News / Film

David Bowie and Britain’s earliest adverts feature in the BFI’s 2019 TV Festival

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David Bowie in his grainy archival glory (via BFI)

Telly addicts rejoice, the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival= returns to London’s swinging Southbank next month with a whole host of archival CRT screamers.

Highlights of this year’s festival include the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped programme which, as the name suggests, sees televisual gems long since believed to have been lost to the sands of time restored and brought to the big screen thanks to the work of Philip Morris, a man best thought of as an “archival television archaeologist”.

Following on from discoveries like lost episodes of Morecambe and Wise which were found in Sierra Leone, this year Philip is bringing the BBC’s The Scaffold Live at the Talk of the Town to the BFI. Now, you’ll be forgiven for not having the foggiest as to what the Scaffold was and what Talk of the Town is, given that the former was a Scouse comedy, poetry and music trio and the latter was a nightclub located in London’s Hippodrome. Philip found this tape in Nigeria, of all places.

So why the excitement? Well, the event’s organisers say that “what makes this remarkable find significant is the off colour subcarrier chromadots on the black and white print, which like the recently recovered early Morecambe and Wise episodes, offers an opportunity for colour recovery to experience the programme as it was originally filmed and broadcast.”

In more immediately gripping news, the 2019 edition of the festivities — which take place 12-14 April — will feature screenings of Britain’s earliest examples of TV adverts, all of which will be selected from the vast collection of such things housed in the BFI National Archive.

Adverts have been with us since 1955 now, and lucky viewers will get a chance to see all six spots which were broadcast on 22 September of that year, the night that ITV launched. In addition to this, there’ll be a screening of TV Talk, an “informative film made by creative ad agency Lintas, exploring the possibilities and problems facing advertisers on the eve of commercial television in the UK.”

If that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be an afternoon dedicated to the life and work of a chap from Brixton by the name of David Jones. Consisting of forgotten footage of one of the UK’s most-beloved musicians, From the BFI Archive: David Bowie will take fans of the Starman on a journey through Mr Moonage Daydream’s life on the small screen.

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Scouse trio The Scaffold (Via the BFI)