Monthly Archives: July 2009

Kaleidoscope September Event Announced

CLASSIC TV organisation Kaleidoscope has announced details of its next event, due to be held in September.

Confirmed guests for the occasion, taking place on Saturday, September 5th, 12pm – 7pm, are playwright Peter Terson and musical director/actress Gillian Brown.

The full schedule is as follows:

THE MAIN ROOM

* 12:00 pm Westward opening start up film
* 12:10 pm Dixon of Dock Green – “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” – Jack Warner stars in an episode of Ted Willis’ classic police series, also featuring Brian Glover.
* 1:00 pm Galton and Simpson Comedy – “The Suit” – Television’s most famous comedy writing partnership pen the script for a cast headed by Leslie Phillips and Bill Oddie.
* 1:30 pm Man of Destiny – the sole surviving footage (the final reel) of this very early ITV play dating from February 1956. Previously presumed lost, it was located by our very own Simon Coward in 2008. An adaptation of a George Bernard Shaw play, it features James Donald, Elizabeth Sellars and George Coulouris.
* 1:45pm Rediffusion continuity – a compilation of interesting continuity items found on the front of a BBC film print of ITN’s coverage of the 1966 General Election.
followed by Break
* 2:00 pm Guest Panel – Gillian Brown and Peter Terson in Conversation. Peter Terson, like Arnold Wesker, John Osborne, Harold Pinter, and others, is a playwright who has emerged from Britain’s fertile working class. But unlike some works of these playwrights, his own plays continue to reflect and draw sustenance from this heritage. Through their language and characters, his dramas depict man’s isolation from the land and from his work. And whether the picture be of Mooney, a hapless factory worker trying to make a go of it in the country; or of Church, an office worker with plastic gnomes in his front yard, who is drawn to the mystical call of a country reservoir; or of the young tough Bagley, an apprentice whose vitality is sapped by the demeaning rigors and rituals of his work, Terson imbues his characters with a kind of colloquial relevance (and oftentimes delightful eccentricity) that never loses touch with the sources of work and class from which the writer sprang. Gillian Brown was Terson’s musical director and a key actress in many of his plays.
* 4:00 pm Afternoon Tea
* 4:30 pm Out of Town – a missing edition of the long-running series on rural life, presented by Jack Hargreaves.
* 5:00 pm The Masterspy – William Franklyn and the late Clement Freud star in the classic mystery quiz game, the only edition that survives on original Quad tape (TX: 14/07/1979).
* 5:45 pm Chance in a Million – the untransmitted pilot of the well remembered sitcom which made Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn household names. Written by Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen.
* 6:20 pm The Losers – “All Down in Black and White” – the great Leonard Rossiter stars in one of his lesser known roles, also featuring Alfred Molina.
* 6:45 pm Thank You and Goodnight – Spike Milligan reads a closedown thought for the end of an evening.

SECOND VIEWING AREA
The Work of Peter Terson

* 12:00 pm Village Hall – “Dancing in the Dark” – seventies anthology series of tales set in a village hall. This episode from the first series stars John Fraser and Mary Morris.
* 1:00 pm Lost Yer Tongue? – this television adaptation of Terson’s 1974 play was directed by Mike Newell.
* 2:00 pm Play for Today – “The Fishing Party”. Terson’s famous 1972 play about miners on a day out to go sea fishing stars Brian Glover, was produced by David Rose and directed by former Kaleidoscope guest Michael Simpson.
* 3:15 pm Talent – Victoria Wood’s 1978 comedy with songs is to be revived on stage in London later this year. As well as Wood and her long-time collaborator Julie Walters, this television version features Coronation Street’s Bill Waddington and The Bill’s Kevin Lloyd and Peter Ellis.
* 4:30 pm But Fred, Freud is Dead – What Fred Evans doesn’t know, he’s read a book about. So how did he go so wrong? Starring David Swift and Pat Heywood.
* 5:45 pm The Samaritan – a television adaptation of Terson’s play starring Tom Bell, Martin Jarvis and Kenneth Cranham.
* 7:00 pm Closedown

The event is being held in the Amblecote Room, Stourbridge Town Hall, Crown Centre, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1YE. Admission is free, but donations to Kaleidoscope’s chosen cause for 2009 – the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – are encouraged.

N.B. All material at Kaleidoscope events is screened with the permission of the copyright holders. Programmes and timings may be subject to change before the day. Guests appear subject to professional and personal commitments.

Full details of this event and Kaleidoscope’s other activities can be found on their website.

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Wiped Helps With Recovery Of Missing Material

THIS website has proven instrumental in helping previously missing TV material find its way back to the archives for all to enjoy.

