Back in mid-June we relayed word
about some rumors going around the internet regarding missing episodes of classic Doctor Who
being found...supposedly a HUGE cache of some 90 or more episodes (out of 106 total missing from among the adventures of 1st and 2nd Doctors). We later updated that story, and posted a follow-up
as well, trying to better set expectations among our readers that the rumors may bear out, or that they may not amount to as much as has been hoped for after all. We basically finished by saying that we would wait until the BBC officially announced something about the matter. Well, this evening we've gotten a press release with today's date on it, so we're passing along the pertinent info from that document. Here's the first important piece of information: how many were found, and where?
"Eleven Doctor Who episodes were discovered (nine of which have not been seen for 46 years) by Philip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive, by tracking records of tape shipments made by the BBC to Africa for transmission. Morris says, "The tapes had been left gathering dust in a store room at a television relay station in Nigeria. 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 realized I'd found something pretty special." BBC Worldwide has re-mastered these episodes to restore them to the fantastic quality that audiences expect from Doctor Who."
The episodes in question are all from two stories which star Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor: Doctor Who - Story #040: The Enemy of the World
, and Doctor Who - Story #041: The Web of Fear
. Each is a 6-part story, and until this time each of them had a single episode which had survived (#3 for Enemy
; #1 for Web
). Both of those surviving episodes have been on DVD since the BBC's 2004 release of The Lost in Time Collection
The episodes Morris found in Nigeria include those two parts, plus ALL other missing episodes from The Enemy of the World
, as well as all the other parts from The Web of Fear
EXCEPT for episode #3. Enemy
aired in late December 1967 and January 1968, starring Patrick Troughton as both the 2nd Doctor AND as his evil doppleganger, Salamander. It co-stars Frazer Hines as Jamie and Deborah Watling as Victoria (both were reportedly at the BBC press conference for this announcement!). Web
was broadcast right afterward, in February and March 1968, and introduced Nicholas Courtney as Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (when we next saw him in The Invastion
, he was Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT). Jamie and Victoria are in it as well, plus - as the sequel to story #38 (The Abominable Snowmen
) - this story also marks the return of Professor Edward Travers (played by Jack Watling, Deborah's father), the Great Intelligence, and the Yeti.
The BBC press release for America does not mention DVD plans in particular, but an article at the British website CultBox gives information about the United Kingdom DVD plans for these stories: "'The Enemy of the World' will be released on DVD
on Monday 22 November**, while 'The Web of Fear' will be released on DVD early next year.
" In the meantime, these episode will be available to watch via iTunes. The press release we received states this about the missing Web
episode, and how that's handled for the streaming service: "With episode 3 still missing, the restoration team has reconstructed this part of the story using a selection of the 37 images that were still available from the episode along with the original audio, which has been restored.
" MY PERSONAL SPECULATION (and that's all it is, a guess!) is that the reason for holding off on Web
for DVD release until 2014, is to allow enough time for an animated episode reconstruction to occur, similar to what we've seen in The Invasion
and other classic Doctor Who
stories only missing one or two episodes. That may just be wishful thinking on my part, however.
Could there be more found that the BBC isn't telling us about just yet? Maybe, but I personally doubt it. After all, the 50th Anniversary isn't that far away now, and I'm sure they would want to let everybody know about it if there were more on tap. But sure, it could be possible that they're holding back some news until closer to November 23rd. In the meantime, though, it's gratifying to know that these newly-found episodes - 9 that we hadn't had access to since they were originally broadcast! - will bring the "missing" total down from 106 to 97 (with 26 stories in all missing at least one episode). And, once these stories are released on disc, there will be only 10 stories not represented at all on DVD. And, even though there are no stated plans as of this writing for North American DVD releases of these stories, we can all rest assured that the folks at BBC Home Entertainment would never ignore the USA/Canada market. They're coming, and we can't wait to find out when! We'll update you more as further developments occur.
Please be aware that CultBox showed an incorrect date of "Monday 22 November" (which is actually a Friday, the day before the Saturday Nov. 23rd anniversary for 50 years of Doctor Who
, which sees the worldwide broadcast of the 50th Anniversary special "Day of the Doctor
"). However, they apparently have gotten their incorrect date directly from the BBC, which shows "November 22" in reports such as this one
(see fifth paragraph). The actual British date , per the U.K. online store for the BBC, is Monday November 25th. The same source shows the U.K. date for Web of Fear
as Monday February 24, 2014. Those dates are also shown at Amazon.co.uk
(the British branch) for pre-order listings of the same two titles (our thanks to reader Gavin Claypool for that!). In the meantime, the following "key art" has been seen on Facebook, and might (or might not!) end up becoming part of the cover art for one or both of the DVD releases for these titles in North America: