Wiping or junking is an economic move by radio and television companies in which old audiotapes, videotapes and telerecordings (kinescopes), which were extremely expensive in the 1960s and 1970s, are erased and reused, or destroyed after several uses. It was particularly prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s. The practice is now much rarer, as costs have come down and broadcasters have come to understand the economic and cultural value of keeping archive material for both rebroadcast and home video retail.

United Kingdom


The BBC, the United Kingdom’s public service broadcaster, had no archival policy in place until 1978Fact|date=May 2008.

Factors influencing the wiping of BBC TV programmes

There are four main reasons why television material was wiped between the 1930s and the 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 from 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 because the technology did not exist to record them. The earliest use of a recording method for television was not available until 1947, where the image was recorded onto film where, in simple terms, a film camera was pointed at a television screen and the film then processed in the usual way. However, the vast majority of programmes, which were still live, were never recorded. Videotape was not introduced in the UK until 1958, and only slowly at first; it was then an expensive and difficult technology 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, and then re-use the tape. This re-use of videotape enabled the BBC to reduce the cost of its productions at the time.


Drama and Entertainment output was firmly studio based and followed the tradition of live theatre - conventional film making was only gradually introduced in the 1960s. For example, 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 all being invited back to perform it all over again. This was a very different environment to that of today where most equivalent material is now pre-recorded and it is physically possible to preserve it for the future. Live output which was not recorded obviously could not be preserved.


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. There are even examples from the past of agents demanding that programmes be wiped so that they could never be repeated (nowadays, 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 in the archives for colour tapes. The increased cost of colour 2 inch Quadruplex videotape (approximately £1000 per tape at today's prices) meant that companies often re-used such items as an efficiency saving.

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

ignificant wiped programmes

High-profile examples of programme losses include many episodes of "The Wednesday Play", "Doctor Who", "Z-Cars", 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 folk musician Bob Dylan, in a 1963 play entitled "The Madhouse on Castle Street", was erased in 1968. [http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/reviews/2005/arenadylan.htm] 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's children's department itself being consulted. [http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/childrens/watchwithmother/part11.htm]

Finding missing BBC programmes

There are many gaps in some series of BBC programmes – "Dixon of Dock Green", "Hancock's Half Hour", "Doctor Who", "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 (it was called Enterprises in those days) customers who had bought programmes from the BBC in the past - "Doctor Who" is a prime example of this - were contacted to see if they still had copies which could be dubbed for the archives. 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 BBC were 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 BBC with information or sometimes even the actual programme.Some examples of programmes recovered for the archives are: "Steptoe and Son", "Dad's Army", "Out of the Unknown", "Doctor Who", "The Likely Lads", "Play for Today".

The pilot episode of "Are You Being Served?" survives only in black and white, and it is not known if the original colour master was lost, or wiped from the BBC archives. It appears in black and white on the 2003 release of the DVDs of the show.

Early episodes of the popular music chart show, "Top of the Pops" were wiped by the BBC 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 4 complete episodes surviving from the 1960s, many otherwise missing episodes survive in fragments.

Most of the episodes of the "Sandie Shaw Supplement" (A music & "variety" show, hosted and starred 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 2 episodes that exist to the present day, and are floating around 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 of the first series of "The Avengers" (an Associated British Corporation production) which were thought to be missing were recovered from the UCLA film archive in the United States. The BBC sitcom "Steptoe and Son" now has all of its episodes existing in the archives (although around half the colour episodes only exist in black and white), after copies of episodes thought to be lost were recovered from early home video recordings made by the writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson at the time, and only recovered in the late 1990s. 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 1960's comedy "At Last The 1948 Show", believed 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 to 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 all the episodes 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 believed wiped). The former ITV company Thames Television also has a significant library.

These cases tend to be the exception. 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 tapes of Associated-Rediffusion belong to many different organisations. Many master-tapes belonging to ATV have since deteriorated due to bad storage and are unsuitable for broadcasting.

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.

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 centralised 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 believe 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 been done.

oap operas

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

The long-running soap opera "Search for Tomorrow", which aired from 1951 to 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 of this show is missing. All of "SFT"'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. Both shows began taping episodes in preparation for Edge's move to ABC. As a result, the number of surviving black-and-white episodes outnumber color episodes. Procter and Gamble started saving their shows around 1978; very few color episodes of the P&G-sponsored shows survive, and many of those that still exist were preserved only 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 video is too dark to be worth viewing, the audio quality is fine. There are only two 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. Edge's first ABC episode is believed to have survived. AOL Video currently offers "Edge of Night" and "Another World" streaming episodes starting from 1979, with "Search For Tomorrow" starting from 1984.

