Lost television broadcasts are composed of mostly early television programs that for various reasons cannot be accounted for in personal collections or studio archives.
A significant amount of early television programming 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, later, 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, early programming was lost due to contractual demands by the actors' union to limit the rescreening of 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, Kinescopes (preserving the image on a monitor via an adapted cinematic film camera) became a practical 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 before videotape; although a home viewer could record the video of a broadcast 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. Home movies of this kind are exceptionally rare. Audio recordings are more common and numerous copies of otherwise lost television broadcasts exist.
Wiping, also known as junking, is a colloquial term for action taken by radio and television production and broadcasting companies, in which old audiotapes, videotapes, and telerecordings (kinescopes), are erased, reused, or destroyed. Although the practice was once very common, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, wiping is now practiced much less frequently.
Older video and audio formats were both much more expensive (relative to the amount of material that could be stored) and took up much more storage space than modern digital video or audio files, making their retention more costly, and there was more incentive to recycle the media for reuse or (in the case of film media) any silver content than to preserve the content, thus increasing the incentive of discarding existing broadcast material to recover storage space and material for newer programs.
The advent of domestic audiovisual playback technology (e.g., videocassette and DVD, and particularly with the rise of digital media in the 1990s) has made wiping less beneficial, as the cost of producing and maintaining copies of telecasts dropped dramatically. In addition, broadcasters also later realized how much commercial potential from home video, cable television, and online streaming usage of their archived material was possible and that served as a strong economic incentive to preserve all recordings. Over time this came to include scenes not originally broadcast due to time constraints and outtakes not originally used whether due to mistakes on the part of the cast and/or crew or for some other reason – once producers and distributors realized there was significant demand for such content especially from devoted fans of their programs, they preserved the content to be marketed later (especially on home video releases).
To the extent that wiping still exists, it is primarily used when it is deemed necessary for content to be irrevocably expunged for legal or ethical reasons (such as when there is concern the content might be illicitly obtained and/or used for unlawful and/or inappropriate purposes), or alternatively to erase ephemeral content with little to no intrinsic value.
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. There was, and is, no regulatory requirement to lodge copies of programs with an archive authority such as the National Library of Australia.
In the first decade of Australian TV, 1956–1966, Australia produced very little original local drama content, compared to other English-speaking nations. From the introduction of TV in Australia in 1956 to around 1964, the commercial stations did produce their own programmes, but the majority of locally produced original programming was made by the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Commission. 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. Some of this was recorded, but little of that material has survived. 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.
In this early period, the technology then available to pre-record television programs, or to record live broadcasts off-air, was relatively primitive. 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. 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 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. Only a very small portion surviving of the many thousands of hours of videotaped programming made during the 1960s and early 1970s survives. The majority of ABC-TV's 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 reusing videotape – a practice further exacerbated by budget cuts in the 1970s. In one notorious case, a controversial installment 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:
All the episodes from the first 12 months (1969–1970) of the ABC's music magazine series GTK are now lost. 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 most of GTK program segments being 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 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' 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, 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 children's program Hey Hey it's Saturday was unrecorded, and many episodes recorded 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 and Countdown 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.
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 (a production brand of WIN Television), which at its peak in the 1970s had major primetime series running concurrently on all three Australian commercial networks. 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).
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) erased much of its early produced output. Much of the videotaped ABC programme material from the 1960s and early 1970s was erased as part of an economy policy instituted in the late 1970s in which old programme tapes were surrendered for bulk erasure and reuse. This policy particularly targeted older programmes recorded in black-and-white, leading to the loss of many recordings made before early 1976, when the real reason is that Australian television converted to colour. The ABC continued erasing older television output until the late 1970s.
Programmes known to have been produced then lost include most studio segments and stories from the 1960s current affairs shows This Day Tonight and Monday Conference, hundreds of episodes of the long-running rural serial Bellbird, all but a handful of episodes of the early-1970s drama series Certain Women, an early-1970s miniseries of dramatizations based on Norman Lindsay's novels, and nearly all of the pre-1978 episodes of the weekly pop-music show Countdown.
Many produced episodes of popular Australian commercial TV series are also lost. In the 1970s, Network Ten had an official policy to reuse tapes; hence, many tapes of Young Talent Time and Number 96 were wiped. To this day, Network Ten still only keeps some of its programming. Other notable losses from the Ten archive include hundreds of episodes of the Melbourne-based pop music shows commissioned and broadcast by ATV-0 Melbourne in the 1960s and early 1970s—The Go!! Show (1964–1967), Kommotion (1964–1967), Uptight (1968–70), and the Happening 70s series (1970–1972).
The Nine Network discarded copies of some of their programs, including the popular GTV-9 series In Melbourne Tonight starring Graham Kennedy. Though it ran five nights a week from 1957 to 1970, fewer than 100 episodes are known to survive, and many of the surviving episodes are edited prints made for rebroadcast across Australia. Early episodes of breakfast show Hey Hey It's Saturday do not exist because the programme was broadcast live and did not begin live videotape recordings until a number of years later.
From 1964 to 1967, all TV programs were recorded on film in what was then East Pakistan (until 1971). Then in 1967, VTR recording was introduced to record their TV programs in high quality. Bangladesh Television rarely practiced wiping since its Archive was carefully being maintained.
From 1968–1969, Rede Tupi produced new episodes of the telenovela Beto Rockfeller by recording over previous episodes; as a result, few episodes survive. After the closure of TV Tupi in 1980 the 536 tapes at its São Paulo studios were transported to a warehouse in the São Paulo suburb of Cotia and were simply left to deteriorate there until they were recovered by the Cinemateca Brasileira in 1985 and subsequently restored by TV Cultura in 1989. Only two Rede Tupi owned and operated stations are known to have any preserved videotapes; TV Itacolomi's archives are now owned by TV Alterosa, the Minas Gerais affiliate of SBT in Belo Horizonte, whereas almost all of TV Piratini's material was lost in a fire in 1983, two years after the building of the extinct station was occupied by TVE-RS, the statewide public television station in Rio Grande do Sul. The few TV Piratini surviving tapes are stored at the Hipólito José da Costa Communication Museum, in Porto Alegre, albeit in a heavily deteriorated state. Also, some tapes at the Rede Tupi studios in Urca, Rio de Janeiro were later found to have been massively degraded by vinegar syndrome, hence they were unable to be restored. However, part of the library of Rio de Janeiro TV Tupi studios was found in 2005 at the headquarters of Radio Tupi, and later donated to the Brazilian National Archive, which signed an agreement with Globo in 2007 to restore the tapes.
