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Lost-and-found BBC films could include rare Beatles TV appearances

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A recently discovered stash of long-lost BBC TV shows found in Nigeria may include past Beatles appearances on the British music show “Top of the Pops,” Bill Harry, founder and editor of the '60s Mersey Beat newspaper in Liverpool that chronicled the Beatles' history as it happened, told Beatles Examiner Jan. 4.

Harry first mentioned the possibility on Facebook. “As you know, a vast amount of BBC TV material from the Sixties was found recently in a Nigerian TV station. Copies of the BBC programmes they received decades ago. Most of the publicity surrounded Dr Who episodes which had previously been lost. There is so much material that it's taking a time to go through everything, but I hear they have discovered Beatles TOTP ("Top of the Pops") appearances,” he wrote.

He explained to us, “My son Sean says that the rumour is that there was so much material discovered that it will be some time before they discover exactly what has been found. He says the information about the Beatles 'Top of the Pops' appearances are only a rumour at the moment. In the case of 'Dr Who,' many episodes were transferred on to film for sale to foreign broadcasters. It is often these prints found in other countries that are the source of retrieved episodes. With the Beatles being so popular internationally it seems likely that film transfers of their BBC appearances would be sold to other countries.

“The man who found the films was Philip Morris, director of a company called Television International enterprises Archives, who spend their time tracking down lost television programmes. My son told me he can put me in touch with him.”

Harry says he has a personal reason for hoping the Beatles' films are found.

“I hope they find the 'Juke Box Jury' film with the Beatles, filmed at the Empire. Virginia and I are seated near the front and there is a shot of Virginia. What is not seen is the leg of lamb on her lap which we bought for our Sunday dinner. John (Lennon) also said that he liked my version of 'Hippy Hippy Shake' and I was told that kids all over the country then went to record stores asking for my version of the number. This was an in joke from John as I'd written an editorial a few months earlier saying someone should record the number -- and the Swinging Bluejeans did.”

Radio Times and the Dr. Who UK Webzine both reported Dec. 23 that the recently discovered collection of vintage “Dr. Who” episodes with Patrick Troughton would be aired on the BBC.

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