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Nine missing Doctor Who episodes recovered

The recovered lost episodes of Doctor Who are 1967's "The Enemy of the World" and 1968's "The Web of Fear", both starring Patrick Troughton.

The recovered lost episodes of Doctor Who are 1967's "The Enemy of the World" and 1968's "The Web of Fear", both starring Patrick Troughton.

(Credit: BBC)

The episodes were recovered by Philip Morris of the Television International Enterprises Archives, who has spent decades scouring the globe for lost TV episodes. He recovered nine episodes: the five missing episodes from the six-part serial "The Enemy of the World" from Doctor Who's fifth season and four of the five missing episodes from the six-part "The Web of Fear" from the same season.

(Credit: BBC)

Morris tracked BBC shipping records to find the episodes at a relay station in Nigeria. "The tapes had been left gathering dust in a store room at a television relay station in Nigeria," 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."

"The Web of Fear", which originally aired weekly from 3 February to 9 March 1968, introduced recurring character Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, aka the Brigadier, and the enemy Yetis and was among the most sought after of the lost episodes. Episodes two through six were recovered.

"The Enemy of the World" was one of the first TV episodes to play with the idea of the evil twin. On future Earth, the Doctor and his companions are horrified to find the planet being run by an evil fascist dictator — who happens to look exactly like the Doctor. Episodes two, four, five and six were recovered, and a restoration team has filled in the missing episode three's story using the original audio and 37 episode images.

Some fans may be disappointed that "The Power of the Daleks" or "The Tenth Planet" are yet to be found, but the discovery nevertheless marks a landmark day for the series.

Of course, 97 episodes remain missing — and will possibly never be recovered. In June, Morris issued a statement to the effect that many episodes had simply been destroyed. But, if nine episodes were waiting to be uncovered in Nigeria for 45 years, who knows what else may be lurking in dusty store rooms?

The missing episodes have been remastered and will be released by the BBC to iTunes today. "The Enemy of the World" will be released on DVD on 27 November, and "The Web of Fear" in early 2014.

In the meantime, avid fans can always seek out the CDs of the rest the missing episodes made from recovered audio.