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.


The Earliest Type of Film: Silver Nitrate

The very early film that we held our programmes on was manufactured with silver nitrate in it, which was highly flammable and if it starts to degrade it sweats nitro glycerine and can explode if you drop it. Now we thought we'd moved all of our material away from the silver nitrate film onto safety film, but in 2004, while going through a routine check of some of our news footage, we discovered some suspect film. Now it turned out to be nitrate, and to store nitrate you need a special vault, so we made a copy of the programmes, then we moved 5,000 reels of film to an ex-bomb bunker on an ex-military air-base in Essex and we disposed of it safely.

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