BBC Worldwide have done their best to keep a lid on all the ‘rediscovered Doctor Who episodes’ rumours until today.
But now, at last, they’re happy for us to tell you that Phillip Morris, director of TIEA, has turned up 11 episodes from the Patrick Troughton era. 9 of the shows had previously been thought to be lost forever.The late Sixties tapes had been stored in a Nigerian TV station’s archive and were in surprisingly good condition.
Fiona Eastwood, director of consumer products, BBC Worldwide, said:
‘We’re very happy to be launching re-mastered
versions of these treasured episodes to fans as we celebrate the 50th year of Doctor Who.’
The two story arcs that have been restored are The Enemy Of The World, from 1967, and The Web Of Fear — a story considered by Who fans to be one of the absolute
classics — from 1968. The two arcs are almost complete, although the third episode of Web Of Fear is still missing and has been reconstructed using set stills and an audio track.
The Web Of Fear is the second Doctor Who story with The Great Intelligence on the opposing team, and the first to feature Nicholas Courtney as Colonel (later Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart. It also includes a turn from veteran British character actor Jack Woolgar. One episode plays out with no Doctor at all.
None of this classic sci-fi material has been since before the Moon Landings. The tone’s very different to modern Who. The Enemy Of The World, in particular, betrays the more “children’s programme” dialogue of classic Doctor Who.
The quality of the tapes is probably on a par with most other TV broadcasts of the period. I watched a couple of episodes on a cinema-sized screen and while wide shots were a touch grainy, close-ups on Troughton’s face showed every detail as the emotions chased one another across that rumpled visage.
The Enemy of the World will also be available to pre-order exclusively on DVD from BBC Shop from 11 October for release on 22 November. The Web of Fear will be available on DVD from early 2014.
The whole thing’s live on iTunes right now. If you’re a fan, it’s a must.