The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

A Brief History of the BBC’s Archives

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Episode notes

Episode 65 welcomes the BBC's only ever Sound Archivist (the title changed a few times), Simon Rooks. For 33 years he was lost in the archives and now he's found his way out, he's here to tell us the way.

This episode is more interview than usual, including a whizzthrough 100 years of the BBC Sound Archive - from no recordings to the first recordings, Lance Sieveking's re-enactments and Leslie Baily's archive gathering, Marie Slocombe and Lynton Fletcher's channelling of Marie Kondo, location actuality recordings, the first retake and recording from a WW2 bombing mission... and that's all just in the first two decades!

Simon guides us all the way through to BBC7 and the present day - if you love old radio, it's a fascinating insight. Thanks Simon - and thanks to you and the team for looking after it for all these years.

Elsewhere, our timeline of British broadcasting's origin story continues, covering March 16th-26th 1923 - which happens to include the first BBC music library under Frank Hook. And the archive is off... So as we traverse the early tale of the Beeb, this is the perfect episode to go deeper into the tale of the archive than you've probably ever gone before (I should add we're mostly talking about the Sound Archive here. As for the Written Archives, the Television Archive - one day...) 

Plus one of my favourite stories about the early BBC, involving an Archbishop, a bit of Schubert and All-Request Monday.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did putting it together. Happy listening!


LOTS of extra things you could listen to if you hunger for more...

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NEXT TIME: News, the first daily weather and SOS broadcasts in late March 1923 - with more great guests.