‘I found the recording in the attic,’ explained Bill Evans. ‘I couldn’t play it myself, but the handwriting on the end of the tape said it was from August 1979. I knew they were holding a recording at the local community centre so I took it along.’
Stuart Williamson, media expert, assessed the recording. ‘It’s a Betamax, no doubt about that,’ he said, holding the tape aloft with an eyeglass scrunched in his right eye. ‘The age appears about right, the handwriting looks to be authentic – I’ve seen examples of Mr. Evans’ Mother’s hand and it is similar. Critically the recording tab has been snapped off, meaning that the original recording probably hasn’t been tampered with.’
Gabby Jones, historical recording equipment specialist, was tasked with confirming the veracity of the recording. ‘The date on the media was just about right, the type of media spot-on. Critically no sign of repair – we often find evidence of the media label being over-written, we call that ‘scribbled-on’ in the trade, but no issues here.’
The BBC tracked down a Betamax player of the same period – ‘middle Elizabethan,’ suggested Stuart – and carefully ran part of the tape through it after waiting twenty minutes for it to rewind. ‘The recording is spot-on, no sign of cropping, the BBC world spinning at the beginning and end of the recording. There was even an original episode of The Good Life after the Roadshow recording which raises the value somewhat, which helped confirm the date, followed by a Roland Rat programme that I’ve advised Mr. Evans to delete as it originates on ITV and therefore devalues the recording.
Mr. Evans was ‘delighted’ at the result and valuation. ‘Who would have thought?’ he asked while running a strong magnet over the tape. ‘They wouldn’t loan me the Betamax player as they’ve valued that at £2 million so hopefully I’m only affecting the Roland Rat recording,’ he said, crossing his fingers.
The Antiques Roadshow returns in the Autumn and can be viewed live or alternatively on Betamax tapes, thanks to the Government’s new technology and media policies.