BFI rescues cult shows Tiswas, Basil Brush, TV-am for nostalgic telly addictshttps://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/television/tiswas-basil-brush-saved-nation-bfi-digitises-750000-risk-classic-tv-shows/
The BFI will digitise and make available to the public 750,000 classic television shows which are currently stored on videotape and at risk of complete physical deterioration.
The first faltering steps of Breakfast television in the UK, state-of-the-nation dramas and the cult children’s show Tiswas are among the titles to be rescued from the archives and restored.
“We look after the greatest film archive in the world but our television heritage often gets overlooked.” Amanda Nevill, BFI CEO
The programmes, which date from the late 60s through to the 80s, are currently stored on obsolete tape formats at the BFI’s Conservation Centre in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
Although they are kept in the most optimal dry environment, the tapes are now degrading to the point where they are becoming unplayable.
With video tape becoming an obsolete format and the players no longer made, the tapes are rapidly becoming unreadable.
The classic shows will be made available for free on the viewing booths housed in the Mediatheque at the BFI’s Southbank home and at eight other locations across the UK.
The programmes will also be added to the free streaming BFI Player platform.
The titles include the anarchic ITV children’s series Tiswas , The Basil Brush Show and Vision On, the BBC show which encouraged children to send paintings in to presenter Tony Hart’s gallery.
Episodes of the BBC’s nightly magazine news show Nationwide will be digitised along with the pre-Monty Python comedy Do Not Adjust Your Set starring Michael Palin and Terry Jones.
Pioneering ITV regional drama strands from the 1970s exploring sexuality and experimental programmes showcasing black and Asian writers writers are among the titles.
The BFI is working with the Government, Ofcom and broadcast partners to create a “collective licensing” copyright agreement to ensure the programmes can also be viewed in schools, colleges and public libraries.
Amanda Nevill, BFI CEO, said: “We look after the greatest film archive in the world but our television heritage often gets overlooked. Our public service broadcasting TV heritage demonstrates the same creativity as film and we need to preserve it for future platforms.”
Classic shows will ‘disappear’ if formats not digitised now
Heather Stewart, BFI creative director, said: “There are titles ranging from children’s TV, the beginnings of breakfast television and the Wednesday Play (BBC social dramas which gave Ken Loach his first break) which are at risk.”
“We will work on the most at risk 100,000 first. If we don’t do something about the archive the tapes get sticky and the content disappears no matter how well we preserve it.”
The digitisation programme, a central feature of the BFI’s five-year strategy to 2022, will release costly storage space and allow resources to be invested in supporting new British filmmakers.
Programmes primed for digitisation include early episodes of TV-am, ITV’s breakfast show, launched in 1983 in competition with the BBC’s Breakfast Time and which struggled in the ratings until the arrival of the children’s puppet Roland Rat.
Classic shows rescued
Anarchic ITV Saturday morning kids show presented by Sally James and Chris Tarrant. Children and guests were assaulted by the Phantom Flan Flinger during parent-taunting series which introduced a young Lenny Henry.
The Basil Brush Show (1968-80)
Cheeky fox glove puppet, modelled on louche film star Terry Thomas, entertained viewers with his “Boom! Boom!” catchphrase. Rodney Bewes and Derek Fowlds appeared as Basil’s human stooges with Cilla Black and Demis Roussos among the special guests.
Hardly any episodes survive of “fun” ITV educational children’s series, presented by Fred Dinenage which conducted experiments to solve questions like “how do you put a ship in a bottle?”
At Last The 1948 Show (1967)
It was thought only two episodes survived of ITV’s satirical series featuring John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman but the BFI has now recovered 11 out of the 13 originally made for digitisation.
Nightly BBC current affairs and consumer news programme, presented by Frank Bough, Bob Wellings and Sue Lawley,. Episodes, including a behind-the-scenes Kate Bush special, are held on an exceptionally rare video format which BFI is transferring as part of preservation project.
Channel 4 (1982-)
The BFI will digitise the entire 1992 first week of Channel 4’s broadcast, complete series of magazine programmes such as Eastern Eye as well as single dramas, Brookside and late night experimental strands.