Category Archives: BBC

Recording of Sean Connery’s first lead TV role discovered after more than 50 years

requiemforheavyweightSean Connery’s first-ever on-screen performance has been rediscovered more than 50 years after its first and only TV broadcast.

The “priceless” recording of ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’, a one-off BBC drama, was found gathering dust in a London attic.

Aired in 1957, it saw a young Connery in the lead role of washed-up boxer Malcolm “Mountain” McClintock and introduced the nation to the actor’s trademark Scottish brogue.

Like all TV shows in the 1950s, the 75-minute programme was not officially recorded but broadcast live from a studio.

But director Alvin Rakoff recognised Connery’s talent and “thought it prudent, for posterity’s sake” to capture an audio recording of the show for his own private collection.

It was stowed under old blankets in his loft for safekeeping but was “soon forgotten” as his burgeoning Hollywood career took off.

The Emmy Award-winning director, now 87, finally dug out the vintage reel-to-reel tape on Monday after inadvertently reminding himself of its existence during a media interview – about Connery’s accent – last week.

Until now, no-one – including Connery, now 83, – knew that a copy existed.

Canadian-born Rakoff, whose movies have featured cinematic icons like Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence, Peter Sellers, Kenneth More and Alan Bates, said: “It was my habit in those days to take audio recordings of some of my better work. It was the only way of capturing it given that everything went out live.

“Sean was tall and strikingly handsome – he was an obvious star in the making – so I decided to take a copy for posterity, should my inkling come true. An international legion of 007 fans will be pleased it did.”

Requiem for a Heavyweight was originally a teleplay that was later adapted for British and American TV. It was also made into a feature film starring Quinn, Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney.

The British version was screened on March 31 1957 in the BBC’s Sunday Night Theatre anthology, and starred Warren Mitchell and Michael Caine.

Connery, who went on to play James Bond five years later, was cast as the lead.

But the BBC only began recording programmes in the ’60s. Until then, all shows were live. It means thousands of programmes, including Requiem for a Heavyweight, will never be seen again.

Luckily Rakoff, who launched Connery’s career with earlier walk-on parts, set-up a line feed and captured the show as audio.

He remembered the reels’ existence after discussing Connery’s accent in an interview, and “dug them out” after nearly six decades “gathering grime”.

Rakoff, who moved to the UK from Canada to work for the BBC, has just completed his latest work, ‘The Seven Einsteins’ – a novel set for big-screen adaptation.

He said: “It is remarkable that the tapes survived, unharmed, for so long. It’s also remarkable that I remembered them – they could easily have been left in the attic for another 60 years.”

Although no actual footage of Requiem for a Heavyweight exists, experts say the recording is a “major coup” for the British TV and film industry.

Chris Perry of The Kaleidoscope Archive, the classic TV and film organisation which has taken the reels for digitisation, said: “It goes without saying that this audio, featuring Sean Connery’s first on-screen lead performance, is priceless.

“It’s a snapshot of a golden era of television when programmes were broadcast live to an expectant nation.”

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Kaleidoscope uncovers lost BBC drama in RNLI vault

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CLASSIC TV organisation Kaleidoscope has uncovered a 1950s BBC maritime drama long thought lost at sea.

Broadcast in 1959, Medico — a documentary drama about emergency medical services for ships at sea — was thought not to have been recorded.

But following enquiries with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), which had lent one of its lifeboats for use in the programme, Kaleidoscope discovered the complete play in the charity’s vaults.

Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope describes the recovery of Medico as a “remarkable discovery”.

He said: “It all started on the Kaleidoscope Facebook page a few weeks ago.

“Regular readers of our Facebook page will remember Elaine Trethowan enquiring about a lost film featuring her father and the RNLI Penlee Lifeboat.

“Eventually James Cellan Jones remembered it was a play/drama called Medico and made by the BBC in 1959.

“Not surprisingly, a 1959 BBC play was not recorded according to the BBC Archives so I began to hunt for the film inserts, hoping they may survive.

“The hunt drew an initial blank but undeterred I approached the RNLI to check their vaults. They also said it was missing, but there were some cans from the 1950s that featured the Penlee Lifeboat.

“I asked them to check the cans. It was the complete BBC play Medico, which the BBC maintain was never recorded!”

Medico, described as an exciting drama-doc about the maritime emergency medical services provided by the Post Office, was broadcast by the BBC on January 7, 1959.

