Watch some lost Crossroads and Hancock if you’re in Birmingham tomorrow

Crossroads in Tunisia

Like Classic TV? Within easy reach of Birmingham tomorrow? Then there’s a treat in store for you:

Lost episodes of iconic TV soap ‘Crossroads’ will be shown for the first time in more than 50 years in Birmingham this weekend.

It was presumed that the original recordings were wiped immediately following broadcast, however, Kaleidoscope – a Birmingham-based organisation specialising in locating missing television footage – found the uncatalogued cans in an ITV vault in Leeds after searching for several days earlier this year.

Set in the fictitious King’s Oak Crossroads Motel near Birmingham, and focusing on the relationships between the staff, the programme ran for 24 years from 1964, finally closing its doors in 1988 after 4,510 episodes. The series was revived in 2001, but the new ‘Crossroads’ only lasted two years.

On Saturday 2 September, the found footage will be screened at Birmingham City University as part of Kaleidoscope’s K-2.9.17 event. Along with scenes staged in and around the Crossroads Motel, the recovered material shown also sees waitress Marilyn Gates chase a drug smuggler to France by plane and, further afield, the staff travel to Tunisia for a holiday while the motel is rebuilt after a bomb explosion.

Crossroads fans will also get to enjoy a specially arranged version of the soap opera’s theme by Paul McCartney and Wings, which was used on the show from the late 1970s, usually when an episode ended with a dramatic event.

Birmingham City University alumnus and Kaleidoscope CEO, Chris Perry, commented:

“2017 has been a great year for Crossroads fans. First of all, Kaleidoscope located 32 cans of classic scenes from the 1960s including a plane crash, and footage of the motel being blown up by an old World War Two bomb. Other footage includes Crossroads filming abroad in Paris and Tunisia. It changes the way people view Crossroads today to see the series staging ambitious aerial chases and trips to Africa.

“We also found six minutes from an old 1975 edition on a Phillips videotape featuring all the classic characters we know so well. None of this footage has been seen since its original broadcast.”

Despite becoming a byword for cheap production values, Crossroads attracted 15 million viewers at its peak – more than Coronation Street – and making household names out of its stars, including actor Paul Henry. Portraying the role of handyman Benny Hawkins, Paul originally trained at Birmingham School of Acting, now Birmingham Conservatoire, and part of Birmingham City University.

The footage shown at K-2.9.17 features stars such as Noele Gordon as Meg Mortimer, Susan Hanson as Diane Lawton, and Sue Nicholls, who today plays Audrey Roberts in Coronation Street. Born in Walsall, Sue Nicholls first became known as Marilyn Gates in Crossroads, a role which also saw her perform the song ‘Where Will You Be?’ which reached number 17 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1968.

The screening on Saturday will be attended by Tim Woolgar, the son of actor Jack Woolgar, who played Sam Carne in Crossroads, and also appears in the material shown.

Crossroads expert John Drury, from Telford, said that the newly discovered footage counteracts lasting perceptions that the show had low production values with shaky sets and hammy acting:

“The scenes involving a wartime bomb that destroyed part of the motel are particularly important as it led to an updated set and the characters going on a busman’s holiday to Tunisia. This footage alone shows the ambition of the producers to produce an entertaining and engaging programme that still stands up well against the soaps of today.”

“Unlike fans of Coronation Street,Crossroads fans are unable to enjoy episodes from the earliest years of the show, as the tapes were sadly wiped and reused. These recovered scenes now provide us a rare and tantalising glimpse of Crossroads during the 1960s and a chance to relive some of the most important events once again.

The K-2.9.17 event takes place in The Curzon Building at Birmingham City University between 10am and 6pm, with all proceeds raised from the free charity event donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Alongside ‘Crossroads’, K-2.9.17 will also showcase other archived and lost material from Birmingham and Midlands-orientated shows and stars, including rare and lost material from Tony Hancock, marking almost 50 years since his death.

Presented by Tristan Brittain-Dissont, Archivist for the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society, visitors will be able to see the only known footage of the Birmingham actor and comedian’s last-ever UK television series in 1967 – titled Hancock’s where he played the manager of a nightclub – as well as his final television performance, which originally aired in Australia in 1968.

Tickets are free, but you’ll need to register. Incidentally, those lost episodes aren’t the only thing that are going to be shown tomorrow. Full details after the jump.

