Lost television broadcast
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Lost television broadcasts are composed of mostly early television programs and series that for various reasons cannot be accounted for in personal collections or studio archives.
- 1 Reasons for loss
- 2 Significant lost broadcasts
- 3 Select list of TV programs with missing episodes
- 4 Recovery efforts
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Reasons for loss
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A significant amount of early television programming is not lost but rather was never recorded in the first place. Early broadcasting in all genres was live and sometimes performed repeatedly. Due to there being no means to record the broadcast, or because the content itself was thought to have little monetary or historical value it wasn't deemed necessary to save it. In the United Kingdom, much early programming was lost due to contractual demands by the actors' union to limit the rescreening of recorded performances.
Apart from Phonovision experiments by John Logie Baird, and some 280 rolls of 35mm film containing a number of Paul Nipkow television station broadcasts, no recordings of transmissions from 1939 or earlier are known to exist.
In 1947, Kinescope films became a viable method of recording broadcasts, but programs were only sporadically filmed or preserved. Tele-snaps of British television broadcasts also began in 1947 but are necessarily incomplete. Magnetic videotape technologies became a viable method to record and distribute material in 1956. Televised programming (especially that which was not considered viable for reruns) was still considered disposable. What was recorded was routinely destroyed by wiping and reusing the tapes until the rise of the home video industry in the 1970s.
The ability for home viewers to record programming was extremely limited; although a home viewer could record the video of a broadcast by kinescope recording onto 8 mm film throughout television history or record the audio of a broadcast onto audiotape beginning in the 1950s, one could generally not capture both on the same medium until super-8 debuted in the 1960s. Attempting to film a television broadcast using the kinescope process required positioning the camera directly in front of the screen, blocking the view of other people trying to watch. This would have been very disruptive to the television viewing experience and as such home movies of this kind are exceptionally rare. Audio recordings, which do not require obstructing the view of the screen are more common and numerous copies of otherwise lost television broadcasts exist. The growing availability of home video recording from the late 1970s was also a benefit for television producers and archivers as video tape was now economical enough for a home viewer to afford and enabled television networks the ability to save much of their programming as well.
Significant lost broadcasts
Like most other countries, only a small portion of the early decades of Australian TV programming has survived. Many economic, technical, social and regulatory forces combined to prevent large-scale preservation of Australian programs from this period, and also contributed to the later destruction of most of what was recorded at the time.
One fundamental structural fact is that in the first decade of Australian TV, 1956–1966, Australia produced very little original local content, compared to most other English-speaking nations. From the introduction of TV in Australia in 1956 to around 1964, the vast majority of locally produced original programming was made by the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of this was recorded, but little of that material has survived. Another fundamental fact, as noted above, is nearly all of the relatively small amount of original content produced by the two commercial networks operating in the same period (mainly consisting of news, sport, talk, game shows, and variety shows) was broadcast live, and was rarely recorded. One of the best-known and most often seen surviving recordings from this period is the footage that purports to be the recording of the inaugural broadcast of TCN-9 Sydney on 16 September 1956, but this is in fact a fabrication – the actual broadcast was not recorded at the time, so the station restaged it some days later, for archival and promotional purposes.
The low level of Australian TV content was due to a combination of factors specific to the Australian market. These included:
- the relatively high cost of local TV production (estimates in the period put the cost ratio at 10:1, compared to buying ready-made programs from the USA),
- the relatively small local market, and the small overseas market for Australian productions,
- the high level of competition from content sourced from the USA and the UK, and
- the absence of government-mandated local content regulations for commercial broadcasters (only the ABC was obliged to produce a mandated proportion of local content).
As a result of these influences, the three commercial networks (Nine, Seven and Ten) relied heavily on imported shows. They produced little original programming, and most of what they made was low-cost live versions of popular formats – game and variety shows, talk shows, and sports broadcasts (notably football, racing and wrestling). In the realm of so-called 'quality' programming, the ABC was far-and-away the biggest producer in this period – by June 1964, the ABC had produced 185 of the 212 plays, all 31 operas, and 90 of the 95 ballets shown on Australian TV in that period. The near-total 'colonisation' of Australian TV in this period was quantified by the 1963 Vincent Report on the Australian media, which found that 97% of television drama broadcast in Australia between 1956 and 1963 was sourced from the USA or the UK.
Another key factor is that there was (and still is) simply no regulatory requirement for Australian independent producers, commercial networks or the ABC to make and submit recorded copies of their original programs for preservation by an archive authority such as the National Library of Australia. Had this been implemented from the industry's inception in 1956, much more of the lost original programming from this 'first phase' of Australian TV would still survive in some form.
Another significant factor in this early period was the relatively primitive technology then available to pre-record television programs, or to record live broadcasts 'off-air'. Although Australia introduced TV rather later (1956) than comparable nations like the UK and the USA, the use of videotape did not become widespread in the Australian industry until the early 1960s, so only a small number of episodes from the earliest period have survived. Nearly all of that material is in kinescope format.
Although many important ABC programs from these early days were captured as telecine recordings, most of this material was later lost or destroyed. In a 1999 newspaper article on the subject, author Bob Ellis recounted the story of a large collection of historic telecine recordings of early ABC drama productions, and other programs, including some of the first Australian TV Shakespeare productions, and the pioneering popular music show Six O'Clock Rock. Learning that the ABC planned to dispose of these recordings, Bruce Beresford (then a production assistant at the ABC), arranged for a friend to pose as a silver nitrate dealer, and the anonymous collector purchased the films for a nominal cost. Subsequently, the collector occasionally rented some of the films out to schools for a small fee, but unfortunately, the daughter of one of the actors involved (Owen Weingott) recognised her father from a Shakespeare production, and told him about it. Assuming that the ABC still owned the print and was making money out of these recordings without compensating the actors, Weingott lodged an official complaint. Commonwealth police descended on the illegal collector, but he was warned that they were coming, and in a panic he destroyed almost all the material he possessed.
