It’s sometimes much more difficult than you’d think to check on the archive status of a potentially missing programme.
We do have the excellent http://www.lostshows.com, which covers many programmes and genres, but not absolutely everything.
The searchable archive at the British Film Institute is also a good reference point, but does confusingly also list things that they don’t have!
Even the broadcasters, or keepers of the archive are not always totally sure what they own.
I can appreciate the difficulty when it comes to having thousands and thousands of hours of filmed material, but it seems to be my experience that it is often the smaller archives that are the least organized.
This may be due to having less experience or a lower budget, but, as a thumb rule it definitely seems to be the case.
One must remember that there aren’t one or two archives in Britain, there are many.
Some ITV companies in particular often had their archives transferred from one owner to another (after a franchise was lost), and in one case I know of, the archive sits at multiple sites with multiple owners for what presumably – during the regional ITV company’s period of network operations – sat in one place!
I’ve found – as usual – a few things on YouTube this week. I decide to spend a few hours trolling the site looking for shows to do with Thames TV. I think only one at the most is likely to be missing and not with the archive, but that’s fine, all finds are good finds!
I also came across the pilot to Channel 4’s most durable show Countdown. apparently it was not broadcast at the time, and the tape – according to the poster, came from the producers.
Pilot shows are very interesting historically because broadcasters are often toying with the format. Plus, of course, some pilot programmes do not make into the schedules.
One I’d love to find that didn’t get broadcast as a series – early ’80s again, apparently – is Andy Partridge of XTC presenting a children’s game show called “Matchmakers”.
No-one has ever seen the footage of that!
Until next time,