Back in April, Wiped ran a feature – John Williams On Finding Flashez – looking at the recovery of footage from influential Australian music show Flashez, which ran from 1976-7 on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Despite running five days a week, Flashez was shockingly represented in the archives, with no whole episodes being known to exist until researcher John took up the cause in 2006.

Two months after the publication of the feature, in June, Wiped was contacted by former Flashez producer Ralph Montague, who explained that he had in his possession an old tape with a copy of his last show on it, which he was happy to donate in return for a DVD copy.

Wiped promptly notified ABC’s John Williams and put him in touch with Mr Montague, who agreed to send an excited John the tape.

John takes up the story: “Ralph Montague sent me a Betamax tape, the box marked ‘Flashez segs’,  that had not been viewed in decades.

“I managed to finally track down an antique Betamax player within the ABC TV offices. I put the tape into the player and hoped for the best; after all, there was no guarantee that the tape would even play, let alone have any Flashez material on it.

“Thankfully, the iconic opening titles for Flashez appeared and amazingly the picture quality had held up quite well, despite the passing of time, with little tape damage or picture/audio deterioration (drop-outs and tracking problems are infrequent). All of this material was missing from the ABC’s collection.

“I checked some ‘ready for transmission’ documents in ABC Document Archives and have traced episode information for what has survived on Mr Montague’s tape. Here is what was on the tape:

Flashez episode number 110837E (tx 23/03/1977) near complete episode

Music clip: “Telephone Line” by E.L.O; [segment] “Saturday Night” by Skyhooks

Live studio interview with Red Symons. Symons is currently a television personality in Australia (Australia’s Got Talent), as well as a former member of one of Australia’s most popular and influential bands of the 1970s, Skyhooks. This is a rare 1970s post-Skyhooks interview for Symons.

Feature story: “Magical Mystery Tour” – a feature re: travel options in Australia for younger travellers (part two of an ongoing series re: travel)

Lengthy retrospective piece re: musical career of Elton John. This segment (8 mins, 16 seconds) features interview and live performance material (filmed in Australia) from ABC TV program GTK as well as a sequence covering Elton John’s (Reginald Dwight’s) childhood.

We have about 90% of this episode in its entirety barring some crash recording over a music revue segment.

Segnents from Flashez ep 110835E (tx 19/03/1977)

Live Studio interview with drag racer John Fleming, conducted by Kate Fitzpatrick. Rare, as this is the only surviving in studio/live material of Kate Fitzpatrick (an acclaimed and prominent Australian actor) that we have. The ever-versatile Kate had a stint as a reporter on Flashez.

Feature story, re: travel options for younger travellers in the USA (part of the “Magical Mystery Tour” travel series). The piece features lots of stock footage of New York City street scenes filmed by an ABC TV crew.

A number of story and segment introductions for this episode by Flashez host Ray Burgess are also on this recording.

Segments from Flashez episode 110832E (tx 25/02/1977)

This material features Flashez co-host Mike Meade interviewing rally driver Barry Ferguson, live in the studio and features a story re: rally driving (features Meade being driven in rally car on rally circuit).

John continued: “We are indebted to Mr Montague for donating the material to the ABC and also grateful to this site for bringing the existence of this material to our attention. The power of the Internet in being a tool to help recover lost television material cannot be underestimated.

“Thanks to Wiped for helping recover some of our television history.”

  • To read Wiped’s original news story on Flashez, from April 1, click here.

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New Insights Into Life Of Composer Thanks To Film Discovery

NEW insights into the life of one of Britain’s greatest composers have come to light with the discovery of reels of film intended for a documentary that was never finished.

The colour film reels, dating back to the 1970s, contain unique interviews with family, friends and acquaintances of composer Gustav Holst (1874 – 1934), best-known for his orchestral suite The Planets. They were recorded for an unfinished film project on Holst’s life. Gustav Holst

The unique interviews, include reminiscences from Holst’s daughter Imogen and fellow composers Herbert Howells, Edmund Rubbra, and Sir Michael Tippett, were being stored at the The Holst Birthplace Museum, Cheltenham, until their recent discovery by producers at BBC Gloucestershire.

They were made aware of the footage’s existence after receiving an e-mail from a member of the original production team from the 1970s.

BBC Gloucestershire’s David Bailey, who helped unearth the archives, said: “It’s amazing to think that this footage has been hidden away all this time.

“The films give us a real insight into the life of Holst and what sort of man he really was.”

Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, Adrian Partington, agrees that the films are important for shedding new light on the life of Holst.

He said: “They are completely irreplaceable. They have so enriched my perception of what Holst was like as a man, and that in itself will enrich my perception of Holst as a composer because you can’t separate the two.

