Preserving the Television Archive

Preserving the Television Archive

An interview with Adrian Williams, BBC Preservation Manager

Adrian Williams, the BBC's Preservation Manager, explains how the BBC keeps its archive safe for future generations to enjoy.



After the war, the BBC started to build up a large collection of film that went all the way through to the '90s. There were roughly 650,000 film items with the collection, one of the largest broadcast collections of its type in the world. The BBC started off using 35mm cinema gauge film, and we used this through the '50s and '60s. We then moved over to a 16mm gauge and this was used through the '60s and up until the '90s. The reason for the switch to 16mm size film is that this was cheaper and easier to use in a broadcast environment. As we can see from these two reels here, this would be about seven or eight minutes' worth of TV programme, whereas this is only five minutes. So you can see the scale is very, very different. The quality isn't as good as 35mm, but it's good enough for television.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.