Doctor Who: The Lost Years Recovered
John Hussey celebrates the return of the Troughton episodes.
Last year I wrote an article entitled Doctor Who: The Lost Years that examined the missing relics of the show’s past and its legacy. I also discussed my saddened opinions over the matter and how, of course, I was extremely hopeful that one day the episodes would be found and returned to us. That wishful thinking has now come true as both ‘The Enemy of the World’ and ‘The Web of Fear’ have been recovered and reconstructed for us to watch after 45 years of them seemingly being missing from our screens. Doctor Who TV have asked me to write this article in dedication to this wonderful finding and to discuss my opinions on the matter due to my passionate nature towards the lost years (as written in my previous article). So without further ado, let us journey back in time and look over these Classic adventures which feature the legendary Second Doctor himself: Patrick Troughton.
The rumours of these so-called missing episodes have been ongoing for quite some time now. There have always been whispers in the far corners of the internet claiming new discoveries, but most of the time it’s all (unfortunately) nonsense. My wishful thinking was that the missing episodes of Hartnell and Troughton would one day be unearthed in the most random of places, either previously undiscovered, simply forgotten, or the owner isn’t aware of its value. But of course wishful thinking can only get us so far, right? Then sparks of hope started to erupt within me and the many thousands of Whovians out there in 2011 when Episode 3 (‘Air Lock’) of ‘Galaxy 4’ and Episode 2 of ‘The Underwater Menace’ were found and brought back to the BBC. Though they have yet to be released on DVD, I was completely and utterly hopeful that more episodes could be found in the future.
Then the build up to the 50th anniversary special, ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ came and we all became anxious as to what the year and the BBC would deliver to us. Then all the rumours started. The Mirror announced that a load of missing episodes had been uncovered and were due to be announced by the BBC. I have to admit, even with all my optimism and wishful thinking, I thought this was just a bunch of old rubbish produced by the mass media to gain readers and create news. But as the week went on, the updates to the story kept increasing and more and more papers and websites joined in. Then finally the story became fact when the BBC confirmed the story was (partly) true which meant only one thing: Blimey the papers were actually right! Joking of course. What was meant by this is we were actually going to receive a bunch of previously missing Classic episodes either from Hartnell or Troughton’s era.
The waiting process became a massive guessing game as to what stories we were going to get. Plus it also occurred to me as to how many we would be getting and what format we would get them in. Were we to receive full stories or were we to receive bits and drabs from different stories? Either way I would’ve been happy because at the end of the day we would be getting episodes that were lost to us.
As it turned out, we received two Troughton episodes from Season 5 (Troughton’s second season as the role of the Second Doctor). This made me extremely happy for two reasons: a) it meant we had two stories in their entirety (give or take the missing Episode 3 from ‘The Web of Fear’) and of course we get more Troughton episodes who, out of the two lost eras of the show, received the most damage and to this day has a lot of his episodes missing or not in their entirety which to me is completely saddening. Now, I shall discuss even further why we are to be happy with the episodes found.
‘The Enemy of the World’, from what I’ve read, has a unique story for two reasons. The first being of course it doesn’t have any alien invaders. The enemies are strictly human which makes for good story telling when the true villain is one of our own. Sometimes that can be worse than having the villain an alien who wishes to conquer the galaxy. It kind of shows that our race isn’t perfect and can easily fall into the side of evil. The second reason is the fact the villain in question, i.e. Ramon Salamander, is played by Patrick Troughton himself. This idea had already been done in ‘The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve’ where William Hartnell adopted a double role and became the villain of the piece, Abbot of Amboise. It will be incredibly brilliant to see the hero also playing the villain and playing off each other. Because Troughton is such a brilliant actor, it will be a treat; I think you’ll all agree, to see this in its entirety.
‘The Web of Fear,’ on the other hand, is another unique story that brings many interesting elements to the table. Firstly the story stars the sinister Abominable Snowmen, i.e. the Yeti. This was their second appearance onscreen within Doctor Who after their successful introduction in ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ three episodes prior to ‘The Web of Fear’. Along with the Yeti came of course their evil master the Great Intelligence. New fans will be familiar to the Great Intelligence as played by Ian McKellen in ‘The Snowmen’ and Richard E. Grant in ‘The Bells of Saint John’ and ‘The Name of the Doctor’. ‘The Web of Fear’ showcases the plans that the Eleventh Doctor inevitably gave to it in ‘The Snowmen’, i.e. invading Earth through the London Underground which the Great Intelligence tries to accomplish through its deadly web. The most notable thing about ‘The Web of Fear’ is the introduction to Nicholas Courtney’s legendary character Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. At this point he was only Colonel within the normal military but this is where it all began for him. This is where he first met the Doctor and where his long adventures with the Time Lord all started. And now we can watch all these wonderful elements unfold for the first time in 45 years on our actual screens.
So yeah, I am extremely happy about these finds! It makes me delighted that in the 50th year of the show so much is being done to preserve the show’s legacy. Troughton’s era is slowly being recovered piece by piece and I am very hopeful that more of his and Hartnell’s lost stories will be found in the near future. It’s only a matter of time and simply looking in the right place. All I have to say is, thank you Philip Morris for finding these 9 episodes for us. I wish to shake your hand, give you a hug and just say thank you over and over again because this means a lot to us Whovians who have been waiting years for these episodes to be uncovered and now they are finally returned to us to watch over and over again to our heart’s content. So yeah, thank you is all I have to say. It is a true treat to us Whovian having these two stories brought back to us.
2013 is a great year to be a Whovian and I’m sure it will only get better from here!
Have you watched the two stories yet? Leave your thoughts in the comments.