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Requested move[edit]

I proposed the page be moved as the topic does not just deal with the wiping of tape, but with the destruction of film, as already mentioned on this talk page. It is impossible to separate the one from the other when discussing the junking of archive television programmes in the 1960s and 1970s as both videotape and telerecordings were affected. Therefore I propose Junking (which already houses a re-direct to the page, hence why I couldn't simply move it myself) be used as the article title. Angmering 00:43, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~
  • Oppose "Junking" is too general a term. Cars can be junked. —Wahoofive (talk) 00:52, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose "Wiping" is what it's called in the industry (or it was at the time, anyway). -- Arwel 01:21, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Junking was definitely a term in use by the 1960s Arwel – I've left a message explaining more on your talk page. Angmering 12:13, 2 October 2005 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

Well if not Junking on its own, then what? Junking (film and tape) seems rather unwieldy. Junking (media), perhaps? Any other suggestions? Angmering 00:55, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Can't we make the title more general about missing peices of film/tape. Jooler 01:01, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Well the processes of destroying the material were called wiping and junking. I'm not sure what more general description you could use that wouldn't get too long, and add to that the fact that radio material is also included in the article (although not much at the moment admittedly, that needs bulking up. But one of the reasons I decided to propose the move was that actually having the article under a sensible name would be a good start to that expansion process). Angmering 01:11, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

I propose moving it to Wiping (magnetic film) and making Wiping (this page) a disambiguation page. Wipe should redirect to this disambiguation page, and the current contents of Wipe should be moved to Wipe (film editing). --Minipie8 02:33, 27 February 2006 (UTC)


It was requested that this article be renamed but there was no consensus for it be moved. Ryan Norton T | @ | C 10:37, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

"Wiping", surely?[edit]

i dont know :-s maybe. - fonzy

Google returns 719 hits for "wipeing" which I think is few enough to be confident it isn't a technical spelling. None of them are about TV companies wiping stuff anyway (one of them is titled "victor portrait old woman wipeing nose" which I find hilarious for some reason - too much coffee, perhaps). I'll move it. --Camembert

Can I suggest that this page is moved to something a little more descriptive. such as missing episodes or lost or destroyed television shows and films, such that it could include a list of what's missing etc..

Can we move this page to a more sensible title. As someone has correctly pointed out in an edit summary. you can't "wipe" film. Mintguy 12:44, 14 Sep 2003 (UTC)

Don't radio companies qualify when wiping audio tape? The entire article makes it sound as this is a TV-only thing. --Gutza T T+ 21:06, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

This is an Encyclapedia so the name should remain technical, if you want to create a page called lost and destroyed episodes or something of the like and redirect it here I have no problem with that but this page itself should stay name and all. Deathawk 16:19, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Limited Geographical Scope[edit]

I added this tag because I found that the main article focused mainly on the UK with only a small sectin devoted to the US I'd like to see it present a wider world view Deathawk 16:13, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

No arguing with that. I contributed a fair chunk of the UK stuff, but alas I know little about US television so can't help with that bit. Angmering 19:36, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Junking Team[edit]

I have read on the net that a specific group of engineers/technicians were assigned to wipe/junk episodes. Other reports suggest however that just random BBC employees were instructed to wipe episodes. Which one is it?

Wiping US daytime soap operas[edit]

This seems difficult to believe: Of all the American soaps, Days of our Lives and Passions are the only ones with all their episodes in existence.

I would have thought more recent serials like The Young and the Restless, Santa Barbara, The Bold and the Beautiful would have all episodes extant too. Asa01 23:21, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

The Young and the Restless debuted in 1973. Soaps were being wiped right up until the early 1980's. The Bold and the Beautiful sadly "lost" most of their early episodes in transactions. As for Sanata Barbara it is quite possible its shows all survive, but the statemnet was referring to current soaps, not soaps from the 1980's. It is really only due to the crew (mainly the producer) who kept the kinescopes of Days of our Lives and thus it is truley unique. Been on air since the 1960's and all of its episodes survived the wiping phase of the 1970's. CorrieEnders 01:46, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Too Many Examples?[edit]

Does anyone else feel that this article has too many rambling examples that don't do a lot to support the content? How many times doe I need to hear "GSN aired a rare episode of xxx". It is pretty irrelevant to the article.

