At a BBC press conference today, the broadcaster announced the recovery of nine missing Doctor Who episodes from the Patrick Troughton era of the long-running sci-fi show. Previously lost episodes from the fifth season serials The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear have been recovered in Africa. The BBC will make these available digitally via iTunes and online at midnight Thursday (UK time), with a DVD releases to follow down the line.
The entire run of the 1967-68 serial The Enemy of the World has now been rediscovered in its entirety, and is notable for the dual role of Troughton as The Doctor and the ruthless Salamander, a physical double for The Doctor. It’s set in a future Australia (!), and was the last story to be produced under the eye of Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman. Although Episode 2 had survived, the recovery of the serial is significant as Episode 4 is one of the few missing episodes for which no off-screen tele-snaps had been taken. You can purchase the whole thing on iTunes now via this link.
Fans will be clamouring to grab The Web of Fear when it is released, as it is not only a follow-up to The Abominable Snowman, but a return of the Yeti, the Great Intelligence (frequently referenced in the current series) and the introduction of the incomparable Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), best known as the Brigadier and the lead of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce). He served as one of the main companions for Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, and the early Tom Baker years. All episodes but one are now available on iTunes, with a reconstructed version of Episode 3 from stills and audio.
There are still 97 episodes from the First (William Hartnell) and Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) eras, thanks to an inconsistent archival policy at the BBC. Doctor Who was not the only program impacted by the policy, but is perhaps the most famous example of a classic show’s formative years being unavailable due to this type of policy. In Australia, large chunks of Countdown and Number 96 are missing due to erasures as part of an economy policy instituted in the late 1970s in which bulk wiping was commonplace. Fans have been enjoying the missing episodes as reconstructions, based on surviving off-air audio recordings and tele-snaps.
The episodes are available exclusively via iTunes now, while the first of the DVDs will come out on 22 November 2013. Trailers and clips can be seen below:
The Enemy of the World: Trailer
The Doctor goes for a swim in Australia in The Enemy of the World
The Doctor receives a Yet sphere in The Web of Fear