Fans of cult BBC sci-fi drama Doctor Who received an unexpected gift on Friday with the "thrilling" discovery of nine missing episodes in the Nigerian city of Jos, the broadcaster announced.

Among the recovered 1960s footage includes most of the classic story "The Web of Fear", a black and white adventure in which the Time Lord, played by Patrick Troughton, battles a robot yeti in London's underground train system.

The trove, which is being described by the BBC as the "largest haul of missing episodes recovered in the last three decades", also includes six-part story "The Enemy of the World."

"It's thrilling," said Mark Gatiss, author of recent Doctor Who episodes.

"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."

The episodes were uncovered by Phillip Morris, director of Television International Enterprises Archive.

"The tapes had been left gathering dust in a storeroom at a television relay station in Nigeria," he told the BBC.

"I remember wiping the dust off the masking tape on the canisters and my heart missed a beat as I saw the words, Doctor Who. When I read the story code I realised I'd found something pretty special," he added.

Many of the drama's original tapes were destroyed in the 1960s and 1970s but some were copied for sale to foreign broadcasters.

[Image via AFP]

Despite the find, 97 episodes remain lost.