Andrew Martin[edit]

I think Andrew Martin used to junk episodes. Should there be a subsection on him on this page......Matthew K Sharp 8 March 2007

Steel tape[edit]

ISTR that in the last season 2 episode of The Secret Life of Machines that it was stated the BBC lost many old shows when they switched from steel tape to plastic magnetic tape. They sold the steel tape for scrap without dubbing to plastic tape. The episode also showed one of the huge reel to reel steel tape recorders. The reason for the large size was because the steel tape had to be run very fast for video recording. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:30, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

You are confusing the Blattnerphone, a device used by the BBC in the 1930s for recording audio which did use steel tape, with the shortlived VERA video format of the 1950s which used 1/2 inch acetate (plastic) tape. Both used high tape speeds, 200in/sec in the later case. Philip Cross (talk) 19:52, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Inquiry for article split[edit]

Reading introduction and glossing over the content, I can wonder if the article is best split between "wiping" and "junking". Arguably, wiping is recycling and junking is purposeful destruction.--Kevin586 (talk) 21:32, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Wiping Still Occurs[edit]

Check this out [1], the BBC still junks some programs. Retro Agnostic (talk) 12:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Your link above took me to a BBC 404 error page RASAM (talk) 20:17, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

episode exsist[edit]

surely is the missing episode of doctor who was broadcast at the bbc the arial signal be be floating around somewhere

offcom are selling uvf space due to the digital switch over so the signal may still exsist?

peter stakes.

any thoughts?


I had a go at the first paragraph, I hope no-one minds. I would do some more but by gum this is a long article. -- (talk) 19:11, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Home Shopping[edit]

I honestly doubt that home shopping broadcasters keep copies of their programming. True, their programs are shit, but that doesn't mean they can't be wiped. Retro Agnostic (talk) 12:47, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Truly Wiped? Hope for recovery?[edit]

I have a technical question that might just be wishful thinking by someone who likes old TV.

When a video tape is wiped, is it truly and completely wiped, without any trace whatsoever of the old footage, or is there any trace or remnant of the old video left that (with today's digital technological thingies) can be examined, reconstructed, and played, even if it's been taped over? Is it an analogy to erasing a pencil mark, where if you erase it, there's still a light mark and impression there? Because if I'm right, and extremely technically inclined people get at it, then we've got a wealth of old BBC shows coming. Or I could have no idea what I'm talking about, what gets erased pretty much gets erased for good, and what's lost is lost.-- (talk) 16:09, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Even if above could work, you'd need the original tapes. (Much of the 1970s junked items would have been on the now obsolete Quadruplex videotape.) If wiping and reuse had already occured multiple times they probably tossed the acual tapes out once they were no longer functioning, or when the the format became obsolete. Format (talk) 07:39, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

What the other guy said about discarding tapes is right, they'd toss them out after multiple uses and obsolescence when they'd have no further use for blanks no matter how free they were.

However, where he said, "Even if above could work, you'd need the original tapes.", that is certainly incorrect.

My expertise is in analog and digital audio, and not so much in video, but the principles are very similar, though I might note that digital audio is more similar to analog video than it is to analog audio, because audio samples and digital frames are stored and reanimated in similar ways.

There are only two ways in the world to reuse a magnetic tape:

One way is the way I do it with my TV tapes, where I tape my stories on VHS, watch them, tape over them, watch again, and repeat until the tape is so bad that the picture on most VCRs starts to shake, then I toss them out.

The other way is to degauss the tape, also known as bulk erasing. This waves an incredibly powerful and focused magnetic force over the tape to wipe out all forms of any signal anywhere on the tape. This is not just the program material, but the format and subcodes(in the case of a data backup tape), everything, BLAMMO!, gone.

Even a good studio recorder can't really erase very fully, as noted in the spec sheet, because it would damage or destroy program material on adjacent tracks (other audio tracks in a multitrack audiotape, or one of four audio tracks on a videotape, etc.) or on other windings of the tape pack, it just takes away most of the signal, so there is still some low-level signal present.

