Comedy gold unearthed

At Last The 1948 Show, at last

An episode of the Sixties comedy series that spawned the Pythons is to be aired for the first time in 36 years, after lost footage was painstakingly reconstructed.

The episode of the At Last The 1948 Show was a victim of the mass wiping of tapes by broadcasters in the Seventies, erasing invaluable archive material.

The show starred future Pythons John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, future Goodies Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie, plus Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer and dumb-blonde linkwoman Ami Macdonald.

Made by Rediffusion,the series was aired on ITV in London in 1967, but not networked, and most the groundbreaking sketches thought lost.

But some years ago, a private collector gave the British Film Institute an audio tape of an episode recorded off the TV when it was first aired.

By chance, all but one of the sketches were included on a compilation tape sold to Swedish TV that archivists had recovered, allowing most of the show to be restored. That version was screened at the National Film Theatre three years ago,

Now the final missing sketch has been discovered on an old trailer broadcast in Australia, the Independent on Sunday reports, allowing the reconstruction to be complete.

The episode will now be shown on BBC4 on December 28, alongside a documentary Missing: Believed Wiped about lost comedy gems, the first episode of Till Death Us Do Part, a one-off Spike Milligan experiment called A Series of Unrelated Incidents, and the only surviving episode of Morecambe and Wise's first BBC series.

In the documentary, Cleese said: "I've always found it astonishing that people could have wiped these shows. When I heard that the 1948 Show had been wiped, I kind of gave up. I mean you've got a show with Marty Feldman, Graham Chapman, me and Tim Brooke-Taylor and the answer is that it took up too much space. Can you imagine? What a pathetic argument."

Published: 23 Nov 2003

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