Television

Our television collection is the largest accessible archive of British TV programmes in the world, collected since the late 1950s from participants, collectors and broadcasters.

We’ve gathered TV programmes from various sources, but mainly from broadcasters themselves. We’ve even found and restored TV footage thought lost forever.

Most of our TV is recorded ‘off-air’ which means you see it as the original audiences did, complete with commercials, trailers, announcements and station identifications – so it’s a priceless reference tool for researchers.

The major terrestrial channels

Since 1985 we’ve recorded independent terrestrial channels to broadcast standard.

The BBC has its own preservation archives, but through the BFI researchers, academics and students can view anything from BBC1 and BBC2 since 1990 and everything from BBC3 and BBC4.

Today we compile around 12.5% of programming from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 for permanent preservation. We hold unique collections from the early days of ITV, including the Associated-Rediffusion collection, the first 12 years of current affairs flagship This Week, and the Jack Hylton collection of 1950s light entertainment.

We also select examples of regional programmes from independent television and we are the official archive of recorded Parliamentary proceedings.

Television and national culture

We have a huge and representative range of programmes that tell a fascinating story about TV production and viewing in Britain over 60 years, including:

We also have hundreds of hours of everyday TV from recent years, including game shows, cop dramas and makeover series. And, of course, The X-Factor.

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  • What the archive contains

    What the archive contains

    We hold an extraordinarily varied collection of film and television titles and related materials.

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