Monthly Archives: May 2011

Latest Raymond of the Lost Archive column

WIPED NEWS’S regular columnist has quite a few discoveries to share, as well a few tales to tell of his experiences trawling the archives.

Read Ray’s latest column here.

1 Comment

Filed under Columns, Discoveries, Missing Episodes Hunting

First TV appearance of Sir Ian McKellen found after 50 years

Screenshot from The Tomb of His AncestorsA LONG-LOST BBC drama starring a young Sir Ian McKellen in his first TV role has been found after nearly 50 years.

The veteran actor, currently filming The Hobbit in New Zealand, couldn’t look more different to his role as grey-bearded wizard Gandalf in the rediscovered gem.

He appears as a dark-haired and fresh-faced 25-year-old in the black-and-white period drama “The Tomb Of His Ancestors”, made by the BBC in 1964.

McKellen plays a character named Plowden in the 50-minute production (tx 09.08.64), based on a short story by Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.

The programme, filmed as part of series “Kipling: The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling”, was no longer thought to exist – a victim of the BBC’s once-common policy of wiping or simply throwing away old recordings.

But a single print survived in a private collection belonging to a historical society in Illinois, America, and was bought by a consortium led by classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope.

Speaking for the consortium, also comprising missing episode enthusiasts Steve Birt and Tim Disney, Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry described the McKellen drama as an “important find”.

He said: “The Tomb Of His Ancestors is a vintage piece of BBC drama set in the days of the British Raj and is especially important because of its connection to Sir Ian McKellen.

“For the first time in nearly 50 years we can once again watch the very first TV appearance by one of the UK’s greatest living actors.”

Broadcast between July and December 1964, Kipling featured performances from the likes of David Hemmings, Michael Bates, Alfred Burke, Barbara Murray, Keith Barron and Patrick Troughton.

The new discovery doubles the number of known surviving Kipling episodes from one to two, with 23 out of the original 25 still missing.

Also recovered by the consortium were two other previously believed-lost BBC programmes: a 1950s ballet production, Giselle, and a 1963 episode of the BBC series Suspense, starring Sylvia Simms and entitled “Miranda and a Salesman” (tx 19.08.63).

You can watch a clip from “The Tomb Of His Ancestors” below (uploaded to Tim Disney’s YouTube channel).

Read On: “Sir Ian McKellen’s precious television debut is rediscovered!” (story on Tim Disney’s website www.findaclip.co.uk).

Leave a comment

Filed under BBC, Finds, Kaleidoscope, Television

Audio of Ace of Wands episode Nightmare Gas now online

Nightmare Gas (Ace of Wands)

Ace of Wands: (From left) Tony Selby (Sam), Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Judy Loe (Lulli), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet) and Fred Owl (Ozymandias).

WIPED NEWS has added an audio recording of Ace of Wands story Nightmare Gas to its YouTube channel.

Like all of seasons one and two of the fantasy-based Thames Television children’ show, Nightmare Gas is missing from the ITV archives.

Thankfully, off-air domestic audio recordings of all three episodes exist, though the quality leaves a lot to be desired. The uploaded episode has been restored by Wiped News as much as possible.

“Nightmare Gas”, Episode 1/3 (tx 01/09/11): Tarot (Michael Mackenzie) meets a new adversary – the beautiful but deadly Thalia (Isobel Black). With her monosyllabic brother Dalbiac (Jonathan Newth) she steals a top-secret weapon – the deadly hallucinatory gas H23, a gas which produces not just a deep sleep and nightmares but kills the person 23 minutes later.

Next week, episode 2 of “Nightmare Gas” will be uploaded.

4 Comments

Filed under Audio, Children's TV, ITV, Television, YouTube

UnLOCked: The Library of Congress Discoveries at the BFI

Theatre 625: World of George Orwell - 1984

SELECTED highlights from the treasure-trove of early British TV dramas unearthed at the Library of Congress are to be screened by the BFI.

Over 100 hours of lost British TV dramas were discovered in the archives of The Library of Congress (LOC) last year, in what was hailed as the “most important” retrieval of material since the search for such footage began.

Now, the British Film Institute (BFI), which orchestrated the recovery of the shows from America, has announced that it set to screen a number of the recovered gems during a two-month season dedicated to the finds.

UnLOCked: The Library of Congress Discoveries runs across June and July at BFI Southbank, with the first month dedicated to 20th century dramas and the second focused on pre-20th century.

Screenings scheduled for June are as follows: Theatre 625: “World of George Orwell – 1984”, Theatre 625: “Dr Knock” (starring Leonard Rossiter), Twentieth Century Theatre: “Colombe” (starring Sean Connery), Play of the Week: “The Typewriter” (starring Jeremy Brett), and Twentieth Century Theatre: The Insect Play.

Dick Fiddy of the BFI says the forthcoming season demonstrates the institute’s determination to provide access to the finds.

He said: “When such material is found, there are concerns expressed in some quarters that the footage will just disappear into various archives,
never to see the light of day, partly because of the perceived reluctance on the part of broadcasters and product releasers to exploit vintage black-and-white material.