Well into the 1970s, it was still common for news, current affairs, sports coverage, game shows, talk/panel shows, 'infotainment' programs and variety shows to be broadcast live, and these were usually not recorded, because (in this early period) recording and editing TV shows on videotape was expensive and time-consuming, and because of the comparatively lower cost, and the high level of skill available to Australian TV networks in live broadcasting, and the lack of any market for such recordings, pre-recording or archiving of most day-to-day TV content was considered unnecessary and uneconomical. Although some news and other programming from this period has survived, most of what is still extant is material that was captured on film (such as actuality footage, interviews, press conferences, etc., recorded for news stories).
Another factor, common to all countries, was that before domestic video technology was introduced in the 1970s, there was generally no economic motive for Australian TV to make or keep recordings of most TV shows, except in the case of pre-produced 'mainstream' documentary, comedy or drama programs that could be sold to other stations in Australia, or to broadcasters in other countries (e.g. Skippy The Bush Kangaroo). Likewise, virtually no private recordings exist of Australian TV material produced before domestic video was introduced, because viewers simply had no practical means to record programs off-air.
Before reliable, high-quality inter-city cable and satellite links were established, some Australian programs of the 1960s were routinely videotaped, usually for distribution to affiliate stations in other states – like the popular In Melbourne Tonight with Graham Kennedy – but the vast majority of these program tapes were later erased, or simply destroyed.
Even after videotape was well-established in Australian TV production, the practice of erasing and reusing tapes was common in both commercial TV and the ABC, and this continued well into the 1970s. As a result, there is only a very small portion surviving of the many thousands of hours of videotaped programming made during the 1960s and early 1970s. Another factor that specifically affected the preservation of ABC-TV programming was that the majority of its mainstream 'original' content (including comedy, drama, variety, news and current affairs) was produced 'in-house'; consequently these programs all suffered considerable losses due to the Corporation's policy of 'recycling' videotape – a practice further exacerbated by budget cuts in the 1970s. In one notorious case, a controversial instalment of the 1970s ABC comedy series The Off Show (the infamous "Leave It To Jesus" episode) was lost because the show's producer vehemently objected to its religious satire, and deliberately erased the master tape the night before it was due to be broadcast.
Notable losses include:
- most of the 1969–1971 episodes of the ABC's weekly current affairs discussion show Monday Conference;
- This Day Tonight (ABC TV's groundbreaking nightly current affairs show) – most of the in-studio segments and other pre-recorded video segments were later wiped, although a small proportion of recorded reports survive because it was still common at the time (late 1960s-early 1970s) that location footage for feature stories was shot and edited on film before transfer to video for broadcast, so some of these film sources have survived.
- the vast majority of episodes the numerous Australian TV pop shows that flourished in the 1960s and early 1970s (many of which emanated from Channel 0 in Melbourne) including The Go!! Show, Kommotion, Uptight and the 'Happening 70 / 71 / 72' series
- many episodes of the pioneering Australian prime time soap opera Number 96 are now lost, despite the fact that it was independently produced in-house for the 0–10 Network.
All the episodes from the first 12 months' (1969–1970) of the ABC's music magazine series GTK are now lost, but in one of the rare 'happy endings' for this topic, the majority of the material recorded for the post-1970 episodes was rediscovered in ABC archives and storerooms in the early 2000s, when the ABC closed and sold off its Gore Hill, Sydney studio complex (the site is owned by Foxtel brand Fox Sports). This due to the fact that most of the GTK program segments were recorded on film (in an older part of the studio complex) and then transferred to video for broadcast. Although many broadcast masters were wiped, many more were rescued and hidden by the program's later producer, Bernie Cannon, and nearly all the post-1970 filmed segments, including the irreplaceable archive of live-in-studio performances by local bands, have survived.
Other shows suddenly missing from the archives include most of the first three years', including the first edition of Countdown (episodes beyond 1978 of Countdown have survived in this manner), nearly all of the hundreds of 15-minute episodes of the ABC's popular soap Bellbird, two thirds of all the taped 166 episodes from the ABC's Certain Women, many episode of the drama series Delta, and a large proportion of the Ten Network's hugely popular Young Talent Time from the 1971–1976 era. Much of the early years of Nine's then-Saturday Morning childrens' program Hey Hey it's Saturday was unrecorded, and many recorded episodes in the early 1970s have since been erased.
Some programs or segments of programs from the mid 1970s onwards have been retrieved from people's home taping shows off-air (portions of Young Talent Time have survived in this manner).
No footage is known to exist of the Melbourne version of Tell the Truth.
General lack of repeats of 1950s and 1960s Australian series makes it difficult to know what is extant and what is lost. For example, there is no information available as whether any episodes still exist of Take That (1957–1959), sometimes considered to the first Australian television sitcom. Information on archival status is also lacking for other 1950s-era series like The Isador Goodman Show (1956–1957), It Pays to Be Funny (1957–1958), Sweet and Low (1959), among others.
Conversely, some of the best-known 'survivors' of this period are comedy or drama series commissioned and broadcast by the ABC's commercial rivals. Frequently, these were outsourced productions made by private companies, such as Skippy, and most notably the many drama series made by Melbourne-based Crawford Productions (an production affiliate of WIN Television), which at its peak in the 1970s had major primetime series running concurrently on all three Australian commercial networks. Fortunately, since Crawfords retained the rights to its productions, and was able to earn money from reruns, so most of its production output was preserved. Crawford is now unique in Australian TV history because it still owns and markets a comprehensive archive of all its major productions from the 1960s and beyond, including Homicide, Division 4, Matlock Police, and The Sullivans.
The National Film and Sound Archive holdings of 1950s era shows include several episodes of the 1957 discussion series Leave it to the Girls, most of the 1958–1959 soap opera Autumn Affair, and a number of episodes of the comedy game show The Pressure Pak Show. These shows, produced by ATN-7 in Sydney, probably survive because they were pre-recorded for the purpose of interstate broadcast (Autumn Affair, despite primitive production values, was repeated into the 1960s, see article on the show for more info on these repeats).
