A large number of British dramas, including a 1960 program starring Sean Connery, have been “found” at the Library of Congress and have been or will be returned to the British Film Institute. There isn’t all that much information available at the moment but based on the news reports I’ve read, it seems the programs, produced in the United Kingdom from the late 1950s through the late 1960s, were sent to PBS station WNET for use locally or perhaps for for inclusion in PBS programs like Masterpiece Theatre. Many of the programs are standalone dramas but others are episodes of weekly series, like The Victorians and Thirteen Against Fate. At least two of the dramas were broadcast as part of NBC’s DuPont Show Of The Week.
According to The Guardian, the dramas “are understood to have been sent out to WNET for broadcast and later stored in the TV station’s collection inside the Library of Congress, where they were recently catalogued with British assistance.” How long they’ve been at the Library of Congress is unknown. For more information and a list of the recovered programs visit the Kaleidoscope website. Here‘s a BBC News article about the recovery.
Based on the terminology I devised a year ago, these programs were never truly lost but instead were simply missing (the end result is the same: nobody could watch them). They were all known to have been filmed or taped but no recordings were known to exist.
What will happen now that recordings have been found? Some screenings, perhaps, and maybe a few DVD releases. It is unclear whether the actual films and tapes are being sent to the BFI or just copies; if the originals are going to the BFI hopefully the Library of Congress will retain copies.
If anyone can shed some light on how WNET and/or PBS used these British dramas please let me know. Were they all actually aired here in the United States?