So Marty & Thelma started raising funds to restore them, they set up The Film Foundation. They tried to get them restored photochemically at first, but that wasn't working so they did it all digitally. Now Blimp is a long film, 163 minutes, and with 3 strip Technicolor that means 3 times as many frames as for any other film of the same length. It took years to do it, and it cost a medium sized fortune. But it was worth it.
Although Marty's favourite P&P film is Blimp they started with The Red Shoes because they knew that that's the most commercial and best known P&P film and also because that one was in the worst condition. They premièred the digitally restored print of TRS at Cannes in 2009 - yes, I was there
The original plan was to show it in one of the smaller theatres at Cannes but so many people wanted to see it that Marty got it shown in the biggest theatre there. As well as all the invited guests there were also TV cameras & people from the press all around the edges. It's a large theatre, seating over a thousand people. Very nice and comfortable with good views for all. We were seated in the centre block, about 5 rows back, so had a great view of everything. As we waited for things to start we started counting the Oscar winners in the room, but lost count at about 50!
The restoration of TRS really is stunning. Thelma did a "Before and after" comparison where she wipes from the old version to the new version - and that often raises gasps from the audience when they see the difference and how bright and colourful it is now. Blimp isn't quite such a drastic difference because the old print wasn't in such a bad condition, but the new print of Blimp is a lot brighter and cleaner, no scratches on the screen and no pops & clicks on the soundtrack.
John & Francesca Shrapnel were also at the London première of the digitally restored print of Blimp at the NFT last November. As were many other members of the families of The Archers who are no longer with us and a lot of people on the list of Famous Fans of The Archers. It's always nice to see them again and to talk to people like Francesca about her Mum when she was just beginning her film career.