RecordTV also lost much footage from the 1960s due to wiping, fires, and deterioration; most of the MPB music festivals no longer exist, and the sitcom Família Trapo (pt) has only one surviving episode, featuring Pelé. Until 1997, Rede Record had no policy on archiving videotapes; since then, at least 600 videotapes that were previously believed to be lost have been recovered with the help of the Ressoar Institute.
Globo lost the first 35 broadcasts of Fantástico and most of the first years of Jornal Nacional, in addition to many segments of their other soap operas as a result of wiping, and also due to three fires that occurred in 1969 (at its São Paulo studios), 1971 and 1976, (the latter two at its Rio de Janeiro studios) where in the 1976 fire, an estimated 920 to 1,500 tapes were destroyed.
Most of TV Excelsior's output was damaged in a fire in 1969; however, in the late 1990s about 100 tapes of Rede Excelsior programming were discovered in the archives of Globo and TV Gazeta and these tapes were restored by the Faculdade Cásper Líbero and subsequently donated to the Cinemateca Brasileira in 2001.
The Brazilian public television network Cultura has preserved many old programs and has one of the most complete archives among Brazilian television networks. Despite having suffered a fire in 1986, this fire did not reach the station's archives.
After the bankruptcy of Manchete, in 1999, most of the collection was seized at the station's studios, in Rio de Janeiro, until it was included in the bankruptcy estate and later auctioned by the Brazilian courts, which caused part of the library to be lost. However, some telenovelas (such as Pantanal) had reruns by some television networks (such as SBT and Band).
Many SBT 1980s and 1990s productions were lost due to wiping and also due to floods that occurred in 1987 and in 1991 at its studios in the district of Vila Guilherme. The network did not have a archiving policy until 1996, when the network moved its studios to CDT da Anhanguera in Osasco, Greater São Paulo.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation never practised wiping of programs they produced themselves. This was undoubtedly in large part to its status as a state-owned broadcaster, which allowed it access to government funding to archive its content without having to justify the expense to private shareholders. As a result, the CBC now maintains a nearly complete archive of all programming produced by them that was recorded. One exception was the 1953-54 science-fiction series Space Command, of which only one out of 150 episodes are known to survive; although the whole series was Kinescoped for distribution to stations across Canada. The CBC also says that the 1984-93 music video series Video Hits, no longer exists in their archives; presumably, any recordings were wiped for legal reasons as the show used content licensed from music companies. (A handful of clips from "Video Hits" can be found online.)
The CTV Television Network has admitted to wiping many programs during the 1970s. Because of Canadian content requirements, the need for Canadian-produced programming led to more preservation of the shows they produced, and even very poorly received programs (such as the infamous The Trouble with Tracy) were saved and rerun for several years after their cancellation. Furthermore, Canadian rebroadcasts have been a source of some broadcasts that are otherwise lost in the United States and the United Kingdom.
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 song's reprise has survived from the original broadcast. The ninth edition of 1964 is said to have been recorded on tape, but a fire reportedly destroyed the copy at DR, the broadcaster who produced the contest. Another recording of the contest, however, does exist at the French television archives. Only small portions of the original broadcast and audio from the radio transmission are viewable for the time being.
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.
The Republic of Ireland was a latecomer to television, Telefís Éireann being established at the end of 1961. 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 editions of the 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.
The best known 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.
The 1970s Dutch TV 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.
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.
31 segments 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.
The entirety of the Nippon TV tokusatsu television series Assault! Human!!, originally produced and aired in 1972, was lost at some point after the series was rebroadcast in the 1980s, after the master tapes were reused. While suits from the show were purchased, then reused by Toho in the 1973 series Go! Greenman, the only traces of Assault! Human!! come in the form of supplementary materials such as reference books, merchandise, magazine articles and the show's soundtrack.
All episodes of the Osamu 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.
Most episodes of the Children's puppet show Hyokkori Hyōtanjima, running from 1964 to 1969 on NHK for total of 1,224 episodes, were reportedly wiped after the broadcast. The tapes were reportedly reused for other programs since video tapes were costly. 6 episodes have resurfaced from black and white kinescopes, as well as 2 color episodes.
Toei Animation is known to wipe broadcasts of older anime series. For a time, the original films of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and some of Dragon Ball GT, which contained high-quality audio, were wiped. They were considered lost media until a group of fans collected VHS recordings of the series during their original broadcasts, which contained the original audio. The audio was then sent to Christopher Sabat of Funimation. An official release of these series containing the original audio has yet to be made.
Due to its multiple studio facilities, namely its Chapultepec and San Angel studios, Televisa preserved most of its scripted series for broadcast years after the preserved programs had ended their original runs. Some Televisa programs, however, were lost not due to wiping, but due to the 1985 Mexico City earthquake that destroyed part of the network's archive. However, smaller channels, such as XEIPN-TV and XHDF-TV, did not begin to preserve their recorded broadcasts until the early 1980s. Monterrey's Multimedios Televisión keeps most of its programming, though some special historical programming dealing with its flagship station's history clearly shows that some footage has been either donated by viewers recorded from its original broadcast, or uses footage of its programming recorded by fans and archivists and uploaded to websites such as Dailymotion, Vimeo and YouTube.
In the early days of PTV, a few test transmissions were broadcast, but the majority of programming was live. Since at the time PTV did not have the tools needed to create backups, the programming was considered lost as soon as it aired.
Pre-recorded shows started airing in 1971, stored mostly using Video Tape Recorders (VTR) and later shifting to VPRs. Both were stored in spools.
Final archive cuts of aired shows were stored in a near-freezing room, which was the standard storage requirement. However, sometime in the early 1980s, the air conditioning for archives was turned down too much, causing the spools to succumb to the heat and fuse together.
When the industry finally realised in early 1990s that transfer to digital video was imminent, the equipment needed to play back the old spools was no longer in working condition and replacement parts were almost nonexistent.
The spools were stored at the Shalimar recording company, and PTV has been able to play segments for retrospective programs.
