More details about the discovery and loss of Web of Fear 3Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 - Reported by Pascal Salzmann
During last weekend's Pandorica Convention in Bristol, Philip Morris described for the first time in detail his discovery of the 12 film cans in a TV station in Jos, which included all episodes of The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World. He also reveals that the third episode of Web of Fear was among the cans but went missing again, presumably stolen:

Philip Morris (Credit: Tony Chamberlain)This is a little bit of a revelation here now. There were twelve cans there, The Web of Fear was complete, the Enemy of the World was complete. I photographed them, the items were recorded, I knew exactly what was there. I said to one of the guys that was there with me, who works for me “make sure you put these films somewhere safe”. Because normally when you find something, you know it might disappear. I certainly didn’t want that to happen. So he put the films somewhere but as he was doing so the station manager came up and said “I’ll take that” and took one can, which was Episode 3, to his office. I didn’t know about this until later on. [...] When they were sent back episode 3 was missing. I highlighted it to the head of the NTAs and he said "are you sure? It was there". I said "there’s the photograph, it was complete". He then went back to the head of the station who said "Oh I put it back on the shelf. He said it must have gotten sent back up again and I didn’t believe that. Because it would have been there, it really would. It broke my heart that this piece was missing and I wanted to know why. Now I had let somebody know that I had found it, it was a big mistake, I realise that. And obviously that information leaked out. So, episode 3 was missing.

Philip Morris then continues that he is still searching for episode 3 and believes that it is in the hands of a private collector in Australia or the UK:

I went back to Nigeria this year to chase this one down. I spoke to the guy who was the station manager. He said "I put it back on the shelf". I said "I’ve got a photograph here, it was there". I said if it was there it would have been sent back. And then he just said “Well I don’t know anything about missing episodes". And I thought what a strange thing to say. And two days later after that Jos Station was on fire. [...] When I produced the photograph he was "oh dear, he's got proof that this was here." So the strangest thing was when he said to me "I don't know anything about the missing episodes" and I said "well I never mentioned missing episodes" and that was the big cat out of the bag, really so someone's obviously said "that's a missing episode" and offered him money.
It was completely the wrong thing to do, it should have come out with the rest of the story. That's why, you know, we have a sort of long recovery, getting it back to the UK, restoration, waiting on part 3, for that, because it should have been there and I thought it would come back.

And looking at it, this is what I personally think: Somebody rang up, they offered him money, he has taken that, it's been sent by courier, which you would have thought would be within Jos' area, it would be one of the courier companies. I have somebody actually looking at that now for any records... I'm not saying I'm going to print somebody's name online or anything like that, but if I get some kind of contact details I will be writing to the guy and asking them to do the right thing, but we'll see where that leads. Hopefully he'll do it on his own. So that's basically what happened. When you go to a station, you're not allowed to remove programmes, you've got to catalogue what you see, photograph what you see, and then, obviously you go back to the head of the station and you say "this is there, that's over there", and he'll just say "ok" then it goes back to Central, in Nigeria it goes back to Abuja, everything is catalogued so we know what's gonna leave the country, and then it's sent back to the UK.

(Question from an attendee) Do you think it's still in Nigeria, or did it actually make it to the UK? Do you think it's in the UK somewhere?

Phillip Morris: Hmmmmm, no, maybe not in the UK. It might be in Australia, somewhere like that. I don't know, it might be in the UK, but it was somebody - I trusted somebody. And within the space of a week the information was out there, as in someone had mentioned the station, this station had purchased Doctor Who, which it hadn't, and I thought "well hang on a minute, every single state in Nigeria has a newspaper to give you the programme listings, why has this one been pinpointed?" When the whole system worked, everything moved around someone obviously is not aware of that you can only find those details if you're actually aware of them. So it wasn't helpful, and with the project going forward people think "well, he's really secretive" but I have to be. I have to protect those things that come forward until we can tell the story.

(Question from attendee) Do you think that one has been taken because it was the Brigadier's first story?

Phillip Morris: No, it was coincidence. You've got to say, when that guy intervened, and went "I'll take those", it was random. I wish it had been episode one, or Enemy of the World episode three! It really must have been the luck of the draw.

You can listen to the complete audio panel and a followup conversation here:

Thanks to Philip Morris and Fantom Films for allowing us to distribute these files, which were recorded without permission and originally posted without their consent. There are still tickets available to attend their forthcoming signing event on 31st October for The Underwater Menace, which will finally be released on DVD on 26th October.