BBC archive releases hundreds of items for schools

Vanessa Redgrave (Rosalind) and Rosalind Knight (Celia) in the Royal Shakespeare Company's As You Like It, March 1963. Pic: BBC

Writer:

Paul Genty

17 May 2021

Massive BBC, RSC and programme materials archive for education

The BBC has from today made hundreds of hours of  its radio, TV, interviews and programmes freely available for schools and colleges

The free archive – accessible to any educational institution with a licence from the Educational Recording Agency – covers 70 years of broadcasting and will include material suitable for all ages from primary school to post-graduate, from vintage comedies and the recent Horrible Histories to The Hollow Crown starring Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston and Russell T Davies’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The collection contains nearly a thousand items, with more to be added. Other highlights currently include the 37 productions from the BBC TV classic Shakespeare series; the 15-part RSC Shakespeare “History Play” series, An Age of Kings; the RSC’s As You Like It, from 1963, which starred Vanessa Redgrave; the earliest surviving production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from 1958 and more including Re-Told Shakespeare adaptations including Much Ado About Nothing with Billie Piper, and Macbeth with James McAvoy.

The collection also features the acclaimed BBC Four Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart and the RSC’s 2009 production of Hamlet starring David Tennant.

“The BBC’s Shakespeare collection offers a fabulous insight into how interpretations and performances have evolved, and gives us a glimpse of early performances by some of today’s most famous actors,” said Peter Rippon, the BBC Archive’s executive editor.

“The demand for audio and video content in education is growing sharply and this partnership with the ERA is a brilliant way for the BBC to open its precious archive in new ways.’’

The collection is brought together through the ERA’s website to offer educators a streamlined, searchable platform from which to view the vast archive of BBC TV and radio productions.

The BBC Archive Centre in West London houses most of the BBC collections across eight vaults and 60 miles of shelving offering 15 million items.

Find the released archive here