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Wiping or junking is a colloquial term for action taken by radio and television production and broadcasting companies, in which old audiotapes, videotapes and telerecordings (kinescopes), are erased, reused, or destroyed after several uses. The practice was prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s, although is now less common since associated storage costs have decreased, and especially since the advent of domestic audiovisual playback technology (e.g. videocassette and DVD), with broadcasters and production houses realising both the economic and cultural value of keeping archived material for both rebroadcast and potential profits through release on home video.



Australian broadcasters did not gain access to videotape recording technology until the early 1960s, and as such nearly all programs were broadcast live to air in that period. Very little programming survives from the earliest years of Australian TV (1956-1960) as kinescope recording to film was relatively expensive, and most of what was recorded in this way has since been lost or destroyed.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) erased much of their early output. They continued erasing older TV programs and series into the early 1980s. Much of the videotaped ABC program material from the 1960s and early 1970s was erased as part of an economy policy instituted in the late 1970s, in which old program tapes were surrendered for bulk erasure and reuse. Like the BBC this policy particularly targeted older programs recorded in black-and-white, leading to the loss of a great amount of material made before 1975, when Australia converted to color TV.

Programs known to have been lost include most videotaped studio segments from the pioneering 1960s current-affairs shows This Day Tonight and Monday Conference, hundreds of episodes of the long-running rural serial Bellbird, all but a handful of episodes of the early 1970s drama series Certain Women, an entire miniseries produced in the early 1970s of dramatizations based on Norman Lindsay's novels, and nearly all of the first 18 months of the weekly pop-music show Countdown.

Many episodes of popular Australian commercial TV series are also lost. In the 1970s, Network Ten had an official policy to reuse tapes; hence, many tapes of Young Talent Time and Number 96 were wiped. To this day, Network Ten only keeps some of its programming. Other notable casualties from the Ten archive include hundreds of episodes of the Melbourne-based pop music shows commissioned and broadcast by ATV-0 Melbourne in the 1960s and early 1970s – The Go!! Show (1964-1967), Kommotion (1964-1967), Uptight (1968-1970), and the Happening 70s series (1970-1972).

The Nine Network is known to have discarded copies of some of their programs, including early episodes of Hey Hey It's Saturday. The popular GTV-9 series In Melbourne Tonight hosted by Graham Kennedy is a notable example of a wiped show – although in ran five nights a week from 1957-1970, fewer than 100 episodes are known to survive; many of the surviving episodes are actually edited prints made for rebroadcast across Australia.


From 1968-1969 TV Tupi, producing the soap opera Beto Rockfeller, recorded chapters by wiping the previous ones, and few have thus survived.

Rede Record also lost much footage from the 1960s due to wiping, fires, and deterioration; most of the MPB music festivals no longer exist, and the sitcom Família Trapo has only one surviving episode, featuring Pelé.

Rede Globo lost the first thirty-five broadcasts of both Fantástico and Jornal Nacional plus a lot of chapters from their soap operas due to wiping.


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation never practiced wiping, and maintains a complete archive of all programming that was recorded.[1] On the other hand, CTV Television Network has admitted to wiping many programs during the 1970s.


Several Japanese broadcasters, including NHK and TBS, practiced wiping.

United Kingdom



The BBC, the United Kingdom's first public service broadcaster, had no archival policy in place until 1978.[2]


There are four main reasons why so much television material was lost between the 1930s and 1980s.


The BBC's television service was originally a live medium and dates back to 1936. The earliest material consists of pre-war demonstration films. The bulk of programming was either from the studio or outside broadcasts, and the hours of transmission were very limited. Film was a relatively-minor contributor to the output – for example, no studio or OB programmes exist for 1936–1939 or 1946-1947 because the technology did not exist to record them; this means that significant shows from this era, such as Telecrime (the world's first crime drama) and Pinwright's Progress (the world's first regular situation comedy) are lost, with only photographs remaining of these programmes. The earliest use of a recording method for television was not available until 1947, when the image was recorded onto film with a film camera that was pointed at a television screen and film processed in the usual manner. A notable early example of this is the original series of The Quatermass Experiment, which was transmitted live but telerecorded at the same time; the visual quality of the second episode's recording was considered so poor (a fly entered the gap between the camera and monitor at one point) that the recording attempt was abandoned for the latter episodes and so consequently the remainder of the series is not existant.

