As well as specialist restoration projects, the team currently undertake routine remastering of all Doctor Who releases for BBC Video. 'The Keys of Marinus', a six-part story from the first season of the series, was remastered in late 1998.
'The Keys of Marinus' is a good example of a story where the advantages of going back to the best possible source material can easily be demonstrated. The videotape copies used by UK Gold, and sold to other countries all over the world, originated in the mid-eighties. These copies are very poor quality, full of dirt and sparkle and poorly transferred from whichever film prints were easiest to access at the time. Episode five, in particular, is appalling quality, with all the highlight detail completely crushed out.
When BBC Video contacted the team and asked them to remaster the episodes for a release in early 1999, permission was sought to access the original film recording negatives from the sixties. These are the films from which all other prints have been struck and are the best possible quality.
The episodes were transferred via a wetgate telecine, which is now our standard practice. No particular problems were encountered but the resulting picture quality was a considerable improvement on that available before.
The story is due for release by BBC Video in March 1999.
Steve Roberts, 18 January 1999.