The Photographic Library

The Photographic Library

An interview with Natalie Dewar from the BBC Photo Library

Natalie Dewar, who looks after the BBC's photographic collection, talks about the great images the BBC has kept over the years.


Our Top 10

Within the library there are particular images that are very popular and that we're always being asked for. We put together a top ten countdown of our favourites.

At number 10 we have Delia Derbyshire, who worked at the Radiophonic Workshop at Maida Vale during the 1960s. It said in 'The Guardian' recently that 'She was the unsung heroine of British electronic music' and this is truly fantastic because it was at a time when electronic music wasn't the norm, whereas today we hear it all the time. One of her most famous accomplishments was the eerie sound that you hear in the 'Doctor Who' theme.

One of the most powerful selections of images in the photo collection is of the miners' strike from 1984. Lots of these images show protests outside the mines and also the extent of the police presence at the time. You can see walls and walls of police standing there waiting for the strike to begin.

This is a great image. It shows Churchill sitting at a microphone in a BBC studio during World War II, addressing the nation on the radio. This isn't something that people would have seen at the time.

At number seven we have Princess Diana taken from the interview with Martin Bashir. This has become a really famous image. In this interview Diana revealed that there were, in fact, three people in her marriage, of course talking about Camilla Parker Bowles. This was a really important interview because it was the first time that any member of the royal family had talked really candidly about their personal lives.

At number six we have a fantastic image taken from 'The Children's Hour', which was a radio programme broadcast between 1922 and 1964. It's just a fantastic image of somebody dressed up as a cat, showing that, even for radio, there was this theatrical element to everything that they did.

At number five we have Jimmy Savile presenting the first ever episode of 'Top of the Pops'. I absolutely love this image. I think it's brilliant because it shows the actual chart at the time as well - you know, what was number one - in the background. It really sums up that 1960s enthusiasm for pop music.

At number four we have an image of Carroll Gibbons and his rhythm section from his orchestra. This was taken in 1941. The most unusual part about this image is that they're all wearing gas masks. It was during World War II and whether there was an actual raid going on at the time or whether this was taken as a comedy picture, we're not quite sure.

In at number three is Christmas with the Greek Service. We have three Greek guardsmen listening intently to the World Service, with the Christmas tree behind them. The World Service photographs are a really interesting part of the BBC's history. It's not necessarily something that people will instantly think of, but we have a wealth of images from all over the world, showing broadcasts that went from here to China.

At number two we have Michael Parkinson interviewing Muhammad Ali. This is a really fantastic shot. It shows a real sort of lighter side to the interview. This was one of the most famous interviews that Parkinson did, and one of the best interviews that Muhammad Ali also did as well.

At number one we have the image that we get asked for more than anything else in the entire photo library collection, which believe it or not is the image of Colin Firth appearing from the lake in 'Pride and Prejudice'. The requests for this image mainly come from ladies at the magazines and we often wonder whether it's for use in the magazines or perhaps just to pin up on their desks.

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