Doctor Who is an excellent British science fiction show about the titular time traveling alien, which has enthralled audiences literally for generations with the help of (depending how you count them) 13 lead actors. It celebrates its 50th anniversary next month and over the past half-century has inserted itself deep into British culture, including the meme of hiding behind the sofa whenever Daleks appear and a (sadly very short) shout-out in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. If you’ve never seen it before, you need to check it out.
Sadly, many of the episodes from the first 6 years of the show’s run were thrown away by the BBC to save shelf space, since there was no archiving policy until 1978. Many of those episodes have since been recovered from copies sent to branch offices around the world, but 97 episodes remain missing today. The audio recordings, however, are all still available.
But just this week, the BBC confirmed the find of nine missing episodes of Doctor Who in a storeroom in Nigeria, staring the second actor to play the Doctor, Patrick Troughton. The find includes all five missing episodes of The Enemy of the World, in which the Doctor must fight an evil future dictator who happens to look just like him, and four of the five missing episodes of The Web of Fear, where he faces down the Great Intelligence, who was also his main enemy in the most recent season. The Web of Fear also features the first appearance of soon-to-be Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, the longest-running character on the show besides the Doctor himself.
Even though it is smaller than was hoped, this is an amazing find, especially so close to the 50th anniversary. And since I’m one of those uber-nerds who has seen or listened to the audio tracks of all 798 episodes, I am definitely checking it out. If you’re in the mood for 60s-style science fiction, you should take a look, too.