Additionally, viewer home recordings also exist and are the only source of video for some shows.
The Center for Media Psychology Research Pakistan website gives a different story, stating that after the switch to colour broadcast, the recording medium in the 1970s was the one inch spool format which recorded sound and electronic moving pictures as a combined stream on a magnetic recording medium. However, due to the one inch magnetic spool containing all old archives was eventually lost.
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. An audio recording of the daily sign off as well as a video recording of a 10-second station ID are known to exist.
Main article: List of lost television broadcasts in the United Kingdom
Drama and entertainment output was studio-based and followed the tradition of live theatre and radio drama. The earliest recording method for television was telerecording (Kinescope in the US), first used in 1947, which involved capturing the image from a special television monitor onto film using a modified film camera. increased in use during the 1950s, and surviving UK programmes which were not pre-filmed usually exist in this form until the late 1960s. Conventional filmmaking methods, other than for factual programming, were only gradually introduced from the mid-1960s.
All television programmes have copyright and secondary rights associated with them. For drama and entertainment, the actors, writers, and musicians involved in a production all have underlying rights. In the past, these rights were defended rigorously—permission could even be denied by a contributor for the repeat or re-use of a programme. Talent unions were highly suspicious of the threat to new work if programmes were repeated; indeed, before 1955 Equity insisted that any telerecording made (of a repeat performance) could only "be viewed privately" on BBC premises and not transmitted. Some early colour productions were telerecorded onto monochrome film for overseas sales to countries which did not yet have colour television. Early colour programmes may only survive in this form.
Although 2-inch Quadruplex videotape recording technology was utilised in the UK from 1958, this system was expensive and complex; recorded programmes were often erased after broadcast in an era when the UK had few channels and repeats were rare. Videotape was not initially thought to be a permanent archivable medium – its high cost and the potential reuse of the tapes led to the transfer of programme material to film, via telerecording, whenever sales of overseas screening rights were possible or preservation deemed worthwhile. The recycling of videotapes, coupled with savings made on the storage of the bulky 2" tapes, enabled costs to be kept down.
The introduction of colour television in the United Kingdom from 1967 meant that broadcasters felt there was less value in retaining monochrome recordings. Such tapes could not be re-used for colour production, so they were disposed of to create space for the new colour tapes in the archives, which were quickly filling up. The increased cost of colour Quadruplex videotape—approximately £1,000 per tape at today's prices—meant that companies still often re-used the tapes for cost control purposes. Negative attitudes to a programme's value also persisted.
The Sunday Night Play (a major event in the 1950s) was performed live in the studio. On Thursday, because telerecording was then of insufficient broadcast quality, another live performance followed, the artists returning to perform the play again. 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 not recorded, a 1956 version as part of Armchair Theatre and a 1962 version as part of BBC Sunday-Night Play.
Today, most programmes are pre-recorded and it is relatively inexpensive to preserve programming for posterity.
The BBC, the United Kingdom's first public service broadcaster, had no policy on archiving until 1978.
The BBC's television service dates back to 1936 and was originally a nearly live-only medium. The hours of transmission were very limited and the bulk of the programming was transmitted either live from the studio, or from outside broadcast (OB) units; film was a minor contributor to the output. When the first television broadcasts were made, there were two competing systems in use. The EMI electronic system (using 405 lines) competed with the Baird 240-line mechanical television system. Baird adopted an intermediate film technique where the live material was filmed using a standard film camera mounted on a large cabinet which contained a rapid processing unit and an early flying spot scanner to produce the video output for transmission. The pioneer broadcasts were not, however, preserved on this intermediate film as the nitrate (celluloid) stock was scanned while still wet from the fixer bath and never washed to remove the fixer chemicals. Consequently, the film decomposed very soon after transmission; nothing is known to have survived. No studio or OB programmes from 1936 to 1939 or 1946 to 1947 have survived because there was no means of preserving them.
The world's earliest television crime drama Telecrime (1938–39 and 1946) or Pinwright's Progress (1946–47, the world's first regular situation comedy), The Disorderly Room, Sports Review, Theatre Parade, and the play Wasp's Nest, were broadcast live and not recorded. The only visual evidence of these programmes today consists of still photographs as live programmes were never recorded at all.
Four of the six episodes of The Quatermass Experiment (1953), Britain's first science fiction television programme aimed at an adult audience, were never recorded; the two existing episodes are the BBC's earliest recordings of any fictional series. The visual quality of the second episode's recording was considered so poor—a fly entered the gap between the camera and monitor at one point—that the remainder of the series was not recorded.
High-profile examples of programme losses include the vast majority of the BBC's Apollo 11 Moon landing studio coverage, and all 147 episodes of the soap opera United!. There are gaps in many long-running BBC series (Dixon of Dock Green, Hancock's Half Hour, Sykes, Out of the Unknown, and Z-Cars). Three episodes from the second series of Dad's Army are missing, as are almost half of the editions of Hancock's Half Hour.
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 2020[update]. A for Andromeda, a science fiction series that was Julie Christie's first major role, only survives in the form of a single episode (episode six, "The Face of the Tiger"), some film fragments from episodes one ("The Message"), two ("The Machine"), three ("The Miracle") and seven ("The Last Mystery"), and a complete audio recording of episode seven.
As of 2021, 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). 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, The Power of the Daleks 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 (such as 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 resurfaced. 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. Cook and Moore reportedly 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 the completed programmes on colour videotape of the 1970 series was wiped, so that the only surviving colour sketches are the 16mm film inserts.
There is lost material in all genres — as late as the early 1990s, a large number of videotaped children's programmes from the 1970s and 1980s were irretrievably wiped by the BBC archives on the assumption that they were of "low priority", without consulting the BBC children's department itself.
Virtually the entire runs of the corporation's pre-1970s soap operas have been lost. In the 1950s and 1960s, the BBC soap operas The Appleyards, The Grove Family, Compact, The Newcomers, 199 Park Lane, and United! produced approximately 1,200 episodes altogether. There are no episodes of either United! or 199 Park Lane in the archives, while only one episode of The Appleyards, three episodes of The Grove Family, and four episodes each of Compact and The Newcomers are known to exist. The early televised Francis Durbridge serials from 1952 to 1959 were either never recorded (the first two (Broken Horseshoe and Operation Diplomat) or not retained.
