Dad's Army missing episodes

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The Dad's Army missing episodes are some portions of the British sitcom programme Dad's Army, which ran for nine series between 1968 and 1977. Certain episodes are no longer held by the BBC, as between 1967 and 1978 the BBC routinely deleted archive programmes. Three out of six episodes from Series 2 and two of the four Christmas sketches (1968 and 1970) are missing from BBC archives.

Background[edit]

Until 1978, when the BBC Film and Videotape Library was created as a permanent archive for all its programmes, the BBC had no central archive. The videotapes and film recordings stored in the BBC's various libraries were often either wiped to allow recording of newer programmes without increasing costs, or destroyed to free storage space.[1] The BBC Film Library kept only some programmes that were made on film, whilst the Engineering Department handled videotape but had no mandate to retain material. Some shows were kept by BBC Enterprises, but they too had limited storage space and only kept material that was considered commercially exploitable. In the mid-1970s, BBC Enterprises disposed of much older material for which the rights to sell the programmes had expired, and the Engineering Department routinely wiped videotapes that were no longer formally[clarification needed] required.

The first two series (12 episodes) of Dad's Army were made in black-and-white, with most episodes made on two-inch quad videotape for initial broadcast. The first series was thought to have commercial potential overseas, and was offered for sale to foreign broadcasters by BBC Enterprises. To this end, 16mm film copies were made of the first six episodes by the BBC Engineering Department before the master videotapes were wiped, and these were retained by the Film Unit.

In the event, the first series sold very poorly and so BBC Enterprises did not express any interest in selling Series 2 abroad. Thus very few film copies of Series 2 episodes were made. Dad's Army was made in colour from Series 3 onwards; overseas interest in the series picked up, and BBC Enterprises resumed offering the episodes for sale in film and video format; this meant they were kept permanently.

Recovery[edit]

Dad's Army series 2 remains incomplete, with three out of six episodes still missing from BBC archives (as of March 2017). However, the situation was previously much worse - five of the six episodes were no longer held by the BBC in 1978.

Episode 10, "Sgt. Wilson's Little Secret", survived the cull as it was recorded onto 35 mm film instead of videotape, either because it required additional editing (which was easier to do to film before the advent of electronic timecode editing) or because no videotape recording facilities were available in the recording period. This fortuitously assured the episode's survival: as a production made on film, it fell within the BBC Film Library's remit of retaining filmed productions.[1] In 1998, David Croft made an appeal on BBC Two asking people if they held an off air video copy of the 5 remaining episodes.

Episodes 7 "Operation Kilt" and 8 "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage" were also believed lost until they were returned to the BBC as 16 mm film recordings in 2001.[2] It has since been established that the two episodes were film recorded to show to executives at Columbia Pictures during discussions on the structure of the Dad's Army feature film. The film copies were then junked and retrieved from a skip by an opportunistic collector and stored in a garden shed for 30 years until returned to the BBC.

The three Series 2 episodes that remain missing are Episodes 9 "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", 11 "A Stripe for Frazer" and 12 "Under Fire".[3] The only currently remaining hope for recovery is either that the lost episodes were recorded off-air during their original UK broadcasts using an early videotape recorder such as a Shibaden or Sony CV-2000 machine, or 16mm tele-recordings being taken out of a skip. However these three episodes were among the 67 adapted for BBC Radio in the 1970s, and recordings of the radio episodes still exist.

Colour episodes[edit]

The colour episodes in series 3-9 have been remarkably fortunate compared with many of their contemporaries. Missing episodes were returned from overseas broadcasters, mainly from those in Europe, New Zealand and Australia, with the result that all full-length episodes now exist in the original colour format.

Restoration[edit]

Colour restoration[edit]

Left: The 16mm black and white copy. Right: The restored colour version.

By the 1990s Episode 18, "Room at the Bottom" from Series 3, survived only as a 16mm black-and-white film recording. Because of the way in which the original black & white telerecordings were made, colour information was sometimes inadvertently preserved in them even though it could not be displayed. In 2008 a computer technique of colour recovery was developed to recover the information from telerecordings to create a usable colour signal. "Room at the Bottom" was one of the first telerecordings to undergo this process. It was broadcast in colour for the first time in almost forty years on 13 December 2008.[4]

Animated episode[edit]

In 2008 the soundtrack of the episode "A Stripe for Frazer" was rediscovered, and in 2015, a better copy was restored to the BBC archive. In January 2016, it was announced that the BBC were creating an animated version of the episode, to be combined with the newly discovered copy of the audio, which was released via the BBC Store online service.[5][6]

Pre production for "A Stripe for Frazer" began in October 2015 and 12 weeks of animation time the finished animated film was released on BBC Store 4 February 2016.[7] The animation was produced by Charles Norton and his team.[7]

List of missing episodes[edit]

Episodes
Series Episode Title Recorded Broadcast Notes
Video Audio Radio episode
2
009
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker 27 October 1968 15 March 1969 Missing Missing Exists
011
A Stripe for Frazer 15 November 1968 29 March 1969 Missing[1] Exists[8] Exists
012
Under Fire 27 November 1968 5 April 1969 Missing Missing Exists
Sketches
No Title Recorded First broadcast Notes
Video Audio Radio
001 Santa On Patrol 27 October 1968 25 December 1968 Missing Exists[8] No radio version
003 Cornish Floral Dance 4 December 1970 25 December 1970 Missing Exists Exists[2]

1.^ The episode has been animated and was released on 4 February 2016.[9]
2.^ Video still missing, amateur soundtrack recording found (can be heard as an extra on the Christmas Specials DVD). The script was recycled for a scene in the radio adaptation of The Godiva Affair and as part of the Dad's Army stage show (a segment of which was also included in the 1975 Royal Variety Performance).

Christmas sketches[edit]

Two of the four Christmas sketches which aired as part of Christmas Night with the Stars from 1968 "Santa On Patrol" and 1970 "Cornish Floral Dance" (which were made in colour) remain missing, though both exist as audio recordings.

Further research[edit]

Documentaries[edit]

  • Dad's Army:Missing Presumed Wiped (2001) – a 30-minute documentary about episode recoveries and restoration.[10]
  • Time Shift – Missing Believed Wiped (2003) – a general documentary about archive television, featuring some clips and discussions about Dad's Amy.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Documentary: Dad's Army: Missing Presumed Wiped, BBC, 2001
  2. ^ "Lost Dad's Army shows found". BBC News. BBC. 1 June 2001. Retrieved 9 August 2008. 
  3. ^ The missing episodes at the BBC Treasure Hunt site, URL accessed 4 June 2006
  4. ^ "Press Office - Dad's Army episode to be seen in colour". BBC. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "'Lost' Dad's Army episode to be released as an animation". Radio Times. 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2016-01-07. 
  6. ^ https://store.bbc.com/a-stripe-for-frazer
  7. ^ a b Bowles, Chris (5 February 2016). "Dad's Army Animation / Release day". LinkedIn. Retrieved 5 October 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Missing Episodes". Dad's Army Appreciation Society. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Lost Dad's Army episode to be released as an animation". chortle.co.uk. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Dad's Army: the Lost Episodes". BBC Genome. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  11. ^ "Have A Very Merry Digital Christmas!". BBC. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 

External links[edit]