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ITV Launch Biggest Ever Search for Lost Footage

16 October 2006

ITV is launching the biggest ever search for missing TV shows featuring some of the best-loved stars in the history of British television.

Stars like Bruce Forsyth and Rolf Harris are giving their support to the campaign – in the hope that their ‘lost’ past will now be found.

In the 50s, 60s and 70s many shows starring celebrities like Bruce, Rolf, Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock, Michael Parkinson, Cilla Black, and The Beatles were transmitted live and not thought to have been recorded – whether they were on ITV or the BBC.

Or, if they were recorded, the video tape was so expensive that the shows were soon taped over and the original footage was lost.

Over the last 12 months archive researchers working for ITV have been searching all over the globe for lost material.

The results will be seen in a forthcoming ITV series - Raiders of The Lost Archive - which reunites some of Britain’s most popular celebrities with TV gold they thought they’d never see again.

But the job’s not finished yet. Now – and in conjunction with the BFI and the classic TV experts Kaleidoscope – ITV is publishing a list of TV’s 50 Most Wanted Shows, and is asking for public help to track them down.

The channel wants to hear from private collectors, TV fans and ex-TV industry workers – and their families - who may have reels of film or tapes tucked away on a shelf or in their garden shed.

The list includes classic variety series like Sunday Night At The London Palladium (the show which made Bruce Forsyth a star), missing episodes of series like Doctor Who and Dad’s Army, the first ever episode of Crossroads, Morecambe & Wise’s lost TV series, Les Dawson winning Opportunity Knocks and early appearances by stars like Victoria Wood and Lenny Henry on the Seventies talent show New Faces.

The full list of TV’s 50 Most Wanted Shows is:

1. Armchair Theatre – changed the face of drama

2. At Last the 1948 Show – gave birth to Monty Python

3. Blackpool Night Out – star-studded variety show

4. Broaden Your Mind – early work of the Goodies

5. The Bruce Forsyth Show – missing work from TV legend

6. But Seriously – It’s Sheila Hancock – sharp satire from much-loved actress

7. Cooperarama – lost Tommy Cooper series

8. Corbett Follies – early comedy series featuring the Two Ronnies

9. Crossroads – 90% of episodes are missing

10. Dad’s Army – three shows remain lost

11. Dixon of Dock Green – dozens of episodes of this police show are lost

12. Doctor Who – an amazing 100 episodes are missing

13. Do Not Adjust Your Set – kids show with David Jason and Michael Palin

14. Emergency Ward 10 – pioneering ITV soap

15. Frightened Sky – play featuring young Ronnie Barker

16. The Golden Shot – loved but largely lost game show

17. Hancock’s Half Hour – first episodes still missing

18. Hey Presto! It’s Rolf – early vehicle for the popular Australian

19. Juke Box Jury – pop series gone AWOL

20. Junior Showtime – kids variety show from the Seventies

21. The Kenny Everett Explosion – early TV work of a comedy great

22. The Likely Lads – a dozen shows still unaccounted for

23. Lockhart of the Yard – early ITV classic crime series

24. Madhouse on Castle Street – Bob Dylan took part in this Sixties play

25. Man on the Moon – ITN & BBC news studio coverage

26. A Matter of Diamonds – rare TV acting role for Cliff Richard

27. Message for Posterity – lost play by Dennis Potter

28. Mystery and Imagination – Bruce Forsyth in The Canterville Ghost

29. New Faces – talent show featuring likes of Victoria Wood and Lenny Henry

30. News At Ten – very first edition from July 1967

31. Not In Front of the Children – missing comedy with Wendy Craig

32. Oh Boy! – pioneering rock’n’roll show

33. Ollie and Fred’s Five O’Clock Club – children’s favourite from the Sixties

34. On the Margin – missing Alan Bennett musical comedy

35. Opportunity Knocks – talent show featuring would-be stars and clapometer

36. The Other Man – early TV role for Michael Caine

37. Play of the Week – included pre-Corrie work of Bill Roache

38. Running Wild – Morecambe & Wise lost series from the Fifties

39. Scene at 6:30 – Sixties series presented by Michael Parkinson

40. Sez Les – early work of Les Dawson

41. The Summer Show – comedy and music from winners of New Faces

42. Sunday Night At The London Palladium – classic variety show

43. Thank Your Lucky Stars – Sixties pop series largely lost

44. This Is Your Life – TV institution but many shows not kept

45. Till Death Us Do Part – early series of this sitcom are missing

46. Tiswas – children’s classic but many shows are lost

47. Top of the Pops – long running pop show but Sixties history has gone

48. What A Carry On/Carry On London – footage of Carry On team on stage

49. Whicker’s World – interview with Tony Hancock shortly before his death

50. The Younger Generation – plays with young stars of the future like John Thaw and Johnny Briggs

More information can be found at:

