Dignified Silents

The recent rediscovery of 1923 silent British film Life, Love and Laughter has been welcomed by the BFI, where the film has topped their ‘most wanted’ list for many years. Once returned from the Netherlands, there will be a screening, and critics are already wondering whether it will live up to the hype.

Sound familiar?

The response to the find has been remarkably level-headed, compared with the recent Who ‘omnirumour’, the latest chapter in which has seen certain hardcore fans denouncing TIEA’s efforts as ‘a sick joke’ and demanding a showdown on Twitter. For God’s sake, the guy went to one of the world’s danger spots to retrieve the episodes! If those fans had their way, we wouldn’t even be looking (dig out your VHS copy of The Ice Warriors and watch the documentary for the bit where he says it’s completely unreasonable to expect we’ll find any more), so yelling about hoarding of episodes and conspiracies is a bit silly.

It’s time to admit we all got our hopes up when the news first broke. Yes, it was a bit disappointing that the promised/rumoured mother-load turned out to be nine episodes, but The Web of Fear was as good as everyone hoped, and The Enemy of the World has proven to be a bit of a discovery. And if they are the tip of the iceberg, that’s great. If not, we’ll just have to start finding more serious, grown-up things to waste our money on. That’s all there is to it.

Returning briefly to the silent films, a Mary Pickford film from 1911 was found last year. A haul of 75 films, including early works by John Ford, was uncovered in New Zealand in 2010. If material of that age can resurface, there is every likelihood there’s more Who out there. Fandom will always be abuzz when episodes turn up, but let’s be sensible: when it happens, it’s good news, even if the find isn’t what we hoped for. To start calling foul on the people who work to track the episodes down is ungrateful.

Let’s be happy with what we got!

Nick May


Nick May’s earliest Who memories include K9 getting his head cut off and being confused when ‘Doctor Who’ turned into the bloke from All Creatures Great And Small. His favourite Doctors are Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton, though Matt Smith did a pretty good job. When not writing for Kasterborous, Nick enjoys photography, walking, and a wide range of films and music. He lives with his partner in East Anglia.

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