Tag Archives: BBC

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

Kaleidoscope Raiders of the Lost Archives list 2009 – 2010

CLASSIC TV organisation Kaleidoscope has revealed its annual Raiders of the Lost Archives list for 2009 – 2010, detailing all the missing material located in the last 12 months by the group along with the BBC, ITV, BFI and missing episode hunters.

Particularly notable on this year’s list is the Library of Congress finds, where over 60 long-lost British dramas dating beween the late fifties and early seventies were discovered sitting in an American archive. The assortment of plays and adaptations boast a who’s who of acting talent including Sean Connery, David McCallum, Charles Gray, Susannah York, Patrick Macnee, William Gaunt, Norman Rossington, Ron Moody, Derek Jacobi, Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Nerys Hughes, Patricia Routledge, David Hemmings, Kevin Stoney, Hywel Bennett, Thora Hird, John Gielgud, Michael Gambon, Hugh Paddick, Robert Hardy, Peggy Ashcroft, Leonard Rossiter, John Le Mesurier, Patrick Stewart, Brian Rawlinson, Michael Gough, Bernard Horsfall, Michael Hordern, Patrick Troughton, Jeremy Brett, Patrick Wymark, Bernard Cribbins, Betty Marsden, Edward De Souza, Patsy Rowlands, Gerald Flood, Donald Wolfit, Philip Madoc, Geoffrey Bayldon, Frank Finlay, Henry McGee,  Jane Asher and Graham Crowden.

Also on the list are classic comedy shows starring Benny Hill, Dick Emery, Frankie Howerd, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, the Monty Python team, The Goodies, Marty Feldman, Bob Monkhouse, Denis Goodwin, Ronnie Barker, Willie Rushton, Frank Muir, Denis Norden, Alan Bennett and Hattie Jacques; serial dramas such as No Hiding Place and The Troubleshooters; light entertainment including The Rolf Harris Show; music from The Hollies, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Showaddywaddy, The Arrows and Guys n Dolls; and children’s programmes by animator Oliver Postgate and the Smallfilms studio, including Ivor the Engine.

Last but not least, the list reveals some good progress in the BSB recoveries campaign of Ian Greaves, including episodes of The Happening, I Love Keith Allen and Up Yer News.

Speaking about the impressive list, Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry said: “It’s been a great year for recoveries all round and goes to show there’s still more out there to find.”

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Filed under Audio, BBC, BFI, Clips, Comedy, Episode Hunting, Finds, Kaleidoscope, Lists, Radio, Telesnaps, Television, Top of the Pops

Newsnight on new cut of sci-fi epic Metropolis

IN advance of the UK-wide cinema re-release of restored silent sci-fi epic Metropolis later this month, BBC’s Newsnight has reported on how Fritz Lang’s masterpiece came to be reunited with 30 minutes’ of long-lost footage found in an Argentinian film archive:

BBC News – Newsnight – What makes sci-fi epic Metropolis so influential?.

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Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes

A NEW book examining how episodes of Doctor Who came to go missing, and then turn up again, is released this September.

Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes is written by Doctor Who Restoration Team member Richard Molesworth and published by Telos Publishing.

You can find out more about the book, including a brief interview with the author, over in the Out Now section.

Here’s the official blurb:

In the 1960s, the BBC screened 253 episodes of its cult science fiction show Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell and then Patrick Troughton as the time travelling Doctor. Yet by 1975, the Corporation had wiped the master tapes of every single one of these episodes. Of the 124 Doctor Who episodes starring Jon Pertwee shown between 1970 and 1974, the BBC destroyed over half of the original transmission tapes within two years of their original broadcast.

In the years that followed, the BBC, along with dedicated fans of the series, began the arduous task of trying to track down copies of as many missing Doctor Who episodes as possible. The search covered BBC sales vaults, foreign television stations, overseas archives, and numerous networks of private film collectors, until the tally of missing programmes was reduced to just 108 episodes.

For the first time, this book looks in detail at how the episodes came to be missing in the first place, and examines how material subsequently came to be returned to the BBC. Along the way, those people involved in the recovery of lost slices of Doctor Who’s past tell their stories in candid detail, many for the very first time.

No more rumours, no more misinformation, no more fan gossip. The truth about Doctor Who’s missing episodes can now be told in full!

  • Wiped! Doctor Who’s Missing Episodes, by Richard Molesworth, is out September 2010, priced £15.99 (+p&p). You can order a copy from Telos Publishing.

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Filed under Books, Doctor Who, Releases

Bath – Queen of the West

NOT all finds can be on the same scale as the recovery of a lost Doctor Who, Out of the Unknown, Hancock’s Half Hour or Top of the Pops, but nevertheless each discovery still counts.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a link to a news story I recently wrote on behalf of the British Film Institute, which was published in the Bath Chronicle on August 19.

It concerns the discovery of a missing episode of 1950s BBC TV show About Britain, presented by Richard Dimbleby.

The edition in question (tx 21.11.52) is called “Bath – Queen of the West” and no prizes for guessing which English city it shines the spotlight on.

You can read the full story of the discovery, made in a cinema no less, here.