10am Hugh and I Spy – Tea or Coffin, BBC tx: 26.2.1968

The only surviving edition of this sequel to Hugh and I.

10.30 Look and Read – Len and the River Mob episode 3, BBC tx: 29.1.1968

The popular BBC schools series.

10.50 Hancock – The Early Call, ATV tx: 14.2.1963

The rarely-seen ATV series, an episode written by Richard Harris and Dennis Spooner.

11.20 Look! Hear! – BBC Pebble Mill, tx: 6.1.1978

Black Sabbath, The Coventry Mummers, John Holmes and Chris Phipps in a local magazine programme unseen nationally.

11.50 Intermission

12.00 Our first guest of the day: Chris Phipps.

Chris Phipps has ramped up a 35 year long career in the music industry – primarily based in the UK, he has worked in the USA, Japan, Africa, Israel, Holland and Europe. His passion and enthusiasm for popular music remains today as ebullient and full on as it did in the mid 1970’s, when as a college disc jockey he began promoting local bands. He has worked with the biggest and the best – from Bob Marley, to Sting, to Pet Shop Boys, to Dire Straits, to Eric Clapton – and as television producer and interviewer has put many more bands and musicians on the world’s screens – Joan Armatrading, Ozzy Osbourne, UB 40, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Steel Pulse and Fine Young Cannibals.

Born and raised in Northfield, schooled at King Edwards Camp Hill, followed by Teacher Training at West Midlands College of Education, the teen aged Chris Phipps was already steeped in vinyl and music, booking local bands such as Carl Wayne and the Vikings (later The Move), The Idle Race with Jeff Lynn (later to form ELO), Jon Lord (later to form Deep Purple). As he recollects of this era : “Sixth form was great. Steve Winwood playing in local jazz bands before the dawn of Spencer Davis, Robert Plant getting up to sing with Alexis Corner at MAC , Gene Vincent at St Francis Hall, Bournville !!! The Four Tops at the Odeon. At College I booked Robert Plant’s Band of Joy; got sacked from the Ents Committee for booking Cream for £360. and then reinstated myself by getting The Scaffold to perform in the Common Room….booked Paul Simon for £6 for the Christian Club….booked Black Sabbath, the original Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker, Jethro Tull…”

At BBC Pebble Mill Chris Phipps produced reggae and rock shows for BBC Radio Birmingham, now Radio WM, and for a time was their roving interviewer, chewing the musical fat with all the major singers and bands visiting the region in that period – Joe Cocker, Rush, Whitesnake, Uriah Heap, Sting (for the BBC Drama ‘Artemis 81’), Iggy Pop, Captain Beefheart (who threw Chris off the tour bus), the Sex Pistols, reggae giants Gregory Isaacs, John Holt, Bob Marley and The Wailers. And scooping the occasional exclusive, as when he interviewed for television Dexys Midnight Runners front man, Kevin Rowlands, when the frequently verbose singer had refused to speak to any press at all.

From presenting and interviewing on radio, it was a small step to doing the same on television, and the opportunity arose when BBC producer Roger Casstles assembled the team to front the BBC Midlands pop show, ‘Look ! Hear !’, produced at BBC Pebble Mill. The pairing of Chris Phipps with Toyah Willcox is self effacingly described by Chris. ‘We were played off against each other as a punk versus a Keith Chegwin !’ Toyah, the Birmingham actress and singer, was hot foot from her infamous appearance in the Derek Jarman movie, Jubilee (1978), which luxuriated in an ensemble of punk performers – Wayne County, Jordan, Adam Ant, Gene October, Siouxsie Sioux. ‘Look ! Hear !’ showcased the region’s emerging post punk and Two Tone scene – Duran Duran, The Specials, Selector, Dexys Midnight Runners – making the studios at BBC Pebble Mill a key location in the promotion of the city’s burgeoning musical pedigree.

The experience on ‘Look ! Hear !’ , and the contacts it brought, propelled the so far Birmingham based Chris Phipps into national and international broadcasting focussed on music and entertainment.

He was recruited to join as assistant producer a music show which in its five year span became to the 1980’s what READY STEADY GO !’ had been to the 1960’s. That ground breaking show was THE TUBE and, as with the ’60’s Cathy McGowan fronted programme, THE TUBE was definitely where the week end started.

