Well, at last, at long last, the search is over.
Ian Levine can hang up his telephone, nay all his telephones, settle back in his giant customised Noel Clarke-shaped beanbag, and slowly puff out his bilious cheeks. Yup, the location of all the remaining missing episodes of Dr Who has been revealed. Robert Mugabe has them.
It seems one of the world’s most wicked men, a tyrant who is culpable in the wrecking of a once prosperous nation and the starving of millions of citizens, is also a fan of children’s science fiction.
Now chances are, in some people’s eyes, four words of that preceding sentence cancel out all the others. Indeed, ‘wicked’, ‘tyrant’, ‘wrecking’ and ‘starving’ are undoubtedly tremulous charges.
But in other people’s eyes, people more used to prowling the floors of reference libraries humming tunes inspired by whichever particular archive edition of Radio Times they’ve just requested, or who have installed multiple telephone lines in their Panopticon-sized penthouse just in case two people try and get in touch about an off-air recording of episode four of The Web Planet (‘Crater Of Needles’) complete with BBC continuity at the same time, the thought of even some of those 108 “lost classics” nestling in Mugabe’s ottoman offsets such trivial matters as an inflation rate of 231,000,000%.
Maybe Levine hasn’t eased himself delicately into Noel’s thighs quite yet, and is instead at this moment demanding an open passage to Harare.
What, though, might be the evil fucker’s favourite episodes?
1) The Massacre Of St Bartholomew’s Eve (1966)
Body doubles, body counts and bodies of suspicious evidence, plus the main protagonist absent from the public eye for long periods of time “on holiday”. Home from home, really.
2) The Savages (1966)
A civilised elite maintain an advanced society by requisitioning and siphoning off the physical and psychological assets of a bunch of locals. Well, the siphoning off bit is true enough. And in both cases the locals are left destitute. As for the meddling old man who turns up from out of nowhere, he is, naturally, “the United Kingdom”. Everything that goes “wrong” in Zimbabwe is the fault of “the United Kingdom”.
3) The Chase (1965)
Because Robert likes a good runaround. Look, there’s William Shakespeare doing the Charleston on the top of the Empire State Building.
4) The Daleks’ Masterplan (1965-66)
Because Sara Kingdom sounds a bit like United Kingdom.
5) The Enemy Of The World (1967-68)
“Dinner tonight’s going to be a national disaster! First course interrupted by bomb explosion. Second course affected by earthquakes. Third course ruined by interference in the kitchen. I’m going out for a walk. It’ll probably rain.”
6) The Invasion (1968)
A particular favourite of Robert’s, thanks to its realistic depiction of corrupt western society (a young girl doing a fashion shoot in her own living room! More young girls hiding in packing crates! St Paul’s Cathedral!) plus the fact he can do a frame-by-frame comparison of the original episodes with the animated substitutions done for the DVD and laugh knowingly whenever Gary Russell pops up talking about “taping it all off the telly”.