As expected, the BBC announced Thursday that missing episodes of Doctor Who had been found in Nigeria and would be released on DVD and iTunes download. Nine episodes, to be exact.
The episodes from a Nigerian TV relay station’s storage room include 1967’s “Enemy of the World” and ’68’s “Web of Fear,” both starring Patrick Troughton as second incarnation of the itinerant Time Lord. The Associated Press reports that they were tracked down using overseas shipping records of BBC tapes. Tapes which were routinely wiped for re-use in an era when home video on today’s scale was scarcely imagined.
Archivist Phillip Morris, who was responsible for the find, reportedly didn’t appear at Thursday’s unveiling but the UK’s Independent reports that he sent a rather dramatic message: “I cannot be with you as the search is endless. My work must continue.”
The revelation caps months of internet rumors that a large cache of lost stories had been discovered in Africa and would see re-release in this 50th anniversary year for the iconic British sci-fi program. Let’s hope there are indeed more out there! (The Independent hints that Ethiopia is the next frontier, for what it’s worth.)
In “The Enemy of the World,” the TARDIS team finds a world in the grip of the Doctor’s evil doppelganger. “The Web of Fear” is notable for its villains, the Yeti and the Great Intelligence, which played a key role in Matt Smith’s latest season (the seventh of modern Doctor Who), and for the introduction of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who would go on to become the series’ stiff-upper-lipped “Brigadier.”