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In 1965’s Mission to the Unknown, the Daleks exterminated a Space Security Service agent who had been stranded on a hostile planet. Soon after, the episode itself was destroyed in one of the era’s notorious archive purges. Now, more than 50 years later, history is being (re)made…
Graduate drama students Marco Simioni (as Marc Cory), Dan Gilligan (Gordon Lowery) and Jacob Marrison (Jeff Garvey) in a publicity shot for the 2019 version of Mission to the Unknown.

On Friday 6 August 1965, a highly unusual episode of Doctor Who was recorded at BBC Television Centre between 8.30 and 9.45pm. The single episode Mission to the Unknown featured none of Doctor Who’s regular cast, instead showcasing the series’ most notorious villains in a pulpy sci-fiadventure designed as a curtain-raiser to the epic 12-part story The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965-66).

It’s a Doctor Who oddity, and one that, save for an off -air audio recording, is entirely missing from the BBC archive. Some 53 years and seven months later, a group of industrious and dedicated students have embarked on an audacious plan to remount Mission to the Unknown as authentically as possible, which is why we’re visiting the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) on a chilly February morning.

“In a way, it was all down to Doctor Who Magazine,” says Andrew Ireland, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Digital and Creative Industries at UCLan, long-time Doctor Who fan and the brains behind the project. (We’ll come back to that outrageous accusation later; see page 16.) “We’ve done a couple of very successful student experience projects in the last two years, bringing courses together for a week of concentrated activity. ‘Soap in a Week’, working with ITV, and then ‘Musical in a Week’, producing a new piece of musical theatre. The idea of ‘Science Fiction in a Week’ was an obvious one.” In Terry Nation’s script for Mission to the Unknown, ‘James Bond of the Solar System’ Marc Cory (originally played by Edward de Souza) battles for survival on the terrifying jungle world of Kembel. After crash-landing in a rocket with fellow crew members Garvey and Lowery, Cory uncovers a Dalek scheme to unite alien powers and conquer the solar system. But Cory won’t leave Kembel alive…

Of all Doctor Who’s missing episodes, why was Mission to the Unknown chosen for this remake? “For so many reasons,” explains Andrew. “No Doctor, no companions; it’s a single-episode, self-contained story, so it will be a satisfactory experience for everyone involved. The story is really good. I like the fact that all the good guys die. We leave it with the world in jeopardy and the solar system about to be invaded. It’s very rich source material.”

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DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 537 REVEALS THE REMAKE OF MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN! This issue also includes: • What does it takes to become a Stenza warrior? Actor Samuel Oatley explains. • An interview with the man behind the new version of Mission to the Unknown. • Colin Baker and the cast of The Ultimate Adventure look back on the Doctor Who stage play. • Backstage with Colin Baker at Leeds' Grand Theatre in 1989. • War World – an in-depth look at the script originally intended for the 1989 stage production. • Cyber Leader David Banks dips into the TARDIS tin. • Tributes to the king of Doctor Who extras Pat Gorman and visual effects designer Richard Gregory. • Former script editor Andrew Cartmel remembers Happiness Patrol writer Graeme Curry. • A preview of this year’s Record Store Day releases. • Part Three of Herald of Madness, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • How to dress like the First Doctor – along with his friends and foes. • Does the 1996 TV movie impress the Time Team? • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!