Also vulnerable to the corporation's wiping policy were programmes that only lasted for one series. Abigail and Roger, The Airbase, As Good Cooks Go, the 1960 adaptation of The Citadel, the 1956 adaptation of David Copperfield, The Dark Island, The Gnomes of Dulwich, Hurricane, For Richer...For Poorer, Hereward the Wake, The Naked Lady, Night Train To Surbiton, Outbreak of Murder, Where do I Sit?, and Witch Hunt have all been wiped, with no footage surviving, while four out of seven episodes of the paranormal anthology series Dead of Night were wiped. Only about 30 episodes of Dixon of Dock Green remain out of a run of 432, and more than half of the episodes of Z-Cars are missing.
An edition of Hugh and I ("Chinese Crackers"), starring Hugh Lloyd, Terry Scott, John Le Mesurier and David Jason was located by Kaleidoscope Publishing in 2010 in the archives of UCLA, and brought to general public attention in February 2011.
Early episodes of the pop music chart show Top of the Pops were wiped or never recorded while they were being transmitted live. The Beatles' only live appearance on Top Of The Pops in 1966, performing the single "Paperback Writer" is believed to have been wiped in a clear-out in the 1970s. An off-air recording of 11 seconds of footage made on an 8mm film camera was discovered in April 2019. Clips of the Beatles miming "Can't Buy Me Love" and "You Can't Do That" on an episode from 25 March 1964 were found online by missing episode hunter Ray Langstone in 2015. The last lost edition dates from 8 September 1977. There are only four complete TOTP episodes surviving from the 1960s, while many otherwise-missing episodes survive only as fragments. Most appearances of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett—are unavailable. Only two episodes still exist of The Sandie Shaw Supplement (a music-variety show hosted by the eponymous singer), recorded in 1967.
Since the establishment of an archival policy for television in 1978, BBC archivists and others over the years have used various contacts in the UK and abroad to try to track down missing programmes. For example, all BBC Worldwide customers—broadcasters around the world—who had bought programmes from the corporation were contacted to see if they still had copies which could be returned; Doctor Who is a prime example of how this method recovered episodes that the corporation did not hold itself. At the turn of the 21st century, the BBC established its Archive Treasure Hunt, a public appeal to recover lost productions, which has had some successes.
The BBC also has close contacts with the National Film and Television Archive, which is part of the British Film Institute and its "Missing Believed Wiped" event which was first held in 1993 and is part of a campaign to locate lost items from British television's past. There is also a network of collectors who, if they find any programmes missing from the BBC archives, will contact the corporation with information—or sometimes even the actual footage. Some examples of programmes recovered for the archives are Doctor Who, Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Dad's Army, Letter from America, The Likely Lads, and Play for Today.
The BBC was not alone in this practice: the commercial companies that formed its main rival ITV also wiped videotapes and destroyed telerecordings, leaving gaps in their archive holdings. The former nature of the ITV network, in which private independent companies were awarded licences to serve geographical areas for a set period of time, meant that when companies lost their licences, their archives were often sold to third parties and became fragmente, and/or risked being destroyed, as ownership and copyright remained with the production companies, rather than with the network.
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 few surviving tapes of Associated-Rediffusion belong to many different organisations, as the majority of Associated-Rediffusion's tapes were recorded in monochrome and therefore deemed of no use upon the arrival of colour broadcasting; as such, they were disposed of by London successor Thames Television, although in recent years there have been occasional discoveries, such as a 1959 episode of Double Your Money, and the remaining missing episode of Around the World with Orson Welles, found by Ray Langstone in 2011. Most material from the 1960s also only survives as telerecordings. Some early episodes are also believed to be damaged or in poor quality, whereas much of the output of other broadcasters – such as many early episodes of The Avengers which were shot in the electronic studio rather than on film, produced by Associated British Corporation – have been destroyed. Many master tapes belonging to ATV have since deteriorated due to bad storage and are unsuitable for broadcasting. In particular, the ATV version of the popular soap Crossroads is missing 2,850 episodes of its original 3,555. Also often largely lost are quiz shows; few editions exist of the 1970s version of Celebrity Squares with Bob Monkhouse, or Southern's children's quiz Runaround. Many early music programmes, such as Ready Steady Go are poorly represented.
The original (unbroadcast) 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 transmitted shot-in-color rerecording of the episode. The original recording took place on 13 November 1970, and was in monochrome, owing to a dispute with studio technicians, the so-called Colour Strike, 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 12 February 1971. After the entire thirteen-episode season run had been recorded, it was decided to rerecord the first episode in colour to gain the highest possible audience for its first UK transmission and to help with overseas sales. The re-recording took place on 21 May 1971, and the series' UK debut was on 10 October 1971. The original monochrome recording was never transmitted and was wiped. All of the other five black-and-white episodes from Series 1 survive.
The state of the archives varies greatly between the different companies; Granada Television holds a large number of its older black-and-white programmes, the company having an unofficial policy of retaining as much of its broadcast material (albeit by telerecording) as possible despite financial hardship in its early years. This includes the entirety of the soap opera Coronation Street which is now held at the Yorkshire Television archive, which itself possesses largely intact archives, although some early colour shows from the late 1960s and the early 1970s, such as the entire output of the drama Castle Haven, the first two series of Sez Les and the children's variety show Junior Showtime are missing and believed wiped. The former ITV company Thames Television also has a significant library.
The archive of networked programmes made by Southern Television, for example, is now owned by the otherwise-unconnected Australian media company Southern Star Group but Southern's regional output is in the hands of ITV plc.
Furthermore, responsibility for archive preservation was left to individual companies. For example, ITV has no record of its live coverage of the 1969 Moon landings after the station responsible for providing the coverage, London Weekend Television, wiped the tapes. Of the 96 British inserts to the 1980s franchised Anglo-American-Canadian children's show Fraggle Rock, only 12 are known to exist, as the library of the British producer (TVS) has been sold and subsequently split up.
In recent years, the trend of preserving material has started to change. The archives of Westward Television and Television South West are now held in trust for the public as the South West Film and Television Archive, whilst changes in legislation mean that ITV companies which lose their franchises must donate their archives to the British Film Institute. However, the change of ITV from a federal structure to one centralised company means that changes of regional companies in the future seems highly unlikely.
