The British public service broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has launched the beta version of a new online project that will enable people to find out what programmes were broadcast on UK television and radio on the date they were born. The BBC Genome Project is a fascinating new online archive of the BBC’s flagship publication, Radio Times, a radio and television listings magazine that has been published continuously since the 1920s.
The Genome Project, which despite its name has no connection to the Human Genome Project or to any organisation in the field of scientific research, was set up by the BBC to encourage its viewers and listeners to search their homes and garages for any old recordings or VCR tapes of BBC and other shows which they are then invited to submit. It is hoped that donations of TV shows from times long gone past will help the BBC preserve older programmes for future generations. The Project’s archives extend from the years 1923 to 2009.
The website enables you to choose individual editions of the Radio Times, as well as search through the magazine archive via year, people’s names, particular programmes and key dates. A virtual gallery of actual Radio Times covers means the Genome Project’s users can witness the changing face of one of the United Kingdom’s most recognisable entertainment magazines – which has been a fixture of the country’s living rooms for over ninety years and is still running. The actual schedule information is presented as plain, easy-to-read text.
According to the Metro newspaper, the BBC claims that the project currently has a total of 4,423,654 programmes incorporated into the archive from 4,469 issues of its magazine.
“The hope is that the project will lead to programmes being recovered if the public realises they have audio or video recordings of their own.“
Hilary Bishop, editor of archive development at the BBC, said: “Genome is the closest we currently have to a comprehensive broadcast history of the BBC.
`It is highly likely that somewhere out there, in lofts, sheds and basements across the world, many of these “missing” programmes will have been recorded and kept by generations of TV and radio fans.
‘So, we’re hoping to use Genome as a way of bringing copies of those lost programmes back in to the BBC archives too.“
The Genome Project will not only be of benefit to media studies and journalism students and historians of public life in the 20th century, but will also be valuable to people who are curious as to what programmes and services were shown on the day they were born.
As part of the celebration of the unveiling of this unique archive, the Half-Eaten Mind’s blogger-in-chief Vijay Shah tried out the BBC’s Genome Project for himself. His aim was to see if he could discover what was broadcast on the day of his birth thirty years ago, Thursday the 4th of October, 1984.
My first impression of the BBC’s new Genome Project website was how much it was like many of the other online arms of the BBC in the internet world. Its slick and minimalist design, a hallmark of the public broadcaster, was reassuringly familiar, yet seemed to understate the vast quantity of publicly-accessible data stored inside. I quickly read through the site’s blurb, while distracted by the strapping image taken from a BBC studio filming from the Sixties or Seventies. A camera operative holding an angular relic with the BBC logo from that time splashed on the side sits precariously on the far right, while a slightly dour-faced audience await the show to begin and the cameras to start rolling.
I scrolled down the page to reach a chapter entitled “Browse the issue archive” which gives you all of the years shown in the archive arranged as a table with the columns set aside for different decades. If you scroll further down, there is a selection of thumbnails of front covers from the Radio Times, arranged by decade. Underneath that is a list of up-to-date schedules from the post-digital BBC stable of channels.
I clicked on the year ‘1984’ and that took me to a list of all the Radio Times editions, or issues, for that year, starting from Issue 3139, which came out across England only on the 5th January of that year. The 1984 archive solemnly ends with Issue 3189, published solely for the London TV region on the 20th of December. My birthday issue was numbered 3178, and was published exactly on the 4th October, much to my relief.
Another click of the mouse brought me to some listings of several BBC stations but these only began from the 6th October, which was a Saturday. I then rewound back and tried the previous issue, No. 3177, released on the 27th September 1984. I found TV and radio listings for the following stations: BBC One London, BBC Two England, BBC Radio 1 England, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 4 FM. There is no mention of any schedules for ITV and Channel 4, which probably was not mentioned as these channels are independent of the Beeb and the Radio Times is a publication funded by the BBC’s print media division. C4 had been founded just two years before my birth and satellite, cable, digital and internet TV and radio was not to appear for a couple of decades yet. BBC One, or BBC1 as it was then called, tends towards popular and light entertainment programming, while BBC Two (BBC2) at that time was more geared to educational and political programming, as well as documentaries. I was fascinated by how many shows from my later childhood, such as Blue Peter, Henry’s Cat, Grange Hill (a soap set in an urban secondary school) and the Six O’Clock News with Moira Stewart were already well established on TV, considering that my memories of these shows are from the late 1980s at the earliest. It was a great trip down memory lane.
