriors, which has been released in the UK this week.
Some fans have launched a social media campaign to support a DVD of The Crusade, with its two missing episodes completed with the same technique. But why single out this story? Ian Redman, one of the fans behind these efforts, explained to The Doctor Who Bar:
Over recent months, we've heard that the budget for a classic Doctor Who DVD release can accommodate two animated episodes to fill the gaps of an incomplete story. (It would be great if that one day becomes three, but time will tell!) We're at the point now where almost all of the stories with one or two episodes missing have either been released, or announced for release, with animation used to complete them.
The only two stories which have not yet had such an announcement made are The Underwater Menace and The Crusade - both of these are four-part stories with two episodes missing. We know that The Underwater Menace will be receiving its own DVD release, but there has been no official word on plans for the two missing instalments. My gut feeling is that they will be animated, though - it seems very likely.
The Crusade, on the other hand, is looking like it might be running out of luck. The Doctor Who Restoration Team have said that they have not been commissioned to do any work for that story. This doesn't necessarily make it impossible for animation plans to be getting into motion in other quarters, but it's really not looking good. This is sad, because we are facing the very real possibility that The Crusade might end up being the one and only story with two episodes missing, that does not receive a DVD release with animation.
That brings us to the campaign. I'm really hesitant to call it a 'petition', and I would probably reject that description if anyone tried to apply it! What we are doing is attempting to politely demonstrate that there is support for the idea of animating The Crusade's two missing episodes. The Restoration Team themselves have recently encouraged people to write to BBC Worldwide to express support of further classic DVD releases.
But at the end of the day, I think this is one of those things that might just do some good, but it can't really do any harm. (Or a DVD might come out, but with this campaign having had nothing to do with it... but we wouldn't complain!) We're not standing outside the BBC's headquarters with pitchforks (not a petition, remember!), but if it gets thoughts ticking over in the mind of someone in the commissioning loop (and Worldwide do know about the campaign), then you never know! Of course, in the event that all this has no effect (and I'm not going to sugarcoat it - that's the most likely outcome!), we have done nobody any harm. We shall see!