Classic Series

Missing Episodes: Thanks to Phillip Morris

Thanks to Phillip Morris I’ll be going to bed shortly to watch The Web Of Fear.

I can’t really parse that sentence at the moment – it seems too unreal. Nevertheless it’s true. Despite hearing murmurings – murmurings I had no reason to doubt – the best part of a year ago I couldn’t real make the leap to actually believing it.

Even despite the omnirumour nonsense across message boards, the crystallising of the story across social media, the BBC announcement of a press conference and even the breaking of embargoes, I still won’t fully believe it until I’ve logged onto iTunes, downloaded the thing and started watching.

enemy of the world itunes

For years I had no interest in the recovery of missing episodes. I simply didn’t think it would ever happen. Perhaps the odd one; the odd single episode. But never did I think it was possible, especially in the last ten years or so, that we’d get whole stories back.

If you’ve been living in an African TV station basement for the last 12 months, Phillip Morris (a guy I understand is a scouse rigger who has ploughed tonees of cash and time into uncovering missing episodes) has uncovered the vast majority of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear. The latter is particularly delightful to me; it’s certainly one of my favourite stories and one of a few (along with Inferno, Fury From The Deep, The Celestial Toymaker) that I read again and again in Target novelisation form.

For me – perhaps for many Doctor Who fans – the London Underground has a particular fascination. As a work of Victorian architecture and engineering it’s amazing in itself’ the added intrigue of lumbering creatures infesting the network captured my imagination in a way that little else did when I was a nipper. Only yesterday did I find myself eyeing up stations I recognise from their parts in Web: Goodge Street, Charing Cross, Holborn.

web of fear itunes

To have this available to us – to see more of Troughton and Courtney in their pomp; evidence of an era in Who that is almost mythical – is beyond my power to describe. It’s absurdly exciting, thrilling. A real trip into the unknown. There’s a little melancholy, even. Powerful feelings.

Above all, sheer wonder and deep gratitude. The former because what we’re essentially preparing to watch are new Doctor Who stories made for 2013 by Lincoln & Haisman, Sherwin, Bryant, Camfield, Whitaker, Letts, Lloyd, Troughton, Courtney, Hines and Watling. Very few people have seen these stories for 45 years. They’re time capsules – Type 40s I’ll warrant – sent to us from the past; incredible, unsurpassable gifts in this anniversary year.

To the BBC I offer a nod of recognition at their efforts to keep things under wraps until now. I suspect that Morris’ ongoing work required some level of coyness, but I also suspect that the powers that be made an effort to save up the news for the anniversary; another treat for us as we near the 50th. I think that’s worthy of note too.

But I feel the need to put my thanks on record to Morris. No doubt others helped, but I get the feeling that none of this would have happened without the enigmatic TV archaeologist. He wasn’t at the presser today, where he would certainly not have needed to buy a drink. Instead he was still searching – as if for the Keys Of Marinus or Key To Time – for more episodes. For our viewing pleasure. Splendid fellow.