Planet of Giants "The Urge to Live" (lost unaired forth part episode of Doctor Who serial; 1964)

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Dr who planet of giants title.jpg

The serial's title card.

Status: Lost

Doctor Who is an immensely popular British sci-fi television series in serial (self-contained but multi-part stories) format that began airing in 1963, ran with various different Doctors until 1989 and as of 2005 is enjoying a successful revival.

However, as was the case with much of British TV in the 1960's and early 70's, many episodes of Doctor Who were wiped or destroyed in order to make room on their master tapes for newer shows, as a cost-cutting measure. This has resulted in 97 episodes from first six seasons of the show being missing. The count was once much, much higher, and it is only thanks to the dedication of fans of the show we have any of them to watch at all.

All that being said, though, there is one episode from the second season serial Planet of Giants that is unlikely to ever see the light of day - mostly because it never went to air.


The four-part Planet of Giants began life as the proposed series premiere (instead of "An Unearthly Child") but was pushed back to the second season opener when then producer Verity Lambert felt it didn't provide enough characterization. It was duly filmed as the ninth serial of ten in the first production block and held over.

This set up a problem heading into production for the second season, since then-Head of BBC serials Donald Wilson felt that new serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth would make a far superior opener. Unfortunately, one of the show's main characters, Susan Foreman (Carol Ann Ford) was featured in Planet of Giants and departed at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, meaning switching the two serials' airdates would be impossible. As a compromise, Wilson and Lambert decided to speed Giants along a bit by editing the last two parts ("Crisis" and "The Urge to Live") into one episode, keeping the onscreen name "Crisis".[1]

The result was an episode that, while slightly rushed, was still well-received - in particular the newfound focus on the core cast (Ford along with William Hartnell as The Doctor, William Russell as Ian Chesterton and Jacquelin Hill as Barbara Wright) instead of one-off characters. The edit did unfortunately result in the loss of most of famous TV director Douglas Camfield's first work on the show, as he had directed only "The Urge to Live", "Crisis" having been helmed by Mervyn Pinfield along with the other two parts of the serial. Camfield was, however, credited as the sole director of the merged episode.

Meanwhile, to fill the gap thus created at the end of the production block, a self-contained prologue, "Mission to the Unknown", was tacked onto the massive twelve-part serial The Daleks' Master Plan. Ironically enough, "Mission" was not sold overseas with the rest of that serial and thus would later become one of the most sought-after of the lost episodes.


Parts of both "The Urge to Live" and "Crisis" were used in the final broadcast version, but any unused footage was promptly wiped as per policy, and most likely this material is permanently lost. A reconstruction of the original storyline does exist, using production stills and bringing in the surviving actors (Russell and Ford) to re-enact their performances, and gives a taste of what could have been.[2]


See Also