This is a pertinent one because I want to do a complete watch-through and obviously there's a big stumbling block of those 97 episodes the BBC taped over, incinerated or just plain lost. This is an improvement, of course, and the number was a lot higher when I first became a fan. Its a disappointment every new fan experiences to find that you physically can't appreciate the whole of the series you've fallen in love with.
We're in a better position than most, though. The missing episodes of say, The Avengers, are simply gone. The missing episodes of Doctor Who all have surviving audio recordings made by fans and so we have ways and means available to us.
There are the official BBC releases, for one thing. Every missing episode has been released as a narrated audio and selected episodes have been animated as part of DVDs where the majority of the story survives. I applaud the dedication this shows but I will not be using these official releases in my watch-through.
The reason is that when the newly recovered episode of Galaxy 4 was released as part of The Aztecs Special Edition with an abridged reconstruction of the rest of the story, I can to a realisation: I didn't remember a single moment of the story! Nothing, it was as if it was all new to me. I don't know why but the audios left little impression on me.
As to the animated episodes, they are good even if The Reign Of Terror is edited a bit too fast to fit the style of the surviving episodes. I didn't mind when I watched them but the point of this watch-through is to experience Doctor Who in as close a fashion to the original transmission order as possible.
Enter Loose Cannon Productions. Loose Cannon were a fan group who took the audio recordings and married them to whatever images survive: Australian censor clips, publicity photographs and, of course, telesnaps. Telesnaps are a very odd artefacts: essentially what happened was a man called John Cura was employed by producers and directors to sit in front of his television and take photographs every couple of seconds. These were used for future reference since the recordings weren't likely to be available. Now they form an invaluable visual reference for most of the missing episodes. They don't exist for all episodes but Loose Cannon have done excellent work with whatever they can find.
These videos are, frankly, the closest thing we'll get to actually watching these episodes in many cases and that's why I'm using them.
(The Loose Cannon website www.recons.com seems to be inactive, their having finished their project many years ago but the recons are almost all available on Youtube and through *cough* the other usual means.)