It seems to me generally that radio is very poor at archiving. The number of times one sees tapes of varying formats appearing on e-Bay and other places, seems to suggest that inserts and full programmes just get recorded on any old tape, played out or played in to another show when they're needed, and then either kept by the presenter, shoved in a drawer in a disorganised pile, kept on a shelf for a while and then dumped, or just moved from place to place.
The labels that are very often seen have nothing more than titles and dates on them. No inventory numbers, shelf numbers, archive stamps, etc.
Given that radio programmes from established series still only report skeleton holdings from just a couple of decades ago, makes me wonder why, when the lessons were learned for TV in 1978, why the same wasn't done for radio. I can understand shows that are just "DJ and Discs", but comedy, drama, narrated series are discrete performances, and ones that display more repeat value. For long-running series, it surely can't be an issue of rights because the same performers are used, in the main, year-in-year-out - so surely ongoing contractual settlements would be in place.
I can understand small independent stations not bothering to archive their radio broadcasts properly, but national radio stations, operated by the BBC? It would be nice to think they were capable of better, even if the archiving relied on cassette tapes (maybe even half-speed ones to save space?) Plenty of viable, cheap options are, and were, possible, to ensure whole series survived. I mean, it would only take a couple of C60s to preserve 4 shows, and I'm sure Auntie Beeb could afford the price of 2 TDK C60s once a month. They hardly take up much shelf space either.
Post by Charles Norton on Sept 27, 2010 8:44:00 GMT
I suppose one of the big problems is that it's difficult to say what is and isn't culturally important until long after it has been broadcast.
A particular radio play may go on to be of huge historical significance. However, at the time, it's just another 45 minutes to fill the Afternoon Play slot.
Another point is that radio doesn't have quite the same archive resources for its programmes. Television will always have a higher profile and more people to champion it. There just isn't the same interest.
The few radio programmes that do still have a high profile, are almost all taken from an era of broadcasting when radio was much more dominant that TV. That era has gone.
Post by jonlitchfield on Oct 22, 2010 11:25:25 GMT
Did you have an update on the episode I have? If they have it then fine, but I'd hate to throw away a show if it was the only copy. So Huddlines was corny and not exactly cutting edge, but it was fun and did last many a year. I wish I had been born 15 years earlier so I could have saved some real classics though - that would require a tardis to time travel, ironic when you consider Dr Who, ha ha.
My mother in law's late partner once told me that he had recorded a few Hancock's and Goons in the 50's but that after his divorce the tapes had been lost, oh wouldn't that be nice!
Post by Charles Norton on Oct 23, 2010 14:00:46 GMT
Sorry, I forgot about your tape, Jon.
The June 4th '87 episode is technically listed as a missing episode. The BBC don't have a copy. However, I gather that a copy of the episode exists in the hands of a private collector somewhere.
In short, it does survive, but not in the BBC archives. It's still worth holding onto the tape though, as your recording may be of better quality than the one that currently exists.
Needless to say, there isn't a lot of point me asking Simon Rooks if the BBC sound archives are interested.
P.S. I'd just like to add here, that although there are a small number of BBC archivists, who can sometimes be frustrating, there are a lot of other very dedicated people within the corporation and on its fringes who are very good when it comes to missing matterial and there's a lot of good work that goes on in this area. Don't despair too much. Rightly or wrongly, all these people do only mean well.
Post by Charles Norton on Oct 25, 2010 10:15:52 GMT
FOR THE ATTENTION OF JON LITCHFIELD AND IAN FRYER:
I've just had a rather nice email.
I'm pleased to say that I've found a man who would very much like some copies of your tape recordings. He's delighted to hear of the episodes' survival and would love to listen to them again. The man's name is Roy Hudd.
Mr. Hudd would love to plug the holes in his archive and he may be able to help you identify the specific TX dates a little better.
If you contact me, perhaps we can arrange something?
Post by jonlitchfield on Oct 25, 2010 15:15:33 GMT
Charles, that sounds positively great. Far better for a copy to go somewhere that it really would be appreciated than just sitting on a shelf. I listened to it again a few weeks back and there was topical stuff about Harvey Proctor - a name I had totally forgotten, so it does have some historical value. And as Roy Hudd, if he's reading then thanks for many Saturday lunchtimes of laughs that I could safely share with my mum!
I'm currently going through a big bag of my old cassettes and digitizing them for posterity and have just come across a couple of Huddlines episode from 1987. They're not of the greatest sound quality, but I thought I'd post it here in case there is any interest. I'm not sure of the exact tx dates, but one sketch in the first episode mentions a diplomatic visit to the US by then Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone which occurred from April 29th - May 2, 1987, and the continuity announcer mentions that there are only three episodes to go, which may help someone pin down a date. The second episode is the next one along from the first.
I was in the audience for the 1987 election special and still have the ticket to prove it! I remember being really cut up because I was 4 years short of the 16+ age limit on the ticket, and my mum hadn't got anywhere calling up the beeb. Later when I got back from school mum said Roy Hudd himself had called up and said he'd OK'd it! Sadly I've only got about 10 minutes or so of that episode on tape though.