No copies of The Adventures of Francie & Josie exist, as most of Scottish Television's early shows were destroyed in a fire in late 1969 (although some sources state 1973). The Adventures Of Francie & Josie was made from 1961 to 1965 by STV.
Most editions of the 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 recorded by the broadcaster were wiped or deteriorated 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.
Since the BBC library was first audited in 1978, missing programmes or extracts on either film or tape are often found in unexpected places. An appeal to broadcasters in other countries who had shown missing programmes (notably Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and African nations such as Nigeria) produced "missing" episodes from the archives of those television companies. Episodes have also been returned to broadcasters by private film collectors who had acquired 16mm film copies from various sources.
Two Series 1 episodes of The Avengers (an Associated British Corporation production) which were thought to be missing were recovered from the UCLA Film & Television Archive in the United States.
It emerged in September 2010 that more than 60 recordings of BBC and ITV drama productions originally sent for broadcast in the United States by the PBS station WNET (which serves New York City and New Jersey) had been found at the Library of Congress.
The BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son is completely intact, although approximately half of the colour episodes only exist in monochrome; this was after copies of episodes thought to be lost were recovered in the late 1990s from early non-broadcast standard video recordings made for writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson by BBC technicians. For many years the pilot episode of Are You Being Served? survived only in black and white, appearing in this form on the 2003 DVD release of the show. In 2009, a colour version was reconstructed when it was realised that the black and white film reel had actually recorded sufficient colour information as a dot crawl pattern to allow colour recovery.
A few audio recordings of Till Death Us Do Part have been recovered, as well as an extract of the pilot and two episodes from series three.
In the various sales of rights for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Series 1-4 from the UK edition were assumed to have been lost forever. However, in 2015, Challenge - a British channel broadcasting classic game shows - announced they had been found and were rebroadcast, though some episodes in that set remain missing and unfound.
Copies of several compilations from the British 1960s comedy At Last the 1948 Show, held by many to be a forerunner of Monty Python's Flying Circus, were discovered in the archives of the Swedish broadcaster SVT, to whom the producers Rediffusion London had sold them upon the companies' loss of its broadcasting licence. Their recovery enabled the reconstruction of otherwise missing original editions of the programme, meaning most of the series exists in visual form.
Off-air home audio recordings of various television programmes have also been recovered, at least preserving the soundtracks to otherwise missing shows, and some of these (particularly from Doctor Who) have been released on CD by the BBC following restoration and the addition of narration to describe purely visual elements. Tele-snaps, a commercial service of off-screen shots of programmes often purchased by actors and television directors to keep a record of their work in the days before videocassette recorders, have also been recovered for many lost programmes.
Advances in technology have resulted in old programmes being transferred to new digital media, where they can be restored or (if they are damaged or otherwise cannot be restored) kept from decaying further. In the United Kingdom, archival television recordings of both the BBC and ITV, along with other channels, have often been migrated from the cumbersome older 2-inch quadruplex and 1-inch Type C videotapes to digital formats.
Live broadcasts in Britain are still not necessarily kept, and wiping of material has not ceased. According to writer and broadcaster Matthew Sweet, there are "big gaps in the record of children's television of the Nineties."
In the United States, the major broadcast networks engaged in the practice of wiping recordings until the late 1970s. Many episodes were erased, especially daytime and late-night programming such as daytime soap operas and game shows. The daytime shows, almost all of them having been taped, were erased because they were not perceived as having continuing commercial value. In the early 1970s, the passage of Financial Interest and Syndication Rules barred the networks from syndicating their own archived programming; intended to encourage more local and independent content, it had the unintended consequence of prompting the networks to discard tapes that syndication companies had no interest in distributing (especially those in black and white).
Home VCRs, first introduced in the US in November 1975, were still uncommon until the early 1980s. It is thought 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 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. Similarly, home kinescopes of World Football League recorded as game film serve as the only surviving copies of several games in that league's short history.
The success of cable television networks devoted to reruns of genres perceived as being of low value and thus discarded eventually suggested this was false, as the large number of episodes required for a daily program made even a short-run game show a candidate for syndication.
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.
Almost no audio or film material of any television shows from prior to 1948 exist. One of the few exceptions was Hour Glass, an early variety show that ran from 1946 to 1947 and was preserved in the form of audio and, in the case of one episode, still pictures. The debut broadcast of The Ed Sullivan Show (then called Toast of the Town) from June 20, 1948, is considered lost. The episode featured what is almost certainly the first television appearance of the comedy act of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Programs in the early days of television were live broadcasts which were are lost because they were not recorded. Most prime-time programs that were preserved used the kinescope recording process, which involved filming the live broadcast from a television screen using a motion-picture camera (videotape, for recording programs, was not perfected until the mid-1950s and was not widely used until the late 1960s). This was also a common practice for broadcasting live TV shows to the west coast, as performers often performed a show back-to-back, but never three times in succession. Daytime programs, however, were generally not kinescoped for preservation (although many were temporarily kinescoped for later broadcast, episodes recorded in this way were usually discarded).
Hosting sequences nearly always featuring celebrities, were sometimes made for telecasts of family films, notably for the first nine telecasts of MGM's The Wizard of Oz by CBS from 1956. It is not known if those made for Oz survived since they have not been seen since 1967. One hosting sequence from that era that does survive is the one Eddie Albert made for the 1965 CBS telecast of The Nutcracker, starring Edward Villella, Patricia McBride, and Melissa Hayden. It has even been included on the DVD release of the program.
During the period the DuMont Television Network (1946–1956) remained active, officials of the DuMont network wished to keep its programs as intact as possible. However, the network ceased to exist in 1956 and its archive was discarded in the 1970s. Nearly the entire film archive of 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. This occurred around 1975, according to sworn testimony, to clear room at the New York City warehouse where it was previously being stored. See List of surviving DuMont Television Network broadcasts for more info.
Of the over 20,000 shows carried by DuMont in its ten-year existence, approximately 350 or so episodes of DuMont programming are known to exist today, less than two percent of its total output. The remainder were either never recorded (e.g., NFL on DuMont) or were dumped in the earlier purges. At least one of DuMont's shows were archived on its own: professional wrestling from the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the direct predecessor to WWE), whose footage of wrestling matches from Madison Square Garden III as well as many matches of 1950s wrestling star Gorgeous George survive as part of WWE Libraries.
