Behind the scenes at the BBC Archive

 by Martin Belam, 25 August 2010

There has been lots of attention on the BBC's archive over the last week or so with a flurry of blog posts from the Corporation looking at the importance of putting historically important material online, the huge size of the collection and the challenge of preserving the material.

Jemima Kiss took a tour around the facility at Windmill Road for last week's Guardian Tech Weekly podcast, talking to Richard Wright, Adrian Williams and Roly Keating.

With all that interest, it seems churlish not to plug my own archive material on the topic. In 2005 I took a tour of the facility, and blogged it as "People Don't Like Basements But Tapes Do" - A Tour of the BBC Film Archive at Windmill Road.

Sign To The BBC's Film Archive

On that occasion, even though I was BBC staff at the time, I wasn't able to take any photographs inside the building. You can, though, get a look at the place in this video tour that the BBC has placed on YouTube.


You should have used your phone to take pictures... or maybe strap a secret camera on your hat?

It'd certainly make for an entertaining video if it'd be shot on a pair of spy glasses or such like! Still, I wonder why they were quite so secretive about it?

I wish they allowed you to take pictures. It isn't possible for everyone to visit the place. But pictures speak a thousand word. Though the video has done some part of it. A bundle of images would have been really great.

Our team had an awayday at the Archives about 18 months ago. We were allowed to take pictures but were told several times that they were strictly for our own personal record and under no circumstances were we to make them public. Again, I'm not really sure what they were trying to hide (most of the pictures are of vast warehouses full of tape reels) but they were quite insistent that we shouldn't publish any photos.

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