Chris’s time on THE TUBE, the Newcastle based iconic 1980’s music show, saw him working alongside anarchic presenters Paula Yates and Jools Holland. Lasting five years from 1982 – 1987, Channel Four’s flagship pop programme was of its own time, much loved, and missed, and completely peerless in its finger on the pulse presentation of pop music. As Assistant Producer, Chris Phipps worked at an increasingly international level – ‘”THE TUBE gave you carte blanche to fight your corner and work with every idiom of music, from unsigned bands to superstars. I found myself all over the world : Culture Club in Japan; Dire Straits in Israel; Malcolm McLaren in Los Angeles; Sly and Robbie in Jamaica. The Tube was more of an attitude than a programme.’ “

His proudest moments on THE TUBE are, intriguingly, closer to home, involving two Birmingham bands. Chris booked Fine Young Cannibals and Hollywood Beyond for their first ever television appearances – “shooting on two freezing days in Birmingham at Zella Studios and at the Grand Hotel !.”

His career in music and entertainment since his days on The Tube includes many hours of television for ITV, via Tyne Tees, and for independent film and television companies, taking in African music; the music of Bob Marley; Chris Rea; the culture of the north east, where since THE TUBE he has lived; Birmingham pop music from the 1960’s to 1990’s (MOTOR CITY MUSIC YEARS, made in 1992 for Channel 4 and Central Tv, was a 3 part series documenting popular music from the city from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. This is when I worked with Chris Phipps. The series benefited enormously from Chris’s contacts, enabling us to film previously inaccessible interviewees such as Muff Winwood, Joan Armatrading, Ozzie Osbourne, UB 40, Duran Duran.).

Chris Phipps will be in Birmingham to talk about his long career with us and his latest project: Black Sabbath – The End. Kaleidoscope will be playing an exclusive trailer for this new cinematic venture.

1.15 Intermission

1.30 Crossroads – The Missing Bits

A compilation of all the film sequences from missing episodes found this year by Kaleidoscope. ATV, 1960s.

1.50 The Fearmakers – The Shadow of Death, Vulcan Films 1976.

Untransmitted ghostly tale filmed at Warwick Castle, edited at ATV.

Introduced by Tim Woolgar, son of Jack Woolgar who produced the project. Kaleidoscope hopes that other cast and crew members will also be in attendance.

2.25 Intermission.


Join Tristan Brittain-Dissont, Archivist for the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society as he explores the many rarities of their vaults. The presentation includes:

Happy-Go-Lucky 6th September 1951, BBC (Audio)

The first ever sketch written (and broadcast) by Galton and Simpson.

For decades, every authority on Hancock, Galton, Simpson and, indeed, British comedy has insisted that no recordings of Happy-Go-Lucky had survived. It has now transpired that its star, Derek Roy, had many recordings of his broadcasts made privately. Following Roy’s death they were deposited with the British Library in the 1990s, their full significance not initially recognised. Tristan discovered the recordings in 2016 and worked with the Library on fully cataloguing them. He was also given access to the Galton and Simpson archive so he could cross reference the recordings with their scripts. This enabled him to identify the first broadcast sketch that Galton and Simpson wrote.

Variety Ahoy 22nd January 1952, BBC (Audio)

A recording of the first joke ever written and sold by Galton and Simpson

A BBC radio series called Variety Ahoy! broadcast in early 1952, a few weeks after the demise of Happy-Go-Lucky. Derek Roy was the guest star and, in the course of a monologue called ‘Naval Story’, he tells something now known as the ‘Jane Russell pontoon’ gag. Incredibly, this was the first joke that Galton and Simpson ever wrote and sold. It featured in a short handwritten sketch that they had submitted to the BBC in mid-1951 to tout for work. Roy was the only performer to take interest which led to them providing him with jokes for 5 shillings each for his Happy-Go-Lucky appearances. Whether the joke was told on Happy-Go-Lucky is unknown, but by an incredible piece of good fortune, it was found in the recording of this later show.

Calling All Forces 5th August 1951 BBC (Audio)

A key show in the rise of Tony Hancock’s radio career – from guest star to host and the cusp of Hancock’s Half Hour.

