New DOCTOR WHO — and two rediscovered “lost” stories

The BBC have released a trailer for the forthcoming DOCTOR WHO Christmas special, this one called “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe,” which will air on Christmas Day in the U.K. and here in the USA on BBC America at 9 p.m.

The story looks like a lot of fun, with a snowy adventure in a strange, Narnia-like land that is somehow accessed through the TARDIS. We don’t have much to go on, by Matt Smith has repeatedly demonstrated that his 11th Doctor has a real rapport with children, so I have high hopes.

Here’s the official BBC synopsis:

It’s Christmas Eve, 1938, when Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) comes to the aid of an injured Spaceman Angel as she cycles home. He promises to repay her kindness — all she has to do is make a wish. Three years later, a devastated Madge escapes war-torn London with her two children for a dilapidated house in Dorset. She is crippled with grief at the news her husband has been lost over the channel, but determined to give Lily (Holly Earl) and Cyril (Maurice Cole) the best Christmas ever. The Arwells are surprised to be greeted by a madcap caretaker whose mysterious Christmas gift leads them into a magical wintry world. Here, Madge will learn how to be braver than she ever thought possible. And that wishes can come true…

Also, be sure to watch the tension-packed and moving prequel to the Christmas special, which features the Doctor in a lot of trouble with no companion on hand!

While we’re in a festive mood, let’s also take a moment to toast the return of two missing episodes of classic WHO to the BBC archive: Episode 3 of “Galaxy 4” (titled “Air Lock”) — starring William Hartnell as the cantankerous First Doctor — and Episode 2 of “The Underwater Menace” — featuring Patrick Troughton (right) as the impish Second Doctor — were discovered almost completely intact by a film collector in Australia in the early 1980s and lay forgotten until recently, when they were dusted off for all the world to see.

All four installments of Galaxy 4 were assumed to be gone forever, while only Episode 3 of The Underwater Menace was previously known to have survived. The episodes were screened in England this past weekend, and current plans call for a DVD release after the prints have been spruced up. Here’s hoping they will be part of a new “Lost in Time” collection.

Sadly, over 100 episodes of 1960s DOCTOR WHO remain missing. To save money, the BBC routinely taped over old shows, since nobody anticipated the value of future reruns. Why, oh why, couldn’t the Doctor have popped back to warn the Beeb about the demand for old episodes in the 21st century?

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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