Letter: Lost TV classics

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The Independent Culture
Lost TV classics

Sir: Your correspondence on lost classic television shows hasn't touched on the BBC TV archive's musical deprivations.

In the mid 1960s we persuaded the great baritone Tito Gobbi to record (for BBC1, believe it or not) seven hour-long portrait studies of his finest roles. When Gobbi died 20 years later I suggested the obituary programme could quote from that series - but the cupboard was bare; all seven programmes had been wiped.

I believe the same servants of the BBC accountants, for whom a recycled videotape was apparently more valuable than any programme it might contain, once went so far as to wipe a show before its first transmission. A red- faced management had to go back to King's College, Cambridge, and ask whether they might mount a second performance of Handel's Messiah.

HUMPHREY BURTON

London W14

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