Galaxy 4Between its debut in 1963 and its initial cancellation in 1989, 695 individual episodes of Doctor Who were produced, and one of the great scandals of television history is that of those 695 episodes over a hundred of them (all from the show’s 1960s black-and-white era) were summarily erased by the BBC in the mid-1970s in an effort to recycle film and videotape stock and a host of other, more arcane financial and legal reasons. 108 half-hour episodes, in total, can no longer be seen by fans too young (like me) or too American (also like me) to have seen them on their initial BBC airings.

But, in the kind of good news that happens far too infrequently for my admittedly obsessive taste, make it 106 episodes, ’cause two of those missing episodes have turned up and been returned to the BBC archive.

Apparently, a film collector named Terry Burnett bought film copies of episode 3 of the 1965 First Doctor serial Galaxy 4 and episode 2 of the 1967 Second Doctor serial The Underwater Menace at a village flea market back in the early ’80s, never realizing that they were two of the legendary missing episodes that were though to be gone forever.

The film copies reportedly came from Australia, and because of that the two episodes are missing a bit of footage that the Australian censors removed. Thankfully, the Aussies held on to the censored footage and so when these recovered episodes are (somehow) released commercially next year by BBC Worldwide’s video arm 2|entertain, it will be in all their uncut original glory.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that all of the 106 remaining missing episodes could eventually turn up somehow, but I can dream that these won’t be the last of ’em. Any way you slice it, this is good news.