Archive television recovery expert Phillip Morris recalls how he found the film cans of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear sitting on a shelf, at a TV relay station in central Nigeria. For that find he earned the nickname Indiana Jones from the Television International Enterprises Archives (TIEA).
It’s Morris and his team’s job to assist overseas stations with the storage and migration of their materials and, on the outside of that, they recover lost British television programmes.
He goes on to explain how the prints – the largest single haul of episode returned since the junkings were halted – they were part of the ‘bicycling’ system of sharing TV programmes between territories, and shares his fond childhood memories of Target’s Doctor Who novelisations. Stories that can now be seen on screen for the first time in decades.
He admits masking tape played rather a crucial role: These episodes were discovered on a project we were working in Nigeria. And they were found in a TV station in Jos. Just sitting on the shelf, which I can remember now seeing a piece of masking tape, which said Doctor Who on it.
I thought ‘Oh, that’s interesting’, pulled the cans down I read the story codes. instantly of course recognized what the stories were and realized they were missing from the BBC’s archive. A lot of Doctor Who fans around the world are going to be happy.
These episodes had come from Hong Kong and they’d been on what’s called a bicycle system. So they traveled from this country to the next country to the next country and they came to be in Nigeria through this bicycle system. Not at the station in Nigeria they were actually sold to. They were at a relay station. The condition that those programmes were in when we found them, we were quite lucky, considering the temperatures we can be in the upper 40 degrees, luckily they’d been kept in the optimum condition.