Back in 1978 actor Rossiter was a household name thanks to comedy shows Rising Damp, for Yorkshire Television, and the BBC’s The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. ATV snapped up Rossiter for a new sitcom, The Losers, and after transmission wiped the tapes.
However nearly 35 years since the show last saw the light of day five of the six episodes have been rediscovered from home recordings for a DVD release.
“The great lost Leonard Rossiter sitcom” says NetworkDVD, adding “The original transmission masters of The Losers have long since been destroyed, with all five episodes on this set digitally recovered from the only existing off-air recordings – Episode six remains missing but a PDF of the script is included on this set.”
Rossiter is best known as seedy landlord Rigsby in Rising Damp, which continuously is repeated on ITV3. He is also fondly remembered as frustrated middle-manager Reggie Perrin from the BBC One Fall and Rise series, however The Losers became a forgotten gem thanks to the ATV Network wiping policy of the 1960s and 70s – which saw hundreds of programmes lose episodes to save money. It was deemed cheaper to reuse the videotapes with programmes which yielded little chance of repeat or overseas sales.
The sitcom follows Sydney Foskett (Rossiter) who is trying to be a successful sports promoter – when he falls upon a ploy. Signing up a young footballer and wrestler named Nigel, Foskett believes that he could have more success with a ‘loser’. Without the nice-but-dim Nigel realising anything underhand is going on Foskett is paid for rigging the matches so that Nigel loses every time.
The Losers also stars Alfred Molina, in his first television role as Nigel. The theme song sung is performed by Rossiter himself while the series was written by journalist, writer, satirist and Call My Bluff team captain Alan Coren.
Episodes retreived from domestic home tapes are: A Star Is Born (12 November 1978), The Naming of Parts (19 November 1978), Ireland and Back (26 November 1978), All Down In Black and White (3 December 1978) and Sitting On a Goldmine (10 December 1978).
The still lost episode Togetherness (17 December 1978) is presented in script format on the DVD as an extra. It is unlikely to be recovered, however if you have a copy you can let us know or Missing Episodes who are always on the hunt for lost and wiped material.