Category Archives: Interview

New book explores the strange case of The Avengers’ missing episodes

IN THE mid-Sixties, The Avengers proved itself to be a cultural phenomenon. Despite its quintessential Englishness, it transcended international barriers, and established itself as British television’s most successful export of the day. Front cover of The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes - The Lost Stories of The Avengers Series 1

Today, it remains hugely popular, perhaps because of the schizophrenic nature of the show as it developed; it was a series of many colours, with something for everyone. But the earliest episodes of the show – produce by ABC Television and pairing Ian Hendry as Dr David Keel alongside the mysterious John Steed (Patrick Macnee) – have, since their 1961 broadcast, disappeared from view, the vast majority of the recordings lost forever.

The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes lifts the lid on that first year, and retells the stories in extended synopsis form, covering twenty-four episodes, often with script extracts, in greater depth than ever before. The book also boasts a detailed introduction, which explores how these much sought after programmes came to be lost, and a detailed retelling of an alternative, untransmitted version of the episode Double Danger.

The Strange Case of the Missing Episodes – The Lost Stories of The Avengers is available in hardcover (£19.99) and paperback (£14.99) from Hidden Tiger. Visit www.hiddentigerbooks.co.uk

Read an interview with authors Alan Hayes, Alys Hayes and Richard McGinlay about their fantastic new book.

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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

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

Charles Norton Interview

WIPED NEWS recently caught up with freelance writer and missing episode hunter Charles Norton, responsible for recovering the Graham Webb archive containing, among other things, the soundtracks to many lost episodes of Not Only… But Also.

You can find the interview by clicking the link – Charles Norton on missing episodes, home recordings and the Graham Webb archive.

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Son Of Comic Kenny Windsor Locates Missing TV Debut on New Faces

Kenny Windsor

Kenny Windsor on New Faces

A RETIRED comedian is set to receive an extra special Christmas present this year after his son tracked down a recording of his one and only TV appearance.

Kenneth Elcocks went under the stage name of ‘Kenny Windsor’ when he appeared before 10 million viewers on hit ITV talent show New Faces in 1975.

The performance featured his favourite character, Farmer George, the Shropshire Lad, and earned the comic fourth place on the scoreboard for that week.

It proved to be his only time on the box, however, and over 30 years later, funnyman Kenneth is yet to see his one moment in the spotlight.

But that’s about to change thanks to son Lee, who secretly set out to find a copy of the show (tx 8/2/75) after discovering the mastertape had long-since been wiped.

After only two months searching, the 32-year-old, from Telford, managed to find an old domestic recording in the possession of his dad’s former agent.

The family now plan to surprise Kenneth, 73, with a DVD conversion in time for December 25th.

Speaking to Wiped News, Lee says he left “no stone unturned” in his hunt for the episode.

He said: “Dad has never seen a recording of the show as it went out on air. He said he would love to see it again but probably never would. It was then that I thought I would give it a go and try and get a copy.

“I thought a simple email to ITV would do the trick but back in the early to mid-70s, both they and the BBC recorded over TV shows as tape was expensive.

“I put an appeal out for anybody who may have a recording of the show and the chap who saw it just happened to be my dad’s old agent. He got in touch and confirmed he had a tape.”

Lee got in contact with his local paper, the Shropshire Star, as well as BBC Radio Shropshire and the ATV Network website to publicise his search. He also emailed former New Faces judge Tony Hatch and three of the other acts who had appeared on the show

Earlier this month, he heard back from talent agent Bernie Lewis, who had kept a recording on a Phillips N1500 tape along with a “boxful” of promotional posters, photographs and other things.

Lee is now looking forward to finally getting to see his dad on the small screen.

“The tape has not been stored in an attic but in a cupboard in the house, so hopefully the recording will still be OK.

“I already have a contact who will convert it for for me, Colin McCormick from Video99, and I’m sure he will try his best.

