The lost laugh

Hunt is on for missing TV classics

ITV is launching a search for classic shows by the likes of Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett and Morecambe and Wise that were never archived.

The broadcaster has compiled a list of TVs 50 Most Wanted Shows, and any discoveries will be highlighted in a forthcoming show called Raiders Of The Lost Archive.

Among items lost are Les Dawson’s winning performance on the Opportunity Knocks, Tommy Cooper’s 1966 ABC show Cooperarama, most of the first two series of Hancock’s Half Hour, and Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood’s appearances on New Faces

The new drive follows previous pleas to track down vintage programmes that were taped over that have run in conjuction with the BBC.

A spokesman for the campaign said: ‘If it was shot on videotape, soon after broadcast the expensive tape may have been reused to record the racing from Redcar or a Party Political Broadcast. Or it may simply have got lost, lying unlabelled somewhere on some dusty shelf for decades.’

In addition, any shows that went out live will not have been recorded at all.

Also on the list is:

  • At Last, the 1948 Show (1967), A Python forerunner which starred John Cleese and Graham Chapman were among the now famous names who started out on this show, meaning that Monty Python sprung from this series. Many of the shows are still missing.
  • Broaden Your Mind (1968) - the first combined work of Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie.
  • Cooperarama (1966) and Cooper’s Capers (1958)
  • The Corbett Follies (1969), an eleven-part comedy show starring Ronnie Corbett that also featured appearances from Ronnie Barker.
  • The Kenny Everett Explosion (1970)
  • Running Wild (1956). The first starring show for Morecambe and Wise, which led to the daming review;
  • Sez Les (1969/70). Early episodes of Les Dawson’s first TV show, with guests including John Cleese.

Bruce Forsyth, who took part in dozens of shows on the missing list said: ‘It's an incredible shame that so much TV gold.

‘I made dozens of editions of Sunday Night at The London Palladium in the Sixties and all but two or three of them seem to be lost. There are lots of memories I would love to relive if any of these shows were to turn up after all these years.

"It's also sad to think too that so many great performances from the likes of Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper and Tony Hancock in so many different shows have gone missing over the years. We owe it to future generations to find them.’

The hunt, being run in conjunction with the British Film Institute, hopes to target private collectors and people who used to work in the TV industry. Any missing material recovered will be copied and the original returned to the donor.

Click here to visit the Raiders Of The Lost Archive website

Published: 16 Oct 2006

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