Radio Times Treasure Hunt for lost TV and radio gems draws huge response
An update on our search for old and missing recordings.
The Radio Times Treasure Hunt for lost gems from our TV and radio past, which we launched in October, has sparked hundreds of responses.
Steve Arnold, founder of our partner organisation, the Radio Circle, reports: "Over 80 per cent of what’s being offered is radio, so we’ve been very busy. The range of material is quite remarkable, from pre-war programmes on 78rpm discs to cassette recordings made in the 1990s.
"Our team of volunteers is carefully checking each item offered against the catalogues to see if it actually is missing."
Keith Wickham, the Radio Circle’s restoration expert, is keen to point out that, even if a show is already present in the archives, they are careful not to discard alternative copies too quickly. Quality differences or edits in different recordings mean that a restored show can be made from a dozen or so off-air copies.
Richard Harrison, the Circle’s media specialist, says that much of what is coming forward is on 1/4-inch reels that were in common use from the mid-'50s.
"Some of the tapes are unlabelled so we won’t know what they contain until they can be played," he adds. "The number of mystery tapes runs into the hundreds so it will take a while to work through them all.
"But I feel a sense of anticipation every time I lace up a spool on the tape desk: it just might contain another gem, such as the Hancock’s Half Hour I discovered recently."
Any verified finds will be announced later in Radio Times, but the good news is that programmes unearthed so far include classic panel games, comedy, plays and DJ-hosted music shows, some being early examples of commercial radio.
While recordings of missing TV shows are rarer, a few interesting offers have been made to us. Some are soundtracks of missing programmes (notably the BBC’s commentary on the Apollo 11 Moon landing), but we’ve also been offered items on film, including music performances from the late '60s.
Do please continue to contact us with news of anything you unearth.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write (but don’t send any tapes at this stage, please!) to: Treasure Hunt, Radio Times, 44 Brook Green, London W6 7BT.
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