Category Archives: Discoveries

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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Filed under Audio, BBC, Discoveries, Drama, Kaleidoscope, Television

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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Guest Post: Refinding Rod ‘the Mod’ Stewart documentary after 48 years

ROD STEWART’S film archive has survived remarkably well compared to other artists, mostly thanks to infrequent television appearances.  In fact with the exception of seven Top Of The Pops performances, everything of note broadcast in the UK from mid-1973 onwards survives intact.

Rod StewartAs for the sixties, all that has ever come to light has been poor quality footage of Steampacket at the 1965 Richmond Jazz Festival and what appears to be home movie footage of the Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East in New York dubbed with ‘Shapes Of Things’. Around a decade ago a short Swedish film of the Jeff Beck Group in the recording studio with Mickie Most and featuring great footage of ‘Plynth’ was discovered. And that’s it!

Rod Stewart’s most significant sixties television appearance was a 30-minute documentary titled ‘An Easter With Rod’ (otherwise known as ‘Rod The Mod’), produced by Francis Megahy and Fred Burnley. This was sold as “a portrait of a typical mod” and screened on 2 November 1965.

There has never been any serious hope of finding this film which had been assumed to have been wiped.  Last week that assumption changed when the BBC announced they had found this documentary at the British Film Institute (BFI) in “bits and pieces”.

I had always suspected ‘An Easter With Rod’ still existed due to a quote from Geoff Wright (one of Rod’s early managers) in George Tremlett’s 1976 paperback The Rod Stewart Story:

“He would turn down any idea that he thought was ‘pop’ rather than ‘blues’. That was something he repeated again when he was interviewed in that film ‘Rod The Mod’, which is an interesting film to see now because many of the opinions he expressed then he has flatly contradicted in his later career.”

But when Long John Baldry spoke to Smiler magazine in 1993 hopes faded when in response to a question about concerts being filmed, he said:

“There was a documentary, but maybe Rod has put pressure on for it to be destroyed. It was a show called ‘Rod The Mod’. It showed us travelling round all these places in a vile van we had which was a Bovril cattle van. I’d bought it for £40 and had it converted. Our heating device was actually a Kerosene Stove secured with ropes!

“Lord knows what would have happened if we had collided with anything, we’d have all gone up in smoke! The film was a history of us going hither and hither, going up to Stoke on Trent and places like that. The crew were there all the time. It was a black and white thing and I know that when it was broadcast it was called ‘Rod The Mod’ because it was built around Rod. It was very interesting but it’s never seen the light of day since.”

‘An Easter With Rod’ has been sought many times over the years by numerous writers of books and producers of television documentaries but no one ever managed to locate it. The most recent search was three years ago by Andy Neill, author of the excellent Faces biography ‘Had Me A Real Good Time’. Andy is a thorough and meticulous researcher and it was fair to assume that if he could not locate it, then it did not exist.

The discovery of ‘An Easter With Rod’ is one of the most significant musical finds ever of swinging sixties London – not just for Rod Stewart fans, but as a visual documentation of the R&B scene that was emerging, the fashions and attitudes and for unique footage of London architecture that has long disappeared – most notably the newsagent’s run by Rod’s parents that he grew up above.

David Bowie’s lost Top Of The Pops clip made the national news and was the subject of newspaper articles and huge interest on internet forums – and quite rightly too.  Whereas, so far, the reaction to this equally significant find has been luke warm at best.

On 9 July a BBC Rod Stewart documentary used around 10 minutes of footage out of the 30-minutes that was originally broadcast in 1965. The film deserves to be lovingly re-assembled and broadcast in full. This is musical history in the making featuring one of the biggest singers the World has ever seen.

If, like me, you believe this important piece of musical and cultural social history deserves to be re-assembled and broadcast in full please join our campaign to make it happen.

Please email the BBC in your own words telling them how much you enjoyed Tuesday’s documentary and how much you would like to see the full Rod The Mod sixties documentary in its entirety. And don’t settle for a standard reply!

You can also join our forthcoming ‘Rod The Mod’ Facebook campaign to be announced shortly at www.rodstewartfanclub.com

JOHN GRAY
Smiler Retro

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Filed under Discoveries, Music, Sixties' Music

Latest Raymond of the Lost Archive Column

THE latest Raymond of the Lost Archive column, by Wiped News’ resident episode hunter Ray Langstone, is now available. With 2013 only weeks away, Ray looks back at another strong year for recoveries.

You can read it here.

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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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Filed under BBC, Discoveries, Music, Sixties' Music, Television, Top of the Pops

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE FIND OF 2011?

LOOKING back on 2011, it’s unquestionably been a great year for missing episodes enthusiasts.

From the finds that made headline news, such as the discovery of David Bowie’s legendary performance of The Jean Genie on Top of the Pops and the return of not one but two long-absent episodes of Doctor Who, to the relatively unsung yet nevertheless important recoveries that helped fill gaps in the archives, we’ve been spoilt with the wealth of recovered TV and radio shows, not to mention lost films, uncovered in the last 12 months.

But what has been the find of 2011 that has got you most excited? With that question in mind, Wiped News has put together a little poll to find out which recovery made you, the readers, happiest.

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Raymond of the Lost Archive new column

WIPED NEWS‘ intrepid episode hunter Raymond of the Lost Archive  is back with another column, which you can read here.

