Category Archives: Culture

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.”


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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Online Trawl Catches Missing BBC Arts Film

AN AMATEUR missing TV enthusiast has discovered a lost BBC film featuring celebrated poet Adrian Henri, while scouring the internet.

Late Night Line-UpThe film, from 1968, profiles the Brighton Festival, where Liverpool Scene poet Henri was performing.

Filmed in colour and lasting 24 and a half minutes, the footage was originally used as an insert on pioneering BBC2 arts programme Late Night Line-Up.

It was located in the Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton by Ray Langstone, who says he was searching online catalogues “just in case” they contained any missing TV material.

He said: “I was searching online through a number of archives and I decided to start with the regional screen archives, just in case that there were any missing TV episodes in them.

“I thought it unlikely, but I thought ‘why not?’. I found a few TV clips in the Screen South Archives, and these included filmed inserts from Nationwide, Blue Peter and a Southern TV news report from the late ’50s.

“When I found the Late Night Line-Up in there, I had no idea it was missing. But after checking with people on the Missing Episodes Forum and contacting the BBC, it transpired it was.”

The film looks at the content of the Brighton Festival, then only in its second year, and considers its potential for development.

Description Shots of Brighton seafront on an overcast day open the film. LNLU presenter Joan Bakewell is filmed walking along Madeira Drive before interviewing a host of Festival participants.

These include artistic director Ian Hunter talking about the Festival’s value to local residents, musicians Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pré discussing Festival concerts, composer David Cain assessing audience reaction to the premiere of his new work “Mass For Tomorrow”, playwright Janet Burroway discussing art culture at the Festival while riding aboard the Volks Railway and sculptor Jesse Watkins talking about his piece “The Talking Sculpture”.

Adrian Henri

Adrian Henri

Also featured is poet Adrian Henri, who performs his science fiction-inspired poems while traversing playground rides dressed as an astronaut.

The interviews are interspersed with images of Festival events and exhibits. Students from the College of Arts create chalk drawings on the pavement of King’s Road Arches, electronic music from “Mass for Tomorrow” is played over images of St Peter’s Church and colourful modern sculptures by sculptors including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Francis Morland occupy the grounds of The Royal Pavilion.

In addition, the film contains a series of vox pops which gauge the reactions of the visitors to the Festival. According to the archive entry, most are “bemused” by the modern artworks.

After finding the film, Ray contacted BBC Archive’s Andrew Martin, who confirmed it was lost.

He said: “It is missing – specifically we have a record of it existing but it is listed as officially missing, whereas Infax does not normally list missing programmes from the ’60s. So now we know where it went.”

The BBC Archive team are currently arranging for its return. Originally broadcast on May 13, 1968, it is now one of the earliest BBC colour films known to still exist.

A delighted Ray has also found other material known to be missing from BBC shows, including Top of the Pops performances uploaded to YouTube, and says he is “continuing to search online” in his spare moments.

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