History of the BBC

History of the BBC

The Written Archives FAQs

What material do you hold?

We hold the BBC’s working papers resulting from all aspects of the BBC's business from 1922 to the 1980s. This includes files of correspondence with contributors, programme and policy material together with a vast collection of scripts and press cuttings. These archives come from all parts of the BBC.


Is it just written records you hold?

Yes. For information about programmes or other matters please contact us for more details.


Can you answer questions about recent programmes?

No - for information about recent programmes or the BBC itself please browse our online 'self-service' information at About the BBC.


Can I visit the Written Archives Centre to do research?

Yes - but only if you are undertaking work accredited by an academic institution in higher education or are commissioned to write a book or article, or working on a commercial project. Please see above to contact us direct - you need to give full details of the nature of your work and what you wish to study. We normally need about four weeks' notice. In busy periods we may need more notice.


Because of the demand for places we are not able to accept researchers pursuing school projects or personal interests. For commercial research there is a small daily charge.


Are there any restrictions on what I can see?

No, not for access to broadcast or published items held at the Centre. In common with many other archives, for reasons of confidentiality, the more recent internal files have not been released for research. This closure currently applies to files after 1979. Files before 1980 are made available subject to legal restrictions.


Can you undertake research on my behalf?

No, but we will try to answer brief enquiries. We are not able to undertake large scale research projects.


Can I request a copy of a script?

Not all programmes were scripted and because of copyright restrictions we can only supply copies of some scripts and then only for private research. If you intend to quote from, publish, reproduce, perform or use the script in any commercial way, then you first need written permission from the copyright holder(s) and the BBC. For scripts we can supply, there is a copying charge.

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