BBC marks centenary by sharing thousands of audio-visual recordings online

·2-min read

The BBC has launched a website featuring tens of thousands of audio-visual recordings in what it says is the largest release of digital archive content in its 100-year history.

The BBC Rewind service features clips from the broadcaster’s news output and documentaries “reflecting the life and events of the UK” and “telling the story of the nation through its people”.

In total, over 30,000 pieces of content are on the site with the oldest material dating back to the late 1940s.

On the BBC’s arts programme from the late 50s and early 60s, playwright Shelagh Delaney reads a love letter to her native Salford (BBC/PA)
On the BBC’s arts programme from the late 50s and early 60s, playwright Shelagh Delaney reads a love letter to her native Salford (BBC/PA)

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster Moira Stewart, the Queen and Sir Paul McCartney are among the famous faces to feature in the footage.

From Northern Ireland, there are clips of sporting figures such as Dame Mary Peters and Martin O’Neill, Gloria Hunniford in one of her first TV jobs as a roving reporter, and Liam Neeson before he became a Hollywood star.

The Wales collection includes Sir Tom Jones, while Dame Sian Phillips features in a Welsh-language piece from 1959 showing a day in her life as a young actress in London.

Scotland’s social history will also be explored, from the island of Soay residents being relocated to Mull in 1953, to the women of Campbeltown taking part in a broom throwing competition in 1963.

Mother-of-five Margaret McEwan-King appeared on the BBC current affairs programme after trading in her old car in for a F1 car which she raced in her spare time (BBC/PA)
Mother-of-five Margaret McEwan-King appeared on the BBC current affairs programme after trading in her old car in for a F1 car which she raced in her spare time (BBC/PA)

Visitors to the BBC Rewind website will also have access to an interactive map that can locate content to street level in some cases.

Content from the website will feature in reports for the BBC’s national and regional news and current affairs programmes in the coming months.

James Stirling, executive editor of BBC 100, said: “As we celebrate 100 years of the BBC, we’re opening up our unique and deeply valuable archive, an important part of the nation’s collective memory.

“By breathing new life into stories which have laid dormant for years, audiences will be able to discover recordings which can help us all learn more about who we are and where we’re from.”

The new BBC Rewind website is available at www.bbc.co.uk/rewind

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