“I cannot wait to see it. I’ve never seen a moving image of my dad in his younger days, He was 36 when he speared on the show. He will be amazed I’m sure and we may even see some tears.”

New Faces marked the first and last TV appearance of character comedian Kenny Windsor, though he continued to do clubs and pubs after the show for many years.

According to Lee, his father’s low score on the night was down to a last-minute change of material.

He said: “He had rehearsed four times during the day and everything was going well, but just before the main recording one of the staff at the show told him that he couldn’t do a major piece of the act, because the joke was not suitable for 6pm on a Saturday night!

“He had to drop that part of the act last minute and quickly had to think of something else to fill the time.”

Lee added: “The winner of that nights show was a chap called Dennis D’ell, who back in the mid sixties was the lead singer in a band called The Honeycombs who had a number one hit with ‘Have I the Right?

“The day after there was a story in a national newspaper saying that he should have never have been on the show, let alone allowed to win it as he was already ‘famous’. It was a bit of a scandal, but nothing compared to the X-Factor scandals you get now!”

Lee plans to visit his father, who lives in Bath, on December 4th and present him with the DVD and memorabilia, along with a scrapbook about the quest to find it.

“His old scrapbook now has the empty pages filled with every email and all the newspaper media he’s had recently but knows nothing about,” said Lee.

“I’ve told his wife that we will be visiting on the 4th December with the recording. She is over the moon, and sworn to secrecy!”

In his hunt, Lee has also found an audio recording of another lost episode of New Faces, and now means to go on tracking down old episodes.

He said: “I had a reply to one of my appeals that went out on ATV network from a chap who also appeared on New Faces, but had not got a copy.

“The show, broadcast December 3, 1977, features the band he was in, Dry Ice, but it seems the episode is not in the ITV archives.

“It turns out the man does, however, have an audio copy of the show, which is better than nothing.

“My dad’s old agent has also said something very interesting. He had acts before and after my dad who also went on New Faces, and he has tapes of them all!

“What condition – I don’t know – but watch this space!”

Running between 29 September, 1973 and April 2, 1978, New Faces was famous for being a tough talent show .

It was produced in Birmingham by ATV in front of a live studio audience and became notorious for regular panellist Tony Hatch’s scathing critique of some acts.

Other regulars judges included Terry Wogan, Clive James, Noel Edmonds and Arthur Askey.

Many early episodes have been lost including both Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood’s appearances, though VHS copies of these have since been located.

The show was revived briefly by Central from 1986 to 1988 and hosted by former winner, comedienne Marti Caine.

READ ON: The ATV News Network story can be found here. The story as it appeared in the Shropshire Star is here. WordPress blog Excerpts from a 70′s Teenage Rock Opera has a post sharing personal memories of watching New Faces back in the seventies.

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Filed under Appeals, Comedy, Discoveries, Finds, Interview, ITV, Television

Audio Recordings of Not Only But Also Episodes Found

Not Only... But Also: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore

HOME AUDIO recordings of lost episodes of Not Only… But Also have been discovered at a house in Kent.

The recovery of the soundtracks to 11 episodes from the mid-sixties and early 1970s means that some form of recording now exists for each and every episode of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s seminal TV comedy series.

The “bootleg” copies were found at the home of NOBA fan Graham Webb, who had recorded them off the TV at the time of transmission, using a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

Mr Webb, a freelance artist and writer, was only alerted to their rarity after attending the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Missing Believed Wiped event.

There are now plans by the BBC to make the recordings, said to be generally of good quality, available to the public.

Dick Fiddy of the BFI says the tapes, recovered with the assistance of freelance writer and researcher Charles Norton, are an “amazing find”.

He said: “A lot of the comedy is quite verbal. You’re not losing a tremendous amount.

“You know what Pete and Dud look like. You can imagine what situation they’re in. You can imagine what expressions they’re pulling.

