Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

BBC Learning takes you back to Eighties with Domesday Reloaded

BBC Learning today unveils its plans to resurrect one of the most ambitious computerised surveys ever undertaken in a new multimedia project called Domesday Reloaded.

As part of this inspirational campaign, which will feature online and on national and local radio and TV, BBC Learning will give the public unprecedented access to view and update the richest slice of historical material collated 25 years ago for the original BBC Domesday.

Launched in 1986 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, the first BBC Domesday project was one of the most pioneering interactive campaigns of its time. In an attempt to capture the essence of the UK in one place, the BBC asked the public to submit details about their local area to help compile a digital snapshot of the country. Over a million people, mainly school children, took part in the groundbreaking initiative surveying over 108,000 square km of the UK and submitting more than 147,819 pages articles and 23,225 photos. All the data – pictures, maps, video, surveys, statistics, essays and personal testimonies – were digitally etched into the two laser discs.

However, due to costs and the rapid development of technology the system rapidly fell into obscurity and obsolescence, and very few people ever got to see the finished results or their contributions.

Now 25 years on, the rarely seen community disc archive will be republished onto a dedicated website giving people of all ages an opportunity to explore the images and articles from the past. Visitors will also be able to help bring the project into the present day by sending in their current stories, comments and photographs, via the website, blogs and Twitter, to compare how life in Britain has changed, and how some things have stayed the same.

Saul Nassé, Controller of BBC Learning, says: "The original Domesday Project was truly innovating. It was Web 2.0 before Tim Berners-Lee had invented the World Wide Web. The sad thing is the idea was actually way ahead of the technology of the time. But now, 25 years later, we can finally realise its true potential."

Historian and broadcaster, Michael Wood, who presented a variety of programmes during the launch of the original Domesday project in 1986, says: "Interactive, nation-wide and community-driven, the Domesday Project was an idea way ahead of its time: to see it come back to life now is a real thrill, bringing back the fantastic buzz that surrounded the adventure 25 years ago!"

To support the launch of Domesday Reloaded, BBC Radio 4 will provide programming focusing on the rise, fall, and rehabilitation of the BBC Domesday projects. Programmes include a special Domesday edition of Archive On 4 presented by Michael Wood; Making History as well as regular features on Saturday Live and elsewhere.

There will be further programmes to support the project throughout the year, including a series comparing the data gathered through Domesday Reloaded with the original data from 25 years ago to explore how Britain has changed

Mohit Bakaya, Commissioning Editor, Radio 4, say: "Radio 4 has been at the heart of this exciting initiative, both telling the story of the amazing original project and supporting the quest to update the original data and, in so doing, paint a portrait of how the UK has changed over the last 25 years. Domesday Reloaded promises to be a fascinating insight into how the detail of our lives and landscapes have changed."

Regional TV and local radio stations will also be broadcasting bespoke programmes highlighting local stories which explore the changing physical and social landscape throughout the UK over the last 25 years using excerpts from the Domesday Reloaded archive.

In addition to the online and broadcast activity there will also be variety of learning resources and activities aimed at primary school children and families designed to get them hands on with their local history. Activities and resources available include Primary School Lesson Plans and regional workshops that are taking place across the UK.

BBC Learning has been working very closely with The National Archives and with their help and expertise in web archiving and digital preservation, this valuable resource will be available to the public for generations to come.

A dedicated Domesday Reloaded website will go live on Thursday 12 May and can be found at bbc.co.uk/domesday.

CR

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