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Comedies crowd top 100 missing TV shows list

Tuesday 24th April 2018, 6:08pm

Taxi!. Sid Stone (Sid James). Copyright: BBC
  • TV archivists Kaleidoscope have published a list of the top 100 most-wanted missing TV shows
  • Comedies are abundant in the list, making up 24 of its entries
  • Dudley Moore & Peter Cook's Not Only... But Also... is named the most-wanted comedy

Television archivist organisation Kaleidoscope has published a list of the top 100 most wanted missing TV programmes.

The Birmingham-based company works with the BBC, ITV, the BFI and others to search for, identify, digitise and restore episodes that are otherwise "missing believed wiped". The phenomenon largely affects television produced in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when there were only limited opportunities for repeats, and - before the home market of VHS, DVD or download - no further commercial opportunities foreseen in keeping and expanding archives of then extremely expensive video tape.

A number of earlier programmes, such as Hancock's Half Hour, were never recorded at all, but broadcast live.

Kaleidoscope have been involved in dozens of finds over the past three decades, helping to return programmes including Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood's first television appearances; The Likely Lads; Till Death Us Do Part; and Do Not Adjust Your Set to official archives.

Curated by Ray Langstone, the new list includes some 24 comedy titles, plus further comic-entertainment formats. The comedy titles, plus counts of how many episodes are missing out of all those produced, are indicated below.

96. The Dick Emery Show (90 of 169 episodes)
86. Sykes And A... (36 of 60 episodes)
85. Our House (36 of 39 episodes)
84. Twice A Fortnight (all 11 episodes)
82. The Frost Report (13 of 28 episodes)
75. Sunday Night At The London Palladium (379 of 388 episodes)
72. Broaden Your Mind (all 13 episodes)
64. A Show Called Fred (all 5 episodes) / Son Of Fred (7 of 8 episodes)
63. The Complete And Utter History Of Britain (4 of 6 episodes)
57. The Liver Birds (4 of 87 episodes)

The Liver Birds. Image shows from L to R: Beryl Hennessey (Polly James), Dawn (Pauline Collins). Copyright: BBC

56. Celebrity Squares (1975) (91 of 137 episodes)
55. Scott On... (7 of 31 episodes)
51. P. G. Wodehouse's The World Of Wooster (17 of 20 episodes)
48. Taxi! (25 of 26 episodes)
37. On The Margin (all 6 episodes)
35. The Gnomes Of Dulwich (all 6 episodes)
21. At Last The 1948 Show (2 of 13 episodes)
20. Till Death Us Do Part (18 of 56 episodes)
19. Do Not Adjust Your Set (17 of 29 episodes)
17. The Likely Lads (12 of 21 episodes)
13. Hancock's Half Hour (26 of 63 episodes)
10. Dad's Army (5 of 84 episodes)
9. Not Only... But Also... (14 of 23 episodes)

Some entries on the list may raise eyebrows, as episodes do exist in part. Every missing episode of Till Death Us Do Part, for example, exists as an audio soundtrack recording, as do a number of editions of Hancock's Half Hour.

Sykes And A.... Image shows from L to R: Hat (Hattie Jacques), Eric (Eric Sykes). Copyright: BBC

Other episodes are also known to be held in the hands of private collectors who have thus far refused to loan or return them to either the BFI or the original broadcaster.

Surprising omissions from the top 100 include missing editions of The Morecambe & Wise Show, whilst other known missing programmes include comedy and variety series broadcast as recently as the 1990s by early satellite TV network BSB. It is hoped that some of these may yet exist on VHS.

Other notable comic inclusions in Kaleidoscope's list include LWT coverage of the first Moon landings David Frost's Moon Party, which featured serious discussion, sketches and entertainment; numerous light-entertainment variety series hosted by the likes of Lulu, Cliff Richard and Cilla Black; talent contest Opportunity Knocks; and childrens' series Tiswas.

The top three most-wanted programmes were named as The Avengers, Top Of The Pops, and Doctor Who.

Anyone who believes they may have a missing episode, in whole or in part, is asked to please contact Kaleidoscope ( or Dick Fiddy at the BFI.

