One of the great heartbreaks of being a Doctor Who fan is the fact that – even though the show’s about to celebrate its 50th anniversary – you can’t actually can’t watch all of it. Unfortunately, many of the show’s earliest episodes – featuring First and Second Doctors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton – have been lost, as the BBC destroyed many of the show’s original transmission tapes from the 1960s and 1970s.
However, in a stroke of fantastic good luck for fans everywhere – all is not actually lost. Literally. The BBC has officially confirmed that nine episodes of Doctor Who have been found at a television station in Nigeria. It is thought to be the largest single find of missing episodes recovered in the last three decades. The tapes have been remastered and two stories – The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear – available to download exclusively on iTunes. (They will both also be available on DVD in the coming weeks, if digital viewing isn’t your cup of tea.)
Beth Clearfield, SVP, Digital Distribution & Business Development at BBC Worldwide says, “For many, this will be their first chance to watch these long-lost Doctor Who stories. We’re thrilled to partner with iTunes in bringing these missing gems back to new and long-time fans after all these years.”
Both newly released stories feature Troughton’s Second Doctor. The details on the recovered stories re as follows:
The Enemy of the World: The first recovered story is The Enemy of the World, the fourth tale of Series 5 which first aired on the BBC in December 1967. The story features Troughton as both the Second Doctor and his antagonist (Ramon Salamander), alongside companions Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling). On Earth in the near future, the Doctor and his companions are enmeshed in a deadly web of intrigue thanks to his uncanny resemblance to would-be 21st century dictator Salamander. He is hailed as the “”shopkeeper of the world”" for his efforts to relieve global famine, but why do his rivals keep disappearing? How can he predict so many natural disasters? The Doctor must expose Salamander’s schemes before he takes over the world.
The Web of Fear: A restoration teams has re-mastered episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 & 6 from the original black and white 1960s film and subsequently gone through a frame by frame restoration to the fantastic quality that audiences expect from Doctor Who. Episode 3 has been reconstructed using stills and audio. This is the 1968 story, The Web of Fear, and, as the original episode three remains missing, part of this story has been reconstructed using stills with the original audio.
Starring Troughton again alongside companions Hines and Watling, the story introduces Nicholas Courtney for the first time as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (who later returns as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart). The TARDIS narrowly avoids becoming engulfed in a cobwebby substance in space. It arrives in the London Underground railway system, the tunnels of which are being overrun by the web and by the Great Intelligence’s robot Yeti. The time travelers learn this crisis was precipitated when Professor Travers accidentally caused one of the Yeti to be reactivated, opening the way for the Intelligence to invade again. The travelers work alongside army forces as they battle the alien menace, hampered by one of their number who has fallen under the Intelligence’s influence and is a traitor in their midst. The Intelligence’s goal is to drain the Second Doctor’s mind. The Doctor sabotages the device with which it intends to achieve this, so he can drain the Intelligence’s mind instead, but he is rescued by his friends before he can bring his plan to fruition. The Intelligence is repelled into space and the Doctor and his friends leave the army to clear up the mess.
How cool is this? I mean, there’s a story about Yeti in the London Underground, guys. That’s kind of the definition of must-watch in my book.
How about you? Are you excited at the thought that two new-to-most-of-us Doctor Who stories have been found? Will you watch them?