BBC Releases Nine Recovered And Remastered 'Doctor Who' Episodes

Doctor Who fans can have a great weekend, thanks to the release of nine old episodes thought lost forever.

Most people probably know that huge chunks of film history have disappeared forever, but even more television has been lost. There wasn't always the thought that TV should be preserved, and some shows were lost when tapes were reused in budget-saving measures.

Among the lost treasures are almost 100 episodes of the BBC series Doctor Who. Chunks of the show's early seasons were taped over by the Beeb in the '70s, or allowed to deteriorate in storage. Some episodes survived, and others have been pieced together from various sources: audio recorded by fans, 8mm footage of TV broadcasts, stage notes, and set photos. But there have been big parts of the Doctor's history that no one has seen since the original broadcasts.

About a week ago the BBC started to confirm that some lost episodes had been found in Nigeria. (The best, if most unpredictable method for fully recovering lost episodes has been to trace tape or film transfers created to send the show to foreign territories.) Now we have confirmation that nine episodes are available for the first time in decades. Better yet, they can all be seen right now.

All nine episodes feature Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor. There are five chapters of The Enemy Of The World, from 1967, in which the Doctor is mistaken for an ambitious would-be dictator in the far-flung future of 2018, and four from the 1968 broadcast The Web Of Fear, in which robot Yeti (introduced in The Abominable Snowmen) dance with the Doctor in the Tube.

Of the two stories, The Enemy of the World is now complete, while The Web of Fear is still missing the third chapter.

These episodes have all been digitally cleaned and remastered, and can be purchased via iTunes right now. Disc releases will be forthcoming. Here are trailers for the restorations; I'm surprised at the quality. All lost TV should look so good.