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Lost 'Doctor Who' episodes recovered in Nigeria

By Kevin Taverner, CNN, and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, for CNN
updated 12:05 PM EDT, Fri October 11, 2013
Patrick Troughton as the time-traveling Doctor fights robot yetis in a recently unearthed episode of
Patrick Troughton as the time-traveling Doctor fights robot yetis in a recently unearthed episode of "Doctor Who."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nine lost "Doctor Who" episodes from the 1960s have been found in Africa
  • The rediscovered episodes feature Patrick Troughton as the second doctor
  • The long-running science-fiction show celebrates 50th anniversary in November

London, England (CNN) -- Whovians across the world can rejoice as the BBC confirms the discovery of nine lost "Doctor Who" episodes from the 1960s in Africa.

The treasure-trove of missing episodes were traced to a relay station in Jos, Nigeria via Hong Kong using overseas shipment records by Philip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive.

"I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words 'Doctor Who,'" said Morris.

"When I read the story code I realized I'd found something pretty special."

Read: Peter Capaldi steps into the Tardis

Ending weeks of speculation, the announcement was made at a press screening in London Thursday attended by former companion actors Frazer Hines, Deborah Watling -- who appeared in the recovered episodes -- and Mark Gatiss, who has both written and acted in the show in recent years.

The BBC draws back the curtains to reveal who will be the next British actor to play the famed Doctor. He is Peter Capaldi, seen here attending the British Comedy Awards at the O2 Arena on January 22, 2011. The BBC draws back the curtains to reveal who will be the next British actor to play the famed Doctor. He is Peter Capaldi, seen here attending the British Comedy Awards at the O2 Arena on January 22, 2011.
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The lost black and white stories are episodes from "The Enemy of the World" and "The Web of Fear" featuring Patrick Troughton as the second iteration of the time-traveling Doctor.

The "Web of Fear" -- first broadcast in 1968 -- sees the eccentric chrononaut battling robot yetis on the London Underground and was also the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart.

While introducing the episode in front of around 70 excited reporters Gatiss said: "It's the quintessential 'Doctor Who' story ... the most British thing you could ever imagine."

Read: Matt Smith to leave 'Doctor Who'

During the 1960s it was common practice by television companies to erase videotapes of original episodes much to the dismay of fans today. Yet some classic installments were distributed internationally for foreign broadcasters to purchase.

In 2011, two episodes were rediscovered by former TV engineer Terry Burnett after he bought them at a school fair.

Morris described the newly materialized episodes as "the largest haul of missing episodes recovered in the last 25, maybe 30 years" and now brings down the number of remaining lost episodes to 97.

The find is a fitting gift for fans of the long-running show as the British cult science-fiction series celebrates its 50th anniversary on November 23.

Inez Torre contributed to this report.

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