Five missing episodes of a television comedy starring Arthur Askey have been recovered.
Tapes were regularly discarded or recorded over from the 1950s onwards, resulting in the loss of many programmes. They were considered unimportant ephemera in the early days of television, and in the era before VHS, DVDs or repeat channels, had no further value, so the expensive tapes were recycled.
Recoveries focus on off-air recordings made by early collectors and archivists; copies made for sale and broadcast overseas; occasional copies made - or 'borrowed' by cast and crew members; and - as appears to be the case here - mis-cataloguing within rights holders' often cavernous archives.
Written by Dave Freeman, the six episodes of Arthur's Treasured Volumes are individual sitcom plays. Each began with Askey's real daughter, Anthea Askey, taking a different book from a library shelf and beginning to read as the story begins.
The episodes see the Askeys receive regular support from the likes of noted bit-part player, character actor Sam Kydd; a pre-Steptoe Wilfrid Brambell; Arthur Mullard; June Whitfield; Geoffrey Palmer; and others.
This weekend will see the BFI's annual Missing Believed Wiped screenings take place at its prestigious South Bank venue in central London. Presented in association with broadcasters and organisations such as Kaleidoscope, the event screens some of the best material previously thought lost but rediscovered within the previous year.
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