At Last the 1948 Show
At Last the 1948 Show is a satirical television show made by David Frost's company, Paradine Productions (although it was not credited on the programmes), in association with Rediffusion London. Transmitted on Britain's ITV network in 1967, it brought Cambridge Footlights humour to a broader audience.
|At Last the 1948 Show|
|Created by||Tim Brooke-Taylor |
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Original release||15 February –|
7 November 1967
|Related shows||Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967–69)|
The show starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Aimi MacDonald. Cleese and Brooke-Taylor were also the programme editors. The director was Ian Fordyce. Chapman and Cleese would later be among the founders of the Monty Python comedy troupe, and several of the sketches first performed in At Last the 1948 Show would later be performed by Monty Python in various formats.
While only two episodes of the show initially survived, efforts to locate missing episodes have been fruitful, with seven episodes being accounted for by 2013. On 23 October 2014, two episodes were recovered by the British Film Institute from the David Frost collection, and a further two episodes were recovered the following year, making the number of complete episodes eleven out of thirteen.
Frost approached Cleese, Chapman and Brooke-Taylor to star in a sketch series. They suggested Marty Feldman, until then a comedy writer. The series bridged the radio series I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again and television's Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Goodies. It also led to Feldman's television series Marty (which also featured Tim Brooke-Taylor). The convention of comedy scenes interspersed by songs was abandoned. It still used punchlines, which would be abandoned by Monty Python.
Several sketches came from the 1963 Cambridge Footlights Revue entitled Cambridge Circus (the revue was previously entitled A Clump of Plinths). Sketches were again reused in How to Irritate People and Monty Python's Flying Circus plus Python's two German TV specials (Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus) and for stage shows. These include the "Four Yorkshiremen sketch" (which was later performed by Monty Python on Live at Drury Lane and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl). The sketches "Top of the Form" and "Beekeeper" were performed in Secret Policeman's Ball stage shows. Another, "The Bookshop Sketch", was recorded in modified form for Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album. "Psychiatrist", "Tea Boy on a Mission", and "Grublian Holidays" were also performed again by The Two Ronnies.
Monty Python's catchphrase, "And now for something completely different," originated in At Last the 1948 Show, and was originally spoken by Aimi MacDonald.
The shows had no relationship to the year 1948; the title referred to television executives' tendency to dither extensively over commissioning decisions. The cast also recorded an LP of sketches from the show's first season, and released a book of some of the sketches. The series was video-taped at what is now Fountain Studios, Wembley Park, Wembley.
Two series totalling thirteen 25-minute episodes were made during the series ten-month run, six in the first series and seven in the second.
Survival of episodes
Thames Television wiped the material once they had acquired the Rediffusion London archive, and all but two episodes were destroyed. John Cleese became aware of tapes from two surviving episodes after Feldman's wife left them to him in her will. Five compilation episodes for Swedish television also survived. Much missing material has been recovered in video, and surviving video has been restored by the British Film Institute.
The majority of a previously missing episode (season 2, episode 6 tx 31.10.67) was recovered from a private collector in May 2010. On 23 October 2014, the BFI announced film copies of two previously missing episodes – the first and final episodes of the series (tx 15.02.1967 and 07.11.1967) – had been recovered from the private collection of the show's executive producer David Frost. A year later, the BFI announced the recovery of another two episodes from a fan's collection, with one of the new recoveries - the third episode of the first series (tx 01.03.1967) – to be screened at the Radio Times Festival at Hampton Court on 25 September 2015.
Out of an original total of 13 episodes, eleven now exist in complete or near-complete form, while two remain incomplete. While most surviving episodes are from original tapes or telerecordings, two of the complete episodes have been reconstructed from footage recovered from five compilation tapes returned from Sweden. The two incomplete episodes' surviving footage also comes from these compilations. The complete audio of all 13 episodes exist, recorded off air by several fans. An LP compilation of series 1 was produced using audio from the original videotapes. This has since been reissued on CD.
The five Swedish compilation episodes were released on DVD in July 2005 by Tango Entertainment in the US (Region 1) and in January 2007 by Pinnacle Vision in the UK (Region 2). This includes the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, written and performed by Cleese, Chapman, Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman. The DVD incorrectly states these as "recently recovered episodes", presents them as episode numbers 1 through 5, in the wrong compilation-series order (the correct order is DVD ep# 4, 3, 1, 5, 2), with no mention on the DVD that the content is in fact a compilation. The episodes on all DVD releases are soft, grainy, and generally low picture quality, even considering the material's age. Eric Idle appears in three of the episodes (2, 4, and 5), but never speaks except for a brief line in the teaser of episode 4.
