Libraries offer free access to 60 years of screen history

Benjamin Zephaniah