Friday, 11 October 2013

Doctor Who at 50: Missing Episodes Found!

To the joy of Doctor Who fans across the universe, after months and months of gossip, it was last night confirmed that the BBC has recovered nine episodes of the series that were thought forever lost! Classic story 'The Enemy of the World' is now complete  while fan-favourite 'The Web of Fear' is now only one episode short thanks to the haul - the largest find of lost episodes for three decades. These new old Whos were finally revealed at midnight on Thursday at a special event in London, attended by Second Doctor companions Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria). Due to the BBC norm at the time to destroy tapes of already broadcast television programmes, there have been over a hundred episodes missing from fan's shelves - and hearts - for years, with one showing up now and again. Now, however, the figure is down to 97. Only double figures!
'Every single avenue seemed to have been exhausted,' said Who writer Mark Gatiss to the BBC. 'Every now and then something turns up - but to have two virtually complete stories out of the blue is absolutely incredible.'
The episodes were found by archivist, Phillip Morris, who found them gathering dust in a Nigerian TV station. 
But, enough about the technicalities, what we really care about is the stories themselves. Let's have a look at what we've been missing...

ENEMY OF THE WORLD  by David Whittaker

This 1967/8 adventure is an intriguing one, being very different from the 'base-under-siege' and monster-heavy stories typical of its time. Hoping to enjoy  a holiday in mid-21st century Australia, the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria become embroiled in the machinations of megalomaniac Salamander who dreams of world domination - and is an  exact double of the Doctor! With an exploding helicopter, a hovercraft and gun-toting henchman, it sounds like a James Bond film rather than a 60s Who, plus it will also be fascinating to see the talented Troughton in a dual role, especially playing a villain for himself to come up against. 
As the episodes have already gone up on Itunes some fans got their hands on them as fast as they could. Here's what Who  writer Chris Chibnall thought...

THE WEB OF FEAR by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln

If you'd asked Doctor Who fans earlier in the year which of the missing stories they would most want back, many would have said this tale which sees the Doctor's old enemies, the robotic Yeti controlled by the Great Intelligence, attack the London Underground. 'It's the quintessential Doctor Who story,' Mark Gatiss called it. 'It has the return of the Abominable Snowmen in an iconic location.'
It also featured the first appearance of beloved character Brigadier (here, Colonel) Lethbridge-Stewart who was a regular on the show during the Third Doctor's UNIT years, making guest appearances throughout the series, and once in spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures, until his death in 2009.
Eagle-eyed readers will note that the aforementioned Mr G. Intelligence reappeared as the main enemy of the latest series of the show, played by Richard E Grant. Out of all the perhaps more famous classic Who villains, Mr  Moffat could have brought back it seemed an unusual choice - unless... unless Moffat... knew about this haul? Hmm...

Fan and Radio Times writer tweeted this on the story:

The stories are now available from Itunes for £9.99 while they're apparently soon to be released on DVD.

This really is incredible news for the show and - being very spookily well-timed - it adds immensely to the fun of the 50th anniversary bash. And,Who knows, it suggests that, somewhere out there, are more missing episodes waiting to be found. What definitely is for sure though is that this is a fantastic year to be a fan of the show. And it's far from over yet...


  1. Hmm... interesting that these episodes turned up just in time for the 50th anniversary celebrations! My colleague has been predicting this might happen round about now. Cynical? Whether or not they were as lost as we were led to believe, I'm curious to see them.

    1. It is extremely coincidental! The (maybe too) perfect icing on the cake.
      I don't know if I'd say I was cynical but they must have been holding these back to release them at an opportune moment. And fans suspect there's even more 'missing' episodes to come! Maybe there'll be another announcement on the big day itself...


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