COMEDY 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 (email@example.com).
Titles – At Last the 1948 Show
The Four Yorkshiremen sketch: (From left) John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Marty Feldman, Graham Chapman
Titles – The Frankie Howerd Show
Ooh err missus: Frankie Howerd embraced by a vampish Yootha Joyce