- Only 9 of the 185 episodes of the Flemish sitcom Schipper naast Mathilde from 1955–1963 survive.
- Most Flemish youth series from the 1950s were not preserved: Bolletje en Bonestaak (1955), Jan zonder Vrees (John the Fearless, 1956), Schatteneiland (Treasure Island, 1957), Reis om de wereld in 80 dagen (Around the World in 80 Days, 1957), and Professor Kwit (1958). The series Manko Kapak (1959) is an exception and survives on kinescope.
- Only 3 of the 12 episodes of the Flemish courtroom drama series Beschuldigde sta op from the 1960s to 1980 survive.
- The first edition ever of the Eurovision Song Contest of 1956 was broadcast live and only a sound recording of the radio transmission and a section of the winning songs reprise has survived from the original broadcast. The ninth edition of 1964 was recorded on tape, but a fire destroyed the copy, and it's unknown if any other TV station in Europe has another copy. Only small portions of the original broadcast and audio from the radio transmission have survived.
- The Republic of Ireland was a latecomer to television, Telefís Éireann being established in 1962. Although early news broadcasts were recorded on kinescopes, almost all broadcasts from the first fifteen years (i.e. up to 1977) are lost. Of the soap opera Tolka Row (1964–68) only the last episode survives, while almost all the early episodes of The Late Late Show (1962–present) are lost. Even when shows were sent abroad — The Riordans was sent to Australia for rebroadcast — the tapes were often sent back to Ireland and recorded over, as they were so expensive.
- The 23rd, 24th and 25th edition of Italian Sanremo Festival of 1973, 1974 and 1975 have been lost in Italian Public Broadcasting archives and never recovered. Only some portions of the original tapes have survived in the Daily News Archives. The whole 17th edition of 1967 is missing as well supposedly handed to the public authorities because of the investigation of Luigi Tenco's suicide. The 26th edition of 1976 was lost by RAI but it could be recovered in the Spanish Broadcasting Company's (TVE) vaults, since it was broadcast all around Europe and recorded by TVE.
- 31 episodes of the original 1973 Doraemon are lost due to the studio warehouse that stored all content of the show, having to sell the reels off for money, which ultimately failed in the end. The show only lasted for 26 episodes—it was interrupted due to the dissolution of Nippon TV Video, the production studio. 21 episodes are known to survive, two of which have no audio. The final episode was called "Sayonara Doraemon" (Goodbye Doraemon) and aired on September 30, 1973. Audio, still images, the opening theme and ending theme survive all together. In 1995, 16 episodes were found to be stored in Studio Rush (now known as IMAGICA), and other segments have been found, though two remain without their audio tracks. The opening and ending credits do still exist as well, along with a pilot film that was produced in 1972. These are occasionally shown at Doraemon fan conventions in Japan, but cannot be released legally on DVD owing to rights complications due to the production studio being defunct. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, with the dissolution of Nippon TV Video, the film reels to the series and other possessions wound up sold off to cover debt, while other belongings in the studio and production materials were either thrown out in the garbage or destroyed in a kerosene fire. Also it was briefly rebroadcast in 1979, but was abruptly pulled off television by order of Shogakukan, who did not want the new adaptation's reputation to be affected by the existence of the previous one, or for child viewers to be confused at the two different versions, so theories that a fire in the warehouse happened accidentally burnt down footage and it was never broadcast again are false.
- All the episodes of the first Osomatsu-kun anime first broadcast in 1966 were believed to be lost sometime after the 1970s reruns ended until said material was found in 1990 in storage at the Senrioka studio of Mainichi Broadcasting.
- All episodes of the Tezuka anime Big X are said to be lost except for episodes 1, 11, and 40–59.
- Only episodes 37 and 38 of Space Alien Pipi survive, along with the opening and ending theme.
- Certain episodes of Perman are lost, some have picture but no audio.
- The most famous missing programs are the children's shows Ja zuster nee zuster from the 1960s and most of Hamelin (Kunt u mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen) from the 1970s.
- 1970s-era Dutch series The Eddy-Go-Round Show hosted by Eddy Becker, despite featuring high-profile guests, is reported to have been largely erased by the broadcaster it aired on, though a short section featuring Swedish pop group ABBA performing "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" was later uncovered on a tape recorded by a home viewer. An additional episode was later uncovered as the host had kept a copy himself, and was later re-broadcast on a Dutch cable channel in 2012. A clip of Marmalade performing on the show also has survived.
- A further clip of Olivia Newton-John performing was found by Ray Langstone in 2013.
- The first three years (1979 to 1982) of the longest-running television show in the Philippines, Eat Bulaga!, have been lost. The first full surviving episode was broadcast on August 7, 1982, the third anniversary of the show.
- The inaugural game of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1975, along with most of the games that were broadcast during the first seven seasons of the league, are believed to be lost. The oldest known full game archive of the league was from the 1979 season. Most of the league's playoffs games, including a significant number of games involving Ginebra, were missing in the PBA archives, when the archive was digitized in 2010. Short clips of older games are in possession of private collectors.
- The television archive of ABS-CBN Corporation from 1953 to 1972 are believed lost, when the station was taken over by the government of Ferdinand Marcos when he declared martial law in the country. (In addition, ABS-CBN alleged in its complaint-affidavit filed after the People Power Revolution against Roberto Benedicto (who took over ABS-CBN's facilities following the declaration of martial law) that "the musical records and radio dramas accumulated by ABS-CBN in a span of twenty-five (25) years and stored in its library were now gone".)
- The status of the archived broadcasts of Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation, the television network that took over ABS-CBN's facilities from 1973 to 1986 is unknown.
