Andre Singer on Denis Forman’s support for Disappearing World – and a lost archive

In 1974, we put together a little brochure of about nine films, the first nine films in the series. Denis wrote the introduction to this, and it was very much explaining why he did it and how he supported Brian, what went on. It’s a two-page introduction. It was very nice, and he touched on how important it was. Denis so believed in this that he knew that there was some prosperity in the material we were collecting. It was going to be unique. He created a library of Disappearing World with all the outtakes of all the shoots over, we’re now talking in the end about 40 or 50 films, but at that time, say, 30. He hired a full-time librarian and they created the library and then – all catalogued, all beautifully looked after ­– and then, when Granada lost the franchise and then it went to ITV, the whole library was moved to Leeds. About 10 years ago, I tried to – I had on my anthropological hat, I became president of the Royal Anthropological Institute and I looked after their affairs, and particularly the film side of it – and I tried to find a way of buying or hosting the library so it could be an academic organisation, at least.


We were told it had been destroyed. The whole library had been destroyed.

My gosh. That’s shocking, isn’t it?

Somebody in ITV had said, “It’s a waste of space. We don’t want to keep all of that.” I tried, subsequently, to find out if that really was the case, because the information came via ITV, and via people I contacted in ITV that I didn’t really know. They said, “Oh no, they checked and it’s definitely gone. It doesn’t exist anymore.” The whole library. All of those films destroyed.

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