However the vast majority of programmes, which were still live, were never recorded – recording technology using videotape was not utilised in the UK until 1958, and was only introduced slowly. For some years, it was an expensive and complex system, and a recorded programme was often erased after its broadcast. The value of the videotape itself was such that it was considered desirable to transfer programmes to film if sales of overseas screening rights were considered possible or where preservation was believed worthwhile, then re-use the tape. That re-use of videotape enabled the BBC to reduce the cost of its productions at the time – in addition, storage was expensive for bulky tapes.

It should be noted that when the first television broadcasts were made, that there were two competing systems in use. The EMI all electronic system (using 405 lines) competed head on with the Baird 240 line system. Baird adopted an intermediate film technique where the live material was filmed using a standard film camera mounted on a large cabinet which contained a rapid processing unit and an early flying spot scanner to produce the video output for transmission. At first sight it may appear that the pioneer broadcasts would have been preserved on the intermediate film. However, the film material used was nitrate (celluloid) stock and was scanned while still wet from the fixer bath. Since there was no requirement at the time to preserve it, the film was not washed to remove the fixer chemicals and consequently it decomposed very soon after transmission and none is known to have survived.


Drama and entertainment output was studio-based and followed the tradition of live theatre. Conventional filmmaking was only gradually introduced in the 1960s. The Sunday Night Play (a major event in the 1950s) was performed live in the studio. On Thursday, it was repeated with another live performance; the artists returned to perform it a second time. Live output which could not be recorded obviously could not be preserved, and so television became regarded as an ephemeral art-form.

Today, most shows are pre-recorded and physically possible to preserve for the future; even so, the BBC Charter makes no mention of any obligation to retain all of them.


All television programmes have copyright and other rights issues associated with them. For some genres of programmes – such as drama and entertainment – the actors, writers, and musicians involved in a production all have underlying rights. In the past, these rights were defended rigorously – permission could even be denied by a contributor for the repeat or re-use of a programme. Talent unions were highly suspicious of the threat to new work if programmes were repeated; indeed, before 1955 Equity insisted that any telerecording made (of a repeat performance) could only "be viewed privately" on BBC premises and not transmitted.

If telerecordings were made of a work and that work was then acquired by another party, then the recording had to be destroyed – this happened in 1955 when 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Anastasia and the 1953 BBC telerecording of the play had to be destroyed (although the website states that recordings of both performances still survive). There are even examples from the past of agents demanding that programmes be wiped so that they could never be repeated; currently, actors are almost invariably forced to sign away these rights to the producing company.

Colour television

The introduction of colour television in the United Kingdom during the late 1960s meant that broadcasters felt there was even less value in keeping hold of monochrome recordings. Such tapes could not be re-used for colour recordings so were disposed of to create space for the new colour tapes in the archives — which were becoming full. The increased cost of colour 2 inch Quadruplex videotape (approximately £1,000 per tape at today's prices) meant that companies often re-used such items for efficiency.

Nevertheless, negative attitudes to a programme's value often persisted and many survive only as monochrome film recordings, if at all.

Significant wiped programmes

High-profile examples of programme losses include many episodes of Doctor Who, The Wednesday Play, Z-Cars, most of the seminal comedy series Not Only But Also, all of the 1950s televised Francis Durbridge serials (in fact, the first two serials were never recorded in the first place), the vast majority of the BBC's Apollo 11 Moon landing studio coverage, and all 147 episodes of the 1965-1967 soap opera United! The first acting appearance of musician Bob Dylan, in a 1963 play entitled The Madhouse on Castle Street, was erased in 1968.[3]

There is lost material in all genres – as late as the early 1990s, a large number of videotaped children's programmes from the 1970s were wiped without the BBC children's department itself being consulted.[4]

One-series programmes

Most vulnerable to the Corporation's wiping policy were programmes that only lasted for one series. Abigail and Roger, The Airbase, As Good Cooks Go, the 1960 adaptation of The Citadel, the 1956 adaptation of David Copperfield, The Dark Island, The Gnomes of Dulwich, Hugh and I Spy, Hurricane, For Richer...For Poorer, Hereward the Wake, His Lordship Entertains, The Naked Lady, Night Train To Surbiton, Outbreak of Murder, Where do I Sit?, and Witch Hunt have all been wiped with no footage surviving.

