Category Archives: Broadcasts

BBC Radio 4 Extra to air long-lost episodes of Life with The Lyons

Life with The Lyons cast

Life with The Lyons: Ben Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels with children Richard and Barbara Lyon.

A MASSIVE collection of Life with The Lyons episodes has come to light, with select shows set to be broadcast as a tribute to late series writer Bob Block.

A Scottish collector and fan recently contacted the BBC after hearing an episode of the popular ’50s radio sitcom aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Only three editions of the show, starring real-life man and wife Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels, survive in the BBC Archives, but the fan had over 200 recordings in his collection

Radio 4 Extra has now announced that a season of lost episodes from the “Scottish collection” will be broadcast in the “near future” on the digital station, as a tribute to Lyons scriptwriter Bob Block, who died last month.

The recordings are taken from star Ben Lyon’s original reels and are said to be in “very good condition”.

Life with The Lyons was one of the BBC’s earliest domestic sit-coms.

Ditching the typical musical interludes in BBC radio comedies of the time, the show, which also starred Lyon and Daniels’ children, Barbara and Richard, ran for ten series between 1950 and 1961.

It proved so successful that it later switched to TV.

In addition to writing for Life with The Lyons, Bob Block was also the creator and writer of Robert’s Robots, Pardon My Genie, Galloping Galaxies, and fondly-remembered BBC children’s series Rentaghost.

He died on April 17, 2011, aged 90.

READ ON: BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra Blog (May 7, 2011)


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Some of Our Archives Were Missing repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra

Stuart Maconie

Stuart Maconie presents a selection of recovered BBC radio shows.

A SELECTION of previously-missing radio shows including the untransmitted pilot of It Sticks Out Half a Mileare currently on the BBC iPlayer.

Some of Our Archives Were Missing, presented by Stuart Maconie, offers a selection of shows previously thought lost, but since returned to the BBC Archive.

The three-hour show – repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra on Saturday, April 30,  and available to listen to again until Friday, May 6, 2011 – features:

  • Comedy Parade: Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Bolshie Man (1971)
  • Thirty Minute Theatre: The Green Machine (1975)
  • Story Time: Eyewitness Accounts – The Great Fire of London (1970)
  • Things Could Be Worse (1976)
  • The Worst Show on the Wireless (1975)

First broadcast in 2004 on BBC7, Some of Our Archives Were Missing features programmes returned to the BBC through its now-defunct BBC Archive Treasure Hunt campaign.

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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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Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes

PREVIOUSLY lost recordings featuring celebrated comedy duo Morcambe and Wise are to be aired for the first time in over 50 years.

Morcambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes documents the rediscovery of 45 hours’ worth of material – including episodes of their first radio show – found last year during a clear-out.

The BBC Radio 4 programme, presented by impressionist Jon Culshaw has been made by Whistledown. The independent radio company was contacted by Doreen Wise, widow of Ernie, after she came across two boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and a leather suitcase packed with 78rpm acetates.

These were passed on to Whistledown radio producer David Prest, who says that “three-quarters” of the old recordings were missing from the archives.

He said: “There were 45 hours of tape and we worked out that three-quarters of this stuff was thought lost. The BBC hadn’t kept much of it, but Ernie had.

RESTORED: Producer David Prest cleaning one of the 78rmp acetates.

“After six months of restoration, we had a little piece of history – the missing link between their stage and TV careers.”

The most important find is a near-complete run of Morcambe and Wise’s first radio show, You’re Only Young Once, made for the BBC BBC Northern Home Service between November 1953 and June 1954.

Also found were the fledgling duo’s appearances on BBC radio programmes Variety Bandbox and Variety Fanfare going back to 1949, sound copies of their Sixties’ Great Yarmouth and Blackpool stage-shows, song demos and audio doodles, and the speeches from a 1974 Variety Club lunch held in their honour.

You’re Only Young Once featured skits, songs and cameos from fellow comics such as Bob Monkhouse and Harry Secombe, and, according to William Cook, author of Morecambe & Wise Untold, are important for illustrating the evolution of their comedy.

He said: “They were never Northern comics in the vein of George Formby. They looked across the Pond to that Abbott & Costello style of quick-fire repartee.

Jon Culshaw, a Morcambe and Wise fan, narrates The Garage Tapes.

“It’s recognisably Morecambe & Wise. But it’s like The Beatles’ Hamburg tapes. They’re almost playing cover versions, haven’t yet discovered the thing that makes them special.”

