The BBC celebrates its centenary by sharing thousands of audiovisual recordings online

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The BBC has launched a website showcasing tens of thousands of audiovisual recordings in what it says is the largest release of digital archival content in its 100-year history.

The BBC Rewind service offers excerpts from the broadcaster’s news and documentaries “reflecting UK life and events” and “telling the nation’s story through its people”.

In total, more than 30,000 pieces of content reside on the site, with the oldest dating back to the late 1940s.

In the BBC arts program of the late 1950s and early 1960s, playwright Shelagh Delaney reads a love letter to her native Salford (BBC/PA)

Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster Moira Stewart, the Queen and Sir Paul McCartney are among the famous faces to feature in the images.

From Northern Ireland there are clips of sports personalities such as Dame Mary Peters and Martin O’Neill, Gloria Hunniford in one of her first television jobs as a traveling reporter, and Liam Neeson before he does not become a Hollywood star.

The Wales collection includes Sir Tom Jones, while Dame Sian Phillips features in a Welsh-language play from 1959 showing a day in her life as a young actress in London.

Scotland’s social history will also be explored, from the island residents of Soay transferred to Mull in 1953, to the women of Campbeltown taking part in a broom-throwing contest in 1963.

Margaret McEwan-King, a mother of five, appeared on the BBC current affairs program after swapping her old car for an F1 which she raced in her spare time (BBC/PA)

Visitors to the BBC Rewind website will also have access to an interactive map which can locate content at street level in some cases.

Content from the website will feature in reports on the BBC’s national and regional current affairs and current affairs programs in the coming months.

James Stirling, BBC 100 Editor, said: “As we celebrate 100 years of the BBC, we are opening up our unique and hugely valuable archive, an important part of the nation’s collective memory.

“By breathing new life into stories that have lain dormant for years, audiences will be able to discover recordings that can help us learn more about who we are and where we come from.”

The new BBC Rewind website is available at www.bbc.co.uk/rewind (you’ll need a UK VPN to access it, as it doesn’t work outside the UK).

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