The programmes, broadcast between 1965 and 1970, capture the duo “at the height of their comedy powers,” Mr Fiddy added.

Mr Webb, of the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, kept copies of many of his favourite shows using a reel-to-reel tape recorder soldered into the TV speaker.

He listened “avidly” to the NOBA tapes for over a decade, until boxing them up in the early 1980s after buying a video recorder.

The 63-year-old says he never told anybody apart from friends about the recordings because he “thought it was illegal, recording stuff off the BBC”.

Mr Norton, who was hired by the BBC to track down audio recordings of otherwise lost shows, says the recovery of the Webb tapes now means that every episode of the three series of Not Only… But Also is represented in some way visually or in audio.

He said: “Some of our recordings are slightly incomplete in some way and there’s one episode where we only have a few film sequences. However, we do now have something for each episode.”

Out of an original run of 22, eight episodes of Not Only… But Also still reside in the BBC archives, with one, Series 1, Episode 6, located in America in 2004.

In addition to the Graham Webb recordings, which include the soundtracks to 10 lost episodes from series 1, 2 and 3, the BBC holds further audio recordings, including duplicates, for seven episodes from series 2 and 3. Film inserts also exist from series 1 and 3.

Not Only… But Also

KEY: BBC (recovered by the BBC in 2003); ED (recorded by Ed Doolan); GW (recorded by Graham Webb); MN (recovered by Matthew North, 2005); f/r (film recording)

SERIES 1 (BBC, 1965, B&W)
Series 1, Episode 1 – tx: 09/01/1965 – Exists, 16mm f/r. Featuring: (John Lennon, Norman Rossington) Car Wash Opening/Initials/The Ravens/Good Dog Nigel/Deaf Ted, Danoota and Me. Music: Diahann Carroll (Humdrum Blues, Brown Baby, Blues In The Night), Dudley Moore Trio (Swingles Theme, Grwmst, Just in Time).

Series 1, Episode 2 – tx: 23/01/1965 – Exists, 35mm f/r. Featuring: (Barry Humphries, Roddy Maude-Roxbury) One-Man Band Opening/Silent Film extract/Tarquin Mordente – Silent Film Producer/Painting on Television/Roddy Maude-Roxbury monologue/Guide to the North Circular/Pete and Dud – A Spot of the Usual Trouble/Striptease. Music: Goldie & The Gingerbreads (Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat), Dudley Moore Trio (I Won’t Dance), Dudley and Orchestra (Got a Lot of Livin’ to Do).

Series 1, Episode 3 – tx: 06/02/1965 – Exists, 35mm f/r. Featuring:  (Joe Melia, Bill Wallis, John Wells) Cinema Opening/Sir Arthur At The Tailor/The Great War/Pete and Dud – The Worst Thing in the World/Alan A’Dale. Music: June Christy (You Came a Long Way from St Louis, Just in Time, Remind Me, My Shining Hour).

Series 1, Episode 4 – tx: 20/02/1965 – Exists, 35mm f/r. Featuring:
(Barry Humphries, Anna Quayle) Gypsy Violinist Opening/Tramponuns/Tramponuns Film/Anna Quayle Monologue/Prospective Son-In-Law/Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly/Pete and Dud – Art Gallery. Music: Marian Montgomery (The Exciting Mr Fitch, Wasn’t the Summer Short?, Close Your Eyes), Dudley Moore Trio (Indiana).

Series 1, Episode 5 – tx: 06/03/1965 – Missing, 35mm mute film inserts only. Featuring: (Mel Torme) London Bus Opening (exists as silent film sequence)/Pete and Dud – On the Bus/Canvassing Dracula (exists as silent film sequence)/Job Offer/Privates Cigarettes Advertising (exists as silent film sequence)/Betting Agent/Restaurant (exists as silent film sequence). Music: Mel Torme (Limehouse Blues, My One and Only Highland Fling/Dat Dere Daddy).

