Missing Believed Wiped twenty-fifth anniversary: Doctor Who, Morecambe and Wise, Basil Brush and More

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The BFI celebrates Missing Believed Wiped’s twenty-fifth birthday on 15 December at the BFI Southbank, London, with a selection of rediscovered “lost” television material including top-quality music, comedy and variety titles, as well as welcome repeats for much-requested items, taking place across two sessions.

In the first session will be the premiere of the animated mini-episode of the now-lost first episode of the 1968 Doctor Who story, The Wheelin Space, starring Patrick Troughton. There will be a be joined by a number of special guests including Philip Morris, who will be presenting some of the rare television gems he’s recently unearthed, including missing episodes of Morecambe and Wise, Sid James’s sitcom Citizen James and children’s television favourite Basil Brush, including the only surviving live performance of The Kinks performing their hit "Days". Pop star and songwriter Vince Hill looks back over his distinguished sixty-year career in music and also featured is a rare performance by Aretha Franklin on British television.

The BFI National Archive has grown to become one of the largest and most important collections of British television in the world. This special anniversary edition of Missing Believed Wiped offers a chance for reflection, looking back at some of the success stories and achievements from the last 25 years, which have deepened our understanding of British television heritage.

Missing Believed Wiped has been spearheaded by Dick Fiddy. BFI Archive Television programmer. Commenting on this milestone he says:


“Over the last twenty-five years our events have showcased some of the most important finds to have been located and returned to official archives. Tracking down these "lost" treasures has been a joint effort between the BFI, many individuals and organisations.

"One of our most impressive discoveries in recent years consisted of a hundred hours of very important missing single UK plays, including the 1965 version of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, and now held by the BFI National Archive. Such finds energise the quest and inspire us to continue the search to plug more gaps in the British television archives”


Missing Believed Wiped Vince Hill

Session 1: Music and More 15:15, NFT1, BFI Southbank



Celebrating his sixtieth year in showbiz, Vince Hill, the multi-million selling recording artist and star of BBC TV and radio, best known for his 1967 number two hit "Edelweiss", will introduce Vince Hill at The Talk of the Town (BBC 1969), the primetime BBC TV special filmed at the popular nightclub at London’s Hippodrome. Unseen for nearly fifty years since its original transmission, the 16mm film came from Vince’s personal collection, discovered when searching through metal canisters in his lock-up.

This special affords a snapshot of Vince Hill's live show of the time, when he was performing sell out shows up and down the UK, as well as starring in his own BBC Radio series, and appearing as a regular star at the London Palladium. Vince had already made his name with several big UK chart hits and Vince Hill at The Talk of the Town features the only surviving performance of "Edelweiss" on BBC television. Vince Hill kindly donated the 16mm film to the BFI National Archive.

Alongside this will be the premiere of a brand new ten-minute animated Doctor Who mini-episode based on the now lost first part of the 1968 Doctor Who story, The Wheel in Space, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and Frazer Hines as Jamie. This new mini-episode, produced by Charles Norton and directed by AnneMarie Walsh, who will introduce the BFI Southbank screening, will be included on a future BBC DVD release next year.

Missing Believed Wiped Aretha Franklin

Back by popular demand is the infamous Stars and Garters segment that proved such a huge hit at the 2016 event. Also showing is a once-missing clip from It’s Lulu (BBC 1970). The full episode was previously screened at Missing Believed Wiped in 2007. The clip is included here as a tribute to The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who sings “Spirit in the Dark”.

Session 2: Philip Morris Presents 17:45, NFT1, BFI Southbank



Helping the BFI celebrate Missing Believed Wiped’s special anniversary, CEO of Television International Enterprises Archives (TIEA) Philip Morris introduces a special selection of rediscovered classics drawn exclusively from the TIEA Archive holdings. Travelling the world to track down missing episodes, Philip has over the years recovered a wealth of "lost" British television, much of it found in small television stations in foreign countries, and returned them to television archives in the UK. TIEA also assists television stations around the world to preserve their archives and digitise their back catalogue for future generations.

Missing Believed Wiped Morecambe and Wise

Among the clips and shows featured in this session are appearances from Missing Believed Wiped favourites Morecambe and Wise. Two shows from their first BBC series had been sent to Sierra Leone as audition prints from London, however research found that all Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation holdings had been destroyed during the civil war in the 1980s and they were long thought lost. The "lost" episode (BBC 1968) which is being screened was recovered by Philip Morris, who found the two episodes in a derelict cinema in Sierra Leone.

The programme also features the earliest surviving episode from the first series of The Basil Brush Show (BBC 1968). Located in Nigeria a few years ago, the episode was missing the last five minutes until recently. Now restored and complete, this episode contains the only surviving live performance of “Days” by The Kinks, as the Top of The Pops performance was wiped by the BBC.

Missing Believed Wiped Sid James

Missing Believed Wiped will also screen a rare episode, “The Day Out”, from the third and final series of Citizen James (BBC 1962). Sid James’s BBC sitcom ran from 1960 to 1962, and followed the exploits of Sid’s scheming charmer. It guest-starred Liz Fraser, who recently died in September, as the object of Sid’s wandering eye. This "lost" episode was recovered from Monaco Television, in an old store room during a clearout of their premises. On the news of this recent discovery of Citizen James, Reina James, his daughter, said:


“It’s wonderful that Missing Believed Wiped is giving audiences a chance to see Sid as Citizen James again in this ‘lost’ episode. And Liz Frazer too – they’re fantastic together. It’s a real treasure.”


Tickets for both Missing Believed Wiped sessions on 15 December are on sale to BFI members now and to the general public from 13 November. Details are at the BFI Southbank website

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Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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