Calling All Forces, largely written by Bob Monkhouse and Denis Goodwin, was a variety programme aimed at forces based around the UK and continental Europe. It was first broadcast on 3rd December 1950 and ran through to July 28th 1952, a total of 87 editions in as many weeks. Hancock was so impressed with Ray and Alan’s work on Happy-Go-Lucky that he had, by now, employed them to write 5 minute sketches for shows such as Calling All Forces. Towards the latter end of its run, it was jointly hosted by Hancock and Charlie Chester. Galton and Simpson took over writing duties during the latter period of the run, and this became the first full show they would write for Tony.

With a single exception, the entire series was considered lost until Kaleidoscope discovered a significant number of recordings in the Bob Monkhouse archive after his death in 2003. Numerous shows feature Hancock as either guest star or compere. Others showcase rising stars who would have a significant role in his subsequent career, such as Bill Kerr, Moira Lister and Harry Secombe. We present here an extract from the earliest surviving episode of Calling All Forces featuring Hancock.

Tony Hancock rehearsing his lines for Hancock’s Half Hour and The Government Inspector (audio only)

An astonishing private recording of Hancock preparing for two performances

This amazing item features Tony practising his lines. Tony was well-known for his use of a reel-to-reel tape recorder as he prepared for shows. His method was to read out the lines of all the other actors – leaving gaps for his own lines – and then playing the recording back. The material actually comprises two separate recordings. One involves Tony rehearsing a television episode called ‘The Servants’ which was broadcast on March 27th, 1959. This show is lost. As it was broadcast live, a week after the previous episode (which was also live), it is reasonable to assume that this recording was made between 21-25th of March, 1959 (dress rehearsals would have commenced on the 26th). The second rehearsal tape was made in preparation for a BBC Television production of Gogol’s The Government Inspector. In a break from the norm, this saw Tony playing a straight dramatic role in the classic Russian play. This programme was also broadcast live (9th February 1958). The exact date of the recording is unknown. A brief extract from The Servants is presented here

The Italian Maid – Hancock’s Half Hour 6th February 1959, BBC (audio only)

The first lost episode of Hancock’s Half Hour discovered for nearly 20 years

In 2016, the THAS was alerted to a batch of reel to reel tapes from the late 1950s that was for sale on eBay. It was recorded by a Ford locksmith called Geoff Elliot who lived in Birmingham (he died around 2000). It yielded the soundtracks of two lost episodes of the television version of Hancock’s Half Hour. These were The Italian Maid and The Horror Serial (it should be noted that an audio recording of the latter has been circulating for around 20 years, but it is almost inaudible). Presented here is an extract from The Italian Maid. This is notable not just because it is a lost episode of Hancock’s Half Hour. It is one of the few episodes from the series to feature a guest star, in this case Marla Landi.

BBC South Today 1962 (film, silent)

Newly discovered BBC footage of Tony on location for The Punch and Judy Man.

This emerged from the vaults of BBC South earlier this year and was posted on Facebook. Our thanks go to Richard Latto for its discovery. A short item, it shows Hancock on the sea front in Bognor Regis with some other stars of the movie.

The Blackpool Show 19th June 1966, ABC-TV (audio only)

Recently discovered partial audio of the first episode of Hancock’s penultimate UK series

In the middle of 1966, Tony embarked upon his penultimate UK television series, a variety programme called The Blackpool Show. Prior to the airing of the first episode, of which this is a fragment, a pilot of the show was organised. Eric Geen, who co-wrote the show, recalls that this was highly successful. However, as broadcast loomed, Tony’s personal problems began to surface once more. A glaring example of this occurred in the first broadcast show. A number of writers have recorded that after an opening musical number, Tony was meant to introduce the next act but forgot who it was, requiring members of the orchestra to remind him.

A full recording of the fourth show of this series exists at the BFI. Nothing else of the series was known to have survived. However, a recent audit of the THAS collection unearthed this previously uncatalogued audio extract from the first show. Incredibly, this fragment captures the moment described above.