The garage tapes are believed to be ‘run off’ copies recorded at 33/4 ips by studio engineers immediately after the recordings, and acetate copies for which Doreen Wise paid the studio engineer a few shillings.

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Garage Find Brings Us Sunshine

Morecambe and Wise

Bring Me Sunshine: Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

LOST recordings from the early career of legendary comedy due Morecambe and Wise have been unearthed in a garage.

Around 45 hours’ worth of material was discovered by Ernie’s widow Doreen while preparing to move home six months ago. The double act had paid the sound engineer a few shillings at a time to make copies of their recordings.

The material – on acetate discs and reel-to-reel tapes – dates from the Fifties. The treasure trove of lost comedy includes the pairs’ long-lost first radio show You’re Only Young Once, aired on the BBC Northern Home Service between November 1953 and June 1954 and featuring guests including Bob Monkhouse and Harry Secombe.

Audio from the pilot for their early 1960s ATV series was also found as well as master copies of songs, after-dinner speeches and tapes of end-of-the pier shows.

Following Doreen’s discovery, Morecambe and Wise’s former agents contacted independent radio firm Whistledown to investigate what could be done with the material.

BBC experts were able to restore some, but not all, of the old recordings, and highlights will be aired later this year on Radio 4.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said: ‘’The lost tapes are both a bit of comedy history and BBC history as well as entertaining in themselves. It is good stuff that’s never been heard before and raw stuff from the early Fifties.

‘Some of the sketches were remade for the Seventies. There was a famous Dick Turpin sketch with double entendres which started out in ’53 or ’54 and ended up on TV in around 1975.”

The hour-long collection of highlights – Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes – will air 9am, May 4, presented by Jon Culshaw. It is also reported that BBC Radio 4 or 7 is in negotiations to broadcast all the unheard material – around 25 shows’ worth.

Morecambe and Wise began their partnership in 1941. They reached the peak of the career with their 1977 Christmas Show, which attracted 28 million viewers. Morecambe died in 1984, and Wise in 1999.

The story of the garage tapes has been reported widely.  You can read more on Chortle and the Daily Mail.

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Doctor Who Documentary

BBC Radio 4 is giving Doctor Who fans and missing episode enthusiasts in general a special Christmas treat on Boxing Day.

The station is airing Doctor Who: The Lost Episodes in its regular Archive On 4 spot this Saturday, December 26, with presenter Shaun Ley investigating the story of the BBC’s flagship show’s missing heritage.

For the documentary, journalist and self-confessed Who fan Shaun interviewed attendees at this year’s Missing In Action convention, but criminally did not include the series’ number one fan Ian Levine, through whose intervention many early episodes were saved from destruction.

Apart from that rather glaring oversight, The Lost Episodes seems like it will be an enjoyable, insightful broadcast. Here’s the official blurb:

“As a new era begins for Doctor Who, Shaun Ley investigates the story of The Lost Episodes.

“Many diehard Doctor Who fans will be familiar with the number 108. This is the number of episodes from the Sixties which are still missing. When the BBC went through its film archive in 1978, it found that more than 200 black-and-white episodes, recorded between 1963 and 1969, had disappeared. This is the story of the recovery of some of those lost episodes and the search for those that are still missing.

“In the early years of Doctor Who, programmes were recorded on videotape which was recycled because it was expensive. But many were also transferred to film and sold to be broadcast around the world. In this programme, Shaun Ley meets the amateur archivists who have scoured the globe for those elusive film cans. He finds out how the first episode of The Crusade (broadcast in March 1965) turned up in New Zealand, and he hears from some of the actors whose work on the early series was wiped, including Pauline Collins, Peter Purves, Bernard Kay and Deborah Watling.

“Where the films have been lost, there are still the audio recordings made by children, Shaun included, who sat in front of their televisions with a tape recorder. The best of these have been cleaned up and used to reconstruct the soundtracks of the missing episodes. But the audio and the still photographs can’t replace the real thing and the question remains – how many episodes will eventually be found?”

  • Archive On 4 – Doctor Who: The Lost Episodes airs Boxing Day, Saturday 26 December, 8-9pm on BBC RADIO 4


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‘Lost’ Kenneth Williams Script Gets Radio Airing

A NEW BBC production based on a ‘lost’ Kenneth Williams radio script gets its first broadcast this September.

