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Lost ‘Doctor Who’ Episodes Found, Available Online

14 Oct, 2013 By: John Latchem

BBC Worldwide North America confirmed Oct. 10 that it has located nine missing 1960s episodes of the sci-fi series “Doctor Who.”

“Doctor Who,” which chronicles the adventures of a time-traveling alien named The Doctor, premiered on Britain’s BBC in 1963 and ran until 1989, followed by a TV movie in 1996 and a revival series in 2005 (which will air a 50th anniversary episode later this year). However, many early episodes were lost as a result of space-saving measures.

Recently, a batch of tapes containing some of the missing episodes were located in Nigeria, after tracking records of tape shipments from the BBC to Africa for transmission.

“The tapes had been left gathering dust in a store room at a television relay station in Nigeria,” said Philip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive. “I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words ‘Doctor Who.’”

The canisters contained 11 episodes, nine of which haven’t been seen in 46 years. They comprise two serials featuring the second actor to play The Doctor, Patrick Troughton.

The first recovered story is “The Enemy of the World,” a six-episode tale first aired on the BBC in December 1967, of which only the third episode had been thought to survive. The second six-episode serial is 1968’s “The Web of Fear,” for which only the first episode remained. The episodes that had survived from both serials were previously released as part of the Doctor Who: Lost in Time DVD collection.

BBC Worldwide has remastered the newly discovered episodes to restore the full serials and has made them available exclusively on iTunes. The third episode of “Web of Fear” is still missing, but has been reconstructed for this project using a selection of 37 still images from the episode and the original audio track, which has been restored as well. Cost is $9.99 per serial or $1.99 per episode.

A BBC spokesperson indicated the episodes are likely to be released on disc in the future, but there are not yet plans to do so.

There are still 27 “Doctor Who” stories that are missing or have incomplete episodes.

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