In the field of forensic audio for criminal investigations, it is very common to present a recording recovered from an answering machine tape that the defendant thought had been erased. Even if it has been recorded over one or more times, it is often possible to get intelligible speech from a previous recording. If it has only been "erased" and not recorded over, it is trivial, and no special equipment is needed, just turn up the volume and adjust the tone controls. This method also exploits the very loose tolerance of consumer speech equipment and the lack of alignment of the tape and tape heads, even in consecutive passes on the same machine, so you can still pick up some unerased sound off the very edge of the edge tracks and around the buffer zone between the tracks.

In the professional audio or video fields, only a chimp would put a recorded master tape in a deck and master a new episode over it. The quality of the new recording would be at LEAST 50% better if it had instead been degaussed first, and this would be an unforgivable oversight. That said, just look at the people who program NBC and consider the possibility that some chimps taped new episodes over old ones a few times, without bulk erasing first.

Back to the point here, the answer is clearly no in either case:

If they had a tape of the Carol Burnett Show, degaussed it, and taped The Tonight Show over that tape, you couldn't see the Carol Burnett Show no matter how hard you tried, and in fact you couldn't even tell it had ever been used before, that's how good degaussing is. You might make a guess by noting oxide wear and how low the signal level is versus a new tape, but you'd never get anything off it.

If they had a tape of the Carol Burnett Show and taped The Tonight Show straight over it without degaussing first, you still couldn't recover an even barely viewable Carol Burnett Show from it no matter how hard you tried. At best, you could only barely figure out what was on that tape before. The tell here would be the audio, ignore the video and just try to boost the audio in the quiet portions of the track, and the hint would be the music, you could detect the unmistakable melody.

Video is an incredibly high bandwidth format compared to audio, and every attribute of it is critical. Of the 20 different adjustments on a video deck, just turning one of them a quarter of a turn would render the video unwatchable. There would be no way whatsoever to get any picture from any used videotape that is even barely discernible, and there has never even been a market for video programming whose picture can be described only as discernible.-- (talk) 08:57, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

I might add that this is a great, great article, and I hope that it does not get maliciously edited just because it violates Wiki rules and standards and has an overwhelmingly British POV.-- (talk) 08:59, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Anastasia (1953)[edit]

Happily, the following passage is inaccurate or out of date:

"If telerecordings were made of a work and that work was then acquired by another party, then the recording had to be destroyed – this happened in 1955 when 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Anastasia and the 1953 BBC telerecording of the play had to be destroyed (although the website states that recordings of both performances still survive). At this same time, agents would demand that programmes be wiped so that they could never be repeated; currently, actors are almost invariably paid to sign away these rights to the producing company."

It seems the Thursday repeat performance still exists (see "Unknown TV Classics by Lez Cooke", 21 March 2014) and the TV version of Anastasiais (1953) is to be screened at the BFI Southbank in February (next month). See here. The contributor to this message board, Dr Billy Smart, is an academic specialist in this field at Royal Holloway, University of London. So these sources are surely good enough to demonstrate that this passage should be excluded from this article. Obviously, a new example needs to be found to explain the loss of television programmes because of rights issues concerning the original source material. Philip Cross (talk) 00:45, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

wiping in Poland[edit]

There was also wiping of old TV programmes in Poland too. For example the oldest episodes of popular show Sonda are lost because of erasing original tapes that were in the archives of Telewizja Polska. (talk) 09:50, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

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Not Wiped[edit]

It might be interesting -- in contradistinction to people who thought entertainment shows were disposable and without lasting value -- to mention (or point to) shows which did enjoy years, even decades of reruns precisely because they did think their work would be lasting.
The prime example that comes to mind, of course: I Love Lucy, all of which was shot by Desilu on 35mm film.

Ball and Arnaz wanted to stay in Hollywood, but they also wanted to take advantage of movie industry production facilities and to ensure the long-term value of their series by capturing it on film. Syndication of reruns had not yet become standard procedure, but television's inevitable growth meant that the return on serious investment in a television series was incalculable. The network finally agreed to the couple's demands, but as a concession asked Ball and Arnaz to pay the additional cost of production and to accept a reduced fee for themselves. In exchange Desilu was given one-hundred percent ownership of the series... **

It's still being aired regularly today, around the world, 64 years after its 1951 debut. Had it not been filmed, it certainly could never have been voted the 'Best TV Show of All Time' in 2012. Fascinating question: how did the geniuses behind the wipings ever wind up getting put in charge of anything? Twang (talk) 08:50, 30 November 2015 (UTC)