ITV Wrestling Video Archives

The ITV wrestling broadcasts (including matches posted on YouTube and embedded in this site's listings) survive through a variety of physical archives. The following are the known/reported/rumoured collections of footage and their current status.

ITV Sport Archive

This is the major collection and official source of matches shown publicly since the original broadcasts.

Although the cataloguing is somewhat patchy (as of 2004 at least the listings often lacked dates and had no run times, while some tapes appear to have been partially- or mislabelled.), it appears to be relatively complete from 1974 onwards with increasing gaps back to its earliest content from 1970. This pattern and the timeline may be related to the evolution of the live broadcast/pre-record schedule and the use of videotape.

The archive has been licensed several times (and still theoretically remains available for licensing):

The Wrestling Channel (and its later incarnations) licensed approximately 500 matches on what proved a rewarding deal allowing unlimited airings in a set time period.

UK promoter John Chapman licensed several matches to rent/sell through iTunes, later abandoning the project as the content did not meet Apple's requirements for high definition resolution.

Footage was used in two commercial DVD releases, the surprisingly successful The Best Of ITV Wrestling and the less successful follow-up The A-Z Of ITV Wrestling, both made up of clips. ITV later used sequences from the former DVD as a 10-minute episode in its World of Sport series that is regularly used to fill gaps in the ITV 4 schedule.

Sky licensed footage for a series combining archive matches with contemporary interviews with the wrestlers involved.

ESPN licensed footage for Waddell' s Wrestling Show featuring archive matches introduced by Sid Waddell.

Footage of Big Daddy-Giant Haystacks was licensed by the BBC for its Timeshift episode: When Wrestling was Golden: Grapples, Grunts and Grannies. The cost was particularly high, explaining why much of the archive footage in the show came from previous BBC documentaries about British wrestling rather than being matches from ITV.

WWE enquired about licensing a Bret Hart-Marty Jones match for the Dungeon Collection DVD set at Hart's request. He describes the quoted fee as "outrageous" and so the idea was dropped.

WWE has reportedly enquired about purchasing the archive outright but either been rejected or unable to agree a fee. Unconfirmed reports suggest ITV may be legally unable to sell all rights to the archive rather than license its use.

One potential customer from 2022 reported ITV charging 240 to search the archive for matches of a particular wrestler.

Film Archive

ITV also holds an unknown number of reels of film recordings from the 1960s. These are largely unlabelled, and ITV charges a substantial fee for an archivist to examine what is on a particular reel and then another large fee to produce a copy, which is for personal use only with strictly no reproduction or broadcast allowed.

The organizers of the Northern wrestling reunion used this method to obtain a copy of the 1962 Cup Final Day broadcast. With the film already catalogued converted, the BBC licensed footage of Pallo-McManus and several other clips for the Timeshift documentary.

Other Archives

It appears some ITV regional offices hold a small number of recordings not in the main archive, most likely from when shows were filmed at venues in their area. This appears to have been the source of some footage in retrospective shows aired in Scotland covering George Kidd s career.

Telerecordings

Approximately 190 matches were 'telerecorded' for overseas sales through ITV's international distribution contractor ITV. This used a conversion process where a film camera was pointed at a screen playing a tape recording of the original broadcast, a necessary step to ensure compatibility for broadcasting systems in foreign countries.

The matches were originally recorded by ATV, the ITV broadcaster covering London and the Midlands. The matches in question were from shows recorded in London until 1968 and then the Midlands after that, with each telerecorded 'show' usually consisting of two of the matches from a particular original Saturday broadcast. (However, a reel recently offered for sale contained three matches from different broadcasts.) The telerecording process meant the matches were sold in black and white despite originally broadcasting in the UK in colour.

Although the shows appear to have been widely distributed overseas, the only footage in circulation from this source is a Vic Faulkner-Mick McMichael match, originally broadcast on ITV on 1 July 1972. Several other reels have been purchased by private collectors but are not in circulation. (Thanks to YouTube user Ray Langstone for his detailed assistance on this topic.)

Other Use

The Stampede promotion in Canada aired footage of some content including the 1987 Owen Hart-Marty Jones match. This footage is now part of WWE's library and aired on the WWE 24/7 video on demand service that pre-dated WWE Network

WWE is believed to use some ITV footage on an internal 'network' accessible by Performance Center students, for example when trainers refer students to matches and moments that illustrate particular aspects of the craft.

Off-Air Recordings

Some matches that are not in the official archives (or have never been made available/licensed) survive from viewers home video recordings and the tape trading circuit. These most likely number in the low hundreds, with many coming from the early-to-mid 80s when video recorders became more common.

A Unified Archive?

At one stage in the late 2010s, ITV was understood to have become aware of the potential value of its wrestling archive and had begun efforts to catalogue the content of various sources. There's been no official update since on the progress of this project or any plans to make content more readily available.