Early British soap operas

Virtually the entire output of the Corporation's various pre-1970s soap operas have been destroyed; in the 1950s and 1960s, the BBC soap operas The Appleyards, The Grove Family, Compact, The Newcomers, 199 Park Lane, and United! produced approximately 1,200 episodes altogether. As of today, both United! and 199 Park Lane have no episodes in the archives while only one episode of The Appleyards, three episodes of The Grove Family, and four episodes each of Compact and The Newcomers are extant.

Finding missing BBC programmes

There are many gaps in some series of BBC programmes – Doctor Who, Dixon of Dock Green, Hancock's Half Hour, Sykes, Out of the Unknown, Z Cars – but since the establishment of an archival policy for television in 1978, BBC television archivists and others have over the years used various contacts in the UK and abroad to try to track down any missing programmes. For example, all BBC Worldwide customers who had bought programmes from the Corporation in the past were contacted to see if they still had copies which could be dubbed for the archives; Doctor Who is a prime example of how this method recovered episodes that the Corporation did not hold themselves. The BBC has also established the BBC Archive Treasure Hunt, a public appeal campaign to recover lost productions.

The BBC also has close contacts with the National Film and Television Archive, which is part of the British Film Institute and their "Missing Believed Wiped" event which was first held in 1993 (at which time the Corporation was still wiping material – see Rentaghost) and is part of a campaign to locate lost gems of British Television. There is also a network of genuine collectors who, if they find any programmes missing from the BBC archives, will contact the Corporation with information - or sometimes even the actual episode(s). Some examples of programmes recovered for the archives are Doctor Who, Steptoe and Son, Dad's Army, Out of the Unknown, The Likely Lads, and Play for Today.

For many years the pilot episode of Are You Being Served? survived only in black and white, and it was never known if the original colour master was lost or wiped. It appears in black and white on the 2003 DVD release of the show. In 2009, a colour version was reconstructed when it was realised that the black and white videotape had actually recorded sufficient colour information as a dot crawl pattern to allow the colour to be recovered.

Early episodes of the popular music chart show Top of the Pops were wiped or not recorded and only broadcast "live". The last edition that was wiped from the BBC archives dates to September 8, 1977. There are only four complete episodes surviving from the 1960s, while many otherwise-missing episodes survive in fragments.

Most of the episodes of The Sandie Shaw Supplement (a music and variety show hosted by and starring the famous singer) recorded in 1967 were promptly wiped after Sandie Shaw asked for the original films to be converted to videocassette. There are only two episodes that exist today, and occasionally appear on internet purchasing sites such as eBay.

Recovery of missing programmes

Since the BBC archive was first audited in 1978, a number of episodes thought missing have been returned to them from various sources. An appeal to broadcasters in other countries who had shown missing programmes (notably Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and African nations such as Nigeria) produced "missing" episodes from the archives of those television companies. Episodes have also been returned to broadcasters by private film collectors who had acquired 16mm copies from various sources.

Two episodes from the first series of The Avengers (an Associated British Corporation production) which were thought to be missing were recovered from the UCLA Film & Television Archive in the United States. The BBC sitcom Steptoe and Son has its entire run intact, although approximately half of the colour episodes only exist in black and white; this was after copies of episodes thought to be lost were recovered in the late 1990s from early home video recordings made by writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. A few audio recordings of Til Death Us Do Part have been recovered, as well as an extract of the pilot episode and two episodes from the third series.

Missing tapes are often found in unexpected places: Copies of several compilations from the British 1960s comedy At Last The 1948 Show, held by many to be a forerunner of Monty Python's Flying Circus, were discovered in the archives of the Swedish broadcaster SVT, to whom the producers Rediffusion London had sold them upon the companies' loss of its broadcasting licence (the master-tapes, along with much of Rediffusion's programming, having been wiped or disposed of by their successor Thames Television).

Off-air home audio recordings of various television programmes have also been recovered, at least preserving the soundtracks to otherwise missing shows, and some of these – particularly from Doctor Who – have been released on CD by the BBC following restoration and the addition of narration to describe purely visual elements. Tele-snaps, a commercial service of off-screen shots of programmes often purchased by actors and television directors to keep a record of their work in the days before videocassette recorders, have also been recovered for many lost programmes.