Twice Ken Is Plenty was written in 1966 by Kenneth Horne and his ghost writer, Mollie Millest, and was intended to be performed by Horne and Williams (who starred together in hugely popular radio comedies Beyond Our Ken and Round The Horne).

Twice Ken Is Plenty: Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Horne

Kenneth Williams and Kenneth Horne.

The script, however, was never produced and was forgotten about until it was rediscovered by writer and broadcaster Wes Butters, who bought it as part of a collection of Williams memorabilia being sold on eBay by the late star’s godson, Robert Chiddell.

Butters introduces the show, recorded back in June, which according to the BBC “finds the two Kenneths working together in advance of their own radio programme and follows them as they journey around Broadcasting House meeting a weird and wonderful assortment of characters.”

It stars Round The Horne… Revisited soundalikes Robin Sebastian and Jonathan Rigby, reprising their respective roles as Williams and Horne, and Charles Armstrong as the Announcer.

  • Twice Ken Is Plenty will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tueday, September 1st, at 11.30am. For more information visit the BBC site here or The British Comedy Guide, here.

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Forthcoming Raiders Of The Lost Archive TV Broadcasts

The final two parts of ITV’s Raiders of the Lost Archive are set to be broadcast this month – two years after the screening of the first episode.

Raiders of the Lost Archive, dubbed ‘an indulgent trawl through the archives’, was ITV’s contribution to the search for missing TV footage. Between 2006 – 7, researchers at the commercial station teamed up with classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope to hunt down lost gems for the series, calling on members of the public to aid the search.

The fruits of that search included 1968 ATV play ‘A Matter of Diamonds’, broadcast under the ITV Playhouse banner and notable for featuring singer Cliff Richard in a straight role. For a full list of finds, click here.

Of course, being produced by ITV Raiders was focused on celebrities being re-united with their early TV appearances more than anything else. Having comedian a, star of Max & Paddy’s Road To Nowhere, present only underlined the fact the show was seen as witless entertainment rather than an informative look at British TV history and its re-discovery.

Turned into a fast-paced clip show with more emphasis on the celebrities’ reactions to seeing their younger selves than on the footage itself, episode one of this 30-minute black and white bastard child of nostalgia shows and Surprise, Surprise was screened by ITV on January 16, 2007, then promptly pulled from the schedules.

Now it seems ITV 1 has decided to screen the remaining two episodes, at 10.35pm on Tuesdays July 21st and 28th respectively. The shows will include clips featuring Morecambe and Wise, Bill Oddie, Noddy Holder and Johnny Briggs.

Let’s hope it was worth the wait.

  • If you would like to know what featured in episode one of Raiders of the Lost Archive, check out news stories (January 7, 2007) from the Sunday Times here and Manchester Evening News here.

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Forgotten Betjeman Film Aired For First Time

Former Poet Laureate John Betjeman (1906 – 84) made a number of BBC documentaries surveying the urban landscapes of Britain, but one remained unseen – until now.

The half-hour programme, A Poet Goes North, was made in 1968 and followed the poet and architectural critic as he explored the Victorian heritage of Leeds.

However, the film never got an airing by the BBC – for reasons that still remain unclear.

Incredibly A Poet Goes North was then forgotten about until 20 years ago, when a copy of the film was found by Dr Kevin Grady on top of a cupboard in the offices of Leeds Civic Trust, of which he is director.

The Trust had been handed a copy because it contributed 200 guineas towards the cost of the film and co-operated with the BBC during its production.

A copy also survived in the BBC’s film archive, but would most likely have remained unknown gathering dust if Dr Grady, director of the Trust, hadn’t stumbled upon it.

He mentioned the programme to Richard Taylor, a Leeds-based BBC producer who has been instrumental in finally getting the production the attention it rightly deserves.

According to Martin Wainwright of the Guardian, it ‘shows Betjeman on classic form, denouncing newly built tower blocks and suggesting – with foresight since borne out – that Leeds’s back-to-back redbrick terraces would outlive them.’

Binny Baker, of the Yorkshire Film Archive, who restored the film told the Guardian: ‘It’s just so exciting to find a treasure like this. We’ve got a star – Sir John Betjeman – and nobody’s seen it. That is a real find.’

The story of the film’s re-discovery, along with clips, received a limited broadcast in the Yorkshire area on Wednesday, February 18th on BBC1’s Inside Out.

A national broadcast is expected to follow.

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