DuMont Television Network programs

It is believed that virtually the entire archive of the American DuMont Television Network, covering its whole history from 1946 to 1956, was disposed of during the 1970s by a "successor" broadcaster (believed to be ABC; they may have dumped the kinescopes/videotapes into the East River to make room for other tapes at a New York City warehousecite web| last =Adams| first =Edie| authorlink =Edie Adams| coauthors =| title =Television/Video Preservation Study: Los Angeles Public Hearing| work =National Film Preservation Board| publisher =Library of Congress| date =March 1996| url =http://www.loc.gov/film/hrng96la.html| format =| doi =| accessdate =2008-05-09] ). Only a few kinescopes still exist.

"The Tonight Show" and early sporting events

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. 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 one felt the need to preserve the game. Super Bowl II, aired exclusively by CBS, is also believed to have been erased. Only short segments of the historic games are known to survive, although most of the scoring plays have been preserved separately by NFL Films. Super Bowl III, broadcast by NBC, is the earliest Super Bowl to survive on tape in its entirety.

"Lost" shows

The first sitcom, "The Mary Kay and Johnny Show" is considered to be a "lost" show. Only a few of the 300+ episodes are known to exist.

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 1950's nor widely used until the late 1960's). Daytime programs, however, were generally not kinescoped for preservation (although many were temporarily kinescoped for later broadcast; episodes recorded in this way were usually wiped).

Game shows

Game shows were particularly prone to wiping. Because many game shows of the time had very short runs of less than a year, most of the networks felt that it was unnecessary to keep them for posterity.

While Mark GoodsonBill Todman Productions had the foresight to preserve many of their game shows for later reruns (this is part of the reason why they dominate the Game Show Network lineup), most other game shows from that era were not so lucky. For instance, almost all of the Bob Stewart, Heatter–Quigley, and pre-1980s Merv Griffin productions as well as the Hatos–Hall production "Split Second" have been destroyed with the exception of a few rare pilots and "cast aside" episodes. 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 (NBC is believed to have continued to wipe some shows all the way into 1980), leaving much of their daytime game show content lost forever. CBS mostly abandoned the wiping process by the early 1970s (largely as a result of their collaboration with Goodson and Todman at the time); as a result, even CBS's short-lived shows such as "Spin-Off" still exist in their entirety.

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, two of which — one from 1963 and one from October 25, 1965 — exist on film. The rest survive on videotape. It is believed a large number of episodes from 1966 to 1968 do exist. Game Show Network (GSN) has shown most of the surviving daytime episodes. 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, about three weeks worth, from 1974 (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 video tape from the original broadcast. Apparently no episodes of the "$10,000 Pyramid" exist on video tape, all of which are apparently "$20,000 Pyramid" episodes. After 1978, wiping was stopped by ABC, and no other episodes were wiped until it left the air in 1980. Another example is "Concentration", which had a very long run (1958–1973 on NBC and 1973–1978 in syndication). Only a handful of episodes exist amongst collectors. The NBC version was believed to be wiped, many early episodes were live, hence only a kinescope would exist from that time, while the syndicated version's fate is unknown. Few episodes are known to be in the hands of collectors.

For a long time, it was thought that a huge majority of episodes of the original version of the "Hollywood Squares" were wiped/destroyed 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 that aired on Game Show Network, were discovered. GSN aired many of those episodes, and on one or two occasions left the NBC color peacock intact (and even on one other occasion, also kept the NBC "snake" logo intact).

The ABC version of "Password" was almost gone. GSN found (and aired) one episode featuring Brett Somers and Jack Klugman. A second studio master episode is believed to have survived as well. An additional small number of episodes survive amongst videotape traders, including the final episode from 1975. UCLA also has a small number of episodes in their archives. Both this version's and most of the CBS daytime version's episodes are considered lost and/or destroyed. Most of the CBS nighttime version and final daytime year (the latter of which was produced in color) survive. In the case of the color episodes, they were edited for syndication. 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.) which are probably lost forever.

The 1967-69 game show "Snap Judgment" is a show that was completely destroyed by the wiping process. Not even a pilot episode remains of the program, to the point where even its rules are virtually unknown today.