Starring Welsh character actor Meredith Edwards, and featuring TV and film director James Cellan Jones among the production team, the programme won writer Robert Barr the Prix Italia for live documentary.

Kaleidoscope now have a transfer of the play and plan to screen it for the first time in over 50 years at its Missing Believed Wiped in the Heart of the Midlands event in Stourbridge, West Midlands, on Saturday, April 5.

Tickets are priced £20 and are available now at www.kaleidoscopepublishing.co.uk

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Declassified at last – Lost episode of Hugh and I Spy recovered by Kaleidoscope

A LOST episode of Hugh and I Spy — featuring popular 1960s TV double-act Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd — has been recovered by Kaleidoscope.Hugh and I

The classic TV organisation joined forces with the Tim Disney Archive to buy the 16mm print of the episode, Tea or Coffin, from a collector on internet auction site eBay.

The recovered show, broadcast by the BBC on February 26, 1968, is said to be in “superb” condition and is now the only episode that remains from the six-part series — a sequel to the popular Hugh and I sitcom, which ran from 1962 – 67.

It will be shown at the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped event later this year.

In Hugh and I Spy, written by John Chapman and produced by David Croft, Terry and Hugh found themselves unwillingly involved in espionage and double-dealing.

As befitting the spy genre, each episode ended in a cliffhanger.

Tea or Coffin was the final episode of Hugh and I Spy and starred Fred Emney and Rex Garner (series regulars) plus Derek Sydney, Robert Gillespie, Jasmina Hamzavi, Francisca Tu, David Toguri, Roger Carey, Julie Mendez, Dino Shafeek, Rafiq Anwar, Paul Anil and John Louis Mansi.

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Lost Rolling Stones Top of the Pops footage discovered

PRECIOUS CLIPS of The Rolling Stones perfoming 19th Nervous Breakdown on Top of the Pops has been unearthed by Wiped News’s resident columnist Ray Langstone.

Ray – who writes the Raider of the Lost Archive column – found the footage from the wiped performance in a 1966 BBC documentary on women’s mental health, “WOMEN,WOMEN,WOMEN: COMING TO TERMS”, which still resides in the BBC archives.

The rediscovered footage consists of two short clips from the lost Top of the Pops appearance, broadcast 03/02/66, totalling 33 seconds in total.

It features in new BBC Two programme The Rolling Stones at the BBC, which “celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones by delving into the vaults of archive material for a decade by decade retrospective of the band’s greatest hits”.

You can also see the clips of 19th Nervous Breakdown below.

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Pick of the Pops appeal – can you help?

THE MAKERS of a new TV documentary on the UK singles chart are asking for help in locating lost episodes of Pick of the Pops.

David Maguire, a researcher working on BBC Four television documentary ’60 Years of the UK Singles Chart’, which is due to be broadcast in November to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the chart, says he is very keen to hear from anyone who might have recordings of the BBC Radio chart show.

He said: “I am a researcher working on a BBC Four television documentary ’60 Years of the UK Singles Chart’, which is due to be broadcast in November to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the chart.

“A major focus of our programme is on how the charts were disseminated, and BBC radio programmes such as ‘Pick of the Pops’ played a very significant role in this.

“I am trying to locate a copy of the first ever ‘Pick of the Pops’ programme broadcast by Alan Freeman in September 1961. I am also trying to locate a copy of Alan Freeman’s ‘Pick of the Pops’ broadcast in the first week of March 1967 when Englebert Humperdink’s ‘Release Me’ beat The Beatles ‘Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields’  to the number 1 spot.

“Neither of these episodes remain in the BBC archive. Has anyone heard these recordings before, or  know where I might be able to obtain a copy? I would be very interested to talk to anyone who could help with this, or anyone who could potentially supply other early recordings of Pick of the Pops from 1961 / 1962.”

If you can assist David, contact him at david.maguire@bbc.co.uk

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Lost Doctor Who footage and musical performances by the Spencer Davis Group unearthed

RARE behind-the-scenes footage from Doctor Who has been discovered.

The brief clip shows movie Doctor Peter Cushing preparing to battle arch foe the Daleks during the making of an early big-screen adaptation of the long-running sci-fi series.

The precious black and white footage, taken on the set of cult sixties film Dalek Invasion of Earth: 2150 A.D., also captures director Gordon Flemyng — father of actor Jason — behind camera as he talks with stunt-men and plans out the movie’s climatic final scenes.

The material is the first to be uncovered documenting the 1966 film and forms part of a ‘lost’ TV show found recently in the possession of a collector living in Wales.

