On the 14th of May (2001) The BBC announced to the world's media
that a previously lost episode of "The Likely Lads" had been recovered,
and that they would undertake a campaign to find further "TV Gems".
The episode in question was "Last Of The Big Spenders" the very first
episode of the show broadcast on 7th July 1965 and features a young Wendy
Richard (Eastenders) as a guest star.
The film print was recently purchased (although its existence
had been known about for some time) by Kaleidoscope, a team of keen amateur
collectors who have returned it to the BBC archive.
Star Rodney Bewes commenting on the find said: “I am chuffed to bits
that this has turned up and will be shown again. It will be a bit
of nostalgia for some and a new experience for a whole new generation.
I wish we could find some of the other programmes that are lost, but this
is a start.”
The BBC kicked off the Treasure Hunt, by showing the recoveredepisode of ‘The Likely Lads’ for the first time in 35 years on May 30 on
BBC-2, an on screen appeal followed it.
The BBC also launched a website at www.bbc.co.uk/treasurehunt/
featuring clips from recently recovered shows and details of who to contact
should you own something the BBC might be interested in.
It wasn't long until the campaign struck gold
as on the 1st of June, something that missing episodes hunters had said
for years "A bit of publicity and stuff will turn up" was proved right
when the first two episodes of the second series of "Dad's Army" "The Battle
For Godfrey's Cottage" and "Operation Kilt" were announced as the first
big success of the campaign
The episodes had turned up in a heap of
19 rusting film cans given to the BBC by a Hertfordshire man in his 80's
who's friend had pulled them from a skip at Elstree Studios and had
kept them , until his daughter insisted he get rid of the old cans.They were passed on to him and
kept safe until he saw the BBC's recent appeal for the return of old material
and contacted the BBC.
David Croft, who produced and co-wrote the
show, said "It's been a long time, but I always knew they would turn up
some day. Dad's Army is still finding new fans among younger viewers,
and I think the public will be as happy as I am if they get a chance to
see these two episodes."
David Croft speaking to Dave Homewood said
that the studio where the film cans were chucked out of was the EMI studio
at Elstree. He also said despite what the media has reported, he understands
the films were only thrown out and retrieved from the skip some five years
ago!!! He is certain that the two Dad's Army episodes
are those copied by Jimmy Perry in 1969 and given to Columbia pictures
to assist in selling the idea of the Dad's Army film to the film company.
This is why they have survived.One of the missing Dad's Army cans even contained
a card which read: “Return to David Croft.”
Head of BBC Information and Archives, Paul
Fiander, said: "This is a smashing discovery - it's all we hoped for and
On June the 5th it was announced on www.missing-episodes.com
that the second Australian (and last overall) episode of Not Only...But
Also (starring Peter Cook & Dudley Moore) had been returned to the
BBC by the site's very own Nick Manganas who had acquired the film print
about 2 years ago off a film collector as a trade for an episode of On
The print has now been telecined at the BBC
but is unfortunately incomplete as the last segment is absent.
On the 11th of August A missing 1962 Benny
Hill Show, "Portrait of a Bridegroom" was recovered, the episode had been sat in BBC employee Steve Roberts'
locker for a year waiting for funding to allow it to be transferred.
The next recovery was on the 16th September,
the beeb announced the retrieval of an audio recording of The Beatles appearing
on Juke Box Jury in 1963.
The show featured the band giving their opinion
as to whether they thought new singles by artists including Elvis
Presley, the Swinging Blue Jeans and The Chance would be hits.
"The recording is not of broadcast quality,"
a BBC spokeswoman said. "But it's marvellous to have it." it is hoped that
the tape can be matched up with a silent film of the programme, which is
also thought to exist.
The years annual Missing Believed Wiped event
at the BFI on the 20th of October, was fans first chance to view some of
the Treasure Hunt's finds, with screenings of The Benny Hill Show, the
Dad's Army episode "Battle For Godfrey's Cottage" and the All Gas And Gaiters
pilot, along with some `Till Death Us Do Part footage.
