I wish I had recorded the 1979 first series of NTNOCN, which had Chris Langham who was replaced by Griff Rhys Jones as there was a great sketch on Spare Part Surgery where CL (all gowned up) was performing a heart operation and when he realised that the patient's heart was no good he dashed off to the Spare Parts department (as you would get in say in a car dealership).
The chap behind the counter offered him a heart on a metal plate, which he checked by holding two fingers on it and checking it with his watch, but said it was no good. The man behind the counter then became flustered and in getting out another heart accidentally knocked over a tray of eyeballs, which bounced all over the place.
Mayhem ensued as CL rushed back to the operating theatre with the heart he was happy with. Very clever sketch!
I remember the Contact 1200 sketch (which I think I have somewhere), but the one that always stuck in my mind is when Rowan Atkinson appeared as a Martian making contact with planet Earth, and he was using a device that was on the desk in front of him as an electronic interpreter, which converted his Martian gobbledygook into English, but it started to go wrong as the batteries started to run out and so you got bit of "Martian" and English mixed up together and at one point he swore and said he would never buy cheap batteries from Woolworths or some such shop.
Oh, and one other, which was a spoof on the Carling Black Label adverts (some of the best ads ever though - especially the Dambusters one and their spoof on the Old Spice ad):-
Mel Smith and RW or it might have be GRJ were policemen sitting in a squad car by the side of the road, when a car came speeding up the road swerving all over the place, hitting things etc. It then turned round and came back down the road doing much the same thing. Mel & Co just quietly watched it doing this and as it drove past, Mel said "Bet he drinks Carling Black Label" and they set off in pursuit of the drunken driver. Very clever and funny.
As for the copyright issues etc., I think this is just a pathetic excuse to save them having to bother. I have bought DVDs, especially American ones that have many stars, actors, comedians etc. in them - they don't seem to have a problem in the States with issuing shows with both dead and live people in them.
I think we are seriously short-changed in this country, after all it was us that paid for them at the end of the day, but of course in many aspects of broadcasting in this country - the viewer/listener is of no consequence!!!
Arrogance. I think some of these producers want bringing down a peg or two.