OT: Re: [LINK] Television archival

andrew clarke mail at ozzmosis.com
Fri Nov 16 12:44:47 AEDT 2007

On Wed, Nov 14, 2007 at 07:35:30AM -0800, Michael Still wrote:

> Well, I do know that a lot of Goodies and Doctor Who are lost.
> Apparently the BBC reused archival tapes?

Much of the Patrick Troughton era of Dr Who was destroyed.  A story I
read that sounded the most plausible was that the BBC was running out of
space to store the film reels, which meant some things just got
misplaced, and also their existing storage space was declared a fire
hazard due to the amount of film being stored in it.  So they began
disposing of film reels in a not very arbitrary way after they'd been
aired.  The concept of reruns had not really been established, let alone
direct sales to viewers.  VHS wasn't to appear until 20 years later.

I believe all episodes of The Goodies are extant.  The original
recordings of two episodes were lost but black and white copies were
later recovered.

In Australia, the story goes that Molly Meldrum saved many of the 1970s
videotapes of Countdown from being erased and reused.  He essentially
stole them, put them them in the boot of his car and drove off with them.

I suspect these days radio and television broadcasters try to keep as
much as they can, regardless of historical significance, if only because
they know it may has some sort of resale value at some point.  So the
issue might not be so much that there's a risk of things being lost
forever, but just that there is no single archiving place, and so (for
example) you might need to spend a lot of time searching for a
particular news segment if you don't know where it originally aired. 

Of course this is assuming you are permitted access to the commercial
broadcasters' archives.  I'm not sure they are under any legal
obligation to provide a long-term archive for anything they air, let
alone a way for the general public to search such an archive.  Ideally,
such a beast would be searchable from any public library, so you could
(for example) get a list of all the recordings of television interviews
of PM John Howard in the last 10 years.

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