With the Treasure Hunt starting to wind down
on November the 24th the BBC announced to the press that over 100 lost
programmes had been recovered as a result of the campaign so far, the vast
majority of which were Radio shows, including four editions of Hancock's
Half Hour and the very first episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.
On the 28th of December the Hunt closed (although
the web site will remain open as a point of contact) with a mini Treasure
Hunt Night on BBC2. A half hour documentary entitled "Dad's Army:Missing
Presumed Wiped" began proceedings by looking at the recovery of the
Dad's Army shows in particular but also other Treasure Hunt finds and a
brief mention of other shows still missing.
Then the Nation finally got their chance to
see the Treasure Hunt's top prize, with the long awaited screening after
extensive restoration of the two recovered Dad's Army episodes themselves.
It had been a good yearn overall for missing
episodes with a decent number of recoveries and an unprecedented amount
of publicity for the cause, but most importantly in the Dads' Army shows
a find that was high profile enough to repeat and release on video, in
turn earning the beeb revenue, and perhaps enough to persuade them to repeat
the exercise in the future.
We'll end with the words of Dick Fiddy
of the British Film Institute and author of `Missing
Believed Wiped` who spoke to www.missing-episodes.com on the
6th of June about the circumstances that lead to the Treasure Hunt campaign
and it's operation up to that date.
"When the BFI launched its Missing Believed
Wiped initiative in 1993 we helped to recover missing material from all
the UK channels. Legally it had been somewhat difficult for the Beeb and
other broadcasters to be negotiating with collectors who -ostensibly -were
holding stuff that belonged to the BBC.
However there was an overriding willingness
to get the stuff back so I think the BBC and the other broadcasters were
glad to have the BFI as a neutral 'middle-man'. I knew however it was important
to involve the BBC and I could understand a certain wariness on the part
of some BBC people there who were fed up for being criticized for the initial
losses, when those decisions had been made by their predecessors or their
predecessors predecessors. To that end I coined the phrase that MBW was
'a treasure hunt, not a witch hunt'. The point being it was useless to
dwell on past mistakes, better to try and put things right.
The Beeb especially
liked the idea of a treasure hunt and thus named their amnesty after it.
The Beeb is a huge organization and it is difficult to get all the various
bits working together as one, but they did manage to persuade broadcasting
(BBC2) to air the Likely Lads and kick start the appeal. The on-screen
plea was very helpful.The BBC archive co-ordinated the whole
thing and they got the press department involved and managed to raise funds
to set up a dedicated phone line and dedicated phone answerer.
Of course its not perfect. In an ideal (hugely
funded) world we would have whole teams in situ at the broadcasters
trawling the world's archives for scraps.
We would have on screen appeals after EastEnders and Coronation Street.
We would pay huge sums to get the material back. Sadly its not like that
and considering how difficult it is to get such things done at all, I must
say I think Treasure Hunt has got off to an extremely good start, we thought
if just one good item came back it would be worthwhile but the two Dads
Army's alone means it's been a great success. There have been lots of calls
and leads and some other returns (or promised returns) but some of the
collectors who've phoned in are very cagey and seem anxious for their material
not to be named until it's all done and dusted. I know this is frustrating
but we have to do things their way.
The main problem still seems
to be the one of people not knowing what's missing. Tons of the calls made
to the Treasure Hunt line are about things that already exist (a great
number are from people who have taped archive material off-air in the last
five years). Treasure Hunt also includes radio material of course and (what
with the possibilities of informal home archiving made much easier because
of technology) this would seem to be a far more fruitful area for major
recoveries than tv.
Funding such enterprises remains a problem,
for most of us it's a labour of love costing both time and money but there
is a definite thrill when you find something."
Full list of Treasure Hunt Recoveries:
Message from Paul Fiander Head of BBC Information
(included at request of the BBC)