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The British Entertainment History Project (BEHP) records and preserves interviews with the men and women who have worked in British film, television, radio and theatre industries over the last 100 years "to ensure that their lives and experiences are preserved for future generations".[1]


Founded in 1987 by Roy Fowler, the History Project started as an independent volunteer project by members of the industry trade union, ACTT, who wanted to preserve the stories and memories of the lives of the men and women who had been working in the various film and television industries. The organisation was originally called the ACTT History Project, reflecting the fact that though it was an entirely separate project run by volunteers, it was nevertheless supported by the ACTT union. In 1991, the ACTT merged with the Broadcasting and Entertainment Trades Alliance, to form BECTU (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union)[2] and the ACTT History Project became known as the BECTU History Project. In 2016, it was officially registered as a company limited by guarantee, as an independent, non-profit, voluntary organisation, and renamed the British Entertainment History Project.[1]

Archive collection

The unique and internationally recognised archive collection has grown to over 700 oral history interviews and over 4,000 hours of audio and video recordings[3][4] making it the largest independent oral history collection of its kind in the UK.

The recordings are used as a primary source by researchers and students, especially in the fields of media and social history. In addition, the archive is used by television and radio programmes, film documentaries, publishers, authors, historians, obituarists and journalists as well as the general public. Other partnerships and collaborations include work with the BFI, the BBC,[5] the British Universities Film & Video Council[6] and with universities such as the University of East Anglia.[7] In 2017, the BEHP began working with Sussex University and other partners as part of the '100 voices That Made The BBC',[5] which is part of the Connected Histories of the BBC, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Copies of all interview recordings also form part of the National Film archive of the British Film Institute and a significant number were made available as part of BFI Screen Online.[8]


The interviewees are drawn from professionals in the United Kingdom, but also include British professionals who worked abroad. Although the archive includes many well-known interviewees, the overall emphasis is on reflecting genuine breadth and variety, including those who may not be well known, but who, nevertheless have contributed to, or witnessed, important productions or have a unique story. Capturing their reminiscences provides information about the cultural history of Britain's broadcasting and entertainment,[9] whilst also shining a light on employment practices and the social history of particular periods. The aim is that future historians of the entertainment industry will have access to testimonies from participants in the film and television industries.[10]

Notable interviewees


In 1999, the History Project was awarded a £3,500 grant from the Kraszna Krausz Foundation to help towards the enormous task of transcribing hundreds of audio tapes.[11]

In 2010, the History Project was honoured with a Lifetime Contribution to Broadcasting Award at a ceremony at BAFTA.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b "British Entertainment History Project" (PDF). 2016-10-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  2. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Film Studios and Industry Bodies > ACT/ACTT/BECTU". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  3. ^ Threadgall, Derek (Spring 2017). "That's Entertainment! Preserving our Entertainment History From Both Sides of the Camera". Evergreen. No. Spring. pp. 88–90.
  4. ^ Dawson & Sean P Holmes.2012 pp435-488; and The BECTU History Project: a postscript 32:3 pp449-451., Andrew; Holmes, Sean P (2012). "The BECTU History Project: A postscript". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 32:3 (3): 449–451. doi:10.1080/01439685.2012.699630. S2CID 193237548.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "BBC - Background to the project - History of the BBC". Archived from the original on 2018-10-13. Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  6. ^ "The History of News on Screen · British Universities Film & Video Council". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  7. ^ "BECTU Oral History Project - UEA". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  8. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Oral History". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  9. ^ Dawson, Andrew; Holmes, Sean P (2012). "Help to Preserve the Real Story of Our Cinema and Television Industries: The BECTU History Project and the Construction of British media History, 1986-2010". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 32:3 (3): 435–488. doi:10.1080/01439685.2012.699650. S2CID 191470461.
  10. ^ Threadgall, Derek; Dick, Mike (2017). "Recording Our Lives- Celebrating 30 Years of the History Project". The Veteran. Vol. 154, no. Spring. pp. 4–5.
  11. ^ BECTU. "BECTU News - History Project grant". Retrieved 2018-08-08.
  12. ^ "Kaleidoscope honours History Project - BECTU". Retrieved 2018-08-08.