While the simple layout of the TV schedules was a bit of a mood killer, I liked the way that information from the pages of the Radio Times was presented in a clear and accessible format, while keeping faithful to the original text, as far as I could see. Even the mention of Ceefax subtitles was retained, showing just how far technology in television had gone since all those years ago.
Here are the TV schedules for BBC1 and BBC2 as they were presented in the Radio Times on 4/10/1984:
6.00: Ceefax AM
6.30: Breakfast Time
with Frank Bough , Selina Scott Including today: medical advice from the Breakfast Time doctor in his weekly phone-in between 8.30 and 9.0
9.00: Under Sail
2: Pascual Flores
Pascual Flores was built 60 years ago in southern Spain as a fast schooner, but she very nearly ended her days as a scruffy little motor coaster. Now she’s restored.
Narrator Tom Salmon Director JENNI BURROWS Producer ROBIN DRAKE
BBC Bristol. (Part 3 tomorrow at 9.0 am)
Live coverage of the fourth day’s debates in Blackpool
10.30: * Play School
Further live coverage
12.30: * News After Noon
with Moira Stuart and Frances Coverdale including a special report on the Labour Party Conference Weather BILL GILES
12.57 Regional News (London and SE: Financial Report, and News Headlines with subtitles)
13.00: Pebble Mill at One
A See -Saw programme
14.00: Labour Party Conference 1984
Coverage of today’s debates
3.48 Regional News
15.50: Play School: It’s Thursday
Presenter lain Lauchlan Guest Sarah Long
Story: The Luckiest One of All by BILL PEET
Mystery at the Old Mine
Eric Twinge is just another schoolboy-but when danger calls, a few mouthfuls of his special bananas and Eric is Bananaman. With the voices Of TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR , BILL ODDIE, GRAEME GARDEN, JILL SHILLING Written by BERNIE KAY Music by DAVID COOKE Produced by TREVOR BOND Directed by TERRY WARD
16.15: Beat the Teacher
with Howard Stableford Round 3 of this week’s quiz featuring the most amazing brain-teasers in the world.
THE KING DAVID HIGH SCHOOL, LIVERPOOL V ST BERNADETTE ‘S RC
Devised by CLIVE DOIG Designers VIC MEREDITH , LES MCCALLUM Producer IAN OLIVER
(Part 4 tomorrow at 4.15)
Godzilla, the 600-ton monster who has been asleep for a thousand years, rises from the depths of the Pacific to come to the aid of mankind. In this new series he continues his role as guardian to the crew of the research ship Calico. The Golden Guardians The Golden Guardian attacks Godzilla and turns him into a golden statue.
16.55: John Craven’s Newsround
17.00: Blue Peter
with Simon Groom Janet Ellis and Michael Sundin Flood Alert!
After the summer drought, the villagers of Topsham in Devon were faced with floods when the River Exe produced its highest tide since 1966.
Michael helped to build the barricades to protect the centuries-old houses and joined the men of the Devon Fire Brigade keeping anxious watch on the rising waters. Assistant editor LEWIS BRONZE Editor BIDDY BAXTER *CEEFAX SUBTITLES
17.25: Henry’s Cat
by BOB GODFREY and STAN HAYWARD The Explorer
Narration BOB GODFREY Music PETER SHADE Production BOB GODFREY FILMS
17.30: Grange Hill
A series of 18 programmes
Episode 5 by MARGARET SIMPSON Jimmy McClaren , the ‘Godfather’ of Grange Hill, begins to take a ‘friendly interest’ in Pogo’s chain-letter enterprise.
Devised by PHIL REDMOND Producer KENNY MCBAIN Director CAROL WILKS * CEEFAX SUBTITLES
18.00: The Six O’Clock News
with Sue Lawley and Jeremy Paxman, including a report by David Coss from the Labour Party Conference.
18.30: Regional news magazines
London Plus, Spotlight South Today, Points West Look East, North West Tonight Look North, Midlands Today
18.55: Tomorrow’s World
Presented by Kieran Prendiville Peter McCann , Maggie Philbin and Judith Hann Producers DANA PURVIS , MICHAEL COYLE HENRY CAMPION , CYNTHIA PAGE Studio director STUART MCDONALD Editor MARTIN MORTIMORE
19.20: Top of The Pops
Introduced by Simon Bates and Richard Skinner
Sound GRAHAM WILKINSON Lighting KEN MACGREGOR Designer ROD MCLEAN Executive producer MICHAEL HURLL Production BRIAN WHITEHOUSE
20.00: The Magnificent Evans
by ROY CLARKE starring Ronnie Barker with Sharon Morgan and Myfanwy Talog William Thomas , Dickie Arnold
Film cameraman REX MAIDMENT Film editor DON CANDLIN Studio lighting RON BRISTOW Designer TIM GLEESON Produced and directed by SYDNEY LOTTERBY *CEEFAX SUBTITLES
Written and presented by Roger Cook
Radio 4’s award-winning programme comes to television for a short series to investigate cases raised by viewers which can include unfair dealing, bureaucratic bungling, injustice or even fraud.