Many stars – and families of the stars – have given their backing to this search. Bruce Forsyth, who took part in dozens of shows which now appear to have gone ‘missing’ said: “It’s an incredible shame that so much TV gold has been lost over the years so I’m right behind this campaign.

“I made dozens of editions of Sunday Night at The London Palladium in the Sixties and all but two or three of them seem to be lost. There are lots of memories I would love to relive if any of these shows were to turn up after all these years.

“It’s also sad to think that so many great performances from the likes of Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper and Tony Hancock in so many different shows have gone missing over the years. We owe it to future generations to find them so I hope Raiders of the Lost Archive is a massive success!”

Rolf Harris said: “I’ve been incredibly lucky to work on dozens of shows on the BBC and ITV for 50 years now but sad that so many of the early programmes I worked on weren’t recorded – and many of the later ones seem to have gone missing.

“I would love to see again series like Hey Presto! It’s Rolf, Street Music, The House That Jim Built, and my appearance in Hancock’s Half Hour. It really would be amazing if the public knew where we could find them.”

Gary Morecambe, son of the nation’s favourite funny man Eric Morecambe, who died in 1984 said: "Fortunately, many of Morecambe & Wise's greatest moments are still well-known, replayed time after time and cherished by millions upon millions of fans of all ages.

“But sadly many of their early TV appearances from the 50s and 60s seem to have vanished without trace - from their first series Running Wild in 1954 to the missing shows Morecambe & Wise made for the BBC in 1967/68 at the start of their remarkable decade.

“It would be a fantastic Christmas present for us and for millions of fans if this publicity campaign could turn up some of their missing shows and guest appearances so they could be preserved for future generations".

Coronation Street star William Roache, who is looking for dramas he made for ITV before he was signed up by Coronation Street, said: “Before I took on the role of Ken Barlow in 1960 I appeared in a number of TV dramas for Granada Television. I have always wanted to see them again but sadly they seem to have gone missing over the years.

“I was in a Play of the Week called Marking Time (also known as Deutsche’s House), in two episodes of the series Knight Errant and I also appeared in a series called Skyport which was set in a travel agency.

“I would love to see them again and wonder if there is anyone around – collectors or former Granada TV employees - who might know where we can find copies of them? If so could they please get in touch with Raiders of the Lost Archive?”

Dick Fiddy, co-ordinator of the BFI's Missing Believed Wiped initiative, said: “The BFI is committed to recovering the lost heritage of British television and returning missing items to the official archives.

“It is delighted to welcome, and happy to be involved with, this exciting new initiative from ITV to track down important British television material from all channels”.

Raiders of the Lost Archive executive producer Mark Robinson said: “These days if you make a great TV show it’s in the shops almost before the end credits roll. It’s available on DVD and copies are kept for people to enjoy forever.

“But this wasn’t always the case. We’re appealing to anyone who thinks they may know where some of this footage ended up. Are you a collector with tapes on your shelf? Or a fan who filmed your favourite show off the telly on a cine camera? You might have the only surviving recording of a TV classic!

“Did any of these shows come into your possession while you worked at the BBC or at an ITV station in decades past? Did you pluck them from a skip and save them from extinction?

“Each of these shows is missed by the stars, the families of the stars and the legions of fans of the stars and shows involved. It is our aim to find these shows and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”

Press Contact: Lyndsey Weatherall, ITV Press Office, 0161 8327211 ex 3530

Picture Contact: Matt Dutton, ITV Press Office, 0113 222 7151


LYNDSEY WEATHERALL | Factual Publicist | ITV1 | T: 0161 8327211 Ext: 3530 | M: 07770 948268 | F: 0161 9530291

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