'Plundering' the Archive and the Recurring Joys of Television
VIEW Journal Issue . 8 p. 4- 9
As we experience unprecedented access to archive material through online platforms and archive based productions, it is tempting to think that the appreciation of archive film and television material as a historical object in and of itself is a contemporary popular development. The growth of television archives within national institutions and broadcasting companies in the last thirty years, and the large number of missing programmes from earlier decades, seems to confirm the idea that television in the 1950s and 1960s was viewed and experienced as ephemeral. It is unusual then, to find a series devoted to archive television in the BBC2 Saturday night schedule in the mid 1960s. Plunder was billed as “a weekly raid on the BBC archives” and ran as part of the discussion series Late Night Line-Up from 1965–67. Largely showing excerpts from pre-1955 programmes, the series invited viewers to enjoy what presenter Michell Raper called ‘the vanished joys of television’ including interviews with notable figures and more formal fixtures of early television such as ‘interlude films’. This article will detail the use of archive footage within the series and consider the programme’s production and reception.