Monthly Archives: February 2010

Garage Find Brings Us Sunshine

Morecambe and Wise

Bring Me Sunshine: Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

LOST recordings from the early career of legendary comedy due Morecambe and Wise have been unearthed in a garage.

Around 45 hours’ worth of material was discovered by Ernie’s widow Doreen while preparing to move home six months ago. The double act had paid the sound engineer a few shillings at a time to make copies of their recordings.

The material – on acetate discs and reel-to-reel tapes – dates from the Fifties. The treasure trove of lost comedy includes the pairs’ long-lost first radio show You’re Only Young Once, aired on the BBC Northern Home Service between November 1953 and June 1954 and featuring guests including Bob Monkhouse and Harry Secombe.

Audio from the pilot for their early 1960s ATV series was also found as well as master copies of songs, after-dinner speeches and tapes of end-of-the pier shows.

Following Doreen’s discovery, Morecambe and Wise’s former agents contacted independent radio firm Whistledown to investigate what could be done with the material.

BBC experts were able to restore some, but not all, of the old recordings, and highlights will be aired later this year on Radio 4.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said: ‘’The lost tapes are both a bit of comedy history and BBC history as well as entertaining in themselves. It is good stuff that’s never been heard before and raw stuff from the early Fifties.

‘Some of the sketches were remade for the Seventies. There was a famous Dick Turpin sketch with double entendres which started out in ’53 or ’54 and ended up on TV in around 1975.”

The hour-long collection of highlights – Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes – will air 9am, May 4, presented by Jon Culshaw. It is also reported that BBC Radio 4 or 7 is in negotiations to broadcast all the unheard material – around 25 shows’ worth.

Morecambe and Wise began their partnership in 1941. They reached the peak of the career with their 1977 Christmas Show, which attracted 28 million viewers. Morecambe died in 1984, and Wise in 1999.

The story of the garage tapes has been reported widely.  You can read more on Chortle and the Daily Mail.

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Filed under Broadcasts, Comedy, Discoveries, Radio

Missing Play back on the Scene

A MISSING play by veteran TV writer Alan Plater has been returned to the BBC after years hidden away in academia.

‘Let There Be Light’ (tx 22/01/70) in an early work from the Hull-born playwright and scriptwriter, whose notable works include episodes of The First Lady, Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggitt!, Dalziel and Pascoe, The Beiderbecke Affair and an adaptation of A Very British Coup.

It was transmitted as part of Scene, an award-winning BBC Schools programme broadcast in colour from 1968 – 2002.

Aimed at teenagers and topical in nature, the anthology-based series consisted of 30-minute dramas and documentaries. Sometimes controversial and dealing with issues pertinent to teens, such as race, drugs, sex and disability, Scene featured scripts by leading playwrights including Willy Russell, Fay Weldon and Tom Stoppard.

Title caption from Scene

Teen Scene: Title caption from award-winning BBC Schools drama anthology Scene.

The Plater-penned episode was returned to the BBC in early February after years spent in the archives of a British university.

The discovery was broken on the Missing Episodes forum byBBC Birmingham Staff Director and member of the Doctor Who Restoration Team Paul Vanezis.

He wrote: “A bit of early 2010 good news. On Monday this week, an edition of the BBC series Scene entitled ‘Let There Be Light’ written by Alan Plater was returned to the BBC studios at the Mailbox in Birmingham.

“The film was one of three black and white 16mm optical sound films returned by the Media Archive for Central England at the University of Leicester, the other two being already surviving editions of Play School.

“The films were supplied to the University by BBC Enterprises in the 1970s.”

The find leaves three episodes out of a total of 91 still missing, while, according to Lost Shows.com, a further five only exist on “formats inferior to the original”.

Scene received critical acclaim for some of the episodes shown under its banner. These include nominations and awards forTerry’ (1969 – BAFTA Flame of Knowledge Award, ‘Alison’ (1996 – BAFTA nomination for best schools drama), and Junk (1999 – BAFTA for best schools drama).

Alan Plater CBE, born 1935, has worked extensively in British TV from the 1960s to the present. A trained architect, he became a full-time writer in 1961 and has over two hundred assorted credits in radio, television, theatre and film – plus six novels- to his name.

Plater first made his mark as a scriptwriter on ’60s BBC police drama Z-Cars. Other works of the BAFTA and Emmy-award winner includes The Loner (1975), the Beiderbecke Trilogy (1985 – 8), Fortunes of War (1987) and A Very British Coup (1988). For more information on Alan Plater, visit his Wikipedia entry or biography on IMDB.

To see a clip of the 1970s title sequence to Scene, visit TV Ark.

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Filed under Discoveries, Television

Get on the Bus for Missing Top of the Pops

A MISSING Top of the Pops performance featuring The Hollies in their heyday has come to light on Youtube.

Standing in front of a distinctly groovy Sixties stage, the Manchester band perform “Bus Stop”, a hit single from the summer of 1966.

The Hollies on Top of the Pops

MISSING CLIPPY: A still from The Hollies' "Bus Stop" Top of the Pops appearance, June 1966.

The black and white film clip is generally in good condition and runs to 2″58′. It contains the entirety of the song, which reached #2 in the charts. The discovery is especially important for capturing The Hollies with original bassist Eric Haydock, who left the band that year.

Youtube user ‘jleepixprod’ is to thank for the incredible find, which dates from the 23/6/66 edition of Top of the Pops (included as a telerecording of the 16/6/66 performance).

It has been confirmed the poster, a retired film editor based in the US, only possesses the Hollies insert but never-the-less it is an exceptional find, being both the first contemporary performance of the song to surface and also the first material to emerge from either edition of the BBC’s iconic show.

The discovery will only add support to a long-standing rumour that the 16th June edition, which featured The Beatles in their only live appearance (playing “Paperback Writer”), exists somewhere in the States.

Here’s the link to Bus Stop.

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Filed under Discoveries, Music, Video