EastEnders (lost broadcast tapes of BBC soap opera; 1986; 1989)
EastEnders is a long-running British soap opera. Broadcast on BBC One since 1985, the program's narrative centres upon the daily lives of local residents living within Albert Square in the East End of London. While all episodes of the show are publicly available in some form, two are confirmed to no longer have their original broadcast tapes within the BBC archives.
Episodes 97 and 497 were originally broadcast on BBC One on 21st January 1986 and 9th November 1989 respectively. 97 focused on relationship troubles between characters Debbie Wilkins and Andy O'Brien, issue 3,243 of Radio Times summarising the episode with "Funny, they call marriage an institution, makes it sound like a mad house." Viewed by 20.5 million, it was intended to be re-broadcast on Drama on 12th October 2018, in a period where the channel was re-airing classic EastEnders episodes. However, when Drama contacted the BBC for the broadcast tape, they discovered the latter no longer held it in its archives, although oddly referred to it as episode 85. It is believed the tape became missing when the BBC attempted to copy a 1-inch tape to D3 and Digi, with the tape set to be wiped soon after. However, the organisation accidentally copied episode 56 instead and incorrectly labelled it, leading to the wiping of 97's 1-inch tape without any other master copy being produced.
Meanwhile, 497's main narrative focused on a stranger arriving into Albert Square to search for Trevor Short. Viewed by 11.86 million, this episode was set to be re-aired by Drama on 24th July 2019, but was also skipped over. Ultimately, no broadcast copy of this episode is believed to be available within the BBC archives.
The episodes themselves are publicly available in the form of low-quality VHS recordings. But as of the present day, EastEnders fans, including on the EastEnders Wiki, are searching for higher-quality versions of these episodes as an alternative to the lost broadcast tapes. It is known that the British Film Institute does hold a 1-inch copy of 497, but access to it remains restricted.
- TV Brain listing the lost EastEnders episodes. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Issue 3,243 of Radio Times detailing episode 97 (found on BBC Genome). Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Issue 3,439 of Radio Times detailing episode 497 (found on BBC Genome). Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- EastEnders Ratings noting episode drew 20.5 million viewers. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Digital Spy reporting on Drama re-airing EastEnders episodes. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Digital Spy reporting on Drama skipping over episode 97 after discovering its broadcast tape is lost. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Missing-Episodes discussing how 97's broadcast tape became missing. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- British Film Institute summarising episode 497. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- Digital Spy forum summarising episode 497 and noting its master copy is lost. Retrieved 15th Jul '22
- British Film Institute detailing its 1-inch copy of episode 497. Retrieved 15th Jul '22