BBC Shakespeare Archive
In advance of our Belfast conference, the following press release may be of interest to BSA members.
The BBC has launched the BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource to provide schools, colleges and universities across the UK with online access to hundreds of BBC television and radio broadcasts of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, as well as documentaries about Shakespeare. The collection has been developed in response to BBC Director General, Tony Hall’s ambitious plans, announced in 2013, to digitise the BBC’s extensive Shakespeare archive with the aim of making it available to those in formal education and learning in the UK. The BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource is one of a number of digital initiatives announced as part of the BBC’s celebration of Shakespeare’s work across all its services to mark 400 years since his death.
The material on the BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource, which dates from the 1950s, includes the first British televised adaptations of Othello and Henry V, classic interviews with key Shakespearean actors including John Gielgud, Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier, several of Shakespeare’s famous sonnets in TV and radio broadcasts and more than 1,000 stills of Shakespeare productions. Other highlights include:
- The 37 classic productions in the BBC Television Shakespeare series.
- An Age of Kings, the 15 part series of the RSC’s Shakespeare history plays.
- The original War of the Roses productions from the 1960s, also from the RSC.
- Previously ‘lost’ versions of part of the 1955 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor starring Anthony Quayle, the RSC’s production of As You Like It, broadcast in 1963 starring a young Vanessa Redgrave as Rosalind, the earliest surviving production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from 1958 and Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens in a 1967 production of Much Ado About Nothing.
- Blackadder punching Shakespeare ‘for every schoolboy and schoolgirl for the next four hundred years!’, as well as Mastermind quiz rounds and a sketch from The Morecambe and Wise Show.
The BBC has worked with Learning on Screen (The British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council) to make the content on the BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource accessible via BoB, which provides access to off-air broadcasts of film, television and radio recordings for subscribing institutions.
This collaboration builds on the work of the Research and Education Space (RES), a partnership between Jisc, the not-for-profit organisation which provides digital services and solutions to UK higher and further education, Learning on Screen and the BBC which aims to make the UK’s publicly-held archive collections digitally available to UK students, teachers and researchers.
BBC Project Director for RES, Hilary Bishop says: “Our ambition was to digitise the wonderful archive of the BBC’s Shakespeare collection and enrich the teaching and study of Shakespeare in the UK. Many of the programmes have not been seen or heard since they were first broadcast and provide a glorious insight into how costumes, wigs, make-up and sets have changed over the decades. They also give us a glimpse of early performances by some of today’s most famous actors, from Christopher Plummer as Hamlet, rather than Captain von Trapp to Judi Dench as Princess Kathryn of France in Henry V, rather than M”.
The BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource is free at the point of use and UK educational institutions can access and play the BBC Shakespeare collection through a variety of routes. Users of the BBC-branded website, which contains over 300 BBC TV and radio programmes broadcast pre-1989 and over 1,000 photographs, will be required to authenticate with appropriate academic credentials in order to play and view the material. Programmes broadcast both pre- and post-1989 will be available to UK schools and universities via off-air providers such as BoB, Planet eStream’s Connect and ClickView.
The content is organised into plays, sonnets and poems, factual programmes, such as documentaries, and entertainment; and the search box enables users to find content for a specific play or a person who appeared in, or worked on the production. A significant proportion of the plays have also been subtitled.
Longer term, as RES develops, this online catalogue of information and media resources about Shakespeare will grow, as other public institutions, such as museums, libraries and galleries, make their archive collections searchable, using linked open data, and accessible to the education community.
BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource can be found at http://shakespeare.ch.bbc.co.uk
For more information about access, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To provide feedback on the site, contact: email@example.com