Missing Believed Wiped: The Library of Congress Discoveries

A remarkable range of literary adaptations and original plays, unseen since their first broadcast.

In one of the most remarkable film archive discoveries of all time, over 100 hours of British dramas, long believed destroyed, were unearthed at the Library of Congress. This incredible find encompasses a remarkable range of literary adaptations and original plays, unseen since their first broadcast. To mark these exciting new acquisitions to the BFI National Archive, Missing Believed Wiped, a brand new Mediatheque collection, showcases a selection of these rediscoveries, featuring many household names in early starring roles.

The discoveries reveal a surprisingly high number of female directors working in the male-dominated TV industry; Tania Lieven directs Newton Blick as Dandy Dick, a country vicar accused of horse-doping in Arthur Wing Pinero’s farce, while Mary Ridge’s The Bond is a witty media satire from an original screenplay by Dawn Pavitt. The collection also uncovers the wide scope of 60s drama, featuring works by great writers who are seldom adapted today, including Jean Anouilh (Antigone), Henrik Ibsen (The Wild Duck) and Thomas Middleton and William Rowley (The Changeling), as well as perennial favourites such as Coward and Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale).

Four to try

The Wild Duck (1957)

The idealistic son of a corrupt businessmen exposes a lifetime of lies in Ibsen’s masterpiece, directed by Ealing regular Charles Crichton and starring Emlyn Williams and Dorothy Tutin.

Antigone (1959)

Jean Anouilh updates Sophocles’ tragedy to occupied France, using the Greek characters to represent the contemporary power struggle.

The Winter’s Tale (1962)

Hour-long adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘problem play’, starring Robert Shaw as Leontes and Rosalie Crutchley as Hermione. Also featuring Catweazle’s Geoffrey Bayldon exiting, pursued by a bear.

The Changeling (1965)

Kika Markham portrays the bloodthirsty Beatrice-Joanna in Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s Jacobean tragedy.

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