The first live sporting event broadcast by ESPN was the first game of the 1979 Softball World Series in men's professional slow-pitch softball. Roughly 20 years later, the manager of the Kentucky Bourbons, losers in the series, contacted ESPN about acquiring a copy of that game, and was told that this was the only lost broadcast in the network's history. However, it was later found that the owner of the series-winning Milwaukee Schlitz had previously purchased a copy of this broadcast, and still had the tapes in his possession. The tapes were produced and eventually became the centerpiece of an E:60 episode that aired as part of the network's 40th anniversary celebration in 2019.
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.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has a majority of its telecasts lost. The 1960 and 1961 parades are not in NBC's archive, with the latter most likely being disposed of. Only two pre-1980 parades exists in their entirety (the 1959 and 1976 parades). Many clips of the NBC telecasts were shown in anniversary specials, but of all of the post-1980 telecasts, only the entire 1982 parade is not available to the public, with only a few clips available. The 1982 parade is currently in NBC's archives, but some are unknown to still exist.
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.
Several award shows from the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards, only survive in kinescope format. From 1957 to 1965, the Academy Awards were taped in black and white, but only survive in kinescope format for overseas distribution, especially for the European TV audiences, which used another system (625 lines as opposed to 525 lines), as the tapes used for late broadcasting were reused. All of the taped broadcasts of the Academy Awards from 1966 onward (the first to be broadcast in color) remain intact.
Approximately half of the episodes of 1957 syndicated cartoon Colonel Bleep are missing. The entire master archive was stolen in the early 1970s and not recovered. The current collection is taken from tapes sent out to individual stations, approximately half of which have been found.
Sixty episodes of the long-running show Sesame Street are missing from the archives of Sesame Workshop. This list of lost episodes includes the debut of long-running cast member Linda and Oscar the Grouch's pet worm, Slimey. Some of these episodes only exist dubbed in German from the show's German-language version, Sesamstraße, while raw footage containing street scenes for some of the lost episodes is believed to exist somewhere in the archives.
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 are said to 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, in total for the value of the tapes and in damages against Metromedia. Metromedia subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court, but lost.
In 1995, when Hallmark Cards acquired the catalogue of the American animation studio Filmation, they converted all the studio's series from NTSC to PAL. According to Entertainment Rights, which acquired the Filmation library in 2004, Hallmark discarded Filmation's original master tapes after they were converted.
Little of the first sitcom, The Mary Kay and Johnny Show, remains today. It was initially live and not recorded, but later in its run kinescopes were made for rebroadcasting. Fragments of episodes and one complete installment are known to exist.
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's 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.
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.
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.
Many of Ernie Kovacs's videotaped network programs were also wiped. During different times as comedian, writer, and performer Kovacs had programs on all four major television networks (ABC, CBS, DuMont, and NBC). After Kovacs's death, the networks wiped many programs. Kovacs's widow Edie Adams obtained as many programs and episodes as she could find, donating them to UCLA's Special Collections.
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. Carson's shows were taped over by the network, with Carson's blessing, under the assumption that the broadcasts were of no real value.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). Another reason for their poorer quality is that many of the 1960s Tonight Show episodes only survived in the kinescope format. Dick Cavett's ABC shows were also taped over by his network in favor of other shows produced at ABC's studios in New York.
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.
Game shows, more than any other genre, were prone to being lost. Many games between 1941 and 1980 lasted for time periods that were so short (some measured in a span of weeks or even days) that the networks felt it unnecessary to retain them, whereas recycling the tapes would be more profitable and less of an effort than attempting to sell the series in reruns, in an era before cable television.
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 (such as Goodson-Todman) did arrange for the preservation of their shows even during the tape-recycling period. To a lesser extent, Barry-Enright Productions, Chuck Barris Productions, Jay Wolpert Productions, and the post-1980 Merv Griffin productions) and to an even lesser extent Heatter-Quigley Productions had the foresight to preserve many of their games for later reruns; for years, these shows dominated the USA Network's game show block, then the Game Show Network (GSN) line-up and now make up a major portion of Buzzr TV's lineup. You Bet Your Life, from the 1950s, was saved from destruction only because host Groucho Marx allowed NBC to give him the recordings they were otherwise going to throw out.
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, although several episodes exist at UCLA's Film and Television Archive.
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 exists and circulates among collectors.
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 news 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 second version of Dream House (NBC, 1983–1984) has only a handful of episodes remaining; the show's master tapes were accidentally destroyed by a flood in 2013.
The nighttime version of The Price Is Right (syndication, 1972–1980) has not been destroyed, but has remained within the confines of the CBS/Fremantle 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 six full-length episodes (two from 1972, one each from 1974, 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 nearly 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 1989 version of Now You See It has not been destroyed, but has been withheld from circulation since its original run at the request of host Chuck Henry, who is now a news anchor for KNBC in Los Angeles.
All episodes of the Jay Wolpert-produced game shows Whew! (CBS, 1979–1980) and Blackout (CBS, 1988) are intact. Blackout has not been rerun since its cancellation, and reruns of Whew! had not aired until Buzzr obtained the rights to air the show in 2021.
Most other game shows pre-1980 are lost. All of the Bob Stewart (except Pyramid), Heatter–Quigley except for PDQ which aired in syndication as well as many episodes of Hollywood Squares, Hatos–Hall (except for a large portion of Let's Make a Deal), Ralph Andrews, Carruthers Company (except for Press Your Luck), the pre-scandal Barry & Enright, Jack Barry (except for The Joker's Wild), Ralph Edwards and pre-1980 Merv Griffin (which includes most of the Art Fleming version of Jeopardy and the Chuck Woolery version of Wheel of Fortune) have been destroyed, with the exception of a few rare pilots and "cast aside" episodes. The few remaining episodes have therefore become collectors' items, and an active tape trading circuit exists among collectors.
NBC and ABC continued the wiping process well into the 1970s; while ABC ceased in early 1978, NBC continued to wipe some shows into 1980, leaving much of their daytime game show content lost forever. CBS abandoned the wiping process by September 1972, largely as a result of their collaboration with Goodson-Todman; as a result, even the network's shorter-lived games (such as Spin-Off and Whew!) still exist in their entirety. Incidentally, all three networks ended their wiping practices during the time Fred Silverman led their respective networks.
