Nine missing Doctor Who episodes have been discovered in Nigeria. During the 1960s and 1970s the BBC destroyed, rather short-sightedly, many of the original transmission tapes of the cult sci-fi series. Fortunately, copies were often shipped out to foreign broadcasters and eleven of these episodes (9 missing ones) have been uncovered in the Nigerian city of Jos.

Matt Smith
The current Doctor Matt Smith with his assistant Jenna Coleman. 

The episodes discovered originated from the reign of the second Doctor Peter Troughton, who appeared in the role from 1966-69. Troughton's assistant, played by Deborah Watling, has also expressed her joy in the discovery of the tapes as only one storyline from her time in the Tardis remains in the BBC archives. 

What makes these particular episodes so very special is that they are not simply individual episodes but that they tell a full, and previously lost, story. The episodes uncovered include 1-6 of The Enemy of the World, a six part story originally broadcast from 1967-68. Also found were episodes from The Web of Fear (1968), a storyline which saw a robot yeti descend upon London wrecking the usual havoc. All the episodes of this six part storyline were discovered, with the exception of the third episode which is still missing. 

David Tennant
David Tennant will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary Special.

The find is thought to be the largest haul of missing episodes recovered since the 1980s. The episodes were discovered by Phillip Morris, the director of a company called Television International Enterprises Archive. The discovery gives hope to avid fans of the show that there may be a possibility more missing episodes still exist - there are 97 more to find! As the BBC reported, Mark Gatiss, who is an actor and writer for the latest Doctor Who incarnation, said the find was "thrilling" and that "every single avenue seemed to have been exhausted, every now and then something turns up, but to have two virtually complete stories out of the blue is absolutely incredible."

To celebrate this incredible find, a special screening of one episode from each storyline was held in London on Thursday by BBC Worldwide. Troughton's two assistants attended the event, Frazer Hines (who played Jamie McCrimmon) and Watling (who held the role of Victoria Waterfield).

The discovery comes just in time for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who. A special anniversary episode will be broadcast on 23 November; this will feature a number of previous incarnations of the Doctor, including David Tennant. The episode will also be the penultimate appearance of Matt Smith in his role as the Doctor, as he is due to surrender his role to Peter Capaldi during the Christmas special.

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi will be the next Doctor Who.