Preservation of the current archive

The advance of technology has resulted in old programming being transferred to new digital media. In the United Kingdom, the archives of both the BBC and those available of ITV, along with other channels, are being switched from cumbersome 2-inch quadruplex videotape to digital format. This is an extensive and expensive process and one that will take many years to complete.


The BBC was not alone in this practice - the commercial companies that formed its main rival ITV also wiped videotapes and destroyed telerecordings, leaving gaps in their archive holdings. The state of the archives varies greatly between the different companies; Granada Television holds a large number of its older black and white programmes, the company having an unofficial policy of retaining as much of its broadcast material (albeit by telerecording) as possible despite financial hardship in its early years. This includes the entirety of Coronation Street which are now held at the Yorkshire Television archive, which itself also possess largely-intact archives (although some shows from the early 1970s such as the drama Castle Haven and the children's variety show Junior Showtime are missing and believed wiped). The former ITV company Thames Television also has a significant library.

These cases tend to be the exception, however; the former nature of the ITV network, in which private independent companies were awarded licences to serve geographical areas for a set period of time, meant that when companies lost their licences their archives were often sold to third parties and became fragmented – and/or risked being destroyed. The archive of networked programmes made by Southern Television, for example, is now owned by the Australian media company Southern Star Group (no connection) – but Southern's regional output is in the hands of ITV plc, whilst the few surviving tapes of Associated-Rediffusion belong to many different organisations.(Most of Associated-Rediffusion's tapes, however, were wiped by Thames Television during the 1970s.) Many master-tapes belonging to ATV have since deteriorated due to bad storage and are unsuitable for broadcasting. In particular, the ATV version of the popular soap Crossroads is missing 2,850 episodes of its original 3,555.

Most at risk were contemporary programmes; few editions of Southern's 1970's children's quiz show Runaround exist, although shows shot primarily or entirely on film do survive – such as Southern's adaptation of the Famous Five stories from the same period. Expensive costume dramas (then studio-bound productions recorded on videotape) were also archived: Such shows include Lillie (LWT), Edward the Seventh (ATV), and Flambards (Yorkshire).

Crucially, responsibility for archive preservation was left to individual companies. For example, ITV has no record of its live coverage of the 1969 Moon Landings after the station responsible for providing the coverage, London Weekend Television, wiped the tapes. Of the 96 British inserts to the 1980s franchised Anglo-American/Canadian children's show Fraggle Rock, only 12 are known to still exist as the library of the British producer – TVS – has been sold and subsequently split-up.

In recent years, the trend of preserving material has started to change. The archives of Westward Television and Television South West are now held in trust for the public (The South West Film and Television Archive) whilst changes in legislation mean that dismissed ITV companies must donate archives to the British Film Institute. However, the change of ITV from a federal structure to one centralized private company means that changes of regional companies in the future seems highly unlikely.

Most material from the 1960s also only survive as telerecordings. Some early episodes are also believed to be damaged or in poor quality, whereas much of the output of other broadcasters – such as many early episodes of The Avengers (shot in the electronic studio rather than on film) produced by Associated British Corporation – have been destroyed.

United States

In the United States, the major broadcast networks also engaged in the practice of wiping recordings until the late 1970s. Many episodes were erased, especially daytime and late-night programming, such as daytime soap operas and game shows. The daytime shows, almost all of them having been taped, were erased because it was believed at the time that no one wanted to see them after their first broadcast. The success of cable television networks devoted to reruns of these genres proved that this was not the case, as the large number of episodes that were required for a five-day-a-week program made even a short-run game show an ideal candidate for syndication. By this time, however, the damage had already been done.

Ernie Kovacs

Many of Ernie Kovacs' videotaped network programs were also wiped. During different times as comedian, writer, and performer Kovacs had programs on all four major television networks - ABC, CBS, DuMont, and NBC. After Kovacs' death, the various networks wiped many programs. Kovacs' widow Edie Adams obtained as many programs and episodes as she could find and then donated them to UCLA's Special Collections.

Soap operas

Most soaps began routinely saving their episodes between 1976 and 1979; several soap operas have saved recordings of all their episodes. The long-running Days of our Lives (airing since 1965) has recordings of all its episodes, including kinescopes of early episodes, and The Young and the Restless (airing since 1973) – along with cancelled soaps Dark Shadows (1966–1971) and Ryan's Hope (1975–1989) – have most of their episodes saved despite the fact that they debuted during the 1960s and 1970s, before retaining tapes became common practice. Many random episodes of other soaps from throughout the 1950s to 1970s exist and have been showcased on various websites. The studio master tapes of the first two episodes of Days exist and were aired by SOAPnet in 2005.