As late as the late 1970s, long after the invention of the videocassette reduced the storage space that was necessary for a vault, American companies that syndicated game shows, such as Odyssey Productions, were more likely to wipe all their videotapes than the three networks were. The syndicated game show Dealer's Choice, which ran throughout 1974 and 1975 in syndication throughout the United States, is believed to have been almost entirely destroyed. (In contrast, because syndication required dozens of copies of a given episode to be produced to be sent to individual stations, that also increased the possibility that "syndication prints" would survive the wiping process by not being returned to the syndicator.)
Some early news programs, such as Camel News Caravan on NBC, are largely lost. NBC neglected to preserve daily editions of the live two-hour morning program Today until the late 1970s; as a result, only scattered kinescopes and video segments chronicle the first quarter-century of the show's news coverage. Of the program's inaugural edition in January 1952, only the first half-hour and the last fifteen minutes exist for contemporary viewing.
Moving images of Walter Cronkite reading the news in his studio every night for six years (1962-August 2, 1968) are mostly gone. Exceptions are his coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 and the November 1963 tragedies in Dallas, Texas: the JFK assassination, the shootings of police officer J. D. Tippit and Lee Oswald and all three funerals, as well as his introduction of the Beatles and his criticism of the Vietnam War.
Douglas Edwards anchored the live five-minute segment The CBS Afternoon News five afternoons a week between 1962 and 1966. He started the segment immediately after the half-hour broadcast of the Goodson-Todman game show To Tell The Truth. Not one second from four years' worth of The CBS Afternoon News was preserved in any way.
Studio shots of Peter Jennings inside his ABC studio during his first year there (1965) are also gone.
Vanderbilt University has kept all evening national news telecasts since Monday, August 5, 1968. Only newscasts that lasted a half-hour were saved. During that era until the 1980s, all three networks continued featuring news updates that lasted five minutes or less and were inserted during commercial breaks. As late as the 1980s, long after the invention of the VCR, very few were preserved. When anchorwoman Jessica Savitch appeared under the influence of drugs while anchoring NBC News Digest in 1983, total running time of one minute, NBC employees made no effort to preserve it. When her sudden death in a car accident, three weeks after the live telecast, made people curious about her appearance in the segment, it was discovered that an employee of an NBC affiliate had saved it without knowing its value. The affiliate was far away from New York City where Savitch worked.
As of 1997, CBS had saved 1,000,000 videotapes of news reports, broadcasts, stock footage, and outtakes according to a report that year from the National Film Preservation Board. The same report added, "Television stations still erase and recycle their video cassettes", referring to local news programs. Many local stations contract with outside companies for archiving news coverage.
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.
Most US daytime soap opera episodes broadcast before 1978 have been lost. The status of episodes, however, varies significantly 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.
Though most soap operas made the transition from live broadcast to videotaping their shows during the 1960s, it was still common practice to wipe and reuse the tapes. This practice was due to the high cost of videotape at the time. While soap operas began routinely saving their episodes between 1976 and 1979, several soaps have saved recordings of most or all their episodes. Days of Our Lives has recordings of all its episodes; its first two episodes exist on their original master tapes, and were aired by SOAPnet in 2005. The Young and the Restless, Dark Shadows and Ryan's Hope saved most of their episodes, despite the fact that they debuted during the 1960s and 1970s, before retaining tapes became common practice. Episodes of The Doctors began to be saved no later than December 4, 1967; this is where reruns of the series began when picked up by Retro Television Network in September 2014, and distributor SFM Entertainment claims to have roughly 95% of the series' episodes intact in its library. Episodes of other soaps broadcast during the 1950s to 1970s do exist in different forms and have been showcased in various places online.
Procter & Gamble started saving their shows around 1979. Very few pre-1979 color episodes of the Procter and Gamble-sponsored shows survive, with most extant episodes preserved as monochrome kinescopes. Exceptions include two episodes of The Guiding Light from November 1977 and another from 1973, which have been released on DVD. As the World Turns and The Edge of Night aired live until 1975, the year The Edge of Night moved to ABC and As the World Turns expanded from a 30-minute broadcast to one hour. Both shows began taping episodes in preparation for the move of The Edge of Night to ABC. The Edge of Night's ABC debut is believed to have survived. Overall, the number of surviving monochrome episodes recorded on kinescope outnumber color episodes for these programs.
Agnes Nixon initially produced her series One Life to Live and All My Children through her own production company, Creative Horizons, Inc., and kept a complete archive of monochrome kinescopes until ABC bought the shows from her in 1975. When the network decided to expand All My Children from 30 minutes to a full hour in the late 1970s, Nixon agreed on the condition that the network would begin saving the episodes. ABC complied, and full hour broadcasts began on April 25, 1977. However, different sources indicate that a warehouse fire destroyed the vast majority of the early-1970s kinescopes, or that erasures of the episodes continued. As a result, a few early episodes from these early years survive.
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.
Super Bowl I was aired by both CBS and NBC (the only Super Bowl to be aired by two networks), but neither network then felt the need to preserve the game long-term; CBS saved the telecast for a few months and re-ran it as filler programming at least once before wiping it. A color videotape containing the first, second and fourth quarters of the telecast from WYOU (the CBS affiliate for Scranton, Pennsylvania, which was then WDAU-TV) was found in 2005 and is in the process of being restored. On January 15, 2016, the NFL Network re-aired the first Super Bowl, featuring audio from NBC Radio and most of the TV network broadcast and newly discovered NFL Films footage of the game. Super Bowl II was aired exclusively by CBS and was long believed to have been erased, but it was later found that the entire telecast fully exists and rests in the vaults of NFL Films. Though NBC's telecast of Super Bowl III exists entirely in color, only half of the CBS broadcast Super Bowl IV broadcast does (the rest was preserved via Canadian simulcasts in black-and-white). The first three quarters of Super Bowl V broadcast by NBC Los Angeles' O&O station KNBC exist, but the fourth quarter is missing, though the Mike Curtis interception and Jim O'Brien game-winning field goal were recovered via news highlights from CBC in Canada. Super Bowl VI also exists in its entirety. It was not until Super Bowl VII that a continuous archive was established, with all Super Bowl telecasts from that point onward existing in their entireties.