- Hundreds of episodes from the internationally versioned show Un, dos, tres... responda otra vez, mainly from the first two seasons (1972–1973 and 1976–1978), including the first episode of the first season, are lost or were destroyed. Only four episodes out of 54 from the first season and 12 out of 83 from the second season are known to survive. The following seasons from the third to the fifth one (1982–1986) are also incomplete, but not as dramatically diminished as the previous seasons. The sixth season of 1987 is the first fully located and preserved one. Since Televisión Española archives were not catalogued until 1987, and there are thousands of tapes in kilometers of shelves of unknown uncatalogued content, there could be more episodes there than what is preserved today (the last previously thought lost then found episode from the first season was just discovered in 2005). Also, some of the lost episodes of seasons two, three, four and five exist as either complete or as portions on the archives or on home video recordings by viewers of the show.
- The vast majority of Greek television shows before the 1980s are considered lost, as ERT never took archiving seriously. Recent efforts have been made to archive what is left, but the material is very limited.
- Early BBC-created programmes from the 1930s and 1940s such as Telecrimes, Pinwright's Progress, The Disorderly Room, Sports Review, Theatre Parade, and the play Wasp's Nest, were usually shown live and not recorded. The only visual evidence of these programmes today consists of still photographs.
- All recordings of the early televised Francis Durbridge serials from 1952 to 1959 were completely destroyed, and the first two (Broken Horseshoe and Operation Diplomat) were never recorded.
- Only one episode survived from the 1961 TV Series Call Oxbridge 2000.
- Four of the six episodes of The Quatermass Experiment, Britain's first science fiction television programme aimed at an adult audience, were never recorded; the two existing episodes are the oldest BBC recordings of any fictional series today.
- The Madhouse on Castle Street, a 1963 BBC teleplay starring a then-unknown Bob Dylan, is considered lost. It was erased in 1968, and despite attempts by the British Film Institute to recover it, a telerecorded copy has still not been found as of 2009[update].
- In autumn 1967, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons had made such impact on viewers of the show that the producers of ATV's Saturday evening live game show The Golden Shot decided for their Christmas special to dedicate the show to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. The show was presented by Bob Monkhouse. The Golden Shot consisted of a number of shooting games where viewers using their telephone directed a blindfolded marksman to fire his crossbow at illuminated apples attached to illustrated backgrounds. For the Captain Scarlet edition, the target board featured individual painted scenes from the TV series The Mysterons Complex, Angel Interceptors, Spectrum Helicopter and the Angel Interceptors, Spectrum Helicopter and the Angels exiting the Amber Room on their injector seats. Captain Scarlet was the star guest (designated Golden Partner) the puppet of Captain Scarlet sat at Colonel White's desk whilst Francis Matthews supplied the voice off- camera. A musical performance was supplied by "The Spectrum" who sang their latest hit song "Headin for a Heatwave" and the hosts Anne Aston and Carol Dilworth wore Angel Uniforms. The show was originally broadcast live on Saturday 23 December 1967, ATV London region at 8:35pm. It was then shown the next day at 1:05pm on ATV Midlands region. Since these airings all the archive footage of this show has been wiped.
- Many early music programmes, such as Ready Steady Go and (until the mid-1970s, most episodes of) Top of the Pops are lost, so many significant television appearances—such as The Beatles' last live television performance in 1966, and most appearances of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett—are unavailable.
- 97 black and white episodes of the BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who, all from the tenures of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton (the first two Doctors), do not exist in the BBC's archives (see Doctor Who missing episodes), though they have an ongoing appeal for help from viewers who may have recorded the shows during their original airings. Audio recordings exist for all of the lost episodes, however, all of which have been released commercially by the BBC. Several episodes of various serials, including The Invasion, The Reign of Terror and The Ice Warriors, (all episodes that survive only in audio form) were reconstructed using animation for various DVD releases. The BBC also holds many extant clips from the lost episodes ranging from such sources as an 8 mm camera, censored clips physically cut from the episodes, insert shots, and clips shown on 1960s and 1970s programmes (most notably Blue Peter). As recently as late 2013 (when the five previously missing episodes of The Enemy of the World and four of the five missing episodes of The Web of Fear were discovered) occasional lost episodes have continued to be discovered. The only episode thought to be permanently irrecoverable is "The Feast of Steven", from the 1965–1966 serial The Daleks' Master Plan.
- The BBC wiped many editions of Not Only... But Also, starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore from its archives in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as it did with many other programmes. Cook and Moore had even allegedly offered to pay for the cost of preservation and buy new videotapes so that the old tapes would not need to be reused, but this offer was rejected. Some telerecordings of the black and white episodes survive, but all of the videotaped footage from the colour series was wiped, so that the only surviving colour sketches are on 16mm film inserts.
- Many other BBC shows are missing from the archives, including the BBC studio footage from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landings. Many series, such as football-themed soap opera United!, are missing in their entirety, while others only survive in fragments such as A for Andromeda, a science fiction series that was Julie Christie's first major role.
- Three episodes from the second series of Dad's Army are missing as are almost half of the editions of Hancock's Half Hour. Almost all editions of Dixon of Dock Green are missing as are more than half of the episodes of Z-Cars.
- Most of the archives of two ITV contractors Associated British Corporation (ABC) and Associated-Rediffusion were destroyed in the 1970s after they were merged to become Thames Television. Associated-Rediffusion's archive suffered considerably more damage than Associated British Corporation's, leaving little of No Hiding Place, The Rat Catchers, and other programmes. Almost all of the entire first series of The Avengers was erased shortly after transmission.
- The original black-and-white recording of the premiere episode of the British series Upstairs, Downstairs (1970–1975) does not exist in any form with the possible exception of a few stills and the location footage which features at the start of the shot-in-color rerecording of the premiere episode. The original recording took place on November 13, 1970, and was in monochrome owing to a dispute with studio technicians, who refused to work with colour recording equipment as part of a work to rule. The following five episodes were also recorded in monochrome before the dispute ended with the recording of episode 6 in color on February 12, 1971. After the entire thirteen-episode season run had been recorded, it was decided to rerecord the first episode in color to gain the highest possible audience for its first UK transmission and to help with overseas sales. The rerecording took place on May 21, 1971, and the series' UK debut was on October 10, 1971. The original monochrome recording was never transmitted and was wiped. All of the other five black-and-white episodes from series One survive.
