BBC Archives

I think I just died and went to heaven: “The BBC plans to open up its archive to make a treasure trove of material available to everyone.” [via Ben Hammersley]

Ever wondered what’s in that archive? Who looks after it? It turns out there’s a huge database that’s been carefully tended by a gang of crack BBC librarians for decades. Nearly a million programmes are catalogued, with descriptions, contributor details and annotations drawn from a wonderfully detailed controlled vocabulary.

I’m the lucky developer who gets to turn this hidden treasure into a public website. No programme downloads yet, but a massive searchable programme catalogue.

In the early part of next year, you can look forward to a public beta with extensive programme details and broadcast histories. There are “On This Day” schedules that go back to 1933. It’s got full contributor histories, and Really Good Search. I can’t begin to describe the depth of this dataset – it had an entry for the one time in the 1990s when my dad was on local TV news as a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council. The cataloguers have worked hard on this stuff for years, and it deserves a wide audience.

If you’ve got ideas on how you’d want to track down an obscure sci-fi drama from the 80s or a radio play from 1962, drop me a mail.

First request: the Woman’s Hour serialisation of Rebecca from the 1990s. I thought Mrs de Winter was played by Joanna David and Mrs Danvers by Anna Massey but I might be getting confused with the BBC tv adaptation. Or maybe they starred in both.

What about you, anything from the BBC radio archives you’d love to see available for download?

10 Responses to “BBC Archives”

  1. Croila
    November 22nd, 2005 23:03

    Oh wow. How to make your time-spent-on-the-internet even MORE like a black hole! I tell you, we will all disappear, never to be seen again … ;-)

  2. Steve
    November 22nd, 2005 23:14

    Ohhh boy, I knew this was coming and I am really looking forward to it. Hoepfully it wont come to a spluttering hault like the Census site did when they first launched it.

  3. daisy
    November 23rd, 2005 11:02

    Croila, a friend of mine has set up small speakers around various parts of his house so he can listen to internet radio from just about anywhere, even the bath – that might be an idea. So we can clean, do the laundry etc. while listening to the radio archives. Joy!

    Steve, you cynic you!

  4. Allan
    November 23rd, 2005 16:27

    The original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  5. daisy
    November 23rd, 2005 17:31

    Now that’s a good point Allan, I wonder if commercially available archives like HG2G will be included?

  6. Adam
    November 23rd, 2005 19:01

    I look forward to listening to the vast radio comedy collections, such as ITMA and Round The Horne. Especially the more modern works by Sean Locke such as 15 Storeys High and 15 Minutes Of Misery

  7. Mary
    November 24th, 2005 03:40

    I’ve been thinking about this off n’ on since it was first posted and have come up with this: I want it all! Then I could completely disregard the yuk and all the commercials on our U.S. tv. Hope a hope a hope.

  8. Anji
    November 24th, 2005 15:51

    I’m reading Rebecca at the moment, so I’d like to hear that again. I’d also go for “Hitchhikers” like Allan

  9. Steve
    November 24th, 2005 19:19

    Further developments for BBC’s online presence:


    “A simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two, letting UK viewers see programmes on the web at the same time as they go out on TV, is planned as part of the programme download trials. “

  10. Hi there
    September 7th, 2006 05:33

    Are you there?…

    All the darkness in the world cannot put out the smallest candle. The darker it is, more brightly shines the candle. instead of complaining about the dark search for your candle. Believe me; It exists…

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