A visitor to the site asked how rare the material in his collection of old beta tapes might be, which got me wondering about the topic of "lost" TV shows.
I know that here in the UK there has been a joint effort between interested parties to try and track TV material down via the Raiders of the Lost Archives List in a similar way to the NZ film archive's film search campaign from several years ago.
I've sent e-mails out to folk I've dealt with in the past asking if there is any coordinated approach between TVNZ, The Film Archive and other interested parties to document which New Zealand shows are missing thought lost (no copies held in archives), and how they might encourage folk to do something with their old off air recording.
Sadly TVNZ never replied.The folks from the film archive and NZ on screen did, saying there's no coordinated approach to the issue, but there was interest in pursuing the idea.
This post from the Mutcat forum gives a good idea of the conditions that applied for TV recordings in local TV stations back in the day:
Subject: RE: BBC Treasure Hunt
From: Little Robyn
Date: 12 Nov 10 - 03:11 PM
Chris, at Channel One, NZBC, in the 60s and 70s, videotape was expensive (2inch wide) and at 15ips, a half hour programme on a metal spool was heavy and took up lots of space.
So unless a producer said "Keep that one" (in which case someone had to find storage space) after a certain period of time the videotape room was instructed to ERASE the tape and put it back in the shelves to use again. Some of the news or sports stuff that they wanted for the archives, was fed through the Telerecorder and a black and white film was made - usually very grainy and of lousy quality.
The methods of recording used today were only a dream then.
I'm sure BBC had the same problems. If a programme was done on film, there was a solid copy, but if it was a studio programme on VT, the tapes were usually wiped. (Except for Wn3366 which I kept hidden behind #1)
Robyn ex WNTV1 VT and Telecine operator, 1968 - 1973
The issue of just what happened to tapes was the subject of an interesting article in 2023: Why is there no recorded footage of NZ Hall of Fame inductees Larry's Rebels?
NZ shows were not distributed to other countries in other formats and we didn't have home VCRs until into the 1980s, so no one is sure how much can be found realistically. Most episodes of early shows like Pukemanu, Alpha Plan, Section 7, Happen Inn, seem to be missing, and even later shows like On The Mat, Close to Home etc are for the most part lost as well.
Sadly even with the exposure of some archival material during the celebration of fifty years of TV in New Zealand in 2010 and on the HeartlandTV (2010-2015) channel there hasn't been any great public interest in getting access to the older shows or any strong commercial interest in exploiting the material that does still exist, but if you do happen to have any old New Zealand TV shows on film, beta, VHS, audio cassette, script form, or any other related documents or ephemera please do get in touch so those of us who have an interest can enjoy them.
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