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.


As technology evolves, what challenges have you faced in preserving the archive?

The biggest problem that archives like ours have, is the fact that everything in it has a finite life. So we know that everything we have sitting on those shelves is degrading. It doesn't matter how well we look after it, there's an inevitable process of decay. Associated with that is the machines to replay it, they stop making them, they stop making the spare parts for them. When we want material to be preserved, then it has to go through a series of format transfers just to keep it up to date. By format transfer, I mean taking it from an obsolete format and putting it onto a modern format. The BBC has invested heavily in its archive, to keep it alive and keep it viable, because if you don't spend this money then the material essentially becomes unusable or lost.

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