The 1977 game show "Second Chance", better known as the original version of and predecessor to 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 one pilot episode remains and there is one person who claims to be the son of a "Second Chance" contestant and says he has what appears to be the only remaining copy of the show other than a pilot episode. This man's claims have yet to be verified.


In 1968-1969, TV Tupi, producing the soap opera "Beto Rockfeller", recorded chapters by wiping the previous ones, and few have 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. Defunct Brazilian broadcast TV Excelsior lost almost footage in three fires, some scenes from telenovelas A Deusa Vencida, Redenção, A Muralha and Sangue do Meu Sangue survived, as MPB music festivals, like Elis Regina singing "Arrastão", humoristic Times Square and jornalistic Jornal de Vanguarda, who received Spanish award Ondas are lost. Rede Globo lost 35 first programs of Fantástico, Jornal Nacional beginning programs 1969 to 1973 and a lot of chapters of soap operas.


Many episodes of popular Australian TV series including "Young Talent Time", "Number 96", and others are lost. In the 1970s Network Ten had an official policy to reuse tapes, hence many tapes of Ten Network programs "Young Talent Time" and "Number 96" were wiped or junked.

To this day, the Network Ten only keeps some of it's programming.


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation never practiced wiping and maintains a complete archive of all of its programming. [ [http://archives.cbc.ca/info/archives/archives_en_04.asp?IDLan=1 CBC Archives VTR Library] ]


Several Japanese broadcasters, including NHK and TBS, practiced wiping. [http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/2%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B3%E3%83%81VTR#2.E3.82.A4.E3.83.B3.E3.83.81VTR.E3.81.AE.E5.BC.B1.E7.82.B9]

See also

* "Doctor Who" missing episodes
* British television Apollo 11 coverage
* "The Likely Lads" (1 found)
* "Dad's Army" (2 found)
* "Hancock's Half Hour
* "Not Only... But Also"
* "Do Not Adjust Your Set"
* "At Last the 1948 Show"
* "Secrets"
* "Hollywood Squares"
* "The Magic Clown" (Almost entire run destroyed)
* "Mary Kay and Johnny" (Almost entire run destroyed)
* "Lost film"
* "Beulah" (Almost entire run destroyed)
* "Marge and Jeff" (Over 100 episodes believed to be lost)
* "Missing Believed Wiped"




Related articles

* Film preservation
* Telerecording
* Kinescope

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/treasurehunt/ Full Details of the BBC's treasure Hunt]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/docs/historical_information/archive_policies/media_management_policy_overview.htm BBC archiving policy]
* [http://www.missing-episodes.com/ British TV Missing Episodes Index]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • wiping — wiping. См. Формирование протиранием. (Источник: «Металлы и сплавы. Справочник.» Под редакцией Ю.П. Солнцева; НПО Профессионал , НПО Мир и семья ; Санкт Петербург, 2003 г.) …   Словарь металлургических терминов

  • Wiping — Wipe Wipe, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Wiped}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Wiping}.] [OE. vipen, AS. w[=i]pian; cf. LG. wiep a wisp of straw, Sw. vepa to wrap up, to cuddle one s self up, vepa a blanket; perhaps akin to E. whip.] [1913 Webster] 1. To rub with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • wiping — n. rubbing (as with a cloth) in order to clean or remove dirt; drying, drying clean; erasing, removing; obliterating; applying with a spreading motion waɪp n. act of wiping (in order to clean or erase, etc.); handkerchief or rag; small… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Wiping effect — Wiping effect. См. Эффект притирания. (Источник: «Металлы и сплавы. Справочник.» Под редакцией Ю.П. Солнцева; НПО Профессионал , НПО Мир и семья ; Санкт Петербург, 2003 г.) …   Словарь металлургических терминов

  • wiping contact — noun Etymology: wiping (gerund of wipe) (I) + contact : an electric contact made by wiping or rubbing one surface on another …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wiping — Удаление краски (с пробельных элементов формы глубокой печати); стирание (краски); Обтирка; смывка (напр. красочных валиков) …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • WIPING — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wiping angle — Угол установки ракельного ножа; Угол установки ракеля …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • Wiping blade — Ракельный нож, ракель; Ракель, ракельный нож …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • Wiping liquid — Жидкий состав для смывки, смывающий раствор …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

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