Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Web Of Fear

In 1979 I was attending our annual Primary School fete. You know the sort of thing. Lots of games with half egg shells upside down in sand, which you paid your money and lifted up to see whether or not there was a sweet underneath. A bottle stall where you bought a raffle ticket and if it ended with a "5" or a "0" you won the corresponding item off the stall. Which you hoped might be a big bottle of coke, or if Dad was with you, he hoped it might be the star prize of a bottle of scotch. But instead it would normally end up being a tin of Smedley's Peas that had been sat in some Granny's cupboard since 1966.

Sorry Dad, it's not the Scotch.
Shall we take these home for Mum?

On this particular occasion, I happened to be browsing the various stalls full of old tat when I happened to noticed on the bookstall a Doctor Who book. Now I was already a Doctor Who fan, watching it avidly at a time when Tom Baker was at the height of his powers. I was aware that he had previously been played by that man who was now entertaining us with his antics as Worzel Gummidge, but my knowledge of the show prior to that was virtually non-existent, having only been born in 1970 during Jon Pertwee's second story.

I had already got a couple of Doctor Who books but this one puzzled me. The man on the front didn't look like the Doctor, not any Doctor I had ever seen. But I was very excited by the cover, a huge monster killing a soldier with some sort of death ray! It was 5p or something in the sale so I bought it. My sister, born 1964, explained to me that this was the second Doctor, who she remembered watching. From that point onwards I began to find out more about the history of the show, starting that year when the Doctor Who comic was first published with details about the past stories.

The book I bought 34 years ago that
I have waited all this time to see on TV.

As for The Web Of Fear - what an amazing story as I read the book and it unfolded in my mind. Yeti fighting soldiers in the Underground! From the historical perspective it was a significant story as it was the first one in which the long running Brigadier appeared and in which the seeds of UNIT were formed. It also featured "The Great Intelligence" which has been resurrected in a kind of prequel episode with Matt Smith last year, set in the past linking into this past story.

As stories began to be released on video I eagerly looked forward to the day I would be able to see The Web Of Fear, but then to my horror, some time much later I discovered the awful truth that well over 100 old episode of Doctor Who had been wiped by the BBC and I would never get to see this story that had so delighted me as a nine year old.

About 10 years ago, the BBC released a soundtrack of the story, which they had only because a dedicated fan at home had recorded it on audio off the TV. It was amazing to listen to and every bit met my expectations from my youth. I then got to see episode 1 (out of 6), the only surviving episode, and was resigned to the fact I might never see the rest of the story - until now.

It is just before midnight and I am hugely excited like a five year old on Christmas Day waiting for an announcement that breaks tonight at midnight on a stash of lost episodes that have been returned to the BBC and will be on sale to download tomorrow. Rumours circulating on the internet suggest that "The Web Of Fear" has been found. I cannot begin to explain how much this would mean to me, but it has been a lifelong dream of mine to see this story and fandom, of anything, cannot get better than this.

I will find out in 10 minutes time!

I imagine this news will be everywhere tomorrow - should you read it, think of me. I have waited a long time.

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