- Most editions of the controversial and anarchic British children's Saturday morning television series Tiswas were transmitted live without any official recording and many of the original master tapes of such editions as did get recorded by the broadcaster were wiped or left to deteriorate after the series was canceled in 1982. When a series of Tiswas highlight compilation tapes was released on video in the early 1990s (followed in 2006 by a DVD), much of the footage appeared to have been culled from the off-air recordings of private archivists.
- Black Limelight is a stage play which was adapted for British television three times, with each version being lost. These include a 1952 version as part of Sunday Night Theatre, which was broadcast live and never recorded, a 1956 version as part of Armchair Theatre and a 1962 version as part of BBC Sunday-Night Play.
- Most of the earliest American mechanical television programs of the early 1930s, including The Television Ghost, Piano Lessons and variety shows by Helen Haynes and Harriet Lee, are considered lost, as no methods existed to preserve them. Only promotional pictures of the shows still exist.
- The debut broadcast of The Ed Sullivan Show (then called Toast of the Town) from June 20, 1948, is considered lost. The episode featured the first television appearance of the comedy act of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
- Nearly the entire film archive of the DuMont Television Network (1946–1956), consisting of approximately 175 television series, are missing, presumed destroyed. From the ten years of this network, only about 100 kinescope and originally film episodes of DuMont series survive at the Library of Congress, UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Paley Center for Media in New York, Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications, on YouTube or Internet Archive, or in private collections. In 1996, early television actress Edie Adams testified at a hearing in front of a panel of the Library of Congress on the preservation of American television and video, that little value was given to the DuMont film archive by the 1970s, and that all the remaining kinescoped episodes of DuMont series were loaded into three trucks and dumped into Upper New York Bay. See List of surviving DuMont Television Network broadcasts for more info.
- The Louisiana Hayride television program, broadcast in Shreveport, Louisiana and other local areas, which featured the first television appearance of Elvis Presley. Only an audio recording taken from the acetate disc of Presley complete performance singing: "Tweedlee Dee", "Money Honey", "Hearts of Stone", "Shake, Rattle and Roll", "That's All Right" and "You're a Heartbreaker" on the program has survived. Original broadcast date was March 5, 1955.
- None of the episodes of the 1954–55 series The Vampira Show, the first television horror movie show, were ever preserved. One film, containing a recreation of an episode that was made for a promotional reel for the station that aired the show, survives.
- The 1957 syndicated cartoon Colonel Bleep has approximately half of its episodes still missing. The entire master archive was stolen in the early 1970s, never to be found, and the current collection is taken from the various tapes sent out to individual stations, approximately half of which have been found.
- The 1957 CBS production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Julie Andrews was believed to be lost for years. It was rediscovered in the late 1990s, but only in black-and-white kinescope; the original color broadcast has been lost. The kinescope has since been released on DVD.
- Almost all of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jack Paar and the first ten years (1962–1972) hosted by Johnny Carson were taped over by the network and no longer exist. The videotape was being used repeatedly, hence the reason that Carson's Tonight Show picture looked muddy during broadcast in the late 1960s. Selected sequences from the 1962–1972 era survive and were often replayed by Carson himself (particularly in the months preceding his retirement in 1992) and have been released to home video; some audiotapes and still pictures of those years also exist. Some Paar episodes also survive and have also been released to home video—in this case, DVD.
- Similarly, NBC reused the tapes of ventriloquist Shari Lewis's 1960–1963 Saturday morning children's program The Shari Lewis Show, to record coverage of the 1964 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Lewis said in an interview decades later that to her, this was a shame, since the shows were beautifully done as a showcase of NBC's early color broadcast work.
- As of 2011, 1968's Super Bowl II is the only Super Bowl without any surviving telecast recording. A nearly complete color tape of Super Bowl I was discovered in 2005, but kept secret for nearly five years; portions of telecasts up through Super Bowl V are either missing or only exist in black-and-white. NFL Films, the league's official filmmaker, produced their own copies (at a higher quality than a live television broadcast could produce at the time) of the games for posterity.
- Home VCRs, first introduced in November 1975, were still uncommon until the turn of the 1980s. It is unlikely that lost television episodes exist in the collections of individuals, though this occasionally happens. Home audio recordings, however, were relatively common at the time, and audio recordings of these episodes are somewhat more common. One well-known example of an early home video recording being the only surviving footage of an event is a clip of John Lennon visiting the announcers' booth during a 1974 Monday Night Football broadcast. ABC lost the footage of this event, but a private collector's copy appears in the Beatles Anthology.
- Another such example occurred with the Sergio Leone film A Fistful of Dollars. When it was originally broadcast in the United States in 1975, an alternate opening was shot to meet the standards and practices guidelines of the network. This opening was subsequently lost by the network, but had been taped by a fan of the film and was placed on the special edition DVD.
- Most US daytime soap opera episodes broadcast before 1978 have been lost. The status of episodes, however, varies widely from show to show:
- Soaps produced by Procter & Gamble Productions, including Search for Tomorrow, Guiding Light, As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and Another World began preserving their episodes in 1978. A few scattered episodes, mostly black and white kinescopes, of these series exist from the 1950s, 1960s, and early to mid-1970s. The CBS soaps Love of Life and The Secret Storm, as well as several short-lived shows, suffered the same fate.
- ABC's One Life to Live and All My Children were originally owned by their creator, Agnes Nixon, who chose to archive all episodes. However, early episodes of AMC were only saved as black-and-white kinescopes despite being produced and telecast in color. ABC purchased the shows in late 1974; different sources report that Nixon's archive was either lost in a fire or erased. A few black-and-white kinescopes of both series' early years exist, as well as a few color episodes. ABC began full archiving of these soaps at Nixon's insistence when they expanded from 30 minutes to an hour—AMC in 1977, and OLTL in 1978.
