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The Plymouth Herald

IN EARLY November 1969, the BBC television programme Doomwatch came to Plymouth and spent a week on location filming for an episode called Burial at Sea.

On one of those filming days, they spent eight hours in the company of the Lifeguard as they recreated a scene out in the sea, in which a lifeboat reached a sea cruiser where the crew and passengers (1960s rock star types) were found unconscious.

Thanks to the Plymouth Lifeguard, I recently had the pleasure of speaking to John Dare, one of the lifeboatmen who helped the BBC film these scenes which opened the programme. He recalls that after the shoot, the BBC sent down a series of off-cuts for them to watch. Off cuts are the bits of film not needed in the finished programme. Can anyone help locate this film if it still exists? It may be in the loft of a relative of one of those lifeboatmen who took part that day, or in the garage. It would be 16mm film stock.

The film would be unique as the episode in question has long since been destroyed by the BBC. A third of all Doomwatch episodes are still lost. The remainder have yet to see the light of a DVD release despite its cult status. Doomwatch was a famous series in its day. It featured Robert Powell and made him a household name and something of a heartthrob. There were howls of outrage when his character, Toby Wren, was blown up at the end of the first series.

The BBC also conducted filming in Millbay docks, the train station and a stretch of beach. On the day that they filmed with the RNLI, they had their dinner at Cremyll. John Dare is keen to see the footage again, and, as a Doomwatch fan, so am I. I'm afraid I can't offer a fee, but any costs incurred would be refunded.

If anyone can help with the film, or has any memories of the filming, you can email me at or write to me at 85 Anthony Drive, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 4EW.


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