A long lost performance from David Bowie and The Spiders from Mars on ‘Jean Genie’ from England’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ television show has surfaced 38 years after its original broadcast. 69 year old retired cameraman John Henshall had a personal copy of this performance. “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,” says Henshall.
The BBC did wipe the tape, and given it only aired once in January of 1973, fans have often hoped of finding someone who pointed an 8mm home movie camera at the screen to catch it, as there was no VHS in those days. Henshall did that better, having filmed the performance using Telefex Fisheye lenses which he designed himself. Wanting a copy for his own show-reel, he asked the producers for a personal copy.
Now, nearly four decades later he realized that he possessed a piece of television history. Henshell went to Westpoint Television in London to view the footage and amazingly, there it was, in full broadcast quality. The footage was unveiled at an event earlier this month held by the British Film Institute.