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Britain In A Day: Creating a time capsule for future generations

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Charlotte Moore Charlotte Moore | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Some of you may remember Video Nation in the 1990s - a really ground-breaking project where the BBC trained a group of people to use what were then cutting edge camcorders to record their lives on video for a BBC Two series.

The result was fascinating, intimate and raw, sometimes funny and often surprising but most importantly it gave the public a chance to tell their own stories - and it showed us what life was really like for people from all walks of life living in Britain at that time.

Britain In A Day logo

Flash forward two decades to 2011 and technology has moved on so much that everyday people all over the country are recording snippets of their lives on minicams, mobile phones and digital cameras.

Recording life in Britain has never been easier.

Whether it's personal family moments, footage of the royal wedding celebrations or shocking images of the summer riots, we're fast becoming a nation of amateur filmmakers.

And the great thing is that although the footage might be a bit wobbly and rough round the edges, for the first time ever, home videos are high enough quality for us to broadcast.

So for some time now, I've been trying to work out how to encourage this new found British talent and reinvent Video Nation for the present day to engage with people's hopes, fears and passions in this country on a scale that's never been possible before.

With the Olympics coming to London next year, I think we have the perfect excuse to create a snapshot of Britain and show the world all the variety and intimacy of people's lives here, whether it's a nurse working in A&E in Newcastle, a farmer living in the Welsh valleys or a student studying in Edinburgh.

Earlier this year, I started a conversation about this idea with Oscar winning documentary director Kevin Macdonald, whose feature-length film Life In A Day had just premiered at Sundance.

Life In A Day used footage shot by ordinary people all over the globe to tell a story of one day on earth, to show future generations what it was like to be alive in 2010.

And it got us both thinking about how we could build on the experience and expertise he gained making the film, and make it work for the UK. Soon afterwards Britain In A Day was officially born.

There is no doubt we are living in interesting times in this country.

We're in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s with the gap between rich and poor ever widening, and we're also about to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and play host to the Olympic Games.

So this is your chance to make history, get involved and help us create a definitive self portrait of the UK at an important moment in time.

On 12 November I want you to get out your camera and record something that captures the uniqueness of your life in the UK, whether it's something you're worried about, something that makes you happy, or something you particularly like or dislike about living in Britain.

You then need to upload the footage to the Britain In A Day channel on YouTube, where the director Morgan Matthews and his team will begin watching all the footage and cutting a selection of the clips together to make a feature-length film that will be shown on BBC Two next year ahead of the Olympics.

Britain In A Day is about more than just a film though. All the clips uploaded to YouTube will be kept in a permanent online archive - a sort of time capsule for future generations.

Think how fascinating it would have been if our grandparents and great-grandparents had filmed their day and told us what they thought of Britain, their hopes, their dreams and their fears?

I hope this is what the Britain In A Day archive will give to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The success of this project relies on you, so I hope you will take this opportunity to show the world - and future generations - what life here is really like.

Morgan Matthews will be back here before the film is broadcast to let you know how we get on...

Charlotte Moore is the Commissioning Editor of Britain In A Day.

For more information and guides on how to take part, please see the Britain In A Day page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    The only slight disappointment I find in this project is the choice of a Saturday as 'The Day'. I suspect that there is a great difference between most peoples activities during a normal working day and a weekend. There is a danger that result will be skewed towards leisure activities away from 'normal' day to day activity. Maybe a repeat should cover 48 hours, i.e.Fri-Sat?
    Otherwise I wish the project well.

  • Comment number 2.

    a great project and i felt very inspired after watching Life in a Day. I agree with Barryp though, my initial excitement to get involved in Britain in A Day has been slightly altered after realising that it would be on a Saturday, it would be far more interesting mid week and i am sure you would see more emotion and reality..great idea though and i will do a film

  • Comment number 3.

    I think this is a great idea but such a shame it's called Britain in a Day and yet contradicts itself by mentioned the UK.

    Is this project for Britain or the UK?

    As a well respecting person that the BBC is, doing it's best to educate and entertain it's audience, surely helping people to distinguish the difference between the UK and Britain is a key factor in this project?

    As an honorable fee payer I ask of the BBC to please either exclude Northern Ireland or remove any UK references in this project or change the title to be UK in a day.

    No offence is intended towards Northern Ireland and they shoudl be included in a project rightly named UK in a day :)

  • Comment number 4.

    After seeing Life in a Day, we are really excited about taking part. Although we'll only be doing our usual Saturday routine of watching our little chaps play football, then visiting the local market these 'mundane' activities which we take for granted, will be the memories our families recall with fondness in later years.

  • Comment number 5.

    A piece of crass myopia here. If this is built to Last, we should be posting Stills. When was the last time any of these BBC Moguls uploaded a still picture to YOUTUBE! Gormless travesties abound but this takes the biscuit. And taking movies of yourself while you live an ordinary day is something no one in the BBC has Ever achieved - at least, not without handsome salaries and inducements to lubricate the personal sacrifice. Bitterly disappointing for anyone who want to be part of it all but cannot film themselves - unless they stuff a camcorder up 'em...

  • Comment number 6.

    does anyone know the name of the theme music played when advertising this programme

  • Comment number 7.

    Why only video? We're all posting, texting, sharing and tweeting. I wanted to share a link to a current ePetition and I think it would be very of our time. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/2900
    In years to come maybe firework sales will be restricted, maybe there'll be no fireworks. Maybe people will gasp at the idea of explosives on sale to the public. ePetitions may be a thing of the past.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think it's a really positive way of coming together across te country whether you're old or young, whether you can do it yourself or need help from your kids or grand kids (or maybe even great grand kids!!)

    Yes a Saturday might not be the most ideal day but for people like me it causes less havoc. If I tried to film during the week the likelihood is I'd get in trouble with my manager even if I did explain it was for a BBC Project. At the same time , I'm at radio 2 on Friday for CIN so that would be fun to film but again I'd be busy that day. Today is good for me. I'm on holiday near Derby and am going to have fun.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can someone please explain how I actually upload a clip to the Britainionaday YouTube channel? I watched Dan Snow's film but it only told me what I already know, which is to open a youtube account and upload to that account, but I couldn't see where or how to upload to the appropriate place... thanks.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'd like to know what the organisers have against septuagenarians? Their age groups go from '61 to 70' to '81 to 90'. I'm 75 -- but at least I was able to upload my video, 'My Day in SF' (I was attending a science fiction convention, Novacon 41) without too many problems!

  • Comment number 11.

    The answer to Florence is to go to the Britain in a Day website, then click on 'upload your film', which is: http://www.youtube.com/britaininaday


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