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 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.
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, the BUFVC 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 [James Bond film character] 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 via the BUFVC’s BoB and Planet eStream’s Connect service.