BFI to digitise thousands of British TV classics

The British Film Institute has announced plans to digitise over 100,000 classic British TV shows that only exist on film.


The BFI claimed that the project would save thousands of classic TV shows from disappearing, as they currently only exist on obsolete video formats.

Children's TV shows such as The Basil Brush Show and comedies like Do Not Adjust Your Set are due to be turned into a digital format, meaning they can be enjoyed for years to come.

As well as the concern of  being physically unable to play old film reels due to lack of technology, the BFI also mentioned that the film used is rapidly deteriorating and will soon be completely unplayable. 

The Institute laid out a five-year project plan, which is claims is the time-limit for some of the film reels. 

Shows such as Dad's Army and Morecambe & Wise have already been made digital, but there are over 750,000 programmes still on degradable tape. 

Whilst the BFI is still yet to knockdown a complete list of the programmes it will restore, it is thought that a wide range of genres will make the cut, including children's TV shows, one-off dramas, breakfast TV and regional ITV programmes. 

Creative Director of the BFI, Heather Stewart said that it was important to save programmes from the 60s and 70s in terms of storage and expertise. 

"The whole infrastructure in relation to video is just disappearing. There are technicians who want to retire. We can't let them go until we've got this stuff off these one-inch and two-inch formats. There's a limited pool of people who know how to do it and there's a limited pool of machines."

The project is still in the “discovery phase”, which is estimated to take around 6 months to compile a full list.

Once the project is complete, it is expected that the BFI will make the programmes available online via its BFI Player + subscription service.

Source: Engadget

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