The BBC Television Archive

The BBC Television Archive

An interview with Adam Lee, BBC archive expert

We haven't got copies of everything we've broadcast in the archive. Find out why we've got the items we've got and how the BBC tries to keep them safe in this interview with Adam Lee, BBC Television Archive expert.


When did the BBC start to record programmes regularly?

Videotape, the format that everyone's been familiar with for the past 25 years, didn't actually come into the BBC until the late 1950s. Of course, the earliest videotape format, which was two-inch, was very difficult to use, so they used to do all these programmes as if they were live, but then if you had a complete disaster, it didn't matter, you could go back and start again. So it was seen as a production tool. And I think a really important point to remember is that videotape was not seen as an archive medium, not as a long-term carrier for the television picture. What would happen was, after the programme was transmitted, then the tape would be re-used again.

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