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South Bank Show Production Archive

South Bank Show Production Archive

The South Bank Show Production Archive (1978-2010) is a nationally valuable audio-visual collection. First aired in 1978, the South Bank Show is a longstanding, popular British arts television programme presented by Melvyn Bragg and broadcast by ITV for over 30 years before its cancellation in 2010 (and subsequent revival on Sky Arts in 2012). The collection offers insight into British arts programming over three decades, as the Show sought to celebrate and interrogate both high and popular art forms, and the classical and the new in culture, both home-grown and from across the globe.

Comprising approximately 9000 audiovisual items spanning 33 years, the SBSP archive includes material recorded for around 520 episodes and specials, including unseen rushes and unedited interviews. The collection reflects the rapid changes in broadcast media technologies with holdings including 16mm film and 2” reel to reel audio tapes, through to digibeta and more recent formats such as DVCAM.

Viewing the collection

While the physical formats of the collection are not available to readers for conservation reasons, over 660 films and videos have been digitised and are available through their catalogue record. Search results can be filtered by those 'including digital video' and viewers will be required to log in with their University of Leeds username and password to view footage.

Researchers without a University of Leeds login may view the the digitised film and video at the Special Collections research centre in the Brotherton library.

Subjects covered include Alan Bennett, Carol Ann Duffy, Caryl Phillips, Courtney Pine, Ruth Rendell, Phillip Pullman, Sarah Waters, Shakespeare, Tolkien and Zaha Hadid.

How the Collection is Arranged

The videos are arranged by series and title of the transmitted programme for which they were recorded or used and the records for these have been given titles and descriptions to aid searching and browsing and where possible contain further information on the content and detail of each recording.

The programme title does not always reveal much about the content of a recording - while some episodes of the Show focused on long-form interviews with Bragg, others were comprised of multiple interviews, performances, rehearsals, street footage and archive footage. Documentaries came from Ken Russell (on classical music and musicians), Tony Palmer with Isolde films, and Naomi Wright, among others.

There are some episodes that the library does not hold any material for. A complete list of all South Bank show episodes highlighting those which the library does and does not hold material from is available attached to the collection level record.

Further information on the series in general can be found on the South Bank Show wikipedia page.