Archive help

Frequently asked questions


Can I have a copy of a BBC programme?

Sorry, but the short answer is no. We cannot provide copies of programmes, even if the programmes are already available to view on this website.

If a programme has been broadcast within the last seven days, it may be available via BBC iPlayer.

If a programme has been released commercially, many online retailers stock a wide range of archive programmes on CD, VHS and DVD. For more information, please visit BBC Worldwide's website.

Contributor Copies

If you've made a significant contribution to a BBC TV or radio programme (for example, if you were a performer or a member of the production team), you can request a contributor's copy of the show if it is held in the archives.

Visit the Contributor Access Terms & Conditions for eligibility information and to apply online.

Academic Use and Corporate Training

If you are from an educational establishment or a business and want material for use in education or training, you can contact BBC Active via their website.

Programme Making

Companies looking for programme extracts should contact e-mail BBC Motion Gallery.

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Can I ask a question about a BBC programme?

This site is no longer staffed, so unfortunately we are unable to respond to queries. However, you can share your thoughts and pose your questions on BBC Television programmes over on the Points of View messageboard.

For comments on radio programmes, contact Radio 4's Feedback.

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I live outside of the UK. Why can't I watch your programmes?

Unfortunately, due to rights restrictions out of our control, some of the programmes in the BBC Archive Collections are only viewable from within the UK. Most of the radio programmes, plus all of the documents and photo galleries, are available outside of the UK.

We do appreciate that there is a wider audience for this, and that this might be frustrating for non-UK visitors to the site. It's simply that it often costs more money to make programmes available worldwide, which would reduce the amount of programmes we can provide for free. Additionally, as the programmes were funded by UK licence fee payers, our first responsibility is to the UK audience.

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What software do I need to use this site?

To play audio and video, you need to check that your computer can run the latest version of Flash, which you can get for free in Windows, Macintosh and Linux formats from the Adobe website.

Note: This link will take you to a website outside The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Further Reading

For more information on using the internet and a glossary of common web terms, please visit the BBC webwise site.

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Do I need a TV licence to watch programmes on this site?

You do not need a television licence to watch programmes on the BBC Archive site. Please note that the BBC iPlayer is not the same as the BBC Archive player, and you do need to be covered by a TV licence if you wish to watch 'live' (simulcast) TV programmes via iPlayer. For more information, visit the BBC iPlayer Help page.

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Where can I buy a TV licence or get more information?

To buy a TV licence or to obtain further information about licensing requirements call TV Licensing on 0870 241 5590 or visit

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Can I download programmes to listen to / watch?

We currently do not provide programmes in a downloadable format. Programmes are only available via what's known as streaming. Some programmes are available to download for a limited period or stream on an iPod via the BBC iPlayer and highlights from BBC radio programmes are available as podcasts via the BBC Podcasts page.

Why can't I download programmes?

The agreement we've reached with copyrights holders only allows us to stream programmes, so they can only be watched via this website.

Please note: Circumvention of this restriction is illegal, as is the distribution of programmes by users on illegal sharing sites. This restriction ensures we can allow you to access this content by protecting the rights of the programme makers and other rights holders.

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Why does this site include content that may offend or upset me?

None of the content on our website is designed to intentionally offend or upset people, but it is an accurate, honest reflection of the history of broadcasting. As such, it shows the changes of social attitudes throughout and may contain terms of language, imagery or attitude that modern-day audiences might find offensive or difficult.

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What are Guidance labels and what do they mean?

We use Guidance labels to let you know when a programme may include content unsuitable for children (e.g., violence, sex, drug use or strong language) or when it may be harmful to view (e.g., contains flashing images). Guidance labelling is usually used for programmes broadcast after the 'Watershed' (9.00pm).

The BBC provides a way to help you control the types of programmes that your computer can access through Parental Guidance. Please be aware that if you do not set BBC Parental Guidance, any child using your computer will be able to view all programmes, including Guidance-labelled programmes.

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Should I let my children use this website

While there is some content on this site that children and young teenagers may enjoy, a few programmes are only suitable for an adult audience. We use the 'G for Guidance' icon to indicate where guidance is available on programmes. This will help you to make an informed choice about the suitability of programmes for you and your family.

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Why are some programmes incomplete?

Some of the programmes we have released do not exist in full any more. This is because lots of different elements are brought together to create each programme. For many programmes some segments would have been pre-recorded, perhaps on location, whereas other elements would have gone out live from the studio.

What about radio?

In the early days of radio, whole programmes were very rarely retained or even recorded. Instead, the archivist would have a look at everything that was broadcast and choose the 'best bits' to keep. This means that the sound archive is full of fantastic 'bits' of radio. We can't always tell which programmes they came from or how they were presented to the original audience - which means the titles of these programmes in the archive might not be the same as when they were first broadcast.

To find out more about the sound archive, watch an interview with Simon Rooks, the BBC's sound archivist, who explains how it works.

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Have you removed programmes from this website?

The vast majority of the programmes on this site are being made available online in perpetuity. Occasionally, however, we may need to remove a programme for copyright or legal reasons. In these circumstances we will endeavour to reinstate the programme at a future date.

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How can I find out more about programmes in the BBC archive?

We've recently been working on a number of projects to raise awareness of the written, photographic and programme archives, such as, which is an ongoing project that lets you browse information about current and recent programmes.

Elsewhere on this site you can also find videos about various aspects of the BBC archives.

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