Remember that mysterious BBC press conference about the missing Doctor Who episodes? Well, it was today, and those in attendance were embargoed from talking about what they saw until midnight UK time (7pm Eastern). However, author Lance Parkin let the news out a bit early on his Facebook page.
Well, I didn’t sign anything, so: let joy be unbounded, the BBC have just held a press conference to announce that the missing five Enemy of the Worlds and four episodes of Web of Fear have been discovered. And there may be more on the way.
This was then corroborated by newspaper The Northern Echo (which has since removed the article).
FOUR decades ago, Dr Who’s encounter with the mythical Yeti left a generation of children terrified and enthralled. The six part serial Web of Fear became one of the best-loved serials of the Patrick Troughton era. Sadly, in the 1970s the well-travelled time lord faced an enemy far deadlier than the Daleks – BBC beancounters.
In an effort to save money, tapes of classic shows were wiped and recorded over. In a matter of months some of the Doctor’s greatest adventures were lost… seemingly forever. The Web of Fear is one of the most missed serials, along with another Troughton era adventure, The Power of the Daleks. But now all six missing episodes have been found – in a dusty storeroom in Nigeria.
The previously lost nine shows were among 11 traced to a television relay station and the find brings back to life an entire six-episode story, while another is almost complete. The newly found programmes – which introduce the character of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, better known to audiences as The Brigadier – will be available on iTunes from today and will later come out on DVD.
Phillip Morris, the director of Television International Enterprises Archive, unearthed the programmes by looking up the records of overseas shipments of tapes made by the BBC.
The stories, The Enemy Of The World (1967) and The Web Of Fear (1968) and both starring Patrick Troughton as the second Doctor, have now been remastered by BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial arm.
Mr Morris said: ‘‘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. When I read the story code, I realised I’d found something pretty special.’’
Only one episode of The Enemy Of The World – which featured Deborah Watling as companion Victoria and Frazer Hines, later to find fame in Emmerdale as Jamie – had remained in the archives, so the addition of programmes one, two, four, five and six have completed the story.
Fiona Eastwood, director of consumer products, BBC Worldwide, said: ‘‘We are thrilled with the recent discovery of The Web Of Fear and The Enemy Of The World and 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 BBC still had the first edition in the Web Of Fear story, and the new finds mean only number three is missing. The tale introduced Nicholas Courtney as Lethbridge-Stewart, who began with the rank of Colonel but later became Brigadier.
The missing episode has been recreated using 37 still images which were available and the original audio which survived.
The soon-to-be-released episodes will complete the serial “Web of Fear”, featuring Season 7’s Big Bad, The Great Intelligence. Not only that, but these episodes make the London Underground map joke from “The Snowmen” make sense.