Dad's Army episode to be seen in colour for first time in nearly 40 years
On Saturday 13 December, BBC Two will be transmitting a very special episode of Dad's Army in colour for the first time in nearly 40 years, as part of a Dad's Army Night starting at 7.10pm.
The episode, entitled Dad's Army In Colour – Room At The Bottom (8.25pm), was originally recorded in colour. However, in the Sixties and Seventies the BBC would sometimes wipe and re-use the master tapes once the programme had been aired.
Film copies of the master tapes were often made of programmes prior to being wiped, but the recordings were only made in black and white.
Thanks to the development of new Colour Recovery technology, the preservation team within BBC Archive have been able to bring a new lease of life to specific archive content, and this Dad's Army episode is the first programme to have its colour recovered.
Colour Recovery relies on the particular manner in which these film recordings were made, and hails from the Colour Recovery Working Group, an independent group which has been working on the development the technology – the idea for which was conceived over a decade ago.
James Insell, Preservation Specialist for the BBC Archive, found that many recordings had been created without the colour sub-carrier having been filtered out, and that the colour information was still embedded in the film as a pattern of fine dots – or "chroma dots".
He speculated that it may be possible to extract and decode the dot pattern in order to retrieve the original colours.
"Being able to restore such BBC classics as Dad's Army, for example, is such a great opportunity for us. It's amazing to think that, 40 years ago, no colour copies were ever kept of such iconic BBC shows.
"Finding that the colour information had been preserved, and now having a technology available to recover and reapply it, brings great potential for breathing life back into certain programmes.
"The process restores the original colours to programmes and helps to keep their heritage and history alive."
The technology works with use of a high-definition scan being made of the 16mm film recording. The film negative is scanned – where available – and the software analyses and decodes the dot pattern.
Further restoration work is then required but, in broad terms, it gives the BBC Archive potential to fill gaps in its colour programme collection.
The Dad's Army episode is the centrepiece in a Dad's Army evening on BBC Two.
It will be preceded by a short introduction in which Ian Lavender, one of the original cast members of the show, interviews James about the process.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the show, the BBC Archive has also allowed fans to go behind the scenes with the recently released Dad's Army collection.
Viewers can read never-before-seen documents from the BBC's written archives and enjoy classic images from the photographic library, which give fans a new insight into a programme which has delighted viewers for 40 years.
The collection is available at bbc.co.uk/archive.
Notes to Editors
Dad's Army Night on BBC Two:
Life On The Box - Arthur Lowe, 7.10pm
Missing Presumed Wiped, 7.55pm
Dad's Army In Colour – Room At The Bottom, 8.25pm
Comedy Connections – Dads Army, 9pm
Further technical information can be found at colour-recovery.wikispaces.com
Viewers can explore over 80 years of UK and BBC history with the BBC Archive website. Programmes, documents and images bring the past to life and reveal forgotten stories.
The Dad's Army collection will now form a part of this permanent resource which the BBC has made available to UK audiences.
For more information, visit bbc.co.uk/archive