Similarly, all of the telecasts of the NFL Championship Games prior to the Super Bowl are believed to have been lost, with all surviving footage of those games coming from separately produced film. The status of most regular season and playoff games from the early years of television up to the immediate years following the 1970 AFL–NFL merger are also unknown. Among the footage that has survived include at least some of NBC's coverage from the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders that featured the Immaculate Reception, as well as the inaugural telecast of Monday Night Football from 1970 between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, though several Monday Night Football games in the ensuing seasons were lost. A 1974 game that featured John Lennon being interviewed by Howard Cosell in the booth only survived due to a home video recording of the game; the game itself was wiped by ABC. CBS kept coverage of a 1978 matchup between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles that would feature the now-infamous Miracle at the Meadowlands, although the existence of many 1978 games on CBS by private collectors shows that the networks by that point started keeping recordings of regular season games. There are rare exceptions of CBS games from 1977 back, but by 1978 the library of most teams is almost fully complete.
The NFL had its own filmmakers, NFL Films, filming the game with its own equipment. Thus, preserving the telecasts on tape was not seen as a priority by the networks when another source was available – though the sportscasters' play-by-play comments, as a result, were lost.
Most of the telecasts of the World Football League, which were syndicated nationwide by the TVS Television Network in 1974, were destroyed by TVS. (The ad hoc network refused to carry WFL games in 1975 after the league failed to sign star quarterback Joe Namath; with no national TV revenue, the league folded midway through the season.) Very little broadcast-quality footage survives; fragments of the World Bowl and playoffs have been saved, as have a few regular season games, including the league's inaugural national telecast (which as of 2000 existed only on a fourth-generation copy of a VHS tape).
NFL Films compiled as much footage as it could find from the league for a 2000 episode of its series Lost Treasures, which included segments from most of the broadcast-quality footage and home-recorded kinescopes of very poor quality (mainly used as game film to assess performance) that serve as some of the only footage of the Charlotte Stars. The WFL did not have an in-house films division, but cinematographer Lewis Bice did shoot several highlight reels for promotions and television newscasts; when NFL Films found some of Bice's surviving work, they were surprised to see it was at or near their own quality.
Every Rose Bowl game since 1975 exists in their entireties.
All telecasts of all World Series games starting in 1975 (Reds–Red Sox) are known to exist in full. What follows is the known footage of World Series telecasts prior to 1975:
For the League Championship Series telecasts spanning from 1969 to 1975, only 2 games survived, one is Game 2 of the 1972 American League Championship Series (Oakland–Detroit) is known to exist; however, the copy on the trade circuit is missing the Bert Campaneris–Lerrin LaGrow brawl. The other is Game 1 of the 1973 National League Championship Series that was covered by New York's then called WOR-TV and it featured the game all the way up to 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning.
There are some instances where the only brief glimpse of telecast footage of an early LCS game can be seen in a surviving newscast from that night.
While all telecasts of World Series games starting with 1975 are accounted for and exist, the LCS is still a spotty situation through the late 1970s:
See also: List of NBA Finals broadcasters
All NBA Finals games since 1979 exist in their entirety.
Some museums and other cultural institutions, such as the Paley Center for Media, have taken steps to discover and preserve old recordings previously thought to have been wiped or discarded, lost, or misfiled.
Virtually all episodes of General Hospital, from its premiere in April 1963 through to August 1970, are archived at UCLA. The UCLA Film & Television Archive holds a large number of daytime television airings that were spared from the wiping practice. Also archived there are handfuls of episodes of each soap opera that was on the air from 1971 and 1973, including A World Apart, Where the Heart Is, and Return to Peyton Place.
Previously lost programs of Vietnam Television may be due to liquidation of tapes, scratched tapes, etc. But most of them are using old tapes to overwrite new programs on old tapes (before the period of time). using digital tape), so most of the previous programs on VTV in the pre-2000 period were very difficult to find (at most only a few people can keep it).
Yugoslav Radio Television (JRT) practiced wiping until the 1970s when it gained access to newer and cheaper methods of recording, which allowed it to regularly archive programming.
|Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade||1953–present||Only 2 parades from the 1950s-1970s are still preserved; The status for many telecasts prior to 1980 (except 1962, which was archived by NBC) are unknown.|
|The Adventures of Twizzle||1957||Every episode of the series is believed to be lost forever except for the first episode.|
|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.|
|Beat the Clock||1950–1958||From March 1950 to July 1952, no live broadcasts of the show were preserved with two exceptions: one episode from October 13, 1951, and another from January 5, 1952. The first one is a "public domain" episode, the second exists at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. The show was not regularly preserved until August 1952, and that is when the earliest known episodes of the show in GSN's catalog begin.|
|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. The series was simulcast. All or most episodes survive in audio form.|
|Countdown||1974–1987||Numerous episodes including the first episode between 1974 and 1978, were accidentally erased by ABC in the late 70s.|
|Criswell Predicts||1950s||No material of this Los Angeles-based program exists, except a re-creation for the film Plan 9 from Outer Space.|
|Curiosity Shop||1971–1973||The pilot episode (aired in prime time) exists; most other material from the series is presumed lost.|
|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.|
|Emmerdale Farm||1972–present||An ITV strike in late 1981 resulted in six 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.|
|Hour Glass||1946–1947||No footage remains of US television's first network variety show, but audio recordings and some still photographs do.|
|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.|
|Melodies and rhythms of foreign pop||1977–1984||Soviet TV music show, dedicated to the international rock and pop music. Out of 59 episodes, broadcast by Channel 1 in 1977–1984, only one episode of 1982, dedicated to the memory of Joe Dassin survived in the archives.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.
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. 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 could email if they had any information. Nine lost 1960s episodes were discovered in storage at a television broadcasting station in Nigeria in 2013.
Many lost UK films and TV broadcasts were found to have been preserved in the personal archives of comedian Bob Monkhouse after his death.
The 1951 unaired pilot of the American sitcom I Love Lucy was long believed lost, but in 1990, the widow of actor Pepito Pérez (who played Pepito the Clown), found a copy. It has since been shown on television.
Just confirmed that all 395 episodes from 1983/84 Dream House videotape masters were destroyed in a flood with production materials/music.
television's first serial "Family Affairs" made its appearance