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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Likely Lads to boost 'treasure hunt'
(l-r) Wendy Richard, James Bolam, Rodney Bewes and Wanda Ventham
Wendy Richard (left) appears in the long-lost episode
A long-lost 1965 episode of classic sitcom The Likely Lads is to be screened on BBC Two in the hope it will spark a hunt for programmes lost from BBC archives.

Dozens of shows have vanished or been taped over including an appearance by The Beatles on Juke Box Jury.

BBC bosses are now hoping fans have recorded the original broadcasts of the lost shows, which they could use to complete the archives.

It is also hoped that there are former members of staff who may have copies at home.

Rodney Bewes
Rodney Bewes as Terry Collier in The Likely Lads
"We're asking anyone who has recordings of pre-1980 television or radio programmes that might not be held by the BBC to let us know, so they can be preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come," said a BBC spokeswoman.

Until recently 13 out of 20 episodes of the series were missing but Kaleidoscope, a team of amateur collectors, unearthed an episode called The Last of the Big Spenders.

First broadcast on July 7, 1965, it features a youthful Wendy Richard, who now stars in EastEnders, in a guest role, alongside regulars James Bolam (Bob) and Rodney Bewes (Terry).

'Chuffed to bits'

Rodney Bewes said he was "chuffed to bits that this has turned up and will be shown again".

"It will be a bit of nostalgia for some and a new experience for a whole new generation," he said, adding he wished they could find some of the other lost episodes.

The prohibitive cost of videotape in its infancy meant that many recordings were wiped for new ones, and some shows went out live, thus no recordings were made.

Some tapes were licensed to be shown abroad and never returned, while former BBC staff may have even have taken copies home.

Digital technology

With recent developments in digital technology, programmes can be easily preserved and made available for repeat or historical purposes. Twenty million pounds has been set aside over the next three years to do so.

The corporation is transferring its archives - approximately one million hours of television and radio - into digital format. The BBC will offer a modern format copy in return.

Anyone who can offer any programmes should contact the BBC Treasure Hunt website or call 0208 576 9501.

The episode will be screened 30 May on BBC Two.

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