11th Dec2017

The BFI’s “Missing Believed Wiped” season gets horrific!

by Phil Wheat

The BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped returns to BFI Southbank this December to present British television rediscoveries, not seen by audiences for decades, most since their original transmission dates…. The bespoke line-up of TV gems feature some of the countries most-loved television celebrities and iconic characters including Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part: Sex Before Marriage, Cilla Black in her eponymous BBC show featuring Dudley Moore , Jimmy Edwards in Whack-O!, a rare interview with Peter Davison about playing Doctor Who, an appearance by future Doctor Who Patrick Troughton from ITV’s early police drama, No Hiding Place plus a significant screen debut from a young Pete Postlethwaite.

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However for Nerdly readers, one of the real highlights of this edition of Missing Believed Wiped is the uncovering of TV horror Late Night Horror: The Corpse Can’t Play. Originally broadcast on 3 May, 1968 on BBC2 this is the only surviving episode from the BBC’s spine-tingling anthology series of atmospheric chillers, set at a children’s birthday party where an uninvited guest delivers some unusual and horrifying variations on the usual party games.

As well as screening rare complete episodes, Missing Believed Wiped offers a chance to view recovered clips with a wider cultural significance. Highlights from a recently digitized video collection includes a James Bond set visit on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) for Granada TV’s children’s cinema show Clapperboard, hosted by Chris Kelly. In addition there are rare interviews with Doctor Who’s Peter Davison, here discussing his thoughts on being the 5th incarnation of the legendary Time Lord as well as influential BBC visual effects designer Mat Irvine (Blake’s 7, Doctor Who, The Tripods), who talks about Blake’s 7 iconic Liberator spacecraft.

From the press release:

Lost for 50 years and thought only to survive in part, Till Death Us Do: Sex Before Marriage, originally broadcast on 2 January, 1967 on BBC1, sees Warren Mitchell’s Alf Garnett rail against the permissive society, featuring guest star John Junkin alongside regular cast members Dandy Nichols, Anthony Booth and Una Stubbs. Although the existence of this missing episode from the 2nd series has been known for some years, previous attempts to screen the episode had been refused with the print in the hands of a private collector. Having recently changed hands, MBW is delighted that access has been granted for this special one off screening, for one of 1960s best known and controversial UK television characters.

Following last year’s successful screening of a previously lost episode of Jimmy Edwards’s popular 1950s BBC school-themed comedy romp Whack-O!, this year’s MBW programme includes a 1959 episode entitled The Empty Cash Box. Written by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden and starring Jimmy Edwards as the cane-happy headmaster, this episode was originally broadcast on the BBC on 1st December 1959.

A genuine national treasure and much-missed performer and presenter, Cilla Black is remembered here with a rare screening of an episode from her previously lost BBC 60s pop/variety show, Cilla. Screened in full for the first time since its original transmission on 26 March, 1968, Cilla features performances from Roy Hudd, The Dudley Moore Trio and Cilla herself, a fascinating record of 60s pop culture.

During the 1970s, a key strength of the drama department at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham was its ability to unearth exciting new acting, writing and directing talent. Running from 1973 for ten series, Second City First’s half-hour original drama slot proved highly influential, launching a spectacular range of ‘regional talent’ including Willy Russell, Mike Leigh, Mike Newell, Julie Walters, Brian Glover, Alison Steadman and many others, offering a diversity of representation, comparable with the best television drama today.

Another great find, Second City Firsts: Thwum, originally broadcast in 1975, features a young Pete Postlethwaite in his earliest television appearance. This sci-fi themed short play sees UFO fanatic Bernard (Paul Moriarty), trying to convince a skeptical reporter (Pete Postlethwaite) to cover the story of an imminent alien craft landing. This almost complete copy (2 minutes missing) was recovered from a domestic video recording kept by director Pedr James (Our Friends in the North, Martin Chuzzlewit) and we are delighted that Pedr will be joining us to introduce the screening and reveal the fascinating story behind the production, Pete Postlethwaite’s debut and the tape’s survival.

A late addition to the programme is an extract from a recent discovery, an episode of the influential and long thought lost ITV police drama No Hiding Place which was found in Australia. Attracting over 7 million viewers at its peak in the mid-1960s, the series became ITV’s best known police drama, making household names of its principal cast. Hailed for its authentic portrayal of local law enforcement matters the show holds an important place in the history of British independent television production.

Of the 236 episodes produced by Associated Rediffusion, only 20 complete episodes were previously known to survive in Britain. The show’s success meant it was sold to other territories, including Australia where it broadcast on ABC. Detection work from The Kaleidoscope Archive lead to the positive identification of the National Film and Sound Archive, Australia (NFSA)’s solitary episode as a missing part of the show. Two Blind Mice (Series 2, Episode 5) first broadcast on 2 June 1960, is notable both for being the 2nd earliest known surviving episode and for its guest appearance by future Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton.

Missing Believed Wiped takes place across two sessions on Saturday 16th December.

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