Doctor Who: Lost Episodes Officially Recovered! 5 Adventures We're Still Hoping For

Categories: Doctor Who

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After months and months of rumor and speculation it was confirmed by the BBC last night that 11 tapes containing nine previously lost episodes of Doctor Who were found in Nigeria in the largest single recovery of lost tapes in three decades. The BBC's habit of wiping tapes of television shows that ran in the '60s to save space did irreparable damage to the legacy of The Doctor, costing fans many of the adventures of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, though every story survives at least in audio form.

Phillip Morris, director of a company called Television International Enterprises Archive, was the man responsible for the find. Though BBC wiped its tapes, many film copies were made to be sent to foreign markets. These far-flung locales are the primary source of recovered episodes. In this case two serials were recovered, both from the woefully incomplete time of the Second Doctor.

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The first is a complete collection of all six episodes of "Enemy of the World," a strange tale where Troughton doubles as both The Doctor and a would-be dictator named Salamander on a late 21st century version of Earth. Before recovery only the third episode of the six total was held in the archives.

The second find was five episodes of "The Web of Fear," the second serial to feature the robotic yetis and their master, The Great Intelligence. With the exception of the third episode, which was not among the other tapes, this means that every appearance of The Great Intelligence is now available. The adventure is also notable as the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, later The Doctor's staunchest ally and head of UNIT, The Brigadier.

Both serials are being immediately made available for download on iTunes, with a reconstruction of Episode 3 of "Web of Fear" from stills and audio recordings. DVD versions featuring extras are scheduled to be on sale November 22. With the recovery of these tapes the number of lost episodes finally dips below the 100 mark, with 97 still left un-accounted for.

Though the chance to view these episodes, for many Whovians for the first time, is wonderful news the low number of tapes found is a slight disappointment. Rumors from usually reliable sources hinted at a much greater treasure trove, everything from a few complete stories to perhaps the entire run of William Hartnell. The availability of these Troughton outings is a wonderful 50th Anniversary present, but hopefully out there are yet more canisters waiting to be discovered. Click onto the next page to see the serials we most hope eventually are found hidden away and forgotten.

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