The DVD was re-released in May 2012 by One Media iP, a digital-only (streaming media format) label (no physical DVD) based in the UK, available for free on their OMP YouTube channel. This release has the compilation episodes in the same (mis-)order, and includes the 2 bonus interview tracks from the original DVD as well. They describe the episodes as compilations, but their description of what original episodes they are taken from is wrong (one episode claims the excerpts are all from series 1 when in fact they are all from series 2).
In October 2015, One Media iP acquired the rights to 3 original full episodes that had recently been discovered, and released them on their YouTube channel as well. They are the two episodes discovered in David Frost's archives, ep. #1.1 and #2.7, and the episode discovered in a fan collection and screened in 2015, ep. #1.3. The 3 episodes are unfortunately presented in the wrong aspect ratio: the picture is squeezed horizontally to a ratio of 1:1 square.
In recent years, some of the other surviving, original full episodes have been uploaded on YouTube and other video-sharing websites. All of these have since been removed, and new uploads continue to be removed, due to claimed copyright restrictions and new YouTube rules, as well as internet policing by One Media iP. The five compilation episodes (in the same mis-order) plus the 3 original full episodes released by One Media iP are still available for free on YouTube, on the free streaming service Tubi, and on Amazon Prime, the subscription streaming provider. On Tubi and Amazon Prime, the 3 original episodes are numbered 6 through 8 in order of broadcast: ep. #1.1, 1.3, and 2.7 respectively. On these latter two providers, the squeezed 1:1 aspect ratio of episode #7 (1.3) is corrected.
The British Film Institute released a comprehensive 3-DVD release of the surviving material on 16 September 2019, including audio-only portions for all missing segments.
- Barry Cryer – as director in Chartered Accountants and Gorilla / first person to sit in Thief in Library / Nigerian guide & Eskimo guide in Studio Tour / Feldman in Scottish Opera / deerstalker hat detective in Detective Sketch / Wine waiter in Four Yorkshiremen / miscellaneous voice-over announcements
- Bill Oddie – as depressed patient/Kowalski in Detective Sketch
- Christine Rodgers – as Mrs. Lotterby / waving co-host / Susan / opera-host / introduces self in "I'm The Loveliest" show intro
- Eric Idle – Librarian in Thief in Library / Beethoven patient / waiter / elevator operator in Detective Sketch / end of row opera patron in Scottish Opera
- Jo Kendall – as Sara Mellish in Studio Tour
- Mary Maude – as Lady in bath / introduces self in "I'm The Loveliest" show intro
- Dick Vosburgh – as director in Studio Tour / bearded front row patron in Scottish Opera
- Antony Jay – stage manager in Studio Tour
- Frank Muir – Saudi entourage in Studio Tour
- Denis Norden – Saudi entourage in Studio Tour
- Ronnie Corbett – wrestling stage hand in Studio Tour
- Frances Dean – accented opera-host / introduces self in "I'm The Loveliest" show intro
- Karin Feddersen – Long haired brunette patron in Scottish Opera
- Jacqueline Rochelle – as magic amulet opera-host
- Penny Brahms – introduces self in "I'm The Loveliest" show intro
- Joan Crane – as receptionist in Spiv Doctor / introduces self in "I'm The Loveliest" show intro
- Vicki Murden
- Anne Lewington
- Natalie Shaw
- Jenny Walton
- Patricia Franklin
- Dick Holmes
List of episodes
Not all ITV regions screened the series, and those that did did so on different transmission dates and times, with the series beginning and ending at different times of the year. The dates below reflect the transmission dates of the series in the London ITV region - Rediffusion's ITV franchise.
Audio recordings exist for all 13 episodes, with only a very few missing segments. These have been used to reconstruct the order of sketches in complete episodes.
- Comedy.co.uk article about episode recoveries
- BFI announces re-discovery of pre-python classic TV series At Last the 1948 Show
- Roger Wilmut From Fringe to Flying Circus: Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960–1980, London: Eyre Methuen, 1980, ISBN 0-413-46950-6.
- "Missing episodes of Monty Python precursor At Last the 1948 Show found", The Guardian, 16 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Pythonet - 1948 Show Archived August 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "Unbound: John Cleese in conversation with John Hodgman". youtube. BAMorg. March 12, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
- And now for something completely similar - the original Monty Python
- Lost comedy archives unearthed
- Missing-Episodes.com The British TV Missing Episodes Index
- Pre-Monty Python TV comedy episodes rediscovered, bbc.co.uk, 23 October 2014
- Lost Shows
- At Last the 1948 Show
- "Tim Brooke-Taylor interview". Radiohaha.typepad.com. 2006-06-03. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
- - Review
- At Last the 1948 Show. British Film Institute. 2019. BFIV2121. Retrieved 23 June 2019.