Reports in the UK press claim that missing epsiodes of Doctor Who are likely to exist in the African state of Zimbabwe, possibly bringing to an end a 25 year search for missing episodes junked by the BBC in the 1970s.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Zimbabwe deteriorated during the early part of the decade as the former colony (once known as Rhodesia) fell into economic turmoil and devastating economic and social reforms were put in place that lead to the ruin of many white landowners whose farms had been managed for decades and were profitable, a stark contrast to the situation now.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe believes his nation's economic turmoil is down to Great Britain, and the fear of course is that there is little chance that missing episodes can be retreived by the BBC under poor diplomatic conditions.

"We have looked all over the world for missing Doctor Who episodes but there are still some broadcasters we have not spoken to. Zimbabwe could prove a problem as there is so much red tape.

There is a fear that we may never get our hands on the footage and that would be a real shame for fans."

This is one situation in which the wonder of the web cannot help - Zimbabwe has no internet.

The entire first series of Doctor Who starring William Hartnell was sold to Zimbabwe in the 1960s, and in total there are 108 episodes (mainly from the Troughton era (1966-1969) as well as a chunk of Hartnells between 1963 and 1966 still missing, presumed junked.