Dad's Army: Now in colour

BBC to air restored episode

An episode of Dad's Army is to be seen in colour for the first time in nearly 40 years.

The show was originally recorded in colour, but the master tapes were wiped, leaving only a black-and-white copy.

Now BBC archivists have found a way to restore colour to the episode, Room At The Bottom, which originally aired on October 16, 1969.

The new version will be shown this Saturday as part of a Dad’s Army night on BBC Two.

The colour has been recovered from the black-and-white recording using new technology, rather than simply by colouring in the old footage as has previously been used – to poor effect – on classic monochrome movies.

Film expert James Insell discovered that the colour information was still embedded in the film as a pattern of fine dots – or ‘chroma dots’, which he thought could be used to retrieve the original colours.

A high-definition scan is made of the 16mm film and software analyses and decodes the dot pattern. Further restoration work is required, but the process is a breakthrough in recovering certain recordings.

Insell said: ‘Being able to restore such BBC classics as Dad's Army is such a great opportunity for us. It's amazing to think that 40 years ago, no colour copies were ever kept of such iconic BBC shows.

‘Finding that the colour information had been preserved, and now having a technology available to recover and reapply it, brings great potential for breathing life back into certain programmes.

‘The process restores the original colours to programmes and helps to keep their heritage and history alive.’ 

Published: 9 Dec 2008

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