The long-running soap opera Search for Tomorrow, which aired from 1951–1986, is a quintessential example of a soap opera that was wiped. While scattered episodes from the 1950s and 1960s survive on kinescopes, many episodes of the CBS (later NBC) soap from the 1970s were erased after their broadcasts in order to shoot more episodes, due to the high cost of videotapes at the time. In many cases, at least a decade is missing. All of Search's episodes from the show's 1982–1986 NBC run are believed to be intact, and were rerun on the USA Network in the late 1980s.

As the World Turns and The Edge of Night aired live until 1975, the year Edge moved to ABC and ATWT expanded from a 30-minute broadcast to one hour. Both shows began taping episodes in preparation for the move of Edge to ABC; Edge's ABC debut is believed to have survived. Overall, the number of surviving black-and-white episodes recorded on kinescope outnumber color episodes for these programs.

Agnes Nixon initially produced her series One Life to Live and All My Children through her own production company, Creative Horizons, Inc, and kept a complete archive of black-and-white kinescopes until ABC bought the shows from her in 1975. When the network wanted to expand Children from thirty minutes to a full hour in the late 1970s, Nixon agreed on the condition that the network would begin saving the episodes. ABC complied, and full hour broadcasts began on April 22, 1977. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the vast majority of the early 70s kinescopes, leaving only a handful of each show. Children episodes from its first year on the air (1970–1971) have aired on ABC in the 1990s and also on SOAPnet in February 2005, in celebration of the show's 35th anniversary. A 1969 airing of OLTL was featured on the WoST website, and at least one episode from the late 60s exists in color.

Procter and Gamble started saving their shows around 1978. Very few pre-1978 color episodes of the P&G-sponsored shows survive, with most extant episodes preserved as black-and-white kinescopes.

Many black-and-white episodes of The Guiding Light survive as kinescopes; although the quality of these films has degraded (to the point where in some cases the vision is too dark to be worth viewing), the audio quality is fine. A number of kinescope episodes from 1966, the year Light's setting shifted from Selby Flats, California to the midwestern town of Springfield, were uploaded to a number of Web sites, including the now-defunct soap-opera tribute site WoST. Audio only broadcasts from 1973–1974 Light episodes have also been uploaded. There are only three known surviving black-and-white episodes of Another World from 1964 at the Paley Center for Media. Another known AW episode available was a black-and-white kinescope from 1968, on the WoST website.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive holds a large amount of daytime television airings that were spared from the wiping practice. Virtually all episodes of General Hospital from its premiere in April 1963 through August 1970 are archived at UCLA. Also archived there are handfuls of episodes of each soap opera (that was on the air at the time) from 1971 and 1973, including long-forgotten series such A World Apart, Where the Heart Is, and Return to Peyton Place.

DuMont Television Network programs

It is believed that virtually the entire archive of the American DuMont Television Network, covering its whole history from 1946-1956, was disposed of during the 1970s by a "successor" broadcaster (believed to be ABC) through dumping all of the kinescopes/videotapes into the East River to make room for other tapes at a New York City warehouse.[5]

Although approximately 350 or so episodes of DuMont programming are known to exist, this is minuscule in comparison to the sheer number of programs which produced a total of 20,000-plus episodes, carefully recorded and saved by DuMont prior to their unceremonious dumping. Unfortunately, because all of DuMont's dumped kinescopes were recorded before amateur video was widely available, there is virtually no chance of recovering DuMont recordings.

The Tonight Show

Almost all of The Tonight Show with Jack Paar and the first ten years hosted by his successor Johnny Carson were taped over by the network, which is why Carson's late 1960s shows looked muddy compared to his competitor Dick Cavett on ABC; NBC was using the Tonight Show tapes repeatedly.

Early sporting events

Many early sporting events, such as the World Series and the first two Super Bowls, were also lost.

Super Bowl I was aired by both CBS and NBC (the only Super Bowl to be aired by two networks), but neither network felt the need to preserve the game. Super Bowl II was aired exclusively by CBS and is also believed to have been erased. The games were filmed in their entirety, however, and have since been released on DVD by NFL Films.

