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Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes (2013)

2013-10-11 Guardian.jpg

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Doctor Who fans will be able to buy nine early episodes of the series not seen since they were screened in the 1960s, after tapes of the lost adventures were discovered in Nigeria.

Regarded as the most significant haul of missing Doctor Who episodes for three decades, they feature Patrick Trough-ton, the second actor to play the itinerant Time Lord in the long running sci-fi show.

The recovered material includes four episodes of six-parter The Web of Fear, a "quintessential" Doctor Who story in which the Time Lord battles robot Yetis spreading a poisonous fungus on the London Underground. Only episode three is still missing. It also features the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, a popular recurring character on the series for the next 40 years.

Nine of the 11 episodes found at a small TV facility in Jos, Nigeria, were among the 106 "lost" 1960s episodes of Doctor Who that feature Troughton and the first Time Lord, William Hartnell - two were copies of episodes already in the BBC archive.

The discovery was made by Philip Morris, of Television International Enterprise Archive, who specialises in tracking down missing TV and cinema archive material and is referred to in the industry as the "Indiana Jones of the film world".

Morris said he found the tapes, which also included five episodes that complete the six-part 1967 Doctor Who story The Enemy of the World, "sitting on a shelf with a piece of masking tape that said 'Doctor Who'".

The BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, made the episodes available on Apple's iTunes store from midnight last night, with the two series also available for pre-order on DVD.

Mark Gatiss, who has written episodes and acted in BBC1's Doctor Who revival in recent years and co-created Sherlock with the show's executive producer Steven Moffat, singled out The Web of Fear episodes as a particularly important find. "As long as I have been a Doctor Who fan there has been one story I hoped and prayed and begged I would one day see again," he said at a BBC press launch unveiling the recovered episodes yesterday.

"The Web of Fear is the quintessential Doctor Who story, it is the most British thing you could imagine. I never thought I'd see the day, I can't really believe it. To think it was just gathering dust on a shelf."

Doctor Who will celebrate its 50th anniversary next month with an extended 75-minute episode, The Day of the Doctor, featuring the current Time Lord Matt Smith and predecessor David Tennant.

Captions: Patrick Troughton as the doctor in a no longer lost episode of The Web of Fear

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  • APA 6th ed.: Sweney, Mark (2013-10-11). Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes. The Guardian p. 21.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Sweney, Mark. "Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes." The Guardian [add city] 2013-10-11, 21. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Sweney, Mark. "Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes." The Guardian, edition, sec., 2013-10-11
  • Turabian: Sweney, Mark. "Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes." The Guardian, 2013-10-11, section, 21 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Found_on_a_dusty_shelf_in_Nigeria:_the_lost_Doctor_Who_tapes | work=The Guardian | pages=21 | date=2013-10-11 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 October 2018 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Found on a dusty shelf in Nigeria: the lost Doctor Who tapes | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Found_on_a_dusty_shelf_in_Nigeria:_the_lost_Doctor_Who_tapes | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 October 2018}}</ref>