Tag Archives: Till Death Us Do Part

Kaleidoscope launch Treasure Hunt appeal to track down domestic recordings of TV and radio shows

TV RESEARCH organisation Kaleidoscope has announced the launch of its appeal to recover long-lost television and radio programmes.

The purpose of the appeal is to get members of the general public searching through their attics, cellars, garages and sheds looking for home-recordings of otherwise lost shows.

Until the early 1980s, broadcasters such as the BBC regularly disposed of archive programmes to re-use expensive tape and free up space. As a result, there are massive and significant holes in Britain’s television and radio archive. Countless hours of comedy shows, dramas, documentaries and other broadcasts have been lost, destroyed, or were never recorded in the first place.

Though there have been campaigns to look for lost material before, such as Kaleidoscope’s The Raiders of the Lost Archives Appeal, these have always been very general searches. This time, the appeal is specifically targeting domestic home-recordings. We are looking for people who may have made domestic recordings of a TV or radio programme in their own home at the time of broadcast.

Up until the 1980s, it was very common for people to make ‘off-air audio recordings’ of their favourite television or radio programmes. More often than not, a microphone would simply be propped up against a television speaker. There are even cases of programmes being taped on home video recorders as early as the 1960s and 1970s. These are the kind of things that we are looking for.

The appeal, which is backed by the BBC and British Library Sound Archive will launch officially at Kaleidoscope’s “DJ Heaven” event in Stourbridge, on Saturday, June 4.

Encouragingly, a number of exciting finds have already been made following a call to former broadcast engineers via BBC in-house magazine Ariel. Discoveries include audio recordings of seminal comedy shows such as Monty Python precursors At Last the 1948 Show and Twice a Fortnight, Broaden Your Mind, The Frost Report, The Ken Dodd Experience, The Morecambe and Wise Show, The Frankie Howerd Show, Not Only… But Also, World of Beachcomber, Till Death Us Do Part and many more.

A specialist group of volunteers has been given the Herculean task of sifting through and preserving in digital format the huge amount of missing material that is expected to be uncovered over the course of the year-long appeal.

Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope said: “We know for a fact that many people recorded their favourite shows off the TV and radio as far back as the early 1950s.

“The purpose of the Treasure Hunt appeal is to uncover those domestic recordings and we ask people to search their homes for old reel-to-reels, cassettes and early video tapes that might just be sitting in the attic or cellar gathering dust.

“You never know, they could represent the only copies of classic shows still in existence.”

Anyone who can offer any recordings should contact Kaleidoscope via www.losthshows.com.

READ ON: Plea put out for ‘lost’ TV shows (BBC News, June 3, 2011)

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A Kaleidoscope Christmas

CLASSIC TV organisation Kaleidoscope have unwrapped details of their Christmas event, which will feature a screening of one of the two Till Death Us Do Part episodes that were recently recovered.

The free event, which takes place on Saturday, December 5th, in Stourbridge, boasts an impressive and festive programme schedule:

* 12:00 pm Westward Christmas start-up film – the station opener for Christmas Eve 1981.

* 12:05 pm The Arthur Haynes Show – 1960s Christmas edition of the well-remembered comedy sketch show.

* 12:30 pm Z Cars – “It Never Rains…” A festive story from Newtown nick, written by John Hopkins and aired on Christmas Day 1963.

* 1:20 pm Rainbow. Paint the whole world with a rainbow at Christmas time! Join the gang for a seasonal edition from 1972 (TX: 21/12/1972, VRT 6601).

* 1:40 pm Break

* 2:00 pm Kaleidoscope Grand Charity Auction 2009 – a selection of items donated by guests, supporters and attendees throughout the year are up for grabs in our annual charity auction, with all proceeds going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Please note Kaleidoscope will be accepting bids in person only.

* 3:00 pm Afternoon Tea

* 3:30 pm Those Wonderful TV Times – Aimi MacDonald, Nerys Hughes, Jack Douglas, Patrick Mower, Lance Percival and William Rushton feature in this quiz show from Christmas 1977.

* 4:10 pm Rest In Peace 2009. Kaleidoscope’s own special tribute to those from the television industry who have passed away during 2009.

* 4:20 pm Aladdin and the Forty Thieves – An amazing all-star cast from Children’s BBC bring the much-loved tale to life in this version from New Year’s Day 1984. Among those appearing are Jan Francis, Kenneth Connor, Clive Dunn, Kenneth Williams, the casts of Blue Peter, Rentaghost, Animal Magic, Play School, Grange Hill and The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

* 5:10 pm Till Death Us Do Part – “In Sickness and in Health”. An exclusive chance to see one of the previously missing episodes returned to the BBC archives through Kaleidoscope in 2009. Johnny Speight’s controversial sitcom is at its most raw with Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell) undergoing treatment on the NHS and proving to be the world’s worst patient. Followed by a previously missing extract from the episode “Peace and Goodwill”, also recovered through Kaleidoscope in 2009.