Wiped programs

Live programs that were never recorded

Many programs in the early days in television were broadcast live and never recorded in the first place; while they are also lost forever, they in fact were not wiped programs because they were never recorded. Most prime-time programs were preserved by the kinescope recording process, which involved filming the live broadcast from a television screen using a motion-picture camera (videotape, for recording programs, was not perfected until the late 1950s and was not widely used until the late 1960s).

Daytime programs, however, were generally not kinescoped for preservation (although many were temporarily kinescoped for later broadcast, episodes recorded in this way were often junked). Many local station and network newscasts were prone to wiping.


Some early news programs, such as Camel News Caravan, are largely lost. Moving images of Walter Cronkite reading the news in his studio every night for six years are gone with the exception of his coverage of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the JFK assassination in 1963. Studio shots of Peter Jennings inside his ABC studio during his first year there, 1965, are also gone.

Vanderbilt University has kept all evening national news telecasts since Monday, August 5, 1968.

As of 1997 CBS had saved 1,000,000 videotapes of news reports, broadcasts, stock footage and outtakes according to a report that year from the National Film Preservation Board report. The same report added, "Television stations still erase and recycle their video cassettes," referring to local news programs.[1] Many local stations contract with outside companies for archiving news coverage.

Situation Comedy

Little of the first sitcom, The Mary Kay and Johnny Show, remains today. It was initially live and not recorded, but later on kinescopes of episodes were taken for rebroadcasting. Fragments of episodes and one complete installment are known to exist.

Game shows

Game shows, more than any other genre, were particularly prone to wiping. Because many games between 1941 and 1980 had insignificantly-short runs (some less than a year, some only 13 weeks, some even less), the networks felt that it was unnecessary to keep them for posterity and felt that the process of recycling the tapes would be more profitable and less of an effort than attempting to sell the series in reruns, particularly in an era before cable television.

While Mark GoodsonBill Todman Productions (and to a lesser extent, Barry-Enright Productions and Chuck Barris Productions) had the foresight to preserve many of their game shows for later reruns (this is part of the reason why they dominated the Game Show Network/GSN lineup), most other game shows from that era were not so fortunate.

For instance, almost all of the Bob Stewart, Heatter–Quigley, and pre-1980 Merv Griffin productions as well as the original ABC version of the Hatos–Hall production Split Second have been destroyed, with the exception of a few rare pilots and "cast aside" episodes (Hatos-Hall's Let's Make a Deal, however, has far more episodes surviving). The result of this is that the few remaining episodes have become collectors' items, and an active trading circuit exists among collectors.

NBC and ABC continued the wiping process well into the 1970s (while ABC ceased in early 1978, NBC continued to wipe some shows into 1980), leaving much of their daytime game show content lost forever. CBS mostly abandoned the wiping process by September 1972, largely as a result of their collaboration with Goodson-Todman; as a result, even the network's shorter-lived games – such as Spin-Off – still exist in their entirety.

DuMont, during its lifetime, wished to keep its programs as intact as possible. However, this was eventually for nothing as the network ceased in 1956 and its archive was destroyed in the 1970s. The corporate successor to DuMont, Fox, not only has never aired any daytime programming (other than its Fox Kids block from 1990-2001) but debuted in 1986, well beyond the wiping era.

Examples of shows with a history of wiping include:

To Tell The Truth (CBS, 1956-1968)

An example of a casualty of wiping/non-preservation is the CBS daytime version of To Tell the Truth, which does not have a complete archive. A small number of episodes prior to 1966 still exist, three of which – two from 1964 and one from October 25, 1965 – exist on film. The rest survive on videotape. It is believed a large number of episodes from 1966-1968 do exist. GSN has shown most of the surviving daytime episodes.

The $10,000/$20,000 Pyramid (CBS/ABC, 1973-1980)

Another example is Pyramid (renamed several times over the years with higher dollar amounts), which was on two networks (CBS from 1973–1974 and ABC from 1974–1980; past 1976, The $10,000 Pyramid became The $20,000 Pyramid).

Of those episodes that survived, three weeks from November 1973 (15 episodes), which were taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood instead of the normal taping location, the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City, were spared (they exist as master copies). A few were also recorded on videotape from the original broadcast. Apparently no episodes of the ABC $10,000 Pyramid exist on videotape, all of which are apparently $20,000 Pyramid episodes.