Hancock’s – 4th July 1967, ABC

The only known footage of Hancock’s last UK television series

In June 1967, Tony embarked upon his last UK show. Hancock’s saw Tony as the owner of a nightclub, performing monologues and sketches interspersed with musical numbers. Eric Geen, one of the writers, has freely admitted that the format was designed to cope with Tony’s increasingly erratic behaviour, because if he did not turn up to rehearsals, other parts of the show could be filmed. Although the full audios of this show have survived, no film of the series was known to have survived until the early 1990s, when the noted lost television hunter and restorer Terry Martini discovered the last few minutes of one episode in a batch of CV-2000 tapes. This clip was previously showcased at a Missing Believed Wiped event in 1997, but we are including it here as it was a key discovery and sits neatly into the story of Tony’s final performances.

Private Footage of Tony (and Matt Monro) at Australian Radio Station Barbeque (October 1967)

Rarely seen private footage of Tony

This was obtained in the 1980s by the Australian branch of the THAS. It was originally a Super 8 film. It features Tony (and Matt Monro) at a barbeque and playing cricket in a back yard. The short footage cannot be dated exactly, but it features someonewearing a 3AK T-shirt. 3AK is a Melbourne radio station, so it would be reasonable to assume it was filmed whilst Tony was appearing on stage for two weeks at the Dendy Cinema in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne. This was in October 1967.

Interview with Hancock, Melbourne, Australia 11th October 1967

Hancock responds to a disastrous stage appearance

As mentioned above, Tony appeared at the Dendy Cinema for around two weeks in Melbourne during October 1967. The trip was part of an effort to resurrect his career which had declined badly due to his alcoholism. It was during this visit that he was offered the opportunity to make a new sitcom for Australian television in 1968. In an uncomfortable forewarning of things to come, we see Hancock interviewed on October 11th 1967 after a disastrous appearance the night before at the Dendy Cinema. Prior to his performance, he had gone to a drinks party and, by some accounts, had resisted the temptation to fall off the wagon. However, something went terribly wrong, for a few hours later he went on stage in an appalling state, and his act (such as it was) culminated in him falling into the orchestra pit. This interview from the following day, in which he tries to explain the debacle, has not been broadcast since 1967.

Something Special – Nancye. Recorded October 1967, broadcast 12th June 1968, Channel HSV7 (film)

Hancock’s final broadcast television performance

During Tony’s period in Melbourne in 1967, he recorded a guest spot for a show hosted by Nancye Hayes for Channel HSV7. For reasons that are not currently clear, the performance was not broadcast until June 12th 1968, just two weeks before Tony’s death in Australia. It is Hancock’s last television performance broadcast during his lifetime.

3.30 Intermission

3.45 Simon Winters, one of Kaleidoscope’s resident experts presents:

A one-hour look-back at a number of long-lost British television stations….

We start in the mid-sixties, with Pay-TV, a service provided in association with ABC, and broadcasting exclusive programmes, films and live O/B events to cable subscribers in London and, bizarrely, also to Sheffield.

We them fast forward to Autumn 1981 and Visionhire Showcable, an exclusive film channel for London cable subscribers provided by BBC Television Centre. Part of a range of exclusive local cable channels licenced by the government in 1981.

Moving through the eighties we take a look at Mirrorvision and the doomed ITV-backed Super Channel, and then to the plethora of cable and satellite channels of the late eighties and early nineties, finishing up with the opening and closing nights of BSB. We also look at some of the menu boards, captions, electronic programme guides and text-based programme information as carried on the defunct Westminster Cable system.

We also take a look Thameside TV, a pirate tv station which broadcast pop tv illegally throughout London from a Council tower block over the Christmas of 1984, gaining publicity at the time via a long report on ITV’s Thames News. Thameside TV was one of three London pirate stations that briefly made it on the air during this time.

The presentation is accompanied by extremely rare original continuity, programme clips and news reports concerning these stations, plus exclusive presentations of vintage long-lost programme guides and tv channel ephemera.

A must for anyone interested in the history of British television.

4.45 Intermission

5pm The 6 O’Clock Show – “A 30 Years of ITV” special. LWT tx 20.9.1985

Join presenters Michael Aspel, Danny Baker, Fred Housego and Samantha Fox as they explore ITV’s past. Guests include Ysanne Churchman, William Smethurst, Alfred Marks, Hughie Green, Nicholas Parsons and Lionel Blair. Includes extracts from many old programme and adverts.

5.55 BBC closedown tx: 1.11.1973

The earliest surviving BBC closedown on videotape, discovered recently by Kaleidoscope.

All programmes are subject to copyright approval and may change. All proceeds from this charity event go to the RNLI.