- Most 1963–1970 episodes of ABC's longest-running General Hospital survive because the series was then owned by Selmur Productions. Few episodes from 1970 to 1977 were saved. Ryan's Hope premiered in 1975, several years before ABC began saving all of its daytime programming, but exists in its entirety as it was originally owned by Labine-Mayer Productions.
- Dark Shadows, created by Dan Curtis, which ran from 1966 to 1971, has the distinction of being one of the few soap operas to have nearly all of its original episodes preserved. As a result of kinescope, many earlier episodes of which the master film was lost are still available. However, episode #1219 was lost but reconstructed with an audio recording for home video release.
- Two long-running soaps have full archives: Days of Our Lives, which premiered in 1965, and The Young and the Restless, which premiered in 1973. Both series were originally distributed by Screen Gems.
- The original slow-scan TV footage of the first manned moon landing in 1969, believed to be of significantly higher quality than the standards-converted version broadcast on TV, is missing from NASA's archives. This, among other things, has led to many conspiracy theories about the landings, though both NASA and non-NASA authorities have repeatedly debunked any claims of foul play. See Apollo 11 missing tapes.
- Almost all daytime game shows from the 1970s and before have been destroyed. CBS's archives begin in 1972, ABC's in 1978, and NBC's in 1980. A handful of producers (most notably Goodson-Todman) did arrange for the preservation of their shows even during the tape-recycling period.
- The original Jeopardy! (NBC, 1964–1975) has less than 1% of its episodes (24 out of 2,753) still in existence.
- Approx. 130 episodes of The Hollywood Squares (NBC, 1966–1981) were broadcast on Game Show Network, mostly the 1968 NBC nighttime version and 1971–1976 syndicated episodes; NBC allegedly destroyed the remainder when it was announced that GSN acquired the rights to the Squares episodes.
- Snap Judgment (NBC, 1967–1969) is completely destroyed (a rarity for a Goodson-Todman produced show) with only one episode existing on audio tape.
- The Big Showdown (ABC, 1974–1975) has only two full episodes surviving, namely the 1974 pilot and episode #67, which aired in March 1975. A video clip of another bonus round exists, along with an ABC promo and an undated audio clip of an opening. An audio recording of the July 4, 1975 finale is rumored to exist.
- Second Chance (ABC, 1977), once thought completely lost other than a pilot episode, has three known episodes surviving, with one (the series finale) only existing on audiotape.
- High Rollers (NBC and syndication, 1974–1976 and 1978–1980) has only twelve episodes remaining: two from the first run and ten from the second, including the finale.
- Winning Streak (NBC, 1974–1975) has only two episodes remaining (one is noteworthy in that it was intended to air August 9, 1974, but was preempted due to coverage of Richard Nixon's resignation and inauguration of Gerald Ford), plus the opening portion of a third.
- Eye Guess (NBC, 1966–1969) has only one and a half episodes remaining.
- The nighttime version of The Price Is Right (syndication, 1972–1980) has not been destroyed, but has remained within the confines of the CBS/FremantleMedia archives since their original airings due to a dispute with former executive producer and host Bob Barker. Barker requested that the episodes in question be withheld due to his position against the offering of animal-made prizes, such as fur coats. Episodes which featured these prizes before Bob prohibited them have been blocked from circulation. This includes the entire hosting span of Dennis James, who hosted from 1972 to 1977. According to former Price staff member Scott Robinson, who discovered the documentation for the nighttime version among the program's archives during his tenure at the show, of the 301 episodes recorded, there were no more than five that did not have a fur coat. Additionally, the first taped episode (001N) is not in the archives.
- James personally recorded nearly all of Seasons 1–3, along with scattered episodes of Seasons 4–5, at his home from KNBC's airings (James preserved a great deal of his own work as a résumé supplement); however, the former set of broadcasts were taped onto Cartrivision V-Cord and VX, recording media that is now obscure. Approximately four full-length episodes (from 1972, 1975, 1976, and 1977) with James hosting and one from Barker's tenure (the final show, from 1980) circulate as master copies, and home audio recordings from about 30 others from 1973 to 1975 (spanning the second, third, and early fourth seasons) also circulate.
- The first daytime version of Wheel of Fortune (NBC, 1975–1989) is destroyed through at least 1979, with a King World representative stating in August 2006 that creator Merv Griffin's production company continued reusing tapes into 1985. GSN holds all episodes after the cutoff point, airing three (from 1976, 1982, and 1989) following Griffin's death in 2007. Despite not being among the three, clips of a March 1978 episode were used for a c.-2004 Total Living interview with original host Chuck Woolery, using a then-current (for the interview) GSN logo. Fans have since hypothesized that GSN made or received copies from the Paley Center for Media, which holds all four episodes in question.
- The joint Japanese and English masters for the original 1960s version of Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy were destroyed in 1975 by NBC after the syndication of the series ended and Tezuka Productions, which was undergoing bankruptcy at the time refused them for lack of funds to receive them. When The Right Stuf gained the license for the series, they were forced to find broadcast copies of the show and mate them with English sound masters that were still extant.
- A number of episodes of the early-1960s sitcom My Living Doll are either lost or only survive in poor condition. The 2011 DVD release of the first half of the season includes an on-screen plea to anyone who might have prints of the missing episodes.
- Most of the 1980s talk show Hot Seat with Wally George broadcast before the show going into syndication were destroyed; the producing station (KDOC-TV in the Orange County, California area) could not afford to archive the show. Many episodes that were nationally syndicated do exist.
- Many classic episodes of the longest-running children's educational show Sesame Street are believed to be lost, such as #0012 (a first-season episode), the now banned #0847 (with special guest Margaret Hamilton), #1966 (the sixteenth-season premiere episode) and the unaired #2895 ("Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce"). Many inserts that were never commercially released or no longer available for viewing to the public are also believed to be lost. The program is a production of Sesame Workshop, which owns the entire archives.