As ABC ceased destroying daytime programming at the beginning of 1978, the remainder of the run survives.

The Big Showdown (ABC, 1974-1975)

The Big Showdown was one of several short-lived ABC series in the mid-1970s, during an era when the network was a distant competitor to NBC and CBS in the daytime department and rotated game shows quickly in and out of the lineup. It is notable for the fact that it has only one episode surviving in full along with a bonus round from another (what happened to the rest of the latter's origin episode is unknown).

Concentration (NBC/Syndicated, 1958-1978)

In the case of Concentration, which had a very long run (1958–1973 on NBC and 1973–1978 in syndication), it was believed that the NBC version was completely destroyed. However, it was reported in 1999 that both the Hugh Downs/Ed McMahon/Bob Clayton run fully exists on kinescope and the Jack Narz run fully exists on videotape.[6]

GSN tried to purchase the Narz and Alex Trebek episodes (Classic Concentration) in 1994, however NBC refused for unknown reasons.

High Rollers (NBC, 1974-1976/1978-1980)

Another example is the original NBC network run of High Rollers, where two episodes from the first run (1974-1976) are known to exist. 10 episodes from the 1978-1980 revival exist in personal collections, including the Finale.

The Hollywood Squares (NBC/Syndicated, 1966-1981)

For a long time, it was thought that all but approximately the last two years of the original Hollywood Squares were wiped until a large number of episodes, mostly from the short-lived 1968 NBC prime-time and long-running 1970s syndicated runs but including some daytime episodes (such as a 1977 Storybook Squares episode), were discovered.

GSN aired about 130 of these episodes from 2002-2003, and on two occasions left the NBC "In Living Color" peacock intact – on one of those occasions, the NBC "snake" logo was also left intact.

Jeopardy! (NBC/Syndicated, 1964-1975/1978-1979)

NBC destroyed the majority of the runs hosted by Art Fleming, however the show's 1975 Finale used several clips from episodes not currently known to exist; this may mean that the network began destroying the run starting from the first show. Incomplete "paper records" of NBC games exist on microfilm at the Library of Congress, including two episodes featuring future Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain as a contestant as well as the Tournament of Champions wins by Hutton Gibson and Jay Wolpert.

Approximately 30 episodes are known to exist from a total of 2,900 (plus the 1964 "test" episode and 1977 CBS pilot, both of which exist).

Wheel Of Fortune (NBC, 1975-1989)

NBC also destroyed the majority of the episodes hosted by Chuck Woolery, although about fifteen still survive in the trading circuit (the E! True Hollywood Story on the show featured clips from the 1974 pilots and 1975 Premiere). The network may have destroyed episodes through 1980 and possibly 1982, however several episodes from the 1980-1982 period do survive as well as anything from 1983 onward.

Password (CBS/ABC Daytime, 1961-1967/1971-1975)

The ABC version of Password is one of the few Goodson-Todman series that is almost gone. GSN aired a 1971 episode featuring Brett Somers and Jack Klugman. A 1972 studio master has also survived, along with three 1975 episodes (including the finale of Password All-Stars and the June 27 overall finale). UCLA also has a small number of episodes in their archives.

Both this version and most of the CBS daytime version is considered lost and/or destroyed. Most of the CBS nighttime version and final daytime year (the latter of which was produced in color) survive. The color episodes were edited for syndication, whose high ratings through 1970 convinced Goodson-Todman to revive the series.

The ABC version was supposedly wiped to record Richard Dawson's Family Feud. There are many other game shows, as well as other kinds of shows (e.g. soap operas, sitcoms, etc.), that are probably lost forever, recorded over by other programs.

Snap Judgment (NBC, 1967-1969)

The NBC game show Snap Judgment is an example of a series that was completely destroyed by the wiping process. Not even a pilot remains of the Ed McMahon-hosted game, to the point where even its rules are virtually unknown (and in some cases still debated) today.

Second Chance (ABC, 1977)

The 1977 game show Second Chance, the original version of the more popular Press Your Luck, is an example of a series that is believed to be completely destroyed. No episodes that ever made it to air are known for certain to exist, although Pilot #3 remains along with several monochrome photographs of the set.


See also


  • Fiddy, Dick (2002). Missing, Believed Wiped: Searching for the Lost Treasures of British Television. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 978-0-85170-866-9.  

External links


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