National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

BFI Mediatheque comes to the National Media Museum

Our film and TV programme archive is about to get bigger – much bigger. On 19th July, TV Heaven will close, and we’ll be opening BFI Mediatheque, doubling the amount of films and TV programmes you can watch here for free to more than 2,500 titles.

The Mediatheque is the place to make new discoveries and get reacquainted with old favourites. By simply logging on at a viewing station, you’ll be able to enjoy highlights from the BFI National Archive, the world’s greatest and most diverse collection of film and television.

From feature films to home movies, documentaries to children’s TV, many titles have rarely been seen since their original release or broadcast – if at all.

About BFI Mediatheque

First introduced in 2007, BFI Mediatheques are multi-seat viewing stations which essentially act as a digital jukebox of rarely seen material and well-loved classics of film and television. The Mediatheque collection – currently 2,500 titles – is growing all the time.

What can you watch in Mediatheque

Visit any of the Mediatheques in the UK for free access to many of the rarest and most extraordinary titles in the BFI National Archive and partner archives.

Hours of classic films, television, and documentaries form a fascinating window to the nation’s shared history. You’ll find classic comedies, hard-hitting documentaries, family favourites and memorable dramas.

The BFI is developing its own plans for making more archive film available online. However, there are limits to what can be put out for free online, due to copyright restrictions. Therefore Mediatheque offers you a chance to explore a much wider cross section of the nearly 1 million titles held in the BFI archive.

Regional highlights

We launch two very special collections when we open BFI Mediatheque on 19th July – The TV Heaven Collection and God’s Own County: Yorkshire on Screen.

The TV Heaven Collection
Over 50 titles will be included in Mediatheque from our original TV Heaven viewing gallery, which was Britain’s first publicly accessible archive of TV programmes when it opened here in 1993. It covered the last 67 years of British television history, including some of the greatest programmes ever to have been screened.

God’s Own County: Yorkshire on Screen
A specially curated collection of material relating to the Yorkshire and Humber area, features one 100 film and television programmes which offer a dazzling insight into the rich heritage of film-making in the county drawn from both the BFI National Archive collections and the holdings of the Yorkshire Film Archive.

Highlights of God’s Own County: Yorkshire on Screen include a filmic journey through Victorian Bradford in 1896, a turn of the century Punch and Judy show in Halifax, and daring Edwardian egg harvesters on Flamborough Head.

A hand-picked selection of home movies and documentaries preserved by the Yorkshire Film Archive offer a more personal and often strikingly creative perspective on Yorkshire life, framed by Queen Victoria’s 1897 visit to Sheffield and contemporary docudrama The Last Tribe (2010), an engrossing portrait of Leeds’ Jewish community.

For more information about our brand new gallery, visit our BFI Mediatheque page, or go straight to the BFI website for the full list of films and television programmes waiting for you at your local BFI Mediatheque.

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About Iain Logie Baird

I currently work as an Associate Curator at the National Media Museum, where most of my responsibilities concern the radio and television collections. I also study communications history and media ecology.

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