Fans of old-school Doctor Who just received an early Christmas present.
According to the official Doctor Who website, two missing episodes previously thought to be lost forever in time have been returned to the BBC Archive. Episode 3 of the William Hartnell adventure "Galaxy 4" and Episode 2 of Patrick Troughton's "The Underwater Menace" were purchased by film collector Terry Burnett at a village fete near Southampton in the early 1980s. He wasn't aware that the canisters contained material missing from the BBC.
These are the first complete episodes to have been located since 2004. None of the four episodes of the 1965 adventure "Galaxy 4" were rescued from the BBC's Archive purge in the 1960s and 1970s for economic and space-saving reasons, although a short extract had been retained. Previously, only Episode 3 of the four-part "The Underwater Menace" from 1967 had been recovered, making Episode 2 now the earliest surviving complete episode featuring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor.
Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss hosted a screening of the footage today at the British Film Institute's "Missing Believed Wiped" event at the National Film Theatre in London. "Christmas has come early for Doctor Who fans everywhere," said Gatiss. "It's always wonderful when a missing episode turns up but it's been years since the last one so to have two is just brilliant. Add to that a proper bit of action from the legendary Chumblies (and the horrifying Rills!) plus the utterly mesmeric Patrick Troughton on great form. Well, what more could we all ask for?"
The website also mentions that details of a commercial release will be announced by home video production company 2 entertain in 2012. Perhaps a separate DVD release for "The Underwater Menace" with some animation used to show the events of the still-missing Episodes 1 and 4?