Nine "Doctor Who" episodes that were previously thought lost forever have been recovered in Nigeria, Africa, BBC Worldwide announced Thursday.
In total, eleven "Doctor Who" episodes were recovered by Philip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive, after he tracked records of tape shipments made by BBC to Africa for transmission. The episodes -- which form two story arcs, "The Enemy of the World" and "The Web of Fear" -- have been remastered and made available online exclusively via iTunes.
“The tapes had been left gathering dust in a store room 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 realized I’d found something pretty special,” Morris said in a statement.
According to BBC, the first recovered arc, "The Enemy of the World," spans six episodes which originally aired on BBC in December 1967 as part of the fifth season. "The story features Patrick Troughton as both the Second Doctor and his antagonist (Ramon Salamander), alongside companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling)." Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 were missing from the BBC Archives before Morris' discovery, meaning that BBC is able to fully present the story for the first time in almost five decades.
Morris also recovered "The Web of Fear," a six-episode arc from 1968 also starring Troughton, Hines and Watling. The story features the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (who would later return as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart). According to BBC, "Episodes 2-6 were feared lost, but now episodes 2, 4, 5, and 6 have been recovered. With episode 3 still missing, the restoration team has reconstructed this part of the story using a selection of the 37 images that were still available from the episode along with the original audio, which has been restored."
“For many, this will be their first chance to watch these long-lost Doctor Who stories," said Beth Clearfield, SVP of Digital Distribution. "We’re thrilled to partner with iTunes in bringing these missing gems back to new and long-time fans after all these years.”
There are reportedly still 27 "Doctor Who" stories that remain missing or have incomplete episodes, especially those from the first season, which were discarded as a result of BBC Archive space-saving measures.
November 23 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the first "Doctor Who" episode, "An Unearthly Child." In celebration, the 50th Anniversary Special, "The Day of the Doctor," will be simulcast around the world to give all Whovians a chance to watch the show together and avoid spoilers.
Will you watch the recovered "Doctor Who" episodes?