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Cosgrove Hall Animates Missing Doctor Who Episodes for BBC

Manchester-based Cosgrove Hall animators have employed the latest technology and animation magic to recreate two lost episodes from the cult classic series, for the BBC. The BBC was in a quandary when it decided to release the DOCTOR WHO series and discovered sadly that, although the soundtracks remained, some 100 episodes were missing from the archives.

The unique project, the incomplete 1968 Cyberman story The Invasion, was done in black-and-white animation, based on the original actors and set designs to fill in the gaps as seamlessly as possible. The BBC and Cosgrove Hall brought the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, back to life in a beautiful broadcast quality animation with restored audio recording of the original transmission.

Lead animator Steve Maher said: Working in black-and-white animation is dramatic and graphic. It gave us the opportunity to employ the kind of noir lighting that only really works without color. Its a slightly surreal experience using digital technology to recreate the visual qualities inherent in a TV show from 1968, but a treat was Patrick Troughton's Doctor he has a wonderfully animatable face so he was a gift.

Head of BBC interactive drama and entertainment, Sophie Walpole said, In the year that the Cybermen have returned to Doctor Who, it seemed a good idea to complete one of their finest outings from the 1960s. The original two episodes of the series are lost forever, but we have found a unique and innovative way of presenting this classic adventure by lovingly restoring the soundtrack and setting it to new animation. It's a gripping adventure which still remains faithful to the original."

Black and white is dramatic and graphic and gave us the opportunity to employ the kind of noir lighting that only really works without color, said Maher. It is a slightly surreal experience using digital technology to recreate the visual qualities inherent in a TV show from 1968, but there we are.

They used traditional animation, as well as digitally captured moving images as a guide for animation to create more realistic movement in some scenes.

The essential challenge was to make the characters, locations and style recognizable enough for a viewer to comfortably watch them in sequence without losing the thread of the story. Maher said, We spent a lot of time reviewing the existing episodes of The Invasion and press stills that do exist to get a feel for the mannerisms and character of the actors as well as collecting reference for their clothing and environments.

We also looked at a number of other Second Doctor adventures to be as accurate as possible in depicting the interior of the Tardis and the lovely Zoe's Biba-Chick eye makeup.

They directed the shows based entirely on the reconstructed soundtrack and a guide script based on that. It was nice to find that when the BBC supplied the original INVASION shooting script during production that we had made many of the same decisions that the director had made in 1968, said Maher. Even so, many minutes of the original soundtrack of the missing episodes consisted entirely of atmospheric effects and footsteps so we overworked our imaginations animating those scenes.

They resisted the urge pick up the pace to todays production standards, and, while working with the soundtrack, they tried to inject a sense of urgency into the cutting of the action sequences.

I suspect we may have had greater opportunity to employ helicopter shots and numbers of extras than perhaps a live action drama crew's budget would have run to in 1968 though I would love to see the live action missing episodes and be proved wrong, added Maher.

DOCTOR WHO: THE INVASION will be available on BBC DVD in November 2006.

For a glimpse at this special work, go to

Manchester, England-based Cosgrove Hall ( is wholly owned by Granada, ITVs production division. Cosgrove, established in 1976, has built its reputation as the leading animation house over many years of award-winning productions, from classics such as DANGERMOUSE and WIND IN THE WILLOWS, to up to date remakes of ANDY PANDY and BILL AND BEN through to present productions such as ENGIE BENJY, LITTLE ROBOTS and the evergreen POSTMAN PAT. Cosgrove is one of the few animation houses in the world working extensively in all three types of animation hand-drawn/2D, stop-motion puppet and CGI.