Video cameraman LAURIE RUSH Researcher DINA GOLD Television producers DAVID BOWEN-JONES and DAVID HANINGTON Editor JOHN EDWARDS
Roger Cook’s Checkpoint. A BBC Aerial Book £2.95 from booksellers
21.00: The Nine O’Clock News
with Julia Somerville and the BBC’s reporters and correspondents around the world including a special report on the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool Weatherman
21.25: The Horse of the Year Show
from Wembley Arena featuring The Norwich Union Championship
Puissance mght at Wembley when all eyes are focussed on the big red wall in the centre of the arena. Plus horses racing against each other in the Knock-Out Stakes, and a look at some of the other entertainment.
Introduced by DAVID VINE Commentators RAYMOND BROOKS-WARD, STEPHEN HADLEY Producer JOHNNIE WATHERSTON
22.45: * Heart of the Matter
with David Jessel
At the heart of the actions that make the news lie decisions and dilemmas, prejudices and passions, that are defined by our sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Each week David Jessel takes issue with a major story of concern or conscience, and looks for what can be found at the Heart of the Matter.
Film editor MICHAEL ALOOF
Series producer COLIN CAMERON
23.20: * Out of the Undertow
Fay Weldon and Richard Hoggart look at working lives and tides of change in Britain: 3: Sweet Dreams with Miriam Margolyes
Managing a small business is a dream to which many people aspire but it’s a dream that doesn’t often come true. A women’s fashion company, a hairdressing salon and an engineering works are three dreams that have come true – but with a struggle.
Film editor HELEN COOK
Producer JULIAN STENHOUSE
23.50: * News Headlines; Weatherman
6.55: Open University
6.55 The Search for Minerals
7.20 History of Mathematics
9.00: Pages from Ceefax
9.20: Daytime on Two
9.20 Tout compris
Everyday life and language of French teenagers. Au college; Au café bar; Chez Claire ; A une boom
9.38 La maree et ses secrets
A five-part adventure serial in French by CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL and JANE COTTAVE 3: Une ombre du passé
See How they Grow
It’s hard to believe that Frank was once a baby.
10.12 Science Workshop Paper ‘A’
Troubled Minds – What a Lousy Title!
11.5 Near and Far Concrete
The look of many towns and cities owes much to the use of concrete. However the extraction of its raw materials – limestone, clay, sand and gravel has had a dramatic effect on rural areas Producer ROBIN GWYN
11.30 Home Ground
Towns of Wales 2: Just Down the Road
A town is largely composed of buildings – private houses and public edifices. What can these patterns of brick and stone. tile and slate, glass and paint, tell of a town’s history?
Presenter STEPHEN BOTCHER Producer J. PHILIP DAVIES BBC Wales
ANDREW HARVEY introduces a series for swimmers and non-swimmers of all ages. 3: Breaststroke
12.20 pm Illusions of Reality An examination of newsreels of the 1930s
3: Once a Hun….
Discussion notes from [address removed] 8QT. (Please enclose 12″ x 9″ sae and 33p postage)
12.45 Letting Go 3: Sex Education
How parents prepare teenagers for this important part of adult life.
1.10 Mind How You Go
Ten programmes about road accident prevention presented by JIMMY SAVILE OBE
3: Think Child
1.20 Encounter: Germany 3: Communications
By train from Hamelin to Braunschweig – and the work of the railways. A police car chase; a waterways patrol; an island waterway harbour; and life on a canal barge.
1.38 Around Scotland The Great Glen 1: The Ancient Corridor JOHN CARMICHAEL explains how the Great Glen was formed and shows how man has made use of the landscape for forestry and the production of hydro-electricity.
Producer ROBERT CLARK Director PETER LEGGE
My Brother’s Keeper
As J.R. drives the final wedge between Pam and Bobby, his masterplan to oust his brother from Ewing Oil gathers momentum. Donna meets an old admirer and Sue Ellen finds she has a new one …
Written by ARTHUR BERNARD LEWIS Directed by LEONARD KATZMAN (For cast see Monday. Continued tomorrow at 3.0 pm. Repeat) * CEEFAX SUBTITLES
15.45: Labour Party Conference 1984
17.05: Handicapped in the Community
The Centre for Independent Living in Berkeley, California, was founded to help disabled people achieve independence and self-respect.