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Filed under BBC, BFI, Discoveries, Journalism, Television

‘Lost’ BBC Sean Connery Drama Was Never Missing

PR CONNERY? Critics have been quick to pounce on claims a TV adaptation of Anna Karenina starring former James Bond Sean Connery was ever missing.

HOW CAN you find something that isn’t lost? That’s the question classic TV fans are asking following the announcement that a missing BBC Sean Connery drama has been ‘found’.

Claims that a 1961 adaptation of Anna Karenina starring the former 007 has been ‘rediscovered’ in the BBC archives have drawn the ire of TV professionals, collectors and enthusiasts alike since the ‘news’ was announced, on August 18.

Both the BBC and The Telegraph have run with the story which, it is argued, is a “non-story” and “cynical PR stunt” devised to promote the forthcoming DVD release through Simply Home Entertainment.

Critics have pointed out that the b & w period drama, directed by famed television director Rudolph Cartier, has been “known” to be safely held within the BBC since first broadcast on November 3, 1961.

They cite the fact that a Region 1 DVD release of the ‘supposedly lost’ programme was released in America by BBC Video in April 2008, two whole years before Anna Karenina’s ‘rediscovery’.

They also say that clips from the drama were screened during a 1990 edition of BBC 2’s The Late Show featuring a retrospective on Cartier, who died in 1994, aged 90. The feature was later repeated on July 1, 1994, under the title Rudolph Cartier: A Television Pioneer.

Three years later, in 1997, further clips from the drama apparently appeared in an edition of the BBC’s Before They Were Famous.

Posting on Gallifrey Base, Doctor Who Restoration Team member and BBC employee Steve Roberts said of the ‘find’: “Wow, what an AMAZING find! Well, it would be if it hadn’t be(sic) safely secured and completely catalogued in the archive since the day it was made!”

Chris Perry, spokesperson for TV research organisation Kaleidoscope shared the sentiment, writing on forum The Mausoleum Club: “It was never lost. The story is complete rubbish.”

TV enthusiasts have been quick to find holes in the Karenina discovery story, with BBC commercial executive Nick Lee coming under particular fire.

His comments that he “just found this in the archive” and that “perhaps it wasn’t on the radar” have been noted for their “ambiguity” and “misrepresentation”, especially with counterclaims that the tape has been logged on the BBC’s filing system for “years”.

A sentence within the Telegraph article has also been for highlighted for underlining the “hazy” nature of the story:

The BBC is rather hazy on the details of why this classic adaptation was forgotten for half a century and was thought no longer to exist.

So is the “long-lost” Anna Karenina recovery true or false? PR spin, error or hard fact?

Let the evidence speak for itself…

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Filed under BBC, Finds, Television

New Zealand Censor Clips Discovery

Over 10 minutes worth of clips from various missing 1960s BBC and ITV shows have been recovered from New Zealand thanks to the assistance of classic TV organisation, Kaleidoscope.

The unique 16mm material was returned earlier this year, with the aid of Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry and the BBC’s Andrew Martin, after being discovered by Wellington Doctor Who fan Graham Howard on a reel of censor clips that forms part of a film enthusiast’s private collection.

A “censor clip” is footage deemed “unacceptable” by television censors and cut from a programme before broadcast, in this case by NZBC (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation). The censors’ reasons for excising material can include deeming it to be of an unacceptably violent, horrific or sexual nature.

It is not the first time censor clips from otherwise missing programmes have come to light, and from the same collection. Back in 2002, Graham was responsible for locating and returning to the BBC precious seconds of Doctor Who footage from missing episodes two, four and five of  “The Web of Fear” and episode five of “The Wheel in Space”, found on two large reels of censor cuts, labelled “Television extracts”.

The material from the recently located third reel has yielded clips from the following missing shows:

  • The First Lady, BBC 1968 – 9. Starring Thora Hird as a “crusading local councillor” in a gritty northern town, The First Lady was a highly regarded drama series that ran for two series. Out of 39 50-minute b & w episodes made, only one survives in the archives – season one’s “A Time of Fear” (tx 25/7/68). The censor clips, running to approximately five minutes, come from “The Battle of Waterloo Street” (tx 24/4/69), “Mrs Whatever” (tx 26/5/68) and “Blow Hot, Blow Cold” (17/4/69). Of particular note is a continuous three-and-a-quarter minute segment removed from season two’s “The Battle of Waterloo Street” featuring character Tom Danby, son to Hird’s Sarah Danby, confronting a knife-wielding youth.
  • The Four Seasons of Rosie Carr, BBC 1964. All four episodes of this period drama were wiped but the censor clips feature three sequences from episode one, “Spring At The Winged Horse” (tx 4/7/64).
  • Emergency Ward 10, ATV.
  • Drama 62: “The Teeth Of Treason”, ATV (tx 29/7/62). Written by Jacques Gillies.
  • The Gamblers: “You’ve Got A Lucky Face”, A-R (tx 11/7/68).

All the clips were screened at Kaleidoscope’s last event, held on June 6th, 2009, along with censor clips from existing shows: Fraud Squad: “Run For Your Money”, ATV (tx 11/7/68); The Gold Robbers: “Rough Trade”, LTV (tx 11/7/69); and The Flaxton Boys, YTV 1969.

You can read Wiped’s review of June’s Kaleidoscope event here.

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