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Latest Raymond of the Lost Archive column

WIPED NEWS’S regular columnist has quite a few discoveries to share, as well a few tales to tell of his experiences trawling the archives.

Read Ray’s latest column here.

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Latest Raymond of the Lost Archive column

HE’S BACK! Raymond of the Lost Archive, Wiped News’ regular columnist, shares some of the latest discoveries he and others have been making in TV archives across the world.

Read Ray’s latest column here.

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Son Of Comic Kenny Windsor Locates Missing TV Debut on New Faces

Kenny Windsor

Kenny Windsor on New Faces

A RETIRED comedian is set to receive an extra special Christmas present this year after his son tracked down a recording of his one and only TV appearance.

Kenneth Elcocks went under the stage name of ‘Kenny Windsor’ when he appeared before 10 million viewers on hit ITV talent show New Faces in 1975.

The performance featured his favourite character, Farmer George, the Shropshire Lad, and earned the comic fourth place on the scoreboard for that week.

It proved to be his only time on the box, however, and over 30 years later, funnyman Kenneth is yet to see his one moment in the spotlight.

But that’s about to change thanks to son Lee, who secretly set out to find a copy of the show (tx 8/2/75) after discovering the mastertape had long-since been wiped.

After only two months searching, the 32-year-old, from Telford, managed to find an old domestic recording in the possession of his dad’s former agent.

The family now plan to surprise Kenneth, 73, with a DVD conversion in time for December 25th.

Speaking to Wiped News, Lee says he left “no stone unturned” in his hunt for the episode.

He said: “Dad has never seen a recording of the show as it went out on air. He said he would love to see it again but probably never would. It was then that I thought I would give it a go and try and get a copy.

“I thought a simple email to ITV would do the trick but back in the early to mid-70s, both they and the BBC recorded over TV shows as tape was expensive.

“I put an appeal out for anybody who may have a recording of the show and the chap who saw it just happened to be my dad’s old agent. He got in touch and confirmed he had a tape.”

Lee got in contact with his local paper, the Shropshire Star, as well as BBC Radio Shropshire and the ATV Network website to publicise his search. He also emailed former New Faces judge Tony Hatch and three of the other acts who had appeared on the show

Earlier this month, he heard back from talent agent Bernie Lewis, who had kept a recording on a Phillips N1500 tape along with a “boxful” of promotional posters, photographs and other things.

Lee is now looking forward to finally getting to see his dad on the small screen.

“The tape has not been stored in an attic but in a cupboard in the house, so hopefully the recording will still be OK.

“I already have a contact who will convert it for for me, Colin McCormick from Video99, and I’m sure he will try his best.

“I cannot wait to see it. I’ve never seen a moving image of my dad in his younger days, He was 36 when he speared on the show. He will be amazed I’m sure and we may even see some tears.”

New Faces marked the first and last TV appearance of character comedian Kenny Windsor, though he continued to do clubs and pubs after the show for many years.

According to Lee, his father’s low score on the night was down to a last-minute change of material.

He said: “He had rehearsed four times during the day and everything was going well, but just before the main recording one of the staff at the show told him that he couldn’t do a major piece of the act, because the joke was not suitable for 6pm on a Saturday night!

“He had to drop that part of the act last minute and quickly had to think of something else to fill the time.”

Lee added: “The winner of that nights show was a chap called Dennis D’ell, who back in the mid sixties was the lead singer in a band called The Honeycombs who had a number one hit with ‘Have I the Right?

“The day after there was a story in a national newspaper saying that he should have never have been on the show, let alone allowed to win it as he was already ‘famous’. It was a bit of a scandal, but nothing compared to the X-Factor scandals you get now!”

Lee plans to visit his father, who lives in Bath, on December 4th and present him with the DVD and memorabilia, along with a scrapbook about the quest to find it.

“His old scrapbook now has the empty pages filled with every email and all the newspaper media he’s had recently but knows nothing about,” said Lee.

“I’ve told his wife that we will be visiting on the 4th December with the recording. She is over the moon, and sworn to secrecy!”

In his hunt, Lee has also found an audio recording of another lost episode of New Faces, and now means to go on tracking down old episodes.

He said: “I had a reply to one of my appeals that went out on ATV network from a chap who also appeared on New Faces, but had not got a copy.

“The show, broadcast December 3, 1977, features the band he was in, Dry Ice, but it seems the episode is not in the ITV archives.

“It turns out the man does, however, have an audio copy of the show, which is better than nothing.

“My dad’s old agent has also said something very interesting. He had acts before and after my dad who also went on New Faces, and he has tapes of them all!

“What condition – I don’t know – but watch this space!”

Running between 29 September, 1973 and April 2, 1978, New Faces was famous for being a tough talent show .

It was produced in Birmingham by ATV in front of a live studio audience and became notorious for regular panellist Tony Hatch’s scathing critique of some acts.

Other regulars judges included Terry Wogan, Clive James, Noel Edmonds and Arthur Askey.

Many early episodes have been lost including both Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood’s appearances, though VHS copies of these have since been located.

The show was revived briefly by Central from 1986 to 1988 and hosted by former winner, comedienne Marti Caine.

READ ON: The ATV News Network story can be found here. The story as it appeared in the Shropshire Star is here. WordPress blog Excerpts from a 70′s Teenage Rock Opera has a post sharing personal memories of watching New Faces back in the seventies.

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Filed under Appeals, Comedy, Discoveries, Finds, Interview, ITV, Television