BBC aims to launch mega programme archive next year

Sign of the Radio Times

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The BBC has finished digitising over 4,500 copies of the Radio Times as part of its project to build a public database of every television show broadcast in the UK.

It's part of the BBC Genome project which mixes and matches listings from the Radio Times and iPlayer data.

Around 4,500 copies of the TV listings magazine published between 1923 and 2009 have been scanned, while iPlayer records are used for everything post-2009.

That comes to around five million programmes made by over 8 million contributors – quite a boost to the existing archive which lists around one million programmes.

Tricky

Digitising the schedules into a searchable database has been no mean feat, however – special software had to be used to decipher the magazine's layouts and the whole process took more than a year longer than expected.

By the end of 2013, the online database will give the man on the street access to old broadcasts, or photos, scripts and other details where actual footage isn't available.

The Beeb is hoping that you'll be able to help by digging out old videos and recordings of missing shows – although a lot of programmes are likely lost forever because they were simply broadcast live and not recorded at all.

Project manager Helen Papadopoulos explained, "Part of it is to recover some of the lost programmes but it's really about having a comprehensive history of the BBC and its schedules."

From the BBC