BBC confirms 9 lost Doctor Who episodes recovered

2013-10-11_1031The BBC has now confirmed there are 9 missing Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s that have been recovered in Africa.

11 episodes were discovered by Phillip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive, in Nigeria, Africa -9 of which had been missing.

This puts to end false earlier reports that up to 100 had been found in Ethiopia.

They were found by the tracking records of overseas shipments made by the BBC containing tapes for transmission. BBC Worldwide has re-mastered these episodes to restore them and they will be available to download in Australia exclusively from iTunes on 11 October.

Phillip Morris said, “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 realised I’d found something pretty special.”

The stories recovered are The Enemy of the World (1967) and The Web of Fear (1968), both starring Patrick Troughton as the second Doctor.

The Enemy of the World, is the fourth six-part tale of Series 5 which first aired on the BBC in December 1967. Episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 had been missing from the BBC archives.

Alongside Patrick Troughton who plays both the Time Lord and his antagonist (Ramon Salamander) are his companions Frazer Hines (Jamie) and Deborah Watling (Victoria).

Also recovered is the 1968 six-part story, The Web of Fear. Episodes 2 – 6 were feared lost forever but now episodes 2, 4, 5, and 6 have been recovered.

Unfortunately, episode three is still missing but a restoration team has reconstructed this part of the story using a selection of the 37 images that were available from the episode along with the original audio which has been restored.

Also starring Patrick Troughton alongside Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, The Web of Fear introduces Nicholas Courtney for the first time as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart (who later returns as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart).

Both stories will also be available on DVD in Australia and New Zealand via Roadshow. The Enemy of the World will be available from and retailers from 27 November and The Web of Fear will be released early 2014. Fans will be able to pre-order The Enemy of the World DVD on from October 18.

Fiona Eastwood, Director of Consumer Products, BBC Worldwide comments: “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 working with iTunes on bringing re-mastered versions of these treasured episodes to fans as we celebrate the 50th year of Doctor Who.”

A number of episodes from the first series of Doctor Who were lost as a result of BBC Archive space-saving measures and there are still 27 Doctor Who stories that are missing or have incomplete episodes.


  1. @ sherlock

    Believe me I know. For awhile there were missing episodes of the Jon Pertwee era which was all made in colour. Ironically stuff recorded on B&W (sent to Australia and other places ) as well as colour NTSC (North America ) videotape survived. They’ve had to do many things to restore the colour of many episodes affected. Including develop a computer program that can sometimes convert unfiltered B&W footage into colour again if it was recorded from a colour video source.

    The disaster is they erased a lot of video tapes from the time. Doctor Who as well as many other shows were mainly recorded onto master videotapes. They’re largely lost. It was the overseas film that often still exists. But not everything.

    P.S. I love your username. 🙂

  2. A. Not only did BBC destory b/w eps of shows also colour eps, like z-cars, Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes (only 6 eps are in the BBC out of 16). Also ITV did as well, get rid colour eps of shows made in early 70’s even early 80’s.

  3. Thank you MHA for your interesting and well informed comment. A bit of a bummer it got cut off. I will admit I knew they destroyed film and other storage formats. Plus I also knew about the certificates. But I didn’t know much about the current situation.

    Although another tragedy about Doctor Who I’ve heard about is they also returned many episodes to the BBC in the UK in the mid- seventies probably due to colour TV in Australia. Around 1975-76 and the BBC had their own destroy things policy. Until they changed their mind in 1978. From around 1972-78 were the main, but not only, destructive years. Believe me I know it’s practically impossible for them to find anything.

    Another thing that’s amazing about it is it’s the largest find of missing Doctor Who episodes outside of the BBC. Last time was 4 episodes in 1991 with the Tomb of the Cybermen from Hong Kong.

  4. Sad to say A. that the ABC also routinely destroyed episodes in the 60s, 70s and 80s. As they were legally obliged to do as part of the BBC program contract when the run rights expired.

    The ABC like other international broadcasters had to supply certified certificates of destruction, I kid you not. This is still the case, as many overseas program masters are still routinely destoyed to this very day when run rights expire.

    There are still limits to how much videotape storage space exists in the archives areas of stations here in Sydney. The main ABC Film/Videotape Archive no longer exists at Gore Hill, as that was moved over to Ultimo in 2002/2003.

    Believe me, there are no uncovered Doctor Who episodes waiting to be re-discovered. Furthermore, all the analogue content that did exist at Gore Hill has been converted over to digital storage, only having finished a couple years…

  5. This episodes are available to buy now on Itunes I have watched them and the BBC has done a great job of reconstructing them, the quality is very good considering their age

  6. I just want to add that I would also believe the ABC if they ever announced they found any episodes. Although I don’t expect that to occur this century. They’ve probably found all the missing episodes they can.

    Lastly I want to say thank you very much for all the people involved in searching for missing stuff. Doctor Who or not. Successful or not. I think whatever gets found is a wonderful gift not an expectation. I’m glad about anyone involved in such an endeavour.

  7. Yipee!!! Thank you very much for this story. As mentioned previously the BBC is the only organisation I’ll believe on this issue. I’ll admit the The Web of Fear is one of the stories I’d most wanted to be able to see one day. I’m glad it mostly will be possible. I’m also glad more of the Troughton era was found. Because tragically his is the worst affected.

    I’ll just point out previously this century they’d only found 3 episodes. That’s how amazing it is. Plus the number missing is now under 100 episodes i.e. 97. Something I never dared hope for.

    @ Sydney2K

    The people searching for missing stuff are on the look out for anything missing. Not just Doctor Who. If there was other stuff found they might announce it later. Although it is a long shot for them to find anything. Or for someone to return it.

  8. While I am a Doctor Who fan, and I rejoice in the return of these classic stories, there were other series that lost episodes- series such as Dad’s Army. Was the two Doctor Who stories the only tapes that were found? I really hope there were more than two tapes found on that dusty shelf.

  9. I hate to think about how many Australian television programs that have been lost, never recorded, wiped or destroyed in the early years.

    Interesting story David

  10. This is great news, The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear were by old time best stories when I first saw them in the late 1960’s , I was lucky enough watch them in repeats and when they first screen in New Zealand when we lived there in early 70’s.
    Troughton is my Doctor, he shows waht great actor he was with his duel role in The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear love this becuase of the yeti, also reminded me so much of Hammer films.

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