“Indeed, many similar titles to those found in the LOC have survived intact but remain unseen and unreleased on archive shelves.

“However, the BFI – which has mounted numerous
seasons over the years to exploit such materials and encouraged various regional venues to do the same – was determined to provide access to these finds.

“Accordingly, June sees the launch of a two-month season of highlights from the collection, which will then be followed by regular screenings of further titles through various stranded programming.”

READ ON:

Lost Sean Connery TV footage found in US – BBC News (September 14, 2010)

Footage of British stars unearthed in lost archive in America – The Telegraph (September 14, 2010).

1 Comment

Filed under BBC, BFI, Culture, Drama, Events, Screenings, Television

AudioGo releases long-lost Dick Barton adventures

DICK BARTON – Special Agent rides again, with the release of two classic 1940s radio adventures recently unearthed in Australia.

The complete serials, dating from 1949, were among 338 episodes of the hugely-popular show discovered in the vaults of the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.

The recordings, found in 2009 by freelance researcher Charles Norton but not announced until earlier this year, are accurate copies of the original broadcasts, made by the BBC for international distribution between 1948 and 1950.

AudioGo has now released two of the recovered stories, Dick Barton and the Cabatolin Diamonds, and Dick Barton and the Paris Adventure, on CD and as downloads.

Co-created and written by Edward J. Mason and Geoffrey Webb,Dick Barton – Special Agent was the BBC’s first daily serial, running between 1946 and 1951 on the Light Programme.

Heralded by the instantly memorable signature tune, Devil’s Galop by Charles Williams, the adventures of special agent Dick Barton and his friends Jock Anderson and Snowy White were essential listening for an entire generation.

At its peak, 15 million listeners tuned in for their 15-minute fix of criminal masterminds, espionage and adventure.

Sadly, very few original BBC recordings (starring Noel Johnson, Duncan Carse and then Gordon Davies as Barton) still survive. Out of 711 episodes broadcast on the Light Programme between 1946 and 1951, only 3 episodes were preserved – 100, 442 and 711 – along with two short clips.

However, a number of early Barton tales were re-recorded for transmission overseas, recycling the original scripts and music cues.

These re-stagings, starring Douglas Kelly, Moira Carleton, Clifford Cowley, Richard Davies, William Lloyd and Patricia Kennedy, found new audiences in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

In Dick Barton and the Paris Adventure (tx 14 March – 14 April 1949), Barton and his friends join forces with the French police on the trail of an international smuggling operation. Can Dick defeat the villainous Spider Kennedy? Will he escape from Paris alive?

Dick Barton and the Cabatolin Diamonds (tx 18 April – 19 May 1949) sees Dick’s plans for a Mediterranean cruise cancelled when the Home Office ask him to help them crack a gang of international diamond smugglers. Can Dick thwart the evil Henri De Flambeau before it’s too late?

Though over 60 years old, both serials are said to have “excellent” sound quality.

READ ON:

LONG-LOST RADIO HERO DICK BARTON RETURNS (Daily Express, February 16, 2011).

WHEN CHARLES MET DICK – Wiped News interview with Charles Norton.

Audiobook Review: Dick Barton and The Paris Adventure

2 Comments

Filed under Audio, BBC, Finds, Interview, Radio, Releases

BBC Radio 4 Extra to air long-lost episodes of Life with The Lyons

Life with The Lyons cast

Life with The Lyons: Ben Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels with children Richard and Barbara Lyon.

A MASSIVE collection of Life with The Lyons episodes has come to light, with select shows set to be broadcast as a tribute to late series writer Bob Block.

A Scottish collector and fan recently contacted the BBC after hearing an episode of the popular ’50s radio sitcom aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Only three editions of the show, starring real-life man and wife Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels, survive in the BBC Archives, but the fan had over 200 recordings in his collection

Radio 4 Extra has now announced that a season of lost episodes from the “Scottish collection” will be broadcast in the “near future” on the digital station, as a tribute to Lyons scriptwriter Bob Block, who died last month.

The recordings are taken from star Ben Lyon’s original reels and are said to be in “very good condition”.

Life with The Lyons was one of the BBC’s earliest domestic sit-coms.

Ditching the typical musical interludes in BBC radio comedies of the time, the show, which also starred Lyon and Daniels’ children, Barbara and Richard, ran for ten series between 1950 and 1961.

It proved so successful that it later switched to TV.

In addition to writing for Life with The Lyons, Bob Block was also the creator and writer of Robert’s Robots, Pardon My Genie, Galloping Galaxies, and fondly-remembered BBC children’s series Rentaghost.

He died on April 17, 2011, aged 90.

READ ON: BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra Blog (May 7, 2011)

Leave a comment

Filed under BBC, Broadcasts, Comedy, Finds, Radio

Latest Raymond of the Lost Archive column

HE’S BACK! Raymond of the Lost Archive, Wiped News’ regular columnist, shares some of the latest discoveries he and others have been making in TV archives across the world.

Read Ray’s latest column here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Discoveries, Missing Episodes Hunting