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This time the rumours are true. Many of the lost Dr Who episodes have been found, remastered, and are on Apple iTunes right now, ready for you to buy.

Doctor Who is the world’s longest running sci-fi show (it started in November 1963), so it makes sense that the show has a huge number of diehard fans, especially now that the show has been successfully exported to the US. Many Doctor Who fans grew up hiding under the couch from Cybermen, and cowering in fear from the Daleks at the Madame Tussauds museum in London.

Now, the fans have something really serious to celebrate. A lot of the early episodes starring William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton were presumed lost, after the BBC had this idiotic cost-cutting policy of wiping the tapes after the shows had been broadcast. But copies of two Patrick Troughton series from 1967 and 1968 (9 episodes) – The Enemy of the World, and The Web of Fear – have now been found in an archive in Nigeria. They were found after the BBC checked records of all overseas shipments of Doctor Who episodes.

The episodes ended up there after the BBC sent copies for broadcast on Nigerian TV. But unlike the BBC, the Nigerian TV studio kept the copies under lock and key. Now, for the first time in 45 years, they’re back, remastered, and are on Apple iTunes for you to buy and appreciate. And apparently the DVDs are on the way (conveniently timed for Christmas).

However, one episode of The Web of Fear is still missing, as well as a staggering 97 other episodes that the BBC have been unable to find. However, these recently-found series were considered lost forever and they finally turned up after 45 years. So who knows what else is hiding in some remote corner of the world in a dusty archive? The last time lost Doctor Who episodes were found was in 1991 when the four-part adventure “The Tomb of the Cybermen“, dating from 1967, was discovered in Hong Kong.

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Source: The Enquirer & Doctor Who on iTunes

  1. Tim
    October 16, 2013 at 6:54 am

    "...the BBC had this idiotic cost-cutting policy of wiping the tapes after the shows had been broadcast." As a "Who" fan, I'd certainly agree the BBC didn't take very good care of their archive for a long time, but to play devil's advocate for a moment...

    I've read that in the Sixties, a 30-minute spool of 2" Ampex Quadruplex (Quad) videotape, would have cost the BBC as much as a decent car. Remember, too, that the BBC was and is public-funded, and they had plenty of programmes to record (and there was effectively no home video-recording at the time). Given all the above, I can at least understand why the BBC reused videotape in the 60s (and, I think, into the 70s).

    On the other hand: I think they could have done a MUCH better job of looking after the film telerecordings they made of the programmes - this is how they often sold them to overseas broadcasters (and the two new finds are such telerecordings) - but hopefully the above might give an idea of why the BBC did something which looks silly, given half a century's hindsight!

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