Pecuniary of the Daleks.

TV As you may have heard, numerous unique photographs of Doctor Who's The Power of the Daleks are being offered for sale at auction by the estate of the late production designer and art director, Derek Dodd, who made the set designs for that story. They're unique documents and of especial interest because they're from a missing episode and so may be the only record of certain visual aspects of the story.

Fans have been amazed and pretty frantic about this, especially given the asking price of £800-£1200, a number which sounds low enough to be feasible to cover but despite the context still too large to be justifiable on an average salary.  The fear is that they'll be sold to a collector who'll squirrel them away out of the public eye again which was apparently the fate of a cache of similar documents, including strips of telesnaps a few months ago.

The hope is that an archive or institution like the BFI will stump up the money so that they can become publicly available, perhaps for inclusion in future publication so that everyone can get a closer look at them.  Or that a philanthropic private citizen will buy them and make them available for duplication by the producers of say, the blu-ray boxsets, so that they can be included on the Power disc when Season Four is released.

I'm of a fairly stringent mind about such things.  If an object is of public value or interest it should be available to that public.  I'm not sure where the line can be drawn, but there are numerous objects which are part of our global heritage, which to quote a famous archaeologist, belong in a museum, but are instead hidden in an environmentally controlled vault not even being enjoyed by an owner who consider them an asset rather than the artistic expression or communication they're designed to be.

Even more galling this instance is that according to John Kelly, ex-producer of Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly/Magazine, Dodd himself didn't even know he had them and that they'd discussed the cataloguing of his collection before he died but it wasn't to be.  So now his estate is going to be selling the materials off piece by piece and this important archive of material is going to be separated and blown to the wind.  Cue shots of depressed Timothy Spall in Shooting the Past.

Not that I begrudge them making the most of this asset, especially if they're not personally wealthy themselves.  But there should have been another way, perhaps if an approach had been made to an institution for the purchase of the entire archive in total.  But that's my fan gene squawking.  Instead, for now, we just have the tantalising glimpse on that auction website, especially of the reverse shot of the TARDIS console room, the Doctor and friends huddled around the controls.

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