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David Bowie’s Long-Lost ‘Top Of The Pops’ Video Footage Discovered

Hulton Archive, Getty Images

David Bowie‘s long lost performance of ‘Jean Genie’ on England’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ television show has surfaced 38 years after its original broadcast, thanks to a retired cameraman.

69 year old John Henshall has retained a copy of this rarer than rare video performance for all these years and BBC news reported that “I just couldn’t believe that I was the only one with it. I just thought you wouldn’t be mad enough to wipe a tape like that,” says Henshall.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened. The BBC were notorious for wiping many tapes back in the day, and given it only aired once in January of 1973, fans have often hoped of finding someone who pointed an 8mm home movie camera at the screen to catch it, as there was no VHS in those days.

This outcome however is far better, as Henshall filmed the performance using  Telefex Fisheye lenses which he designed himself. Wanting a copy for his own show-reel, he asked the producers for a personal copy.

Now, nearly four decades later he realized that he possessed a piece of television history. Henshell went to Westpoint Television in London to view the footage and amazingly, there it was, in full broadcast quality.

The footage was unveiled on Sunday (Dec. 11) at an event held by the British Film Institute. As for those of us who couldn’t attend the screening, plans for a BBC4 documentary called ‘Tales Of Television Centre’ will broadcast in the new year. The anticipation of seeing a crystal clear performance of Bowie and The Spiders From Mars performing ‘Jean Genie’ during the height of their careers, certainly gives the “loves to be loved” lyric a brand new meaning.

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