Doctor Who: Yeti classic among episodes found in Nigeria


Watch: An excerpt from The Web of Fear, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in 1968

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Nine missing episodes of 1960s Doctor Who have been found at a TV station in Nigeria, including most of the classic story The Web of Fear.

The black and white story sees Patrick Troughton's second Doctor battle robot yeti in the London Underground.

Also recovered is a complete version of Troughton's six-part story The Enemy of the World.

It is thought to be the largest haul of missing episodes recovered in the last three decades.


  • The Enemy of the World (1967-68) - episodes 1,2,3,4,5,6 (episode 3 was already in archive)
  • The Web of Fear (1968) - episodes 1,2,4,5,6 (episode 1 was already in archive - episode 3 still missing)

"It's thrilling," said Mark Gatiss, an actor and writer for the 21st Century incarnation of Doctor Who.

"Every single avenue seemed to have been exhausted, every now and then something turns up - but to have two virtually complete stories out of the blue is absolutely incredible."

The BBC destroyed many of the sci-fi drama's original transmission tapes in the 1960s and 1970s.

However, many episodes were transferred on to film for sale to foreign broadcasters. It is often these prints found in other countries that are the source of retrieved episodes.

In this case, 11 Doctor Who episodes were discovered, nine of which were missing, in the Nigerian city of Jos.

The find was made by Philip Morris, director of a company called Television International Enterprises Archive.

Philip Morris: "I am described as the Indiana Jones of the film world"

Mr Morris said: "The tapes had been left gathering dust in a storeroom 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."

He said it had been a "lucky" find given the high temperatures in the African country. "Fortunately they had been kept in the optimum condition."

Only episode three of The Enemy of the World already existed in the BBC archive. The Nigerian discovery of episodes one, two, four, five and six complete the story.

Episode one of fan favourite The Web of Fear existed, with the rest thought lost forever. Now episodes two, four, five and six have been recovered.

Episode three is still missing, but has been reconstructed from stills to enable restored versions of both stories to be made available for sale via download on Friday.

The latest find means that the number of missing episodes of Doctor Who has dropped from 106 to 97.

Former Doctor Who actors Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines told Lizo Mzimba they were "thrilled" with the discovery

'Quintessential story'

One episode from each story - both last seen in 1968 - were shown at a special event in London on Thursday by BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm.

Among the guests were actors Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, who played Troughton's Tardis companions Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield.

Episode one of The Enemy of the World is a James Bond-style thriller complete with an exploding helicopter, a hovercraft, gun-toting henchmen and a foreign-accented villain, Salamander (also played by Troughton).

The story opens with the Tardis arriving on an Australian beach where the Doctor strips to his long johns and goes for a dip in the sea.

The Web of Fear is a claustrophobic tale that sees the Doctor battle his old foe, the Great Intelligence, and the yeti in the tunnels of the London tube system.

"It's the quintessential Doctor Who story," said Gatiss. "It has the return of the Abominable Snowmen in an iconic location."

He said it showed Troughton "at the height of his powers".

Frazer Hines recalled that the underground station sets had been so realistic that London Transport accused the BBC of filming at a tube station in secret.

The story also featured an appearance by Deborah Watling's real-life father Jack, reprising his role as Professor Travers.

Recalling Troughton's "wonderful sense of humour" on set, Watling said: "We all got on so well, we were like a family and Pat was always to me like another dad or an uncle. We had a chemistry and I think it showed."

How did she feel when she heard about the recovery of the lost episodes? "I couldn't quite believe it. There had been hoaxes before. I thought it was just another hoax."

Her only other complete story in the archive had been The Tomb of the Cybermen, all four instalments of which were discovered in Hong Kong in 1991.

Hines said: "This now gives me hope that more stories of Patrick's will come out of the woodwork."

The latest find comes as Doctor Who celebrates its 50th birthday. A special episode featuring the current Doctor, Matt Smith, and his predecessor, David Tennant, will be shown on the programme's anniversary on 23 November.


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  • Comment number 286.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 285.

    Brilliant news. Amy chance a program could be made explains the rationale behind the BBCs destruction of so much classic entertainment.

