The British Film Institute has found two lost episodes of the ITV comedy sketch classic, At Last the 1948 Show which starred comedy legends, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman. The find was made by Missing Believed Wiped coordinator, Dick Fiddy, when he was invited by family members to explore the personal archive collections of the late Sir David Frost who was executive producer on the show. Former Python John Cleese will present the two episodes, the first and last ever of the series, on loan from the Frost family, as part of Missing Believed Wiped, the BFI‘s annual celebration of recovered TV programs, on 7 December in London. The programs have not been seen since their original broadcast in 1967 on 15th February and 7th November and were contained on two reels of 16mm film which were filmed directly from a television screen.
The latest discovery of “lost” tapes is being dubbed a major find for fans of the early incarnations of surreal British television comedy which was hugely influential in the creation of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in 1969. At Last the 1948 Show is famous for containing the first use of the phrase “And now for something completely different” which became a Python catchphrase and for showcasing the first outing of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.
Re-watching the material after some 47 years “…made me laugh a great deal“, admitted former Goodie member, Tim Brooke-Taylor. “I think the sketches would be shorter now, but I’m rather pleased with it. It was ground-breaking in a sense in that it was very silly. We were thinking, will we get away with it basically?”
Sadly, these sentiments were echoed by former Python members Terry Jones and Michael Palin last year when we asked both if anything resembling the likes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus could find its way to the small screen today. The universal answer was very doubtful. Like At Last the 1948 Show, Python was ground-breaking telly where all involved were just handed the keys to the comedy closet and told to make a funny show with no ‘suit’ looking over their shoulders.