Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | The Daily Post

I used to have a jumper like that...

I used to have a jumper like that…

Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | The Daily Post.

Just for a change, this post isn’t about me…well, maybe it is…

In Love Letters in the Attic, Caron mentions the destruction of what are now considered priceless items of cultural heritage…

“…I’ve been thinking about the idea that things must be saved for posterity since I was reminded recently of how much TV footage the BBC taped over or destroyed, including most of the British coverage of Apollo 11’s moon landing in 1969, which was the first time it had broadcast all night, for a start.

Today, it seems incomprehensible that the BBC also destroyed 97 early episodes of Dr Who in the 1960s and 1970s to save space…”

At the time, I intended (and still do) to base a post on the broader themes in her post, but these lines about the loss of early Doctor Who episodes has stuck with me in the month or so since Caron posted Love Letters in the Attic. There has been a lot of coverage of this issue since the recent recovery of some of the lost episodes from a vault in  Africa and this has highlighted the factors contributing to the loss of this material…

Ultimately, it seems that this was simply a case of the bureaucratic mindset the grows in monolithic organisations – not necessarily solely government-run agencies but they can provide lots of good case studies – when in the absence of a rule saying something is to occur, it simply doesn’t regardless of the short- or longer-term potential consequences. While at first glance, it may be considered that the commercial potential of older black and white material might have been minimal once colour television became common and affordable in the early 1970s, one only has to look across the Atlantic at the sheer quantity of American television that was archived in the same period and which is now still be both re-released AND watched, to wonder what exactly was being put into the water in the UK in the 60s and 70s…

While, in fairness, video tape in the early days of television, probably into the early 80s was a valuable AND reusable commodity, one would really thank that there might have been a plan to archive material onto film – and, that there would be a controlled environment storage vault for such archived material. In 1976, my school had a big fund-raiser activity to purchase its first video-based audio-visual system…I remember trudging door to door many afternoons after school selling chocolate bars for this. It wasn’t an unwanted task as I was highly incentivised by the prizes offered to the top sellers – I think I made the top ten – and what else was I going to do after school excerpt watch stuff like The Tomorrow People before Mum kicked us outside for fresh air and energy burning. The next year, one of our 3rd Form art projects was to make our own Doctor Who movie – I think, the class was split into groups of 5-6 for this and each ‘movie’ had to be around ten minutes long…move over, Sundance!!

I don’t remember much about our group’s version other than we filmed alot of it in the squash courts, a plotted struggle got out of hand and it featured the flaming demise of one of these…

RevellBoeingSSTPanAm BOX ART

…which I lamented for many years and. like many such Revell releases, it became a collector’s item until re-released a few years back (and, yes, there is one sitting safely in the garage stash!). Sadly, in true Beeb Doctor Who tradition, these creations were all erased at the end of the year so that the expensive video tape could be reused. I think that perhaps some photographs may have been taken of the screens as I have a vague memory still-shots of some of the scenes appearing perhaps in a school magazine around that period…

What prompted this post was the first screening of the rebooted The Tomorrow People series here last night. Having been a fan of the original series, I was dubious of how well it might survive translation into 21st Century television values i.e. ratings and profit, profit and ratings. While my jury is still out after the first episode, on doing a little research to jog my memory on the original this morning (I was looking for the same of the teleportation belts from the original series which have now been written out – jaunting belts, is what they were) I was surprised just how much of the original concepts have carried over. Even the inability of homo superior to kill (which I had rolled my eyes at last night as 21C ‘niceism’) was actually part of the original concept.

In reading the wiki on the original series, I came across mention of Timeslip which is a series that I have been trying to track down for a long time – another memory of 1970s black and white science fiction (although in our home in the 70s, ALL TV was B&W regardless of its source format!). I had been searching – not very hard admittedly – for variations on The Time Tunnel (which is, of course, the Irwin Allen series from the same stable as Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). In reading the wiki piece about the almost total loss of the original colour videotape of the series, I though immediately again of Caron’s comment above…as it turns out, the wiki piece does not quite tell the whole story – how surprising – seeking a title image for this post, I discovered that the full 26 episode series is available via Amazon, albeit only in B&W but that’s not a biggie for me as that is how I remember it…

So…coming back on topic, I think that it is important that we do today preserve as much as we can as, just like the Beeb drones of the 60s and 70s, we don’t really have any idea of what value may be seen in today’s apparent dross in decades to come…

Who really knows what their legacy to the future may be…?

6 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | The Daily Post

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