“Anybody who knew Holst well has long since died – close friends, students – they’ve all gone now so it’s fantastic. Its value is inestimable.”

According to a report on BBC News Gloucestershire about the discovery, the picture quality on some of the films has deteriorated with colours on the Eastman Colour II negative having faded after 30 years in storage. But it adds that the the footage is still “perfectly watchable” and that the “original audio tapes have survived the test of time much better”.

The footage has now been digitized for use on the BBC’s website and also transferred to DVD, using one of the few remaining Steenbeck film editing machines at BBC Bristol.

Each reel of film had to be matched up with the appropriate sound tape and the two synchronised together. The films could then be imported into modern digital video editing software.

  • For the original BBC News report (23/07/09), click here. To see some of the fascinating interviews, click here.

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NASA Over The Moon With Hollywood Enhancement

The original high resolution Moon landing tapes might still be missing, believed wiped, but NASA has unveiled the next best thing to getting them back.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission, the space agency has released an enhanced version of the television footage featuring Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking one giant leap for mankind on the surface of another world.

The digital restoration of the material has been done by Lowry Digital, a Burbank, California film restoration company that specialises in digitally restoring old feature films, including Casablanca, Moonraker and Star Wars. To obtain the best results, the firm sourced images from four copies of the TV broadcast, including one from the archives of American television network CBS.

For those familiar with the fuzzy, grainy and indistinct Moon landing footage broadcast live on TV around the globe back in July 1969, the enhanced version will seem much improved with clear outlines of space suits and more details in the lunar surface.

“There is nothing being created or manufactured here,” said Richard Nafzger, a NASA engineer who back in 1969 headed the team responsible for broadcasting the iconic images. “We are restoring and extracting data from the video.”

The restoration project is still on-going with an expected completion date of September, when more improved images will be released.

But what of the original recordings of the live feed from the Moon?

Among the many technological marvels of the Apollo 11 mission was a specially-designed magnetic tape lunar camera strapped to the side of the landing craft (“Eagle”) which recorded in a “slow scan” format that was vastly superior in quality to the images broadcast on TV.

What an estimated 600 million viewers watched on their television screens at the time was essentially a copy of a copy, coming from a television camera pointed at the giant wall monitor at Houston mission control.

Sadly, the tapes containing the original, pristine lunar feeds went missing from NASA many years ago, with agency officials now concluding that the priceless images were probably wiped over in the 1970s or ’80s when it was standard practice to reuse the 14-inch tape reels as a money-saving measure.

“I don’t believe that the tapes exist today at all,” said Stan Lebar, the designer of the original lunar camera, on America’s National Public Radio. “It was a hard thing to accept. But there was just an overwhelming amount of evidence that led us to believe that they just don’t exist any more.”

  • For more on the enhanced Moon landing footage, read the Daily Telegraph’s story here. You can find out more about the loss of the original Moon landing tapes from the Guardian, here.

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Forthcoming Raiders Of The Lost Archive TV Broadcasts

The final two parts of ITV’s Raiders of the Lost Archive are set to be broadcast this month – two years after the screening of the first episode.

Raiders of the Lost Archive, dubbed ‘an indulgent trawl through the archives’, was ITV’s contribution to the search for missing TV footage. Between 2006 – 7, researchers at the commercial station teamed up with classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope to hunt down lost gems for the series, calling on members of the public to aid the search.

The fruits of that search included 1968 ATV play ‘A Matter of Diamonds’, broadcast under the ITV Playhouse banner and notable for featuring singer Cliff Richard in a straight role. For a full list of finds, click here.

Of course, being produced by ITV Raiders was focused on celebrities being re-united with their early TV appearances more than anything else. Having comedian a, star of Max & Paddy’s Road To Nowhere, present only underlined the fact the show was seen as witless entertainment rather than an informative look at British TV history and its re-discovery.

Turned into a fast-paced clip show with more emphasis on the celebrities’ reactions to seeing their younger selves than on the footage itself, episode one of this 30-minute black and white bastard child of nostalgia shows and Surprise, Surprise was screened by ITV on January 16, 2007, then promptly pulled from the schedules.

Now it seems ITV 1 has decided to screen the remaining two episodes, at 10.35pm on Tuesdays July 21st and 28th respectively. The shows will include clips featuring Morecambe and Wise, Bill Oddie, Noddy Holder and Johnny Briggs.

Let’s hope it was worth the wait.

  • If you would like to know what featured in episode one of Raiders of the Lost Archive, check out news stories (January 7, 2007) from the Sunday Times here and Manchester Evening News here.

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