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    Comment number 284.

    You can watch these episodes on line already though before today, my son has a link to all episodes and those are there and were able to watch.

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    Comment number 283.

    ok, i know some adults watch this but cant grasp the excitment in dr who, its a drab bbc saturday evening childrens show.

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    Comment number 282.


    Don't get me started on the scheduling of new Who. They keep mucking around with this, putting it back a few months some years, splitting a series in two (an awful thing that's come over from America), the net result being that we've effectively lost 2 or 3 series since the return in 2005. Me? I'd go back to 26 shorter episodes a year, as in the old days, but it'll never happen alas!

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.


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    Comment number 280.

    What the world needs now is for the BBC to animate the 3rd episode of the Web of Fear. What a Christmas treat that would be!

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    Comment number 279.

    @272 -- Of Course. It is on the description.

    Apparently there is this new fangled thing called reading; I should try it some time :)

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    Comment number 278.

    Can only add to the comments on here that these should be made available to all, not just those with i-tunes. I cant stand I-tunes and choose not to use it so therefore wont be able to download them, but I shouldnt have to pay for them anyway. Release them as a new download on the iplayer.

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    Comment number 277.

    @275 - rumors relating to Web of Fear, Enemy of the World (and Marco Polo...) have been circulating for a year or so - it probably seemed nicer to clean up the episodes and announce to coincide with the 50th, then to announce at the time and say "Oh, but you need to wait a bit while we remaster them"

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    Comment number 276.

    Doctor Who ended when Tom Baker left as far as I am concerned, the guy was just awesome and no-one has come even close to the great man.

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    Comment number 275.

    'Fantastic' Nine would say. However am I the only one who thinks the finding of these episodes for 50th year is just a bit too much of a coincidence? And while it's great news, how about a FULL Doctor Who series. Eight episodes, two specials and the usual Xmas episode for half a century is measly. I know we're going to have other things but why couldn't it be spaced out? And where's the trailer?

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    Comment number 274.

    @263/4 - Some of the stories make it even worse. Rumours that Peter Cook offered to replace the Not Only But Also tapes to preserve them, but couldn't arrange it.

    Also the only reason we have Monty Python is because Giliam did buy those tapes himself.

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    Comment number 273.

    214. Squidfish
    "Why oh why, BBC, aren't you airing these? Or putting them on iPlayer? I don't have iTunes (and never ever will) At least release them through other channels as well"

    I heard it mentioned that they will be aired on BBC4, and The Enemy of the World DVD release is already scheduled for Nov 25th, with The Web of Fear in early 2014.

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    Comment number 272.

    @271 - the version of WoF ep 3 for sale is a reconstruction, using 37 stills/photographs + the audio recording.

    I'm wondering if it will be animated for the DVD, or if this reconstruction will be there

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    Comment number 271.

    @260 - the strange thing is that Web of Fear episode 3 seems to be on iTunes right now, but with a much smaller file-size, although it is apparently still missing.

    Mistake? Maybe a reconstructed version, but there's no mention in the description -- Badly damaged? Odd.

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    Comment number 270.

    great news !, I remember it vaguely as a small child , always wanted to see it again!

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    Comment number 269.

    I have to concur with David at 262.

    Also the extras on the Doctor Who DVDs for the 'classic' series are some of the best I've even seen, possibly only bettered by those on the LOTR trilogy.

    As I said earlier, it does take time to restore these, which makes me wonder if perhaps there are yet more out there having the works done as we speak. We can but hope!

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    So happy these episodes have been recovered, but iTunes exclusive for download? Really? Yet another example of the BBC favouring Apple for no discernible reason. There are other reputable digital stores. I'm not letting iTunes near my computers - will just have wait for the DVDs - which I hope will support the Ultraviolet system.

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    Comment number 267.

    Hooray! Good news from Nigeria for a change. I remember watching Doctor Who, Fresh Prince of Bel Air and such like as a youngster growing up in Nigeria in the 70s. We only had four tv channels then and still had lots of fun. Kudos to the Nigerian Television Authority & the BBC.


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