Saturday 23 March 2013

Trip To The BFI!

No, Trip To The BFI!, isn't a little known Channel 4 1983 documentary. It's quite literally what Curious British Telly did yesterday. Fed up of having to rely on nothing, but vague, dusty memories of some of the shows featured here, we decided to look a little further than YouTube. We wanted to see how easy it was to view some footage of Sebastian the Incredible Drawing Dog and Foxtales. Our curiousity about these two, forgotten shows from our youth made them the ideal candidates. There's very little online and we wanted to make a connection with our youth and see what we spent it watching.

We considered the BBC for Sebastian, but their archives aren't very easy to access - especially if you're a young blog. This led us to searching online and finding that the BFI hold a considerable archive of British television material. Firing an email off, we awaited their response. Luckily, it came rather quickly and they were able to confirm they held some episodes of Sebastian and Fox Tales. We were free to come and view them too - one of the most exciting emails we've received so far. No longer would we be left wondering and dreaming about these shows. We could actually get our mince pies on them after about 25 years.

The cost to view 30 minutes material on video is just £6.00 which is very reasonable, so we booked in for a Friday afternoon. We arrived at the BFI building just off Tottenham Court Road and paid our fee before being directed to the basement. The basement of the BFI is a curious place, photos of past British film stars adorn the walls in between various viewing theatres. A lovely technician directed us to the correct viewing room for my materials - it was a fairly small room with several 14" LCD tvs connected to either VHS players or DVD players. Waiting for us, was a bundle of three VHS cassettes. The Sebastian episodes were both on separate BBC tapes just 10 minutes long each. The Fox Tales episode was on a VHS which seemed to be a complete recording of British TV shows from ITV that day e.g. Fox Tales was shown, but then Batfink was not included in the CITV programming.

Watching these shows has meant we can really provide detailed information on these shows - the blogs for both these have now been updated. Obviously, due to copyright reasons, we weren't able to take any footage of the shows we viewed. We also weren't allowed to take any pictures of the viewing room, which is a shame, but it's BFI policy and, frankly, it's a small cross to bear for the experience as a whole.

Also, whilst in London, we visited the British Library to trawl through their Radio Times collection and have now updated the following shows:

  • Running Scared - Radio Times article and transmission dates.
  • The Estate Agents - Radio Times article
  • Mop and Smiff - Radio Times article, episode guide and transmission dates.

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