WE put this story out yesterday following the death of David Bowie. It is on behalf of our client the Guild of Television  Cameramen.



A cameraman has been speaking of the moment he realised he owned footage of David Bowie on Top of the Pops which was thought to be lost.

John Henshall, from Stanford-in-the-Vale, Oxfordshire, who is also the President of the Guild of Television Cameramen, retained a copy of Bowie performing Jean Genie in 1973.

He said: “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.”

It was unveiled at an event held by the British Film Institute in 2011.

The annual event, Missing Believed Wiped, was the first time the footage had been seen since January 1973.

John said he only kept it because he wanted it for his showreel.

In the footage he used Telefex Fisheye lenses which he had designed himself. He also ended up in the background of one of the shots.

After the recording he asked producers for a personal copy on 2in (5cm) broadcast videotape.

John said: “I didn’t realise that it had been wiped by the BBC. They’d been looking for it for years, hoping that somebody had maybe pointed an 8mm home movie camera at the screen, because there was no VHS in those days.

“I didn’t realise that anybody wanted it. I’d just had it because it was my Fisheye.I had loads of ideas for optical effects back then.”

Bowie’s performance of Jean Genie was recorded on 3 January 1973 and transmitted the following day for the first and only time.

After realising he had a “rarer than rare” piece of television history, John went to Westpoint Television in London to view the footage.



John used one of his own lenses to create the optical effects seen in the recording. The lens was then loaned to the National Media Museum who kept all John’s revolutionary special effects lenses for nine years. They were rediscovered recently, deteriorating in a cold hangar including the lens which John had used on the cameras for Bowie’s appearances.

The lens has recently been used on Good Morning Britain, having been rediscovered towards the end of last year.

John filmed David Bowie many times and used his special lenses on many programmes. The BBC destroyed the historic recording but, incredibly, John had kept a copy and was able to save the BBC’s bacon and blushes.


“The hairs stood up on the back of my neck,” he said.There it was in full broadcast quality. Amazing.”


After his time with Top of the Pops, John went on to film professional music videos for Blondie, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Kate Bush, Spandau Ballet, Roxy Music and Queen.




For more information and to interview John Henshall please contact Sarah Edwards 07966 523662 sarah@mediabird.co.uk




Published by Sarah Adams

I am the author of The Life Edit, an eight step personal development coaching programme that harnesses the power of journalling and writing to help people make transformational changes to their lives. I am also journalist and writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines, TV and online for the last 35 years, and an accredited personal development practitioner. I have written books, appeared on TV and radio and have worked in the world of corporate communications as a senior manager. I launched and ran The Community Media Group for ten years-this is a social enterprise that exists to produce professional, community newspapers in socially challenging areas as well as providing free training.

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