The BBC Sound Archive

The BBC Sound Archive

An interview with Simon Rooks, BBC Sound Archivist

Simon Rooks, BBC Sound Archivist, explains why recording programmes was originally frowned on and what happened to make attitudes change.


Why did the BBC start making recordings?

Right at the beginning of the BBC, programmes just went out live and they weren't recorded at all. So if you don't have a recording to start with, there's no chance of it ever getting into an archive. But recordings started to be kept because they'd been made for broadcasting purposes and not necessarily for posterity or historical reasons. It was almost an accident of broadcasting. An example of that would be the Empire Service, which started in 1932. That became what we now know as the World Service. That was broadcasting to different time zones all around the world and it wasn't convenient to get an important person - an author or a politician - to broadcast in the early hours or the middle of the night to Australia or Canada, so they would make a recording of that, and broadcast it at the convenient time. So those recordings were made and then they had a chance of actually surviving.

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