Tag Archives: Alan Simpson

At Last… Another Episode of 1948 Show Recovered

At Last the 1948 ShowCOMEDY sketches featuring John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Marty Feldman and Frankie Howerd have come to light after being missing for over 40 years.

The long-lost material, dubbed “comedy gold dust”, also features early appearances by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Arthur Mullard and Yootha Joyce.

The black & white footage, which dates from the 1960s, was handed over to the British Film Institute as part of its ongoing campaign to plug gaps in the British TV archives.

Dick Fiddy, TV consultant at the BFI, says that a private collector is to thank for the recovery of a missing edition of “Monty Python” precursor “At Last The 1948 Show” and an absent episode of “The Frankie Howerd Show”.

He said: “Recently, a private collector contacted the BFI’s “Missing Believed Wiped” project and handed over two priceless missing items of 1960s TV comedy.

“It’s good news all round with these finds – they feature some of the UK’s finest clowns at their peak and are pure comedy gold dust.

What was found
At Last the 1948 Show, Associated Rediffusion, tx 31 Oct 1967, Series 2, Programme 6 Includes: Police Banquet/Return Of The Sydney Lotterbies/The Chartered Accountant dance/MI5 Banquet/Dentistry With A Difference/The Four Yorkshiremen
The Frankie Howerd Show, BBC tx 15.01.65 With Yootha Joyce, Arthur Mullard., Julian Orchard, Felix Bowness; Wr: Galton & Simpson; Prod: Duncan Wood

“The ‘Frankie Howerd Show’, for example, not only features more rare Frankie stuff but boasts a script from Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and – particularly precious – the great Yootha Joyce hamming it up as a tipsy vamp trying to have her way with the aghast Frankie.”

Until the late 1970s, broadcasters regularly wiped TV shows to re-use expensive video tape and save space in their archives.

Both newly-recovered shows were casualties of this purge.

Thames Television destroyed all but two episodes of famous pre-”Python” sketch series “The 1948 Show”, which ran between 1967 – 8 and starred John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Aimi Macdonald.

The BBC, meanwhile, wiped the entire second series run of “The Frankie Howerd Show”, aired in 1965.

Mr Fiddy says the BFI, in conjunction with key partner organisations including classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope, has done much to undo the damage.

He said: “The ‘1948 Show’ episode plugs yet another gap in what has become the most successful rebuilding project of the entire “Missing Believed Wiped” initiative.

“Material has come back from Sweden, Australia, industry personnel and private collectors to rebuild the once-thought-lost programme.

“This latest retrieval is a near-complete episode which can be restored with the help of an existing clip of one of the two missing sketches and an audio recording of the other.”

Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope added: “Once again our partner organisation the BFI have found some brilliant examples of previously-lost TV. Hats off to Dick Fiddy and his team for tracking down these hilarious episodes.”

Both items will be shown later this year at Missing Believed Wiped, to be held at BFI Southbank.

If you want to check if you have a missing item, please contact Dick Fiddy at the BFI (dick.fiddy@bfi.org.uk).


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Filed under BFI, Comedy, Finds, Kaleidoscope, Television

More Missing Hancock Set For Release

THIS year is turning out to be a treat for fans of Hancock’s Half Hour, with two new releases featuring missing episodes set to hit the shops in time for Christmas.

Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James’s Dad and The Diet is due out on November 5th 2009, according to Amazon.co.uk – the same day as Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest.

Both CDs have sourced their recordings from the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society (read an earlier story on the recovery of the TV episode soundtracks here). The THAS also holds a poor-quality recording of the radio series’ season three episode “How Hancock Won The War”.

The soon-to-be released radio episodes, “The Diet” and “Sid James’s Dad”, come from series three and four respectively and with the latter recording’s return, series four is now complete.

In “The Diet”, tx 7/12/55, Hancock is too fat for the part he is playing in a film, so he goes on a diet – and to the Turkish Baths. In “Sid James’s Dad”, tx 28/10/56, Sid is expecting a visit from his father, and, being ashamed to admit his true profession, has explained his appearances in court by telling the old man he is a judge. (Plot synopsises courtesy of www.railwaycuttings.co.uk)

  • Hancock: The Lost Radio Episodes: Sid James’s Dad and The Diet is available for pre-order on Amazon here, priced £8.80. The CD features an expanded sleeve note explaining how the episodes came to be released.

Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest includes two restored off-air audio recordings from series four of the TV show.

In “The Horror Serial”, tx 30/01/59, Hancock is in a nervous state after watching the last episode of Quatermass and the Pit on TV, especially when he discovers a strange object buried in his garden. Sid calls in the Army Bomb Disposal Squad, but Hancock is convinced that it is a Martian spaceship. It features John Le Mesurier and Hugh Lloyd.

In “The Beauty Contest”, tx 20/02/59, Hancock and Sid enter the council’s ‘Mr East Cheam’ contest. Naturally, both Hancock and Sid see themselves as natural winners. Hancock writer Alan Simpson appears in this episode.

  • Hancock: The ‘Lost’ TV Episodes: The Horror Serial and The Beauty Contest is available for pre-order over at Play.com, priced £6.99.

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Heads Up For Hancock Release!

The first of two CD releases featuring the soundtracks to missing TV episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour comes out at the start of July.

The season four episodes – “The Flight of the Red Shadow” (tx 23/01/1959) and “The Wrong Man” (tx 06/03/1959) – are released by BBC Audiobooks as a two-CD set on July 2, 2009,and are currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

In “The Flight of the Red Shadow” (aka “Desert Song”), Hancock is on the run from disgruntled members of the East Cheam Repertory Company. In order to escape, Hancock is forced to masquerade as the Maharaja of Renjipur, with disastrous consequences.

“The Wrong Man” sees Hancock and Sid called in to take part in a police identity parade. However, when a witness picks Hancock out for the burglary of a high street tobacconist, he has only days to clear his name.

In addition to series regulars Tony Hancock and Sid James, “The Flight of the Red Shadow” features Rolf Harris and small walk-ons for series creators/writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Simpson also appears briefly in “The Wrong Man”.

In total, 26 episodes of the TV version of Hancock’s Half Hour (1956 – 61) are missing, all from the first four seasons.

Before season five, HHH went out live and, sadly, the majority were never telerecorded.

Thankfully, some forward-thinking fans made off-air home recordings at the time.

Those soundtracks were returned by the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society to the BBC in late 2008 and consisted of the recordings featured on the forthcoming CD alongside further season four episodes: “Underpaid! Or, Grandad’s SOS” (tx 02/01/59); “The Horror Serial” (tx 30/01/59); “Matrimony Almost” (tx 13/02/59); and “The Beauty Contest” (tx 20/02/59).

A follow-up CD, featuring “The Horror Serial” and “The Beauty Contest”, is scheduled for November, and is also available for pre-order from Amazon here.

Both CDs will include explained sleeve notes explaining how the episodes came to be released.

Unfortunately though, according to comedy website Chortle the remaining two soundtracks may be too poor quality to ever get issued commercially.

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Lost TV Hancock Half Hours Get Audiobook Release

Soundtracks to two missing episodes of superlative 1950s sit-com Hancock’s Half Hour are set to be released on CD this summer.

The season four episodes – The Flight of the Red Shadow (tx 23/01/1959) and The Wrong Man (tx 06/03/1959) – are due to be released by BBC Audiobooks as a two-CD set on July 2, 2009,according to Amazon.

Like with many shows of the time, the master tapes to both episodes (written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson) were wiped by the BBC long ago, but fortunately fans recorded off-air audio copies.

These copies have been restored to make them as listenable as possible.

The recordings were recovered in December 2008 by the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society along with further season four episodes: Underpaid! Or, Grandad’s SOS; The Horror Serial; Matrimony Almost and The Beauty Contest.

In addition to series regulars Tony Hancock and Sid James, The Flight of the Red Shadow features Rolf Harris and small roles for series’ creators Galton and Simpson themselves. Alan Simpson also appears in The Wrong Man.

The forthcoming CD will include an explanded sleeve note explaining how the episodes came to be released.

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