BECTU, formed in 1991, draws on the organising skill and sacrifice of many groups of workers. The commitment of the union's representatives and members is central to the media and entertainment sectors we know today.
BECTU has emerged from several predecessor unions:
- ABS (Association of Broadcasting Staff) was formed in 1956, having been previously the BBC Staff (Wartime) Association (formed 1940) and the BBC Staff Association (formed 1945).
- NATKE (National Association of Theatrical and Kine Employees) was formed in 1937, having been previously the National Association of Theatrical Employees (formed 1905), the National Union of Theatrical Stage Employees (1901), the Theatrical and Music Hall Workers Union (1899), and the United Kingdom Theatrical and Music Hall Operatives Union (1890).
- NATTKE (National Association of Theatrical Television and Kine Employees) was formed through a belated name change in 1970 reflecting organisation in television.
- ABS and NATTKE merged to form BETA (Broadcasting and Entertainment Trades Alliance) in January 1984.
- ACT (Association of Cine-Technicians) was formed in June 1933 and became ACTT (Association of Cinematograph Television and allied Technicians) in March 1956, two years after the introduction of commercial television.
- BECTU, the result of a merger between the ACTT and BETA, came into existence on 2 January 1991, as the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Technicians Union. It changed its name (but not its initials) to the present form - Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union - in November of that year.
- The FAA (Film Artistes Association) was formed in 1927. It transferred its engagements to BECTU in July 1995.
- In 2012, BECTU celebrated its 21st anniversary.