- Binyah Binyah! was a children's television show that aired on Nickelodeon from February 2 to February 6, 1998. The show was a five episode spin off of Gullah Gullah Island. It was never broadcast again after its first initial airing of episodes. The series was never released to any home media platform, and due to brief run, no bootleg footage is known to exist. A promo advertising the series' debut is currently the only known footage to exist. All 5 episodes are believed to be lost.
- The Paul Winchell Show, also known as The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show was a children's show hosted by ventriloquist and voice actor Paul Winchell on Metromedia Television's KTTV in Los Angeles. All of the episodes have been lost after station management vindictively erased tapes in 1970 in retaliation after Winchell refused Metromedia's syndication deal and Winchell's offer to buy the tapes for $100,000.00. Winchell sued Metromedia in 1986 and was awarded $17.8 million for the value of the tapes; Metromedia subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, but lost.
- The full original airing of the TV movie Is It College Yet?, which aired on January 21, 2002 and served as the series finale to the animated series Daria is considered lost. An alternate, edited version that's roughly 7 minutes shorter than the original that was used in subsequent airings is the only master copy that exists, and was used on official DVD releases by MTV.
Select list of TV programs with missing episodes
|The Adventures of Twizzle||1957||Every episode of the series is believed to be lost forever except for the first episode.|
|At Last the 1948 Show||1967||Humorous British show starring Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Aimi MacDonald. Originally only two out of thirteen episodes survived, but nine more have been recovered since then.|
|Baffle||1973–1974||American word-guessing game show. Only 3 out of 100 episodes still exist.|
|Barley Charlie||1964||Only 3 of the 13 episodes produced of Australia's third-ever sitcom survive.|
|The Bear Bryant Show||1958–1982||One of the first college football coaches' shows; over 250 episodes were made during Bear Bryant's tenure at the University of Alabama. Early episodes were aired live and not recorded; videotape began to be used in the 1970s, but was routinely wiped. Less than a third of the run, 77 episodes in all, survives.|
|Beulah||1950–1953||Only 7 episodes have survived.|
|Camel News Caravan||1948–1956||An early news program, most episodes are believed to be lost.|
|Captain Video and His Video Rangers||1949–1955||Almost entire run destroyed after the DuMont Television Network ceased to exist. 26 episodes remain.|
|Cavalcade of Stars||1952–1957||Popular variety series; dozens of episodes were destroyed in the 1970s.|
|Coke Time with Eddie Fisher||1953–1957||Many episodes have been lost, although some (such as one starring Florence Henderson) have survived.|
|Countdown||1974–1987||Numerous episodes including the first episode between 1974 and 1978, were accidentally erased by ABC in the late 70s.|
|Curiosity Shop||1971–1973||The entire series is believed to be lost.|
|Dark Shadows||1966–1971||Only one episode, #1219, is missing, although a reconstruction using a home audio recording and narration has been created for home video.|
|Doctor Who||1963–present||97 episodes of this series are missing. See Doctor Who missing episodes.|
|Dollar a Second||1953–1957||Only two episodes have survived. A third kinescoped program exists in the J. Fred & Leslie W. MacDonald Collection of the Library of Congress.|
|Doorway to Fame||1947–1949||One of the first "talent shows" aired on United States television, Only two episodes survive.|
|Dream House||1983–1984||Only a small number of episodes are known to survive; the master tapes were accidentally destroyed in a flood in 2013.|
|DuMont Evening News||1954–1955||No episodes are known to survive.|
|Emmerdale Farm||1972–present||An ITV strike in late 1981 resulted episodes set to be broadcast in November and December 1981 not being aired at all. ITV have never shown these episodes and they are believed to have been wiped.|
|Family Affairs||1949–1950||None of the six episodes of this, the first television serial remain, as they were not archived by the BBC.|
|Faraway Hill||1946||No footage, stills, or scripts survive from this program, which was the first soap opera aired on American television.|
|Gambit||1972–1976||More than 1,000 episodes appear to be lost.|
|The Goldbergs||1949–1956||Only the last two seasons survive intact, with the CBS and NBC runs being largely lost.|
|The Grove Family||1954–1957||Very little of the UK's first soap opera remains today in the BBC archives.|
|Hour Glass||1946–1947||No footage remains of US television's first network variety show.|
|In Melbourne Tonight||1957–1970||Hundreds of episodes no longer exist.|
|It's Alec Templeton Time||1955||One of the last DuMont series. Although Alec Templeton was a celebrity of some note, no episodes exist of the televised version of his program.|
|Jul og Grønne Skove||1980||One of the later examples of lost TV shows, this was a Christmas calendar originally broadcast on Danish television by DR. Half of the 24 episodes were wiped some time in the mid-80's, as were many of DR's productions made before 1987, where DR made an agreement with "Statens Mediesamling" to archive all future productions.|
|Mama||1949–1957||The vast majority of the episodes produced of this series no longer exist.|
|Mary Kay and Johnny||1947–1950||Almost completely destroyed. The show was originally broadcast live and not recorded, but began using kinescopes in 1948. Many episodes from the latter period still existed as late as 1975, but only one complete 1949 episode (in the Paley Media Collection; see their web catalogue) and a few seconds from the show's last few episodes still exist today.|
|Mindreaders||1979–1980||Only around two episodes are known to survive, even though wiping had been largely phased-out by the "Big Three" United States networks at the time.|
|Mio Mao||1971–2006||Early 1971–1977 episodes are lost and 1 survives, see the page's list of episodes.|
|Newsweek Views the News||1948–1950||A prime-time public-affairs program featuring editors of Newsweek magazine discussing current events; only two episodes survive.|
|Number 96||1972–1977||Most of the black and white episodes were destroyed by the Ten Network as they were deemed not as marketable as the colour episodes.|
|Opera Cameos||1953–1955||One of several "cultural" programs aired by the DuMont Television Network as counter-programming, only eight episodes survive of the 50+ episodes produced.|
|The Pinky Lee Show||1954–1955||Few episodes of this critically acclaimed TV series have survived.|