Producer ANN POINTON
A BBC/Open University production
17.25: News Summary
with subtitles, followed by Weather
3: Uncalled-for Distractions Fred Dibnah’s holiday at Blackpool
Narrator Deryck Guyler
Delightfully comic filming (Sunday Times)
Photography MARTIN LIGHTENING Written and produced by DON HAWORTH. BBC Manchester
The last of a three part series starring
November 2006: Earth is an amber cinder, all life annihilated by total nuclear war. A handful of settlers left on Mars are the sole survivors of the human race. They face a desolate future, cut off and isolated even from each other. Sam Parkhill holds a land grant to half of Mars, handed to him by the original inhabitants of the planet.
Teleplay by RICHARD MATHESON Produced by ANDREW DONALLY and MILTON SUBOTSKY Directed by MICHAEL ANDERSON A CHARLES FRIES production
19.30: Open Space
Breaking the Mould?
For the bulk of production line workers throughout British industry tomorrow’s work will be just like today’s. Mindless…. repetitive…. demoralising. But deep in the ‘pot bank’ they’re trying to reshape working lives. Staffordshire Potteries, Britain’s major mug producers, have adopted a new Japanese style of management. They are aiming to increase the motivation and job satisfaction of their employees by giving them more say in the company’s decisions. But will this really improve work and conditions on the shopfloor, or is it just subtle psychology designed to boost productivity? Open Space goes to the Potteries to find out how shopfloor and management approach the new tomorrow. Producer JEREMY GIBSON COMMUNITY PROGRAMME UNIT
20.00: Commercial Breaks
A series that follows the fortunes of entrepreneurs around the world as their stories unfold. Who Dares, Wins Readers? The inside story of this summer’s bizarre circulation war between Fleet Street’s tabloids. Last week’s Commercial Breaks showed how multi-millionnaire Robert Maxwell bought the Daily Mirror. He immediately vowed to topple the Sun as Britain’s top-selling tabloid. This programme goes behind the scenes as Maxwell controls every detail of his campaign, from directing his own commercials to cross-examining his circulation managers.
Narrator Hugh Sykes
Film editor PETER DELFGOU Research ROBERT THIRKELL Executive producer JONATHAN CRANE
Producer DAVID DUGAN
20.30: Do They Mean Us?
Our sense of humour baffles them, our politics bother them, our preoccupation with tradition bemuses them. Apparently we don’t wash, and we are morose and miserable even on holiday. On the other hand we are polite and kind to animals, and we would be great in a crisis – if we knew one when we saw one. Each week Derek Jameson looks at the way foreign television reports this country. Tonight he looks at foreign interest in the Royal Family and discovers that, in some ways, they are even more obsessed with them than are the natives.
Research MARK ROGERS Producer LAURENCE REES
21.00: A Kick Up the 80s
with Ron Bain, Robbie Coltrane. Miriam Margolyes, Roger Sloman, Tracey Ullman. Also featuring Kevin Turvey
Special weight-watchers edition: non-fattening sketches, low-calorie situations, semi-skimmed jokes and a protein-packed song.
Music DAVID MCNIVEN DirectorBRIAN JOBSON Producer COLIN GILBERT BBC Scotland
21.25: Life of an Orchestra
3: On Tour
The third documentary in the informal four-part series on the London Symphony Orchestra follows the 107 musicians and their £350,000’s worth of instruments on tour to Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt. The film goes behind the scenes with the orchestra and their conductor Claudio Abbado as they rehearse, relax, worry about the Vienna concert and celebrate their successes. There’s music from WEBERN. MAHLER and SCHUBERT, an appearance by Zubin Mehta and more unexpected glimpses into the habits and attitudes of orchestral musicians.
Film cameraman JOHN GOODYER Sound STAN NIGHTINGALE Film editor PETER HARRIS Produced and directed by JENNY BARRACLOUGH
The second part of the spectacular concert featuring the queen of disco, Donna Summer.
John Tusa and Vincent Hanna with a full report on the day’s events at the Labour Party Conference in Blackpool, with Donald MacCormick and Jenni Murray in London to assess the news at home and abroad. Producer DAVE STANFORD Editor DAVID DICKINSON
23.45: Open University
Discussion: Alan Plater ‘s ‘Reunion’ The play concerns two men who meet again many years after their schooldays together. It explores the risks involved in personal relationships, and is followed by a discussion with the author and actors.
For our readers and bloggers from the HEM Community, especially those from the UK, you can see what the BBC played on your birthday and reminisce while you’re doing so. Visit the BBC’s Genome project at this link