Amazing lost TV footage of The Sweet has been recovered after 50 years

Sweet playing on Lift Off With Ayshea
(Image credit: Granada TV)

Footage of The Sweet performing their 1971 single Alexander Graham Bell on Grenada TV's Lift Off With Ayshea has been restored after being lost for 50 years. The original film was believed to have been erased – a common practice in UK television in days of yore – but has now been recovered by archive organisation Kaleidoscope, who specialise in locating and restoring missing footage.

Lift Off With Ayshea, hosted by Ayshea Brough, first aired in 1969, and was seen by ITV as a rival to the BBC's long-running Top Of The Pops. Only three episodes of the 122 broadcast between the show's launch and its closure in 1974 are known to have survived, and The Sweet's two minutes of early fame – broadcast on October 27, 1971 – is the latest footage to emerge from a missing file that still includes footage from David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Slade and many more.

Alexander Graham Bell was The Sweet's third single release since signing to RCA in early 1971, and followed Funny Funny and Co-Co into the UK charts, although it was the least successful of the trio, stalling at number 33. All three came from the band's debut album Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be. 

The Sweet would eventually break into the Top 10 with Little Willy, released in May 1972, and would return to Lift Off With Ayshea in December of that year, playing their recent Top 5 hit, Wig Wam Bam, and Blockbuster, which would top the charts the following month.

Earlier in 1972, David Bowie had introduced his Ziggy Stardust character to UK audiences during another episode of Lift Off With Ayshea, performing Starman two weeks before the iconic Top Of The Pops performance of the same song that would launch Ziggy-mania. In 2019 it was announced that this footage had also been recovered, but it has not been publicly aired in the years since.

The Sweet have a number of European shows lined up

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.