|Pinwright's Progress||1946–1947||Aired live and never recorded, only still photographs remain of the world's first situation comedy.|
|Puttnam's Prairie Emporium||1988–1990||The master tapes were reportedly wiped by CKCK-TV in the early 1990s. A single episode (an outtakes and bloopers special), and a few minutes from one other are known to survive.|
|Queen for a Day||1956–1964||Almost every episode of this popular TV series was destroyed.|
|Rocky King, Inside Detective||1950–1955||Original negatives were dumped into Upper New York Bay in the 1970s.|
|The School House||1949||Only one episode has survived from early 1949 of this DuMont show, featuring Wally Cox (flubbing his lines in a live DuMont TV set commercial) and Arnold Stang with musical performances set in a high school classroom.|
|Sara and Hoppity||1962–1963||The master tapes are believed to have all been lost or destroyed. The pilot version of the first episode "Sara & Hoppity" was discovered in a 16 mm print along with the 16 mm film reels of all 39 episodes of Space Patrol in possession of Roberta Leigh in the late 1990s. One other episode is known to have been found, while only 1 minute of silent footage from another was found.|
|Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!||1969–70, 1978||In the mid-1990s, Hanna-Barbera Productions released several remastered versions of this series, noted by the use of their then-current "Comedy" All-Stars logo. Currently, only one episode has been remastered in its original 1969 broadcast: the episode "Go Away Ghost Ship". The others, as well as all eight season two episodes, are presumed to be unviewable in their original broadcast. The reprints are easily noticeable due to there being a lower pitch than the originals.|
|Search for Tomorrow||1951–1982||Because CBS wiped it, thousands of episodes no longer exist. However, the J. Fred & Leslie W. MacDonald Collection of the Library of Congress has 3 kinescopes from 1953, 1 from 1954, and 39 from May to August 1966.|
|Sense and Nonsense||1954||Only one episode survives of this WABD series.|
|Sixpenny Corner||1955–1956||The only soap opera ever made by Associated-Rediffusion, and the first British serial to be broadcast on a non-BBC channel is believed to have been completely destroyed.|
|Snap Judgment||1967–1969||A game show believed to be completely wiped from the NBC archives.|
|Starlight||1936–1949||The first ever variety show transmitted anywhere in the world, and the BBC's first ever programme. The BBC did not have access to means of recording until late 1949, so no footage is known to exist of this show today.|
|The Match Game||1962–1969||Approximately 11 NBC network episodes survive out of the 1,752 episodes produced.|
|The Magnificent Marble Machine||1975–1976||An American game show hosted by Art James; only two episodes still exist.|
|The Television Ghost||1931–1933||No footage of any episode is believed to exist.|
|The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||1962–1972||Only 33 1962–1972 episodes have survived erasure by NBC.|
|Thomas & Friends||1984–present||The Series 2 premiere, "The Missing Coach", was filmed, but then replaced with "Thomas, Percy & The Coal". Britt Allcroft said that the plot would be too hard for children to comprehend. Several production stills, though, still exist in several publications, while director David Mitton was believed to be in possession of the original footage.|
|Vic and Sade||1949, 1957||One TV episode (from the 1957 run) is known to exist, out of ten produced. Much of the preceding radio program is also missing.|
|Young Talent Time||1971–1988||Almost all early episodes were erased by the Ten Network.|
|Z-Cars||1962–1978||Half of the episodes of this popular police television series are still missing, although many episodes once believed to be lost were recovered on 16mm film.|
|Various CNN broadcasts||1980–present||Although CNN does keep extensive footage and news coverage, copies of programming with original presenter links (i.e. the newsreader) are rarely kept see section 3 part B.|
The public appeal campaign the BBC Archive Treasure Hunt for the search for lost BBC productions has ended. The BBC still does accept materials and they can be contacted through the "Donating to the BBC Collection" page of the history on the BBC website.
Many lost films and TV broadcast were found to have been preserved in the personal archives of comedian Bob Monkhouse after his death.
In December 2012, the Radio Times announced it was launching a hunt for more Doctor Who episodes in aid of the show's 50th anniversary, by publishing their own list of missing episodes and setting up a specific address which the public can email if they have any information on lost episodes.
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- Captain Zeppos – Other Belgian Series, archived from the original on 2016-12-27, retrieved 2016-12-27
- DVDInfo.be – Besprekingen, archived from the original on 2017-11-12, retrieved 2017-11-12
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- "The Strange Case of the 1973 "Doraemon" Series | Cartoon Research". cartoonresearch.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
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- "TVBrain – Kaleidoscope – Lost shows – TV Archive – TV History". www.lostshows.com.
- "TVBrain – Kaleidoscope – Lost shows – TV Archive – TV History". www.lostshows.com.
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- Hawes, William, American Television Drama: The Experimental Years (University of Alabama Press, 1986)
- Adams, Edie (March 1996). "Television/Video Preservation Study: Los Angeles Public Hearing". National Film Preservation Board. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "The Search for the Apollo 11 SSTV Tapes – 21 May 2006". www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au.
- Kaufman, Marc (31 January 2007). "The Saga Of the Lost Space Tapes" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
- "Ventriloquist wins $17.8 million award in Metromedia suit" (PDF).
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- Parliamentary papers, Volume 6. Great Britain: House of Commons, HMSO. 1950. p. 26.
television's first serial "Family Affairs" made its appearance
- "The Match Game". The Match Game Website. Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2007.
- "Donating to the BBC Collection". BBC. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "Missing episode hunt". BBC Doctor Who news. 20 April 2006. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
- Mulkern, Patrick (8 December 2012). "The hunt for the lost classics of Doctor Who". Radio Times. Immediate Media Company. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
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