Logo of the BBC Genome Project

The BBC Genome Project is an online searchable database of programme listings initially based upon the contents of the Radio Times from the first issue in 1923 to 2009.[1] Television listings from post-2009 can be accessed via the BBC Programmes site.[2]



BBC Genome is not the BBC's first online searchable database. In April 2006, they gave the public access to Infax – their only electronic programme database at the time. It contained around 900,000 entries but not every programme ever broadcast, and it ceased operation in December 2007.[3] The front page of the website is still available to see via the Internet Archive.[4] After Infax ceased, a message on the website said that it would be incorporating in the information into individual programme pages.[5] In 2012, Infax was replaced by the database Fabric but this is only for internal use within the BBC.

Radio Times

Screenshot of an OCR error (since corrected) in Genome. The text, "Uza TarbuclC's Christmas", should read "Liza Tarbuck's Christmas".

In December 2012, the BBC completed a digitisation exercise, scanning the listings from Radio Times of all BBC's programmes from 1923 to 2009 from an entire run of about 4,500 copies of the magazine.[6] They identified around five million programmes involving 8.5 million actors, presenters, writers and technical staff.[6] BBC Genome was released for public use on 15 October 2014.[7][8]

The listings are as published in advance, and so do not include late changes or cancellations which were reflected on Infax. However, they do include huge numbers of early radio and television broadcasts, and "DJ shows" from BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 which were rarely kept officially, which were not listed on Infax (which also did not usually include repeats of archived programmes prior to 1976) because they were not in the BBC archives. The issues were scanned at high resolution, producing TIFF images and optical character recognition was then used to turn the text from the page into searchable text on the Genome database.[1]

The aim of this project is to allow researchers to be able to find out information easier and to help BBC Archives to build up a picture of what exists and what is currently missing from the archive.[9][10] Corrections to OCR errors and changes to advertised schedules are being crowdsourced,[7] with over 440,910 user generated edits accepted after editorial review as of mid-December 2018.[11][12] Each listing entry has a unique identifier which may be expressed as a URL. For example, the first screening of Doctor Who is http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/8f81c193ba224e84981f353cae480d49. A broadcast programme may have more than one such identifier, if it was broadcast (and thus listed) on repeat occasions, or in different regions.

Other content

Digitised editions of entire magazines (including front covers, prose articles, advertisements, and other non-listings content) from the 1920s were added in March 2017;[13] for the 1930s in December 2017;[14] for the 1940s in December 2018;[15] and for the 1950s in December 2019.[16]

Missing listings

Issue date[17] Reason[17]
14 May 1926 General strike
21 February 1947 Fuel crisis
28 February 1947
8 September 1950 Printing dispute
13 October 1950
20 October 1950
27 October 1950
1 August 1981
2 April 1983
9 April 1983
3 December 1983

See also


  1. ^ a b "About this project". BBC. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  2. ^ BBC Programmes site
  3. ^ "About This Prototype". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  4. ^ "BBC Programme Catalogue". open.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 May 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  5. ^ "This experimental prototype trial has now concluded". BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  6. ^ a b Kelion, Leo (7 December 2012). "BBC finishes Radio Times archive digitisation effort". BBC Online. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b Bishop, Hilary (15 October 2014). "Genome – Radio Times archive now live". BBC Online. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  8. ^ Sweney, Mark (16 October 2014). "BBC digitises Radio Times back issues". Guardian.
  9. ^ "BBC's Genome Project offers radio and TV archive listings". BBC. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  10. ^ Sweney, Mark (16 October 2014). "BBC digitises Radio Times back issues". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  11. ^ "BBC One London - 20 April 1964 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  12. ^ "FAQs - BBC Genome". BBC. Retrieved 29 September 2017. Once you edit an entry your suggestion will be validated, and if accepted, Genome will be changed. If your suggestion does not match the magazine, we will include your edit in the additional data we are gathering for use at a later date.
  13. ^ "BBC - BBC makes 1920s Radio Times magazines available to public - Media Centre". BBC Genome Blog. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Pages from history - Radio Times in the 1930s". BBC Genome Blog. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  15. ^ "Radio Times in the 1940s - War and Peace". BBC Genome Blog. 8 December 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  16. ^ Martin, Andrew (22 December 2018). "Radio Times - the 1950s pages". BBC Genome Blog. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Does Radio Times/Genome cover every week of the BBC's broadcast history?". BBC Genome. Retrieved 17 June 2018.