The BFI has closed an agreement with Archbuild Entertainment Limited, for the BFI to be the exclusive worldwide sales agent to represent the historic and extensive Associated-Rediffusion television catalogue rights held by Archbuild.

A significant name in early British television history, Associated-Rediffusion was the first commercial broadcaster in the UK serving the London area on ITV. It operated weekdays, from 22 September 1955 until 1968. Known for their groundbreaking shows such as flagship current affairs series This Week, Associated-Rediffusion’s cutting-edge programming provided a contemporary snapshot of the period, exploring the hot topics of the day including racism, homosexuality, industrial unrest, the Profumo Affair, Cold War tension, Vietnam and more. 

The Associated-Rediffusion catalogue is an invaluable record of the early days of commercial television, holding material of enormous historic and contemporary interest to documentary makers, academics, archive TV enthusiasts and audiences alike. It includes surviving editions of the two precious pre-Python sketch shows, Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show (both released on BFI DVD), scores of single plays including material written by Harold Pinter and Joe Orton, examples of experimental drama series Half Hour Story featuring the talents of writer Fay Weldon and director Alan Clark, as well as fascinating interviews with leading public figures such as Orson Welles, Robert Kennedy, Henry Fonda, Oswald Mosely and Ted Heath. 

Following the demise of the company in 1968  most of the surviving programmes from Associated-Rediffusion’s catalogue were lodged with the BFI’s National Archive, where the film materials have been held and preserved ever since. One of the most important television collections in the BFI National Archive this exciting new deal between Archbuild and the BFI allows for investment into the collection to open up access to Associated-Rediffusion’s catalogue. As well as highlights from the franchise being available through the BFI, further work will take place to enable wider research and rediscoveries from this historically significant collection to be foregrounded. 

Archbuild owner Paul Levinson and company executive David Osterley said: “We are extremely pleased to have entered into this agreement with the BFI, who are industry leaders in the fields of materials preservation and catalogue sales, to make the most of the legacy of this extraordinary and valuable catalogue.”

J. Alan Davis, BFI head of rights & contracts, who secured and negotiated the deal for the BFI, said: “The BFI is delighted that we will now be able to make this remarkable catalogue culturally and commercially available, having aligned the materials from Associated Rediffusion that we have been preserving in the BFI National Archive, with the underlying copyrights, held by Archbuild. There is some work to be done in fully evaluating the catalogue and digitising materials and we have a truly amazing team at the BFI National Archive who will handle it with diligence and aplomb.”