* 5:45 pm The Basil Brush Show – “What the Dickens”. Join Basil and Mr. Derek for this Christmas special from 1972.

* 6:15 pm Some Wonderful Scottish Girls – a variety show from Hogmanay 1978 hosted by Ian Ogilvy and featuring Lulu, Janet Brown, Beryl Reid, Molly Weir and Aimi MacDonald.

* 6:55 pm The Wombles (TX: 24/12/1974), followed by Closedown.

Kaleidoscope’s Christmas Event and Grand Charity Auction 2009 is being held at Stourbridge Town Hall, Crown Centre, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1YE, UK, between 12:00 – 7:00 pm. All proceeds will be going to the organisation’s  designated charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. For more event information, including a full list of the goodies up for auction, visit www.kaleidoscope.org.uk.

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Major TV Discovery – Two Episodes of Till Death Us Do Part Found

TWO long-lost episodes of Johnny Speight’s classic BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part have been recovered with the help of classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope.

The show, transmitted between 1965 and 1975, was one of the most important in television history. Conceived as a rival to Coronation Street, Till Death Us Do Part introduced the world to the monstrous, bigoted, right wing Alf Garnett, played brilliantly by Warren Mitchell; his vegetating wife Else (Dandy Nichols); the equally obnoxious left wing son-in-law Mike (Anthony Booth, Tony Blair’s father-in-law); and the giggly, charming daughter Rita (played by Una Stubbs). Despite endless controversy, most famously involving Mrs Mary Whitehouse, Till Death was consistently top of the viewing figures during its ten year run.

Sadly, the majority of the show’s 26 episodes from the first three series, broadcast in black and white between 1965-68, no longer exist. They were junked following transmission because storage costs of videotape were prohibitive. The recovery of two intact episodes, both from the second season of the show screened in early 1967, is therefore an extremely exciting event.

“In Sickness and In Health”, first shown on February 13th, 1967, features Alf, the worlds worst patient, undergoing treatment on the NHS. Highlights include Alf cleaning his pipe with a scalpel and a hypodermic needle, a classic kiss between Alf and Else, and a hilarious hospital visit by Alf’s family. Guests stars include sitcom stalwarts Graham Stark, Anthony Sharp, Tommy Godfrey, and Mark Eden, most famous for his role in Coronation Street as the murderous Alan Bradley.

“State Visit”, transmitted the following week, was inspired by a front page of The Daily Mirror (Alf’s “bloody Labour rag”), which was covering the state visit of the Soviet premier to London. Alf rails at the deviousness of politicians, from his bête noire Harold Wilson to Peter Mandelson’s grandfather Herbert Morrison, and from cheating chancellors to false expense claims in a period of nationwide recession. Just to make it even more eerily topical, the Deputy Prime Minister that most arouses Alf’s wrath is another Mr Brown – George Brown.

The episodes came to light after former BBC film editor Graham Walker got in touch with Kaleidoscope via its website http://www.lostshows.com. Discovering the shows to be missing, he offered the not-for-profit TV heritage organisation his 16mm film prints. These included a third Till Death episode, “Peace and Goodwill”, that already existed in the BBC archives, albeit in an edited form. There are hopes that the excised footage found in Mr Walker’s copy can be restored to the original BBC print.

Mark Ward, author of A Family At War: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Till Death Us Do Part, is delighted with the recoveries. He said:

“This is an astonishing find of major importance to British television history, one which we will all maybe (to use Alf Garnett’s charming phrase) “bloody learn somefink”.

“Neither episode has been seen in public for forty years, and both demonstrate the series ability to be funny, topical and utterly shocking despite the passing of time. “

Film collector Graham Walker, who has enjoyed watching the episodes over the years with his family, said: “These early episodes are just wonderful. Not only do they boast superb performances from all the main characters, but also the mixture of hilarious humour and pathos has never been bettered in British TV.

“They are indeed timeless and fantastic pieces of social history. It’s amazing how much is still relevant today. The sentiments behind the wonderfully funny dialogue between Alf and Mike at the beginning of “State Visit” about Britain’s role as a declining world power could so easily be transposed to events of now.”

All the episodes have now been returned by Kaleidoscope to the BBC for restoration and transfer to high-quality digibeta video. One edition will be screened at Kaleidoscope’s forthcoming career retrospective and tribute to comedian’s comedian Bob Monkhouse – “Bob’s Full House” – which is to be held at the prestigious BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) headquarters, Piccadilly, on Saturday, October 24th.

Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry said: “This is a find of enormous cultural significance. We are very grateful to Graham Walker for letting Kaleidoscope screen this episode at our forthcoming ‘Bob’s Full House’ event and return them all to the BBC for future generations to enjoy”.

  • Click here for a Q and A with Graham Walker about the previously missing episodes.

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