Series 1, Episode 6 – 40’40” tx: 20/03/1965 – Exists, Held on DigiBeta ex-US NTSC copy; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: (Peter Sellers) Doomed Pilots Opening/Boxer-Cum-Painter/Pete and Dud – Superstitions/The Gourmets. Music: T-Bone Walker (Hey Baby, Goodbye Baby), Dudley Moore Trio (I Love You Samantha).

Series 1, Episode 7 – 27’26” tx: 03/04/1965 – Missing; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: (Eric Sykes, John Bluthal) The Grand Order of the Bull/Pete and Dud – Religions/Making of a B-Movie/Ballroom Dancing Competition. Music: Blossom Dearie (I Wish You Love), Dudley Moore Trio (Baubles Bangles & Beads).

SERIES 2 (BBC, 1966, B&W)
Series 2. Episode 1 – tx: 15/01/1966 – Exists, 16mm f/r. Featuring: (Henry Cooper, Terry Downes) Underwater Pianist Opening/At the Zoo/Fight of the Century/A Bit of a Chat. Music: Cilla Black (Let There Be Love).

Series 2, Episode 2 – 26’57” tx: 22/01/1966 – Missing; Audio exists, GW, BBC. Featuring:
(Alan Freeman) Scottish (“Curse of the McLooneys”) Opening/Pete And Dud – Diseases/The Most Boring Man In The World Competition/Interview with the Most Boring Man in the World/Six Of The Best. Music: Dakota Stanton (High On A Windy Valley, Morning Glory)

Series 2, Episode 3 – 18’05” tx: 29/01/1966 – Missing; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Court Jester Opening/Italian Restaurant/Ol’ Man River/Blue Movie/Pete and Dud – Music. Music: Blossom Dearie (You Turn Me On Baby), Dudley Moore Trio (Softly As In The Morning Rise).

Series 2, Episode 4 – tx: 05/02/1966 – Missing; Audio exists, MN, BBC. Featuring: Pete and Dud At The Seaside Opening/The Frog And Peach/Commercials/Slapstick Comedy. Music: Emil Lancey (If I Were A Bell, Rainy Day), Cook and Moore (Isn’t She A Sweetie).

Series 2, Episode 5 – tx: 12/06/1966 – Missing; Audio exists, MN. Featuring: Monk Opening/The Psychiatrist/The Epic That Never Was/Father And Son. Music: Dionne Warwick (Walk On By, Unchained Melody).

Series 2, Episode 6 – 26’02” tx: 19/02/1966 – Missing, 35mm film inserts only; Audio exists, GW, MN. Featuring: Student Prince (Drinking Song) Opening (35mm film exists)/The Music Teacher/The Walrus and the Carpenter (35mm film exists)/Pete And Dud – Sex. Music: Dudley Moore Trio (Summertime), Dusty Springfield (Wives And Lovers).

Series 2, Episode 7 – tx: 26/06/1966 – Exists, 16mm f/r. Featuring: Caveman Opening/Bo Dudley/Superthunderstingcar/Pete and Dud – In Heaven. Music: Marian Montgomery.

Christmas Special – tx: 26/12/1966 – Exists, 16mm f/r. Featuring: (John Lennon) Fox Hunt Opening/Fairy Cobbler/Pete and Dud – The Unexplained/Swinging London (Lionel Bloab – Destructive Artist, Rev. Gavin Thistle, Penny Ryder, Simon Accrington, “L.S. Bumblebee”, The Ad Lav Club). Music: Marian Montgomery (“I’ll be Tired of You”, “I’m Old Fashioned”), Dudley Moore Trio.

SERIES 3 (BBC, 1970, Colour)
Series 3, Episode 1 – tx: 18/02/1970 – Missing, film inserts only; Audio exists, ED. Featuring: Tower Bridge Opening (film insert exists)/Pete and Dud – The Wardrobe (Dud Dreams)/Piano Tuner/Bargo (film insert exists)/Poets Cornered with Spike Milligan. Music: Nanette Newman, Dudley Moore Trio, Spike Milligan (On the Ning Nang Nong).

