Most Whovians know that there had been 106 episodes of the classic Doctor Who series missing from the eras of the first (William Hartnell) and second doctors (Patrick Troughton) due to poor storage and the common practice at the time of wiping the tapes for continued use. Well, that number goes down a little bit today as the BBC has officially announced the discovery of nine missing episodes in the Nigerian city of Jos.
As with many of the missing episodes that are discovered, these were transferred to film a long time ago for foreign markets and have been gathering dust on a shelf just waiting to be found. The episodes were discovered by Philip Morris, director of a company called Television International Enterprises Archive, who had this to say about his findings:
The tapes had been left gathering dust in a storeroom at a television relay station in Nigeria. I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words, Doctor Who. When I read the story code I realised I’d found something pretty special. Fortunately they had been kept in the optimum condition.
As for the episodes in question, five were from the serial “The Enemy of the World,” which has Troughton playing both the Doctor and his adversary for that story. It’s a fantastic serial that gives him a little more to do than usual. Previously, there had only been one episode of the serial available.
The other four were episodes from “The Web of Fear,” which involves the Doctor fighting robot yeti in the London Underground. This is another serial that previously had only one episode available, and unfortunately, there is still one episode of the story missing. While I found this to be the worst of Troughton’s serials, it’s still fantastic that it’s been found. In this writer’s opinion, the finding of any of these classic episodes is cause for celebration.
It’s rather interesting that this discovery was made a mere three weeks after I finished watching the entire Troughton era (most of which were reconstructions) and only about a month before the 50th anniversary of the show. This discovery means that there are now only 97 episodes of Doctor Who left waiting to be found. Hopefully Morris, and others like him, will continue the search so that one day we might have the entire collection.
The BBC have made the re-mastered episodes available via iTunes for your viewing pleasure. Check out a trailer for the re-mastered edition of “The Web of Fear” below and let us know what you think of this amazing discovery in the comments!