The BBC is planning to create a complete online broadcast history of the corporation dating back to its foundation in 1922, as part of its ‘Genome Project’.
Starting this process, thousands of back copies of the Radio Times are being studied in a bid to compile a list of every BBC programme broadcast in its 88 years.
The Radio Times was ‘an ideal place to begin’ the BBC Genome project, said manager Helen Papadopoulos.
‘It contains a record of everything we intended to broadcast – even if what actually went on air wasn’t what we planned to show,’ she wrote on a BBC blog.
‘And it is in a structure and format that people recognise, with basic but consistent details for all programmes, along with regional variations.’
In many cases, the list will be all that remains of the programmes because so many were simply erased after they were broadcast.
It was not until the 1970s that moves were made to preserve recordings for future generations.
Among the programmes that were lost were early episodes of Doctor Who and a one-off play from 1963 featuring the first performance in Britain of a then little-known US folk singer called Bob Dylan.
Next month, work will start on putting information from about 400,000 pages of the magazine online.
Ms Papadopoulos said: ‘In less than a year we expect the Radio Times digitisation project to be complete and, for the first time, there will be, in one place, a comprehensive record of every programme.’
However, The TaxPayers’ Alliance questioned whether the project was money well-spent, saying: ‘It seems strange that the BBC has chosen to undertake this time-consuming exercise at a time when it is pleading poverty.’
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