BBC publishes digitised Radio Times schedules going back to the 1920s

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Warning: By reading this post, you’re at serious risk of following a link that will swallow the rest of your day.

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The BBC has today launched a new tool to search and browse old TV schedules – so now you can go back and relive your youth, by remembering all of those hours wasted watching daytime quiz shows.

The BBC Genome is a product of the BBC Archive: The people behind it, when trying to figure out the best way to organise the BBC’s massive archive of programmes and data cleverly thought to use old editions of the Radio Times to build a “spine” on which the data could sit. This appears to be only the public face to a much larger product.

And here’s the thing: It’s brilliant. At the moment the Genome isn’t 100% accurate: The Radio Times is a listing of forthcoming programmes, which could obviously have changed on the day. In fact, I’ve already submitted a correction: I remember as an 8 year old being annoyed that this episode of Escape from Jupiter was never broadcast, because John Major resigned and they just went straight to the news. Similarly, the website currently shows that if terrorists hadn’t attacked the World Trade Center, that day we could have instead been watching Pingu and Changing Rooms.

We’re looking forward to seeing where the project goes next. Surely we can’t be too many years away from an iPlayer that goes back decades?

Good luck not wasting hours on this today.

James O’Malley