Series 3, Episode 2 – 28’27” tx: 04/03/1970 – Missing, film inserts only; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Lavatory Humour Opening (film insert exists)/Scriptwriter/The Glidd of Glood (film insert exists)/Pete and Dud – 0-0-Dud/Poets Cornered with Willie Rushton. Music: Nanette, Dudley Moore Trio, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band.

Series 3, Episode 3 – 24’06” tx: 18/03/1970 – Missing; Audio exists, GW, ED. Featuring: Railway Station Opening/Sir Arthur’s World of Worms/Pete and Dud – Racial Prejudice/In the Club/Poets Cornered with Barry Humphries. Music: Nanette; Dudley Moore Trio; Michael Chapman.

Series 3, Episode 4 – 37’39” tx: 01/04/1970 – Missing, film inserts only; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Not Only… But Psycho Opening (film insert exists)/Pete and Dud – The Futility of Life/Permission to Marry/Good vs. Evil Cricket Match (film insert exists)/Poets Cornered with Frank Muir. Music: Nanette; Dudley Moore Trio; Alan Price.

Series 3, Episode 5 – 36’27” tx: 15/04/1970 – Missing, film inserts only; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Flowers Opening/Sir Arthur on Flowers/Geriatric Medicine (Undercover Doctor)/Pete and Dud – Heaving Thighs Across Manhattan (Writing A Blockbuster)/Ludwig! (film sections survive – two lengthy studio-based “chat show” sections missing)/Poets Cornered with Ronnie Barker. Music: Nanette; Dudley Moore Trio (“Lillian Lust”); Yes.

Series 3, Episode 6 – 23’19” tx: 29/04/1970 – Missing; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Newspaper Opening/Lengths/The Conman/Pete and Dud – As Nature Intended/Poets Cornered with Denis Norden. Music: Nanette; Dudley Moore Trio; Arrival.

Series 3, Episode 7 – 40’32” tx: 13/05/1970 – Missing, film inserts only; Audio exists, GW. Featuring: Birmingham-Mandalay Cycle Race (film insert exists)/The Lunch Party/Pete and Dud – Self-Improvement/The Making of a Movie (film insert exists)/Poets Cornered with Alan Bennett. Music: Nanette; Dudley Moore Trio; John Williams.

READ ON: The Graham Webb story has been covered on BBC Radio 4 (PM, Six O’Clock News) and BBC Radio 5 (5 live Drive). Listen to a compilation of the broadcasts, including clips from some of the recovered shows, below.

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Filed under Audio, BBC, BFI, Clips, Comedy, Episode Hunting, Finds, Interview, Television

New Feature: Hunting The Lost Episodes of ABC TV’s Countdown

AUSTRALIAN TV programme Countdown remains the most popular music show in the nation’s history, but the majority of early episodes from the 1970s are missing from the ABC archives.

Chart-topping acts such as AC/DC, INXS, Skyhooks and Split Enz got their big breaks on the show, which ran from 1974 – 87, while world-famous bands and artists including Wings and Elton John also made appearances.

It was repeats of surviving episodes of this legendary show that got Troy Walters involved in the hunt for missing editions.

In new Wiped News feature Turning Back Time: The Hunt For ABC’s Countdown, Troy speaks about why the show can be compared with the UK’s Top of the Pops in terms of musical and social importance, and how his search for lost material is going.

You can also read about the hunt for missing Countdowns and other Australian music shows over at Troy’s website, here.

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I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again Restoration

Wiped catches up with Keith Wickham, whose restored episodes of pre-Python radio show I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again have recently been lighting up the BBC Radio 7 schedule.

Keith has also worked on restoring such shows as The Goon Show, The Embassy Lark and The Big Business Lark.

You can read the full interview here.

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