Who are the tools at the BBC that got rid of most the episodes of Top of the Pops from the 60s. Hate u guys.
Same ones that burned a hundred episodes of Doctor Who, destroyed almost all the pre-Python work of the Monty Python team, wiped the BBC’s coverage of the moon landings, Quatermass, most of Face To Face…
There was actually a good reason for this, even though it looks to us now like cultural vandalism. At the time there were three factors that simply don’t apply any more (and didn’t apply in the US to the same extent):
Firstly, video was *expensive* — so expensive that producers were under orders not to edit it except in a dire emergency — video editing at that time involved splicing a tape, and that made it impossible to record over. Video tapes were reused as much as possible.
But also, no-one ever thought these things would be repeated. The idea of home video didn’t come up until the early 70s. In the 60s the BBC only broadcast for a handful of hours a day (and for most of the 60s on only one channel). They didn’t need to fill the schedule with repeats.
And in fact the actors’ union, Equity, strictly forbade repeats after a fairly short period (I think two years, but I can’t remember properly) and so anything that featured actual actors was definitely not going to be shown again after that period was up.
Things only got saved if they were sold to foreign markets (and even then the foreign stations were meant to return their copies — on film rather than videotape — to the BBC, who would burn them to save space), and something like TOTP, which was based around the British charts for that week, had no resale value.
US TV was very different, because much of it was made on film rather than video, and because the combination of networks rather than country-wide channels (so every affiliate had its own copy of stuff) and the idea of syndication (not something that existed in the UK) most of the TV from that period exists.
But it was simply expected in those days in Britain that TV was something that you watched once and never saw again, like a live performance.
(Which makes me think, incidentally — now that YouTube, filesharing and so on are so prevalent, live performances, at least of music and comedy, are no longer ephemera. How long will it be before people start getting outraged at the people of the past not recording these things for posterity?)