FAQs & Guides

1. Which collections are available through the Connected Histories of the BBC website?

The Connected Histories of the BBC catalogue brings together, for the first time, a digitised collection of oral history interviews about the BBC.

More specifically, this website allows access to

  • interviews from the BBC’s own Oral History Collection, between 1972 and 2001
  • interviews from the BBC - A History of North Regional Broadcasting Collection
  • interviews from the BBC - World Service Moving Houses project
  • interviews from the BBC - Horizon at 50, a collaboration between the BBC and the Science Museum Group
  • a selection of BBC-related interviews from the British Entertainment History Project
  • a selection from the Alexandra Palace Television Society Collection
  • 13 newly-filmed interviews with leading BBC figures which form the Sussex-BBC Centenary Collection.

2. Where can I find more information about each collection?

For each collection in this website you can find a description providing useful information about its aims, the people involved in its making and keeping and a contents summary. The ‘collection note’ also describes the archival history, archival/technical characteristics as well as archival idiosyncrasies of these interviews. On the Contact page you can also find the address for the source of the collection should you wish to visit in person or otherwise contact the home archive.

3. What kind of artefacts do these collections contain?

Oral History interviews in these collections are available in a mix of video and audio-only formats. They are usually accompanied by transcripts, especially for the BBC - Oral History Collection, BBC - A History of North Regional Broadcasting, the Alexandra Palace Television Society and the Sussex-BBC Centenary Collection. In many instances, there’s more than one interview – and more than one transcript – for each person. Additionally, the formats are varied. Some interviews came to us accompanied by a human-typed ‘legacy transcript’. A new automatically-generated transcription has been created for all interviews by the project, using the BBC Research & Development’s voice-to-text transcription software (KALDI). These inevitably include errors. We therefore recommend you read these in conjunction with the legacy transcripts and treat the audio-visual recordings as the primary document. Where possible, we’ve enriched the metadata originally supplied, adding keywords, job roles at the BBC and extra biographical details.

4. What am I permitted to do with the digitised items found on the Connected Histories of the BBC website?

Please read our notice on Copyright and Terms and Conditions under the Project menu. Except as explicitly provided in the Terms of Use, you may not reproduce, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, prepare derivative works, perform, or use in any other way that is prohibited by UK and international copyright law any copyrighted material found on or in Connected Histories of the BBC digital properties without consent of the copyright holder. This includes the digital platforms as well as contents and elements of the digital platforms, for example both editorial content and the code used in programming the platforms.

5. How are the University of Sussex, the BBC and project partners involved with the Connected Histories of the BBC?

Please see under About.

6. Who do I contact to provide feedback, mistakes, or problems?

Please see under Contact.

7. How do I search for an interview?

You can search for an interview in three distinct ways.

  1. The initial ‘Search’ box on the home page allows you to identify interviewers by name, role and keyword. Results will appear below indicating the distribution of results between these categories; and below this, the results themselves, including basic metadata.

    If no results are returned by your search text, a grey box will appear below, asking if you want to undertake a ‘Transcript Search’.

  2. Filtered browsing can also be undertaken from the home page. As you select different facets, the list of interviews displayed will change.

  3. Full Text Searches can be undertaken via the pull-down ‘Transcript Search’ menu.

  4. From the results page following a full text search, you can access the transcripts by following the links in the ‘Identity area’, labelled ‘Extent and medium’. The ‘Extent and medium’ link will take you to either the legacy transcription or the speech-to-text transcription on the main interview page, depending on the result type. Once you have clicked through to the main site, you can locate the specific keyword result by searching using the local search box.

8. What can I do with an interview?

Once you enter a single Oral History interview, you can then listen to/watch the recording, read the transcripts and explore and analyse them in various ways.

Below the title of the interview you can find basic information - the ‘identity’ of the interview, (the Collection where it belongs), the name of the interviewer and interviewee, the interview date, the duration of the interview as well as the associated transcripts for this interview. In most cases there is also an image of the interviewee.

Specifically, for each interview you can:

  • listen to or view the recording(s) using the Record Player
  • navigate through the automatically-generated transcript via the Timecoded speech to text transcription In this panel, you will find a workbench that allows you to:
    • click the text to navigate the specific point in the timeline.
    • select a clip of the text by manually setting a start and an end point and saving your clip. This will generate a link for the segment.

9. Can I download or obtain a copy of a recording or transcript?

This site does not allow you to download a full copy of any audio or visual recording for permissions and rights reasons. You are able to download a pdf transcript of interviews where there are transcripts available. Please make sure you acknowledge the source and follow our citation instructions. A citation guide can be found under the Project menu.

10. Why can’t I open or download pdfs?

Please check your browser settings. Some security settings or browser cookies may prevent functionality or your pdf reader may be out of date. More likely you need to adjust your browser to open a pdf by default.

11. Can I use audio or audiovisual clips in broadcasts, publications, social media or talks?

Please read the Terms and Conditions of use. The short answer is that you need to seek permission from the copyright holder for anything beyond Fair Use or Fair Dealing.

12. Does the Connected Histories of the BBC accept material that is relevant to the collection?

No. This project has ended its collection and cataloguing work within the remit of its agreement with funders and partners. However you are welcome to explore the home archives from which each collection came, including their capacity to take material.

Glossary

Transcript: A human-generated near-contemporaneous transcript normally made shortly after the interview was recorded. These transcripts are present for most interviews, but are not universally available; and for some collections, such as ‘BBC - World Service Moving Houses’ were never created. Interviewees were generally allowed to amend these transcripts, which means they don’t always accurately reflect the original recordings. Transcripts can be accessed via the ‘Documents’ button on each interview page.

Speech-to-Text: An automatically-generated transcription using BBC Research & Development department’s speech-to-text transcription software (KALDI). The overall accuracy rate is 77.2%; which suggests that out of 1000 words of transcription, 228 will be misinterpreted, a high proportion of which will relate to the names of people and places. These transcriptions have not been provided for interviews included in the ‘Centenary’ collection. Where they are available, they can be accessed via the ‘Speech-to-Text’ button on each interview page.

Collection Note: A short prose description of the collection reflecting its history, coverage, strengths and weaknesses. This can be accessed via the ‘Collection Note’ tab at the top of each interview page.

Collection Description: This includes details of information about the origins of each collection, licensing and copyright, context and archival history, content, structure and conditions of use. Lists of allied materials and notes on quality are also included here. These descriptions have been ordered according to ISAD(G) (General International Standard Archival Description) guidelines for archival finding aids. They can be accessed via the ‘Collection Description’ tab at the top of each interview page.

Filtered Browsing: The metadata associated with each interview can be ‘browsed’ by selecting different components or ‘facets’. This facility is designed to allow you to narrow your enquiries to a subset of the interviews, determined by the original collection, the gender of the interviewee, and their role. Faceted Browsing tools can be found on the home page and each individual interview page.