The full list is as follows:

100. Opportunity Knocks (ABC/Thames)
99. Cliff Richard shows (BBC)
98. Play Away (BBC)
97. Today (Thames)
96. The Dick Emery Show (BBC)
95. The Informer (Rediffusion)
94. Orlando (Rediffusion)
93. Lulu shows (BBC)
92. The Adventures Of Don Quick (LWT)
91. How (Southern)
90. Theatre 625 (BBC)
89. C.A.T.S Eyes (TVS)
88. Little Big Time (Southern)
87. Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (BBC)
86. Sykes And A... (BBC)
85. Our House (ABC)
84. Twice A Fortnight (BBC)
83. Boy Meets Girls (ABC)
82. The Frost Report (BBC)
81. Crane (Rediffusion)
80. Out Of Town (Southern)
79. Sexton Blake (Rediffusion/Thames)
78. Late Night Horror (BBC)
77. Scene At 6.30 (Granada)
76. Time For Blackburn (Southern)
75. Sunday Night At The London Palladium (ATV)
74. Haunted (ABC)
73. The Big Pull (BBC)
72. Broaden Your Mind (BBC)
71. The Beat Room (BBC)
70. The Newcomers (BBC)
69. Compact (BBC)
68. Cilla Black shows (BBC)
67. A Whole Scene Going (BBC)
66. Dee Time / The Simon Dee Show (BBC/LWT)
65. Fraggle Rock (TVS)
64. A Show Called Fred / Son Of Fred (Rediffusion)
63. The Complete And Utter History Of Britain (LWT)
62. Paul Temple (BBC)
61. BBC Moon landing coverage (BBC)
60. Oh Boy! (ABC)
59. Timeslip (in colour) (ATV)
58. 45 / Rock On With 45 (Granada)
57. The Liver Birds (BBC)
56. Celebrity Squares (ATV)
55. Scott On... (BBC)
54. Police Surgeon (ABC)
53. David Frost's Moon Party (LWT)
52. Magpie (Thames)
51. P. G. Wodehouse's The World Of Wooster (BBC)
50. Dr Finlay's Casebook (BBC)
49. The Adventure Game (BBC)
48. Taxi! (BBC)
47. Play For Today (BBC)
46. Freewheelers (Southern)
45. No Hiding Place (Rediffusion)
44. Madhouse On Castle Street (BBC)
43. The Adventures Of Twizzle (Rediffusion)
42. Hunters Walk (ATV)
41. Counterstrike (BBC)
40. Softly Softly (BBC)
39. The Golden Shot (ATV)
38. Tiswas (ATV)
37. On The Margin (BBC)
36. The Wednesday Play (BBC)
35. The Gnomes Of Dulwich (BBC)
34. Pipkins (ATV)
33. Juke Box Jury (BBC)
32. Crossroads (ATV)
31. Armchair Theatre (ABC/Thames)
30. Disco 2 (BBC)
29. Thank Your Lucky Stars (ABC)
28. The Road (a Nigel Kneale play) (BBC)
27. Out Of This World (ABC)
26. Sherlock Holmes (BBC)
25. Colour Me Pop (BBC)
24. Dramarama (TVS)
23. Dixon Of Dock Green (BBC)
22. Mystery And Imagination (ABC/Thames)
21. At Last The 1948 Show (Rediffusion)
20. Till Death Us Do Part (BBC)
19. Do Not Adjust Your Set (Rediffusion/Thames)
18. Lift Off (With Ayshea) (Granada)
17. The Likely Lads (BBC)
16. Ready Steady Go! (Rediffusion)
15. Z Cars (BBC)
14. Adam Adamant Lives! (BBC)
13. Hancock's Half Hour (BBC)
12. A For Andromeda (BBC)
11. The Quatermass Experiment (BBC)
10. Dad's Army (BBC)
9. Not Only... But Also... (BBC)
8. Public Eye (ABC/Thames)
7. Doomwatch (BBC)
6. Ace Of Wands (Thames)
5. Callan (ABC/Thames)
4. Out Of The Unknown (BBC)
3. The Avengers (ABC)
2. Top Of The Pops (BBC)
1. Doctor Who (BBC)

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