26.6.09

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is a serial in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast in 7 weekly parts from February 22 to April 4, 1964. Although audio tracks and still photographs of the story exist, none of the footage of this serial has survived.

The TARDIS crew lands in the Himalayas of Cathay in 1289, their ship badly damaged, and are picked up by Marco Polo's caravan on its way along the fabled Silk Road to see the Emperor Kublai Khan.
More Info: http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/marcopolo/

This is one of only three stories (along with Mission to the Unknown and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve) of which not a frame of footage survives (see Doctor Who missing episodes). "Telesnaps" (images of the show during transmission, photographed from a television set) of Episodes 1-3 and 5-7 are held by the serial's director, Waris Hussein. The audio soundtrack is also intact, having been recorded "off air" during the original television transmissions.

In 2003, a three-CD set of the audio soundtrack was released, as part of Doctor Who's 40th anniversary. This CD set is unique in containing a map of Cathay (China) as represented during the period of the Doctor's visit to China, and also explaining historical inaccuracies. Further, the first disc in the set contains data as well as audio; the data includes MP3 files of the soundtracks without additional narration (which is provided on the CDs by William Russell, filling in details when action was mostly visual), PDF files of the narration scripts, and computer wallpaper versions of the aforementioned map of Cathay.

The 2006 DVD box set, The Beginning, includes a condensed 30-minute form of this story as an extra on The Edge of Destruction disc. This version of the story, compiled by Derek Handley, consists of telesnaps set to an edited audio track.

The cover to the soundtrack CD is reproduced below;



In 2002, Loose Cannon Productions, a group of fans who have produced several reconstructions of missing Doctor Who serials using still photos, clips, and surviving audio recordings, released a specially "colourised" reconstructed version of this serial, using the large number of colour photographs taken during the production plus the last few seconds of The Edge of Destruction. Mark Eden, who played Marco Polo, recorded an introduction for this release, including a brief segment where he reprised his role from the serial. Unlike most Doctor Who reconstructions, this project made no use of the existing telesnaps as they had not yet been made available. Go to; http://www.recons.com/recons/lc17.htm



The Doctor Who Restoration Team (http://www.restoration-team.co.uk/) and Independant Fan Groups are reconstructing these episodes. There are many examples on YouTube. Here is one of my favorites;



A novelisation of this serial, written by John Lucarotti, was published by Target Books in December 1984;



There have been many articles in DWM on this story over the years. Here is the index as researched by Loving Who; http://www.lovingwho.com/DWMIndex/Television/WilliamHartnell.html

Next time, more historical drama in;
The Reign of Terror
Thats all for now folks