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History Project

Welcome to the BECTU History Project pages.

October 2010: History Project wins Lifetime Contribution to Broadcasting Award

What is the BECTU History Project?

 ATV camera crew captures captions on an outside broadcast in Chantilly, FranceATV camera crew records a caption on an outside broadcast in Chantilly, France

The BECTU History project is a collection of oral history recordings made with practitioners in the film, television, radio and theatre worlds. To date there are over 600 interviews in the collection, varying in length from 30mins to over 20 hours in the cases of Sidney Gilliat, Ronnie Neame and Roy Baker. In total there are over 4000 hours of material.

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All recordings were on audio cassettes until 2000. Thereafter,  some recordings were made on semi-professional Mini DV Cam and professional Mini disc recorder (presented by Sony). From 2003 onwards almost all recordings have been made on video.

Some recordings have been transcribed by the British Cinema History Project at the University of East Anglia and excerpts from other participants may be found on the BFI’s Screenonline website at; and the BUFVC Newsreel project -

This uniquely valuable collection of the voices of practitioners across a wide range of craft and skills, includes the voices of many who cannot be heard anywhere else.

Famous voices in the collection:

  • Moira Armstrong -(2006)
  • Richard Attenborough-(2001)
  • Kevin Brownlow -  (2007)
  • Tony Garnett - (2007)
  • Julie Harris - two interviews -(2000) and (c.2010-2011)
  • Jean Kent - (2006)
  • John Mills - (1997)
  • Laura Mulvey - (2007)
  • David Puttnam - (2010)
  • Esther Rantzen - (2001)
  • Simon Relph - (2003)
  • Jimmy Sangster - (2008)

Access the complete list of interviewees.

Search the database (Over 600 interviewees entered so far. Please note that this is an ongoing work in progress.).

How to join us

The Project welcomes all offers of practical assistance either in undertaking the interviews themselves or in providing the camera and sound skills
needed for the recordings.  Members of the project do not have to be, or have been, members of the Union although many are.  We are a broad church and we want to reflect the gender, ethnic, geographical and sectoral range of our industry in our membership.  

We meet bi-monthly at the BFI to discuss our policy, projects and  collaborations. Meetings provide an opportunity to meet socially and guest speakers are often invited.

We provide technical equipment for recording interviews and the documentation necessary to undertake them.

If you would like to join us please contact our Secretary, Sue Malden, or you can write to The Secretary, BECTU History Project, 373 - 377 Clapham Road, London SW9 9BT.

Contributors to the Project                                     

Heather Armitage, Jonathan Balcon, Tim Beddows, Serena Bentine, Darrol Blake (vice-chair), Ruth Bolland, Elaine Burrows (database manager), Mike Dick (chair), Joe Busuttil, John Crace, Paul Collard, Ros Cranston, Kathy Darby, Andrew Dawson, Dennis Drinkwater, John Edwards, Roy Fowler (founder and president), Emily Fuller, Bob Geoghan, Rodney Giesler, Alexander Gleason, Ronald Grant, John Harwood, Bert Hogenkamp, Deh-Ta Hsiung, June Hudson, Michael Johns, Glyn Jones, Maurice Kanareck, Jimmie King, Derrick Knight, Jerry Kuehl, Marysia Lachowicz, C P Lee, John Legard, Roy Lockett (past-chair), Sue Malden (secretary), Christina Maria, James McCabe, Luke McKernan, Bernard Miller, Nathalie Morris, Ian Noah (marketing), Andy Odwyer, Ann Ogidi, John Oliver, Tony Palmer, Roy Perkins, Iain Reid, Bob Redman, Joyce Robinson, David Robson, Iris Rose, Ken Rowles, Patrick Russell, Gloria Sachs, Max Samett FRPS, Sir Sydney Samuelson, David Sharp (archive), Martin Sheffield (treasurer/archive), Emma Smart, Karena Smith, Steve Tappin, Brian Taylor, Dan Thurley, Phil Windeatt, Julianna Waithe, David Wyatt, Syd Wilson, David Woodward, Richard Yeoman-Clark, Cy Young.                   

How to access the recordings

Our recordings can be consulted by anyone with an interest in them: students, researchers, teachers, writers and enthusiasts.

No use may be made of any interview material without the permission of the BECTU History Project. Copyright in all interviews is vested in the BECTU History Project and the right to publish some excerpts may not be allowed.

Listening copies can be accessed from the BFI Reuben Library in London. Applications to consult the recordings should be made to the Reader Services Librarian, BFI Reuben Library, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT. Tel: 0207 255 1444 or email

Alternatively, please write to The Secretary, BECTU History Project, 373-377 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9BT.  Visit this page to download the application form, available in both pdf and word formats. 

Use the collection

The BECTU History project welcomes the opportunity to work with those studying the history of the Film, Television and Radio industries and encourages the use  of the collection for these purposes. For example :

Latest News

The BECTU History Project has just received, from Barri Hitchin, a donation of an interview with the great film maker Fred Zinnemann.

Fred had a lot to say and his comment, at the end of the interview, about quality standards is very prophetic - 

“ We’ve seen the digital impact on Cinema, with the loss of Projectionist jobs and the subsequent impact on our screens with poorly projected pictures in the wrong Aspect ratio. This is supported by disinterested CEA and FDA who chose to ignore my concerns about the getting-rid of Projectionists etc. Apart from Quintin Tarrantino in America, I seem to be a lone voice in the UK... On attempting to assemble a Team for TMC a 2:39 Feature recently, a Producer tried to tell me, that there was no reason that it couldn’t be shot digital – needless to say, he was immediately dropped. Quality standards will still prevail, when I am involved in a project.”  Barri Hitchin  -  ACT/BECTU Member No: 53003,  July 2014

Last page update 29 July 2014.

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