Video: Joy for Doctor Who fans as nine missing episodes are discovered in Nigeria
- Credit: PA
Christmas has come early for Doctor Who fans after nine missing episodes from the 1960s have been found as fan of the series Anthony Carroll reports.
Imagine catching an episode of Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad or Broadwalk Empire for the first time and then finding out that earlier ones no longer existed to enjoy.
That is the scenario that Doctor Who fans have faced for decades after some of the television's series best episodes from the 1960s were junked by the BBC.
But today's news of a find in a Nigerian cupboard of nine episodes from Patrick Troughton's time in the Tardis as the second Doctor gives hopes to all fans that other missing episodes still exist hidden away in cupboards or dusty vaults.
As I prepare to watch the discovered episodes from The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World, which feature killer robot Yeti and an evil doppelganger of The Doctor, it is sure to bring back memories of how as a youngster I was deprived of seeing some of the series's most classic and scariest moments.
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Growing up from the mid 1970s onwards up I had to rely on Target Book novelisations of the missing series and a glimpse of rare stills and photographs in Doctor Who Magazine to try and picture what I was missing out on.
My imagination used to wander as I conjured up images of how the villainous weed in Fury from the Deep actually looked like and pondered on the exact nature of the death of first Doctor's companions, Sara and Katrina, in The Daleks' Masterplan and the regeneration of William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton in 1966's The Tenth Planet.
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However some mysteries from the first two Doctors slowly began to be solved from the 1980s as missing episodes began to turn up, often from foreign television stations. Other episodes were found in more unusual locations, such as two episodes of The Daleks' Masterplan in a church basement and two Patrick Troughton episodes at a carboot sale.
As each episode was unearthed, restored and then released to a clamouring army of Doctor Who fans there was also a sense of 'Please Sir, Can we have some more' as it made them realise what they were missing out on.
I still remember in 1991 when the BBC announced it had found all four episodes of The Tomb of The Cybermen, an iconic story for Doctor Who fans.
Finally getting to watch Patrick Troughton's Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Victoria, battle the cybermen and the cybercontroller on the planet Telos was a pure joy to me - an experience I expect will be fully repeated when I settle down to watch the nine episodes of The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World.
But there will be a pang of disappointment as one episode of The Web of Fear is still missing so the story is incomplete.
And what makes it worse is the episode, number three, gives fans their first proper look at a character who went on to become one the series most enduring characters, the Brigadier.
If only there was such a thing as a Tardis so I could pop back in time and 'exterminate' BBC bosses before they could wipe out so many episodes of one of the country's favourite programmes.