Former BBC producers and BBC Alumni members David Allen and George Auckland have developed a website especially for ex-BBC people to bank their memories of the BBC. It’s called (unsurprisingly) the Memory Bank. Here David talks us through what it is and how the BBC alumni can contribute.
An exciting new website called the Memory Bank is now open for contributions from BBC alumni. It’s a place where former BBC employees can document the achievements of a whole career or just record a single anecdote about our time working for the Corporation. It’s open to anyone who has worked for the BBC in any capacity – whether staff or contract - and at any time. It could be as artist, producer, engineer, cleaner, DG or doorkeeper. Do give it a go: whatever your job, your contribution is welcome.
The purpose of the project is to capture the things that official histories don’t. Where else could we record those experiences from the studio floor, or how we learned to make programmes, or the behind-the-scenes story of a near OB disaster saved by the gaffer or even by gaffer tape?
When published, entries to the Memory Bank look very much like Wikipedia and can be seen by anyone. However, contributions are strictly limited to ex-BBC employees. You simply need to go to the website, register and accept a few terms and conditions, then you can contribute whatever you want.
Memory Bank developers - former BBC producers George Auckland (left) and David Allen (right)
For many years my former colleague, George Auckland and I have thought that there should be somewhere for people like us to record our personal histories. We are both ex-producers from BBC Education and members of the committee of the Pensioners’ Association and were keen to make something happen.
With advice from BBC Research and Development and working with an ex-BBC interactive designer, we’ve created a relatively friendly online input form to allow you to put in as little or as much as you like about your experiences. It’s mainly text based but photographs, sound recordings or links to YouTube videos can be included. It also has links to the BBC’s Genome Radio Times online database so you can check an exact transmission date for a programme-related story.
The beauty of the system is that since it’s based on Wikimedia software, once an entry is published it looks and behaves like Wikipedia; it’s robust and searchable (very useful for future historians) and has an almost infinite capacity (so write as much as you like about yourself). If you create an entry using our form, you can choose to save it, publish it, remove it, edit it or come back to go on writing it at any time.
To start all you need is a bona fide email address (this will not be published), a memorable date or word as a password and the name you were known by when you worked at or with the BBC. After that it’s up to you. You can create specific periods of years and the entries will be sorted into chronological order.
What’s in an entry?
Screen grab showing George Auckland’s own Memory Bank entry
For George and I, memories of working during the ‘three-day week’ when film editors had to get special permission to use electricity, or remembering that in the 1970s the BBC Club had two French house wines - the white called Sans Fil (wire-less) and the red Tantine (Auntie) are buried in our own entries, as are working on Blue Peter, or singing with the Symphony Chorus at the Last Night of the Proms in 2001, just four days after 9/11.
Our own experience working with the Pensioners Association (which funded the development of the Memory Bank) is that whenever we get groups of ex-BBC staff in a room, priceless anecdotes come pouring out. It’s your personal BBC career and programme-making memories that we want to capture before they (and we) disappear from memory.
David Allen and George Auckland are former BBC producers and BBC Alumni members.
- Visit the Memory Bank website to have a go and enter your recollections