Top 10 of 2013: BFI archive on YouTube

What links Sean Connery, Terence Stamp, Elizabeth II and an unruly otter?

Simon McCallum

2013 was a landmark year for the BFI National Archive’s YouTube channel, which has reached 15 million views since its launch in 2007. With almost 600 videos available and over 22,000 subscribers, the channel has helped engage audiences with archive film, both around the UK and internationally. The most viewed video remains the restored 1903 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland (1.6 million and counting). Here’s a countdown of the 10 most popular new videos added over the past 12 months.

10. A Quick Shave and Brush-up (1900)

Attention chaps! With traditional barbering making a comeback, travel back to a time when cut-throat razors were a standard part of a gentleman’s toiletry kit, in the company of Brighton comedian Tom Green.

9. The Derby (1913) – Emily Davison trampled by King’s horse

Uploaded to mark the centenary of a defining event in the suffragette movement, this film inadvertently captured the moment when activist Emily Davison was trampled to death by King George V’s horse.

8. The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972) – extract

This eye-popping remastered extract from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s splendidly eccentric final collaboration was added to mark its release on the BFI’s Children’s Film Foundation DVD, Weird Adventures.

7. Arctic London (1929)

This newsreel item records one of the coldest winters of the last century. Topical Budget’s cameras capture the trawler Warter-Priory sporting an icy new look on its return from the North Sea.

6. Duel to the Death (1898)

En garde! This Victorian duel between knife-wielding ladies was thought to be taken from the Drury Lane theatre melodrama Women and Wine.

5. Sean Connery’s Edinburgh (1982) – extract

Who better to promote the great City of Edinburgh than one of its most famous sons, Sir Sean Connery?

4. Ask an Actor: Terence Stamp

During BFI Southbank’s Terence Stamp retrospective, the great actor stopped by to answer your questions in the most popular addition to the channel’s Ask an Expert playlist. As one viewer commented: “Kneel before Zod!”

3. Britain’s Baby Princess (1926)

Uploaded to mark the birth of Prince George, this edition of the Empire News Bulletin contains the first photos taken of Princess Elizabeth – the future Queen Elizabeth II – following her birth in 1926.

2. The Naughty Otter (c.1916)

Proving that no one can resist a cute critter – even a century-old one – this otterly marvellous piece of footage amassed 10,000 views within a week of upload, and appeared on popular blog The Daily Otter.

1. Glasgow Belongs to Me (1965) – extract

British Transport Films’ affectionate sketch of Glasgow life attracted over 12,000 views to grab the top spot among this year’s new uploads. This documentary was added to celebrate the opening of the first BFI Mediatheque in Scotland.

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