Hunt on for lost tapes starring Doctor Who's Plymouth companion Adrienne Hill
CALLING all Dr Who enthusiasts – are you sitting on the lost tapes of the famous Doctor's Plymothian sidekick?
In preparation for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary on November 23, the BBC is attempting to hunt down missing episodes from the time traveller's past, including those featuring Plymouth actress Adrienne Hill.
The actress, who was born in the city, played Katriana, a handmaid from ancient Troy, in only five episodes of a series called The Daleks' Master Plan in 1964. The show had only been on television for a year when Hill got the part.
She was the shortest-lived of the Time Lord's companions and the first to die while travelling with him.
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All but one of her episodes are missing from the BBC archive, along with 101 other episodes of Doctor Who.
The original videotapes were wiped and used for other programmes in the 1960s and 70s.
As was common at the time, copies were thrown out as rights issues meant it was impossible at the time for the BBC to either repeat the programmes or exploit them commercially.
Sometimes, however, the copies marked for destruction found their way into private collections and now Dr Who enthusiasts are being urged to come forward if they think they have copies of Hill's performances.
In an interview in 1986 with Dr Who magazine, Hill, who died from cancer in 1997 at the age of 60, told of her frustration at the episodes having been lost.
She said at the time: "I was over the moon to get the part. My main memory is skulking about and saying 'What next, Doctor?'. It was all fun.
"And now of course it's all been wiped – it's a tragedy!"
The first scene Hill filmed was her character's death, filmed at Ealing Studios. A fight between a prisoner and Katarina ends up with both the strugglers being ejected into space.
After the transmission of the episode, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey production team were so impressed that they rang the Doctor Who makers to ask how the effect of bodies floating in space was achieved.
The actors had been filmed in slow motion bouncing up and down on trampolines.
Hill said in the 1986 interview: "We did that scene on a trampoline, jumping up and down, doing somersaults, the lot, with the cameras filming below us. I was very proud of that and I'm terribly sorry it's been lost. It was very acrobatic and quite painful."
The short-time Dr Who star carried on acting in small roles before marrying and moving to Holland and later America, where she found acting opportunities limited.
She returned to England after divorce and retrained to be a drama teacher working in London.
In 1985, Hill took part in a walk-down of all the surviving Doctors and companions as part of Children in Need, reuniting with her former co-stars, Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purvis.