Though the BBC wiped the master-tape of A Whole Scene Going, a copy of the magazine show — also featuring an interview with Flemyng and musical performances by the Spencer Davis Group — was made and found its way on to the collector’s circuit.

Classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope, which recovered the unique 16mm film print in conjunction with the Tim Disney Archive, said the find will “delight” Doctor Who and vintage music fans alike.

Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope said: “A Whole Scene Going is an exciting TV find on two fronts.

“For Doctor Who fans there’s a fascinating glimpse into the making of feature film Dalek Invasion of Earth: 2150 A.D., showing Peter Cushing as the Doctor on the set along with director Gordon Flemyng and lots of Daleks.

“For music lovers there are priceless performances by classic British beat band the Spencer Davis Group as well as American singer/songwriter Judy Collins.

“Sixties pop shows were routinely shown live or wiped after transmission so it’s great to find one that slipped past the eraser’s magnet!”

Tim Disney of the TDA said: “How this print came into existence or found it’s way to a Welsh village, we’ll never know.

“However, one theory is that it could have been film recorded by BBC Wales from the network feed down the line from London for transmission at a later date.”

A Whole Scene Going was a short-lived TV teen culture show hosted by Wendy Varnels and Barry Fantoni.

The recovered edition, from March ’66, captures Flemyng at Shepperton Studios while directing an action-packed finale involving Horror icon Cushing and an army of Robomen thwarting a Dalek plan to drop a giant bomb into the Earth’s core.

Cushing played the Timelord — currently portrayed on TV by Matt Smith — in two Flemyng-directed films during the height of “Dalekmania”, also starring in 1964’s box-office hit Doctor Who and the Daleks.

Interspersed with the footage is an interview with Flemyng — who died in 1995, aged 61 — revealing that he preferred making “entertainment pictures”as opposed to more high-brow films, but “didn’t take them any less seriously”.

The emergence of A Whole Scene Going has also got music fans excited with the discovery of a rare interview with the Spencer Davis Group, who also perform chart-topping single “Somebody Help Me Now” in the studio.

Kaleidoscope and the TDA — who bought the film print privately from the collector — are currently in the process of returning a digital copy to the BBC Archive.

Eager fans will get the chance to see the recovered footage for the first time in more than four decades at Kaleidoscope’s next screening event, taking place in Stourbridge, West Midlands, on Saturday, June 9.

Tim Disney of the TDA added: “Dr Who was not the primary draw for us in recovering this programme, but the content of the programme as a whole — the exciting period of popular culture it reflects and it’s place in the history of British television.

“Thankfully, after the collector discovered he had a unique TV recording he was keen to ensure it would be returned to the BBC archives, turning down silly money offers to deal instead with Kaleidoscope and the TDA.”

To see a clip from the recovered show visit www.timdisneyarchive.com. For more information about the screening visit www.kaleidoscope.org.uk.

Click here for full contents of the recovered episode of A Whole Scene Going.

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Hallelujah! Lost episode of Our Man at St. Mark’s recovered

A LOST episode of Our Man at St. Mark’s — the ’60s ecclesiastical comedy starring Leslie Philips — has been recovered after being bought on internet auction site eBay.

Our Man at St. Mark's

PRAISE BE: Leslie Philips starred in A-R comedy show Our Man at St. Mark's.

The 16mm film print of “A Previous Conviction” was bought with the assistance of classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope and The Tim Disney Archive.

It’s recovery brings the total number of surviving episodes to four and doubles the number of surviving episodes to feature Carry On . . . star Philips in the lead role.

It will now be transferred to digital format before being offered for loan to the British Film Institute. A public screening is also expected at some point “in the not too distant future”.

Broadcast by A-R between 1963 and 1965, Our Man at St. Mark’s was a “light-hearted but superior” comedy that revolved around the day-to-day exploits of a parish vicar.

“A Previous Conviction” (Tx 23/10/63) hails from the first series of the show and stars regular cast members Philips, as the slightly eccentric Reverend Andrew Parker, Anne Lawson as his girlfriend Anne Gibson and Joan Hickson as his housekeeper, Mrs Pace.

In the episode — guest-starring Warren Mitchell, Frank Tregear and Freddie Jones — Revd Parker’s attempt to give an ex-convict a fresh start in life becomes more than complicated when Anne decides to take a hand.

With the recovery of the print, four out of the 35 broadcast episodes are now known to exist. The others are the very first episode, “The Facts of Life” (Tx 25/09/63), “We Do It on Saturday” (Tx 18/06/64) and “A Funny Thing Happened to Amanda” (Tx 26/04/65).

Philips only appeared in series one of the show. For the remaining two series (1964–5), Donald Sinden took over the charge of St Mark’s as vicar Stephen Young.

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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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First TV appearance of Sir Ian McKellen found after 50 years

Screenshot from The Tomb of His AncestorsA LONG-LOST BBC drama starring a young Sir Ian McKellen in his first TV role has been found after nearly 50 years.

The veteran actor, currently filming The Hobbit in New Zealand, couldn’t look more different to his role as grey-bearded wizard Gandalf in the rediscovered gem.

He appears as a dark-haired and fresh-faced 25-year-old in the black-and-white period drama “The Tomb Of His Ancestors”, made by the BBC in 1964.

McKellen plays a character named Plowden in the 50-minute production (tx 09.08.64), based on a short story by Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.

The programme, filmed as part of series “Kipling: The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling”, was no longer thought to exist – a victim of the BBC’s once-common policy of wiping or simply throwing away old recordings.

But a single print survived in a private collection belonging to a historical society in Illinois, America, and was bought by a consortium led by classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope.

Speaking for the consortium, also comprising missing episode enthusiasts Steve Birt and Tim Disney, Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry described the McKellen drama as an “important find”.

He said: “The Tomb Of His Ancestors is a vintage piece of BBC drama set in the days of the British Raj and is especially important because of its connection to Sir Ian McKellen.

“For the first time in nearly 50 years we can once again watch the very first TV appearance by one of the UK’s greatest living actors.”

Broadcast between July and December 1964, Kipling featured performances from the likes of David Hemmings, Michael Bates, Alfred Burke, Barbara Murray, Keith Barron and Patrick Troughton.

The new discovery doubles the number of known surviving Kipling episodes from one to two, with 23 out of the original 25 still missing.

Also recovered by the consortium were two other previously believed-lost BBC programmes: a 1950s ballet production, Giselle, and a 1963 episode of the BBC series Suspense, starring Sylvia Simms and entitled “Miranda and a Salesman” (tx 19.08.63).

You can watch a clip from “The Tomb Of His Ancestors” below (uploaded to Tim Disney’s YouTube channel).

Read On: “Sir Ian McKellen’s precious television debut is rediscovered!” (story on Tim Disney’s website www.findaclip.co.uk).

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UnLOCked: The Library of Congress Discoveries at the BFI

Theatre 625: World of George Orwell - 1984

SELECTED highlights from the treasure-trove of early British TV dramas unearthed at the Library of Congress are to be screened by the BFI.

Over 100 hours of lost British TV dramas were discovered in the archives of The Library of Congress (LOC) last year, in what was hailed as the “most important” retrieval of material since the search for such footage began.

Now, the British Film Institute (BFI), which orchestrated the recovery of the shows from America, has announced that it set to screen a number of the recovered gems during a two-month season dedicated to the finds.

UnLOCked: The Library of Congress Discoveries runs across June and July at BFI Southbank, with the first month dedicated to 20th century dramas and the second focused on pre-20th century.

Screenings scheduled for June are as follows: Theatre 625: “World of George Orwell – 1984”, Theatre 625: “Dr Knock” (starring Leonard Rossiter), Twentieth Century Theatre: “Colombe” (starring Sean Connery), Play of the Week: “The Typewriter” (starring Jeremy Brett), and Twentieth Century Theatre: The Insect Play.

Dick Fiddy of the BFI says the forthcoming season demonstrates the institute’s determination to provide access to the finds.

He said: “When such material is found, there are concerns expressed in some quarters that the footage will just disappear into various archives,
never to see the light of day, partly because of the perceived reluctance on the part of broadcasters and product releasers to exploit vintage black-and-white material.

“Indeed, many similar titles to those found in the LOC have survived intact but remain unseen and unreleased on archive shelves.

“However, the BFI – which has mounted numerous
seasons over the years to exploit such materials and encouraged various regional venues to do the same – was determined to provide access to these finds.

“Accordingly, June sees the launch of a two-month season of highlights from the collection, which will then be followed by regular screenings of further titles through various stranded programming.”

READ ON:

Lost Sean Connery TV footage found in US – BBC News (September 14, 2010)

Footage of British stars unearthed in lost archive in America – The Telegraph (September 14, 2010).

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