The History Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and membership is open to all those interested in actively participating in its work, whether or not they have been members of BECTU.
Those interested in becoming involved should contact the Project Secretary, Sue Malden.
TV studio in the black and white era
How is the Project organised?
The Project has a small management team comprising:
Roy Lockett, chair
Darrol Blake, vice chair
Sue Malden, secretary
Martin Sheffield, treasurer and archive coordinator
Elaine Burrows, documentation
Steve Tappin, publicist.
The Project meets every two months at the BFI in London, but can accommodate contributions from those who cannot attend. Our meetings co-ordinate recording activity and agree access to recordings. The group is responsible for conducting the interviews. There are also social events organised by the group.
The Project's meetings are minuted and distributed to a wide mailing list, which includes the union’s National Executive Committee.
The recordings are stored in the BFI with a back up copy at BECTU's Head Office. The BFI arranges access to the recordings, and transcripts where these exist, for research purposes. We answer history related enquiries from television and radio programmes and for films, books, academic research, exhibitions and festivals.
We have also worked with the University of East Anglia, BAFTA, the David Lean Centre, BUFVC and the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema at Exeter University. Recently we have begun to work with the Stanley Kubrick archive at the University of the Arts, London.
The Project and BECTU
The Project is formally within the remit of the Union and our legal status is covered by the BECTU Rulebook . The constitution of the group is informal and operates with day to day autonomy within the Union. The Union has always generously provided legal and copyright advisers, meeting rooms, mailing and documentation services and resources for the housing of project materials. We report to the union’s annual conference via the BECTU annual report.
How it began
The BECTU History Project began more than twenty years ago when a small group of members of the film and broadcasting union ACTT - now part of BECTU - decided to record the individual histories of men and women who had made their working lives in their industry.
Led by Roy Fowler, honorary president, they decided to do something immediate and practical to rectify that cumulative loss of memory and achievement and to bring to the project their wide personal knowledge of the industry and its history.
Supported by the Union, which gave them the resources and the autonomy to get on with the work in hand, they began to create an archive of oral history recordings by interviewing staff from across the sector, from processing workers and producers to sound assistants and directors. As the project has developed, recordings have grown to include writers and performers.
Vision and achievement
The vision of those pioneers has resulted in a unique and internationally recognised archive of more than 600 recordings which provide an extraordinary insight into the economic, technical, aesthetic and personal histories of the key cultural industry of the 20th Century. Some of them are more than 20 hours long and are social documents of our time. We take pride in their achievement and that of the practitioners whose memories are recorded.
As our industry has grown, we have extended our recordings to new occupations and new media. We are determined to remain relevant to our time and to future generations. We welcome the active engagement of all those with the ability and enthusiasm to assist us in our work.
Where is the Archive?
Master tapes are deposited with the National Film and Television Archive. Those wishing to consult the interview access copies can do so in the BFI National Library, subject to committee approval. Security copies are stored at BECTU Head Office, 373-377 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9BT, United Kingdom.