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Lost television broadcast

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Lost television broadcast

The list of lost television broadcasts is composed of mostly early television programs and series that for various reasons cannot be accounted for in personal collections or studio archives.

Reasons for loss

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, sometimes performed repeatedly, because there was no means to record the broadcast or because content itself was reasoned to have little monetary or historical value. 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 broadcastings, 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, however, and what was recorded was routinely destroyed by wiping and reusing the tapes, until the rise of the home video industry in the late 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, because it required positioning the camera squarely in the line of viewing of the screen and thus blocked the view of other people trying to watch, also was quite disruptive to the television viewing experience and is thus exceptionally rare among home movies. Audio recordings, which do not require obstructing the view of other viewers, are more common, and numerous copies of otherwise lost television broadcasts exist.) The mass availability of home video recording in the late 1970s and early 1980s was also a benefit for television producers and archivers; because video was now economical enough for even a home viewer to afford, networks could now afford to save all 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.[1]

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 few fragments from the earliest period have survived. Nearly all of that material is in telecine format, recorded on film during broadcast, using a movie camera pointed at a specially-modified TV monitor.

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.[2]

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 prior to the introduction of domestic video technology 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 prior to the introduction of domestic video, because viewers simply had no practical means to record programs off-air.

Prior to the establishment of reliable, high-quality inter-city cable and satellite links, 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 Australia's first sci-fi TV series, The Stranger, produced by the ABC in 1964-65;
  • 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 70s' series
  • many episodes of the pioneering Australian prime time soap opera Number 96 are lost, despite the fact that it was independently produced for the Ten 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. 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 missing from archives include most of the first two years' of Countdown, nearly all of the hundreds of 15-minute episodes of the ABC's popular soap Bellbird, most of 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. Much of the early years of Nine's equally popular Hey Hey it's Saturday was never recorded, and many recorded episodes have since been erased.

Some programs or segments of programs from the late 1970s onwards have been retrieved from people 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[3]

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, 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 first edition ever of the Eurovision Song Contest of 1956 was broadcast live and never recorded, and only a sound recording of the radio transmission has survived from the original broadcast. The ninth edition of 1964 was indeed recorded on tape, but 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 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 missed by the Italians but it could be recovered in the Spanish Broadcasting Company's vaults, since it was broadcast all around Europe and recorded by the Spaniards.


  • Many episodes of Doraemon (1973 anime) are lost due to a fire that took place in the warehouse that stored all content of the show. The show only lasted through 1973 - it was cancelled due to the poor animation, music being that of the The Pink Panther cartoons, and because Fujiko Fujio didn't like the anime. 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. According to the Japanese WorldHeritage, it was in reruns until 1980 when it was "cremated" possibly meaning Wiping was done to the show itself, 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 Osomatsu-kun's first anime first broadcast in 1966 was believed to be lost until all of the material of the show was found in the 1990s in 16mm prints.


  • 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,[4] 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[5]


  • 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 4 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 first fully located and preserved one. Since Spanish Television archives were not cataloged until 1987, and there are thousands of tapes in kilometers of shelves of unknown uncataloged 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 three, four and five exist either complete or portions on home video recordings by the viewers.

United Kingdom

  • Early BBC-created programmes from the 1930s and 1940s like 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.
  • 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 say 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", 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.[6]
  • 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, particularly 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; two episodes of the serial The Invasion (which survive only in audio form) were reconstructed using animation for the serial's DVD release in 2006.[7] 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 Seven", 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.[8] 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. Also missing are episodes of Dad's Army, Hancock's Half Hour, Doomwatch, Out of the Unknown, Dixon of Dock Green, Z-Cars, and many others. In an interview in the 2009 documentary Monty Python: Almost the Truth, Terry Gilliam claims to have purchased all of the Monty Python's Flying Circus tapes from the BBC when he was informed that they were about to be wiped.
  • 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.[9] 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 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,[10] a 1956 version as part of Armchair Theatre[11] and a 1962 version as part of BBC Sunday-Night Play.[12]

United States

  • 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.[13] See List of surviving DuMont Television Network broadcasts for more info.
  • The
  • None of the episodes of the 1954–55 series The Vampira Show, the first television horror movie show, were ever preserved.
  • 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.
  • 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 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' 1960-1963 Saturday morning children's The Shari Lewis Show, to record coverage of the 1964 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Lewis said in an interview decades later that 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.
  • With home VCRs being uncommon until the mid-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 General Hospital survive because the series was then owned by Selmur Productions. Few episodes from 1970 to 1977 were saved. Dark Shadows, which ran from 1966 to 1971 and was produced by Dan Curtis Productions, exists in its entirety except for one episode, for which an audio recording exists. 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.[14][15] 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 prior 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, with only one episode existing on audio tape.
    • The Big Showdown (ABC, 1974–1975) has only two episodes surviving, along with a bonus round clip.
    • Second Chance (ABC, 1977) has no episodes remaining except for Pilot #3 and a general series episode on video, and the finale on audio tape.
    • 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, 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 remains locked and mostly unseen in CBS's 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 Barker prohibited them have been blocked from circulation. This includes the entire hosting span of Dennis James, who hosted from 1972 to 1977. Five episodes are known to have survived outside the archives, and about 30 others from 1973 to 1975 circulate on home audiotape.
    • 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 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.
  • The audio track of the Batman: The Animated Series pilot is missing.
  • 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 Wally George was destroyed; the flagship station could not afford to archive the show.
  • There are two episodes of Sesame Street that might be lost. they are called Episode 2895 Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce and Episode 847 (The Wicked Witch of the West Episode).

Select list of TV programs with missing episodes

name date description
The Adventures of Twizzle 1957 Every episode of the series recorded except for the first episode "Twizzle & Footso" are believed to have been lost forever.
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 second-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. 27 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 erased by ABC.
Crossroads 1964–1988 More than 80 percent of Associated TeleVision's run was wiped or otherwise lost, although Central Television's run is intact.
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, even though wiping had already been phased-out by the "Big Three" United States networks at that time.
DuMont Evening News 1954–1955 No episodes are known to survive.
Family Affairs 1949–1950 None of the six episodes of this, the first[16] 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.
Hinterland Who's Who 1963–present One episode of this Canadian short-form series remains missing.
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. Though 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 prior to 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.
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 (TV series) 1972-1977 Most of the black and white episodes were taped over by the Ten Network.
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 16mm print along with the 16mm 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 their 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 Only around 11 episodes survive out of the 1,752 episodes produced.[17]
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 1962-1972 Almost all 1962–1972 episodes were erased by NBC.
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends 1984–present The Season 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 books.
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

Recovery efforts

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.[18]

On 20 April 2006 it was announced on Blue Peter that a life-sized Dalek would be given to anyone who found and returned one of the missing episodes of Doctor Who.[19]

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,[20] by publishing their own list of missing episodes[21] and setting up a specific address which the public can email if they have any information on lost episodes.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Stuart Cunningham et al, The Media and Communications in Australia (Allen & Unwin, 2001, ISBN 978-1-86508-674-3), p.175
  2. ^ Bob Ellis, "The Lost Picture Show", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 February 1999
  3. ^;adv=;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=1;parentid=;query=tell%20the%20truth%20Media%3A%22TELEVISION%22;querytype=;rec=6;resCount=10
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bentley, Chris (August 2001). The Complete Book of "Captain Scarlet". Carlton Books Ltd.  
  7. ^ List of missing Doctor Who episodes at the BBC
  8. ^ """BBC Comedy page on "Not Only... But Also. 
  9. ^ programme guideUpstairs, Downstairs
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^  
  14. ^ The Search for the Apollo 11 SSTV Tapes – 21 May 2006
  15. ^ The Saga Of the Lost Space Tapes
  16. ^ Parliamentary papers, Volume 6. Great Britain:  
  17. ^ "The Match Game". The Match Game Website. Retrieved August 12, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Donating to the BBC Collection".  
  19. ^ "Missing episode hunt". BBC Doctor Who news. 20 April 2006. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2006. 
  20. ^ a b Mulkern, Patrick (8 December 2012). "The hunt for the lost classics of Doctor Who".  
  21. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (8 December 2012). "RT's checklist of missing Doctor Who episodes".  

External links

  • The Museum of Television and Radio: "Lost" programs
  • Television Obscurities – TV's Lost & Found: Television — Lost or Missing
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