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Kaleidoscope launch Treasure Hunt appeal to track down domestic recordings of TV and radio shows

TV RESEARCH organisation Kaleidoscope has announced the launch of its appeal to recover long-lost television and radio programmes.

The purpose of the appeal is to get members of the general public searching through their attics, cellars, garages and sheds looking for home-recordings of otherwise lost shows.

Until the early 1980s, broadcasters such as the BBC regularly disposed of archive programmes to re-use expensive tape and free up space. As a result, there are massive and significant holes in Britain’s television and radio archive. Countless hours of comedy shows, dramas, documentaries and other broadcasts have been lost, destroyed, or were never recorded in the first place.

Though there have been campaigns to look for lost material before, such as Kaleidoscope’s The Raiders of the Lost Archives Appeal, these have always been very general searches. This time, the appeal is specifically targeting domestic home-recordings. We are looking for people who may have made domestic recordings of a TV or radio programme in their own home at the time of broadcast.

Up until the 1980s, it was very common for people to make ‘off-air audio recordings’ of their favourite television or radio programmes. More often than not, a microphone would simply be propped up against a television speaker. There are even cases of programmes being taped on home video recorders as early as the 1960s and 1970s. These are the kind of things that we are looking for.

The appeal, which is backed by the BBC and British Library Sound Archive will launch officially at Kaleidoscope’s “DJ Heaven” event in Stourbridge, on Saturday, June 4.

Encouragingly, a number of exciting finds have already been made following a call to former broadcast engineers via BBC in-house magazine Ariel. Discoveries include audio recordings of seminal comedy shows such as Monty Python precursors At Last the 1948 Show and Twice a Fortnight, Broaden Your Mind, The Frost Report, The Ken Dodd Experience, The Morecambe and Wise Show, The Frankie Howerd Show, Not Only… But Also, World of Beachcomber, Till Death Us Do Part and many more.

A specialist group of volunteers has been given the Herculean task of sifting through and preserving in digital format the huge amount of missing material that is expected to be uncovered over the course of the year-long appeal.

Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope said: “We know for a fact that many people recorded their favourite shows off the TV and radio as far back as the early 1950s.

“The purpose of the Treasure Hunt appeal is to uncover those domestic recordings and we ask people to search their homes for old reel-to-reels, cassettes and early video tapes that might just be sitting in the attic or cellar gathering dust.

“You never know, they could represent the only copies of classic shows still in existence.”

Anyone who can offer any recordings should contact Kaleidoscope via www.losthshows.com.

READ ON: Plea put out for ‘lost’ TV shows (BBC News, June 3, 2011)

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