Matt’s Missing TV & Radio Heritage
Or… ‘is Matt hiding in your loft?’
During his lifetime Matt made around 330 radio and 300 television appearances. These ranged from variety shows and talk shows to programmes hosted by Matt himself.
Matt first appeared on UK radio in 1956 and followed through with television in 1957, although he had appeared quite regularly on radio in Hong Kong in earlier years. He continued to contribute to various media programmes throughout his life, not only in the UK but also worldwide, until his last radio appearance in December 1984
What many people aren’t aware of though, is how little of this material still exists. Only a handful of radio programmes and television appearances still exist in the archives. There are a few bits and pieces in lower quality formats or audio only but not very much. It’s not just programmes; many of Matt’s adverts and jingles are missing too!
Why is this the case?
Back in the 1950’s nobody thought much about archiving programmes due to two main reasons. Firstly the tape they were recorded on was expensive and was therefore re-used; secondly the Musicians Union had agreements that restricted the re-broadcast of material and lastly where various stations closed or sold, material was destroyed. Nobody had the foresight that this material would be of importance and value 50 years later. TV and Radio were categorised as disposable media commodities.
What has and hasn’t survived?
It’s far easier to explain what has survived rather than what hasn’t. We’re very lucky to still have one very early television performance in the archives of ABC TV’s “The Late Show” that dates from 1958. But from then until the 1970’s there are very few UK shows that have been rescued. For example: In 1961 Matt appeared on an ATV produced show called ‘Lunchbox’ a staggering 35 times, but not one single episode on which Matt appeared survives (in fact only one show from the hundreds of editions made still exists – if indeed they were ever recorded).
Shows from America fare a little better, with all Matt’s ‘Ed Sullivan’ show appearances from 1961 and 1963 still in existence in the vaults, but once again there are still many important appearances missing such as the USA ‘Frost’ shows, that Matt appeared on.
From the mid 70’s things start to improve but again there are still too many shows that have been wiped and reused. One of the shows Matt appeared on nine times was ‘Pebble Mill at One’. Only one programme still exists, the rest (broadcast live) were not recorded.
Some radio items may have survived in overseas archives as the BBC ran a Transcription Service. This service sent LP discs to overseas radio stations – some of which may be in private hands, but none have come to light so far. Matt even made some programmes specifically for the Transcription Service, which have never been broadcast in the UK. Rumour has it that the BBC still has the majority of the transcription service masters which are sitting un-catalogued at Bush House (Home of the World Service). Time will tell if this is true.
A BBC Transcription Disc
TV shows were also sent overseas, usually on 16mm film, which was cheaper than videotape. These “Tele-recordings” do occasionally turn up in overseas archives or private hands, even at car boot sales! But still no Matt!
Past BBC staff have been responsible for returning some material to the archives, as they sometime took copies of programmes home (not something they should have done, but thank goodness they did!). Sometime they even ‘liberated’ tapes before they were wiped.
One of those BBC employees was responsible for rescuing the material recently issued on “Heart of the Man” last year, most of which appear to date from the ‘Saturday Club’ broadcasts
In the course of her research for the book she is writing, Michele has tracked down details of virtually every television & radio appearance by Matt from 1956 onwards. My part in this has been to track down as much footage as possible so that – even if the estate doesn’t own a copy – we know it exists for future reference and use. It is frightening how little does exist.
Some things have come to light in recent years (and indeed months) from private sources. Last year I was finally able to find one of the missing Camay adverts and Michele and I recently helped recover a radio broadcast from 1958 with Steve Race. ‘The Nelson Riddle TV Special’ no longer exists in the BBC archives, but a good quality audio version has surfaced and has subsequently been remastered. The same applies for Matt’s Talk of the Town show from 1969, thanks to a fan who taped the show direct from their television set when it was first broadcast. Recently some recordings from ‘The Cyril Stapleton Band Show” which Matt appeared on in 1956/7 have surfaced and are due to be released on a compilation in the not too distant future.
Another wonderful find was the long missing Pepsi commercial for their product ‘Teem’ which proves that perseverance pays off sometimes.
This is where you – the fans – come in.
Do you have any recordings of Matt from television or radio, even short excerpts of programmes? They could be Reel to Reel or cassette tapes of radio shows or television soundtracks or maybe even a BBC transcription disc? Perhaps you still have a television programme on Videotape? It might be lying in an obsolete format like Betamax, Video 2000, N1500 / N1700 or a very early type of open reel video recording such as ‘Shibaden’? Maybe you even have an odd ‘Pebble Mill’ on tape somewhere or an old tin film can that might contain an old TV show. Perhaps you worked for the BBC or have a friend that did and have a copy of a programme on any format.
A Shibaden Recorder
If you do please let us know! Just like the treasure hunts of recent years by the BBC and British Film Institute, we’d love to get copies made and where possible get them restored. All original media can be returned and a copy also made onto a modern format for you. Even a clip of home movie where you filmed something from a TV screen might be of use. Even if you have nothing to play it on – I can probably find someone who does!
It’s incredible how many times Michele has been told – ‘oh I’ve got this recording…. and assumed you already had it’. So if in doubt
Michele - firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard - email@example.com
If you have a little bit of information about what you’ve found it might help us find out if it’s something that is currently missing, but if you don’t know what it is that you have or can’t play it, we would still like you to contact us.
Some of the Missing TV & Radio Shows include:
Terry Parsons Sings
(Hong Kong - Early 1950’s)
Matt appeared in his own radio show whilst in Hong Kong. However apart from three songs that are on some VERY battered acetate discs, nothing remains from this series. Who knows, maybe someone else involved with these broadcasts had acetates made. Unlikely I suppose but you never know.
Meet Matt Monro
(Associated Rediffusion TV 1961)
Matt made a series of 12 shows for Associated Rediffusion in 1961. Nothing remains from this series – even in audio format. Rediffusion lost its licence in 1968 when the ITV franchises were reshuffled. Unfortunately almost everything from their archives was junked. Three shows Matt made with Rosemary Squires (some audio of which survives) were also amongst many other casualties.
Matt’s Kind Of Music
(BBC Radio 1962) 14 Shows
Matt’s BBC radio show lasted only one series. Clips from some shows exist (thanks to Matt himself) but a vast amount is missing. There is a great song called “Things Are Swinging” which Matt sang (in both this series and Meet Matt Monro) which only partially survives. It would be great to find a full copy.
‘A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Piano’ a tribute to Jule Styne (Rediffusion TV 1966)
The show was produced by Buddy Bregman and was another casualty of the Rediffusion junking.
Matt Monro Meets Nelson Riddle
(BBC TV 1967)
A great show which exists in audio only.
The Dave Allen Show (BBC TV 1968)
Matt not only sung but also appeared in sketches. A small clip has appeared in audio (just a minute or so long) the rest has disappeared. This show was sold to Australia and New Zealand but so far nothing has been found.
The Morecambe and Wise Show
(BBC TV 1968)
The duo’s first BBC series is almost completely missing including this show in which Matt appeared in a sketch. The show was repeated in 1969, but then wiped. A tele-recording of one of the shows has surfaced in recent years. Let’s hope more turn up in the future.
Matt Monro at the Talk of The Town
(BBC TV 1969)
Once again only audio exists from this show – made in Colour too.
This is of course is the tip of the iceberg, it would be impossible to write them all out although there is a comprehensive list on the homepage of the website entitled “Matt on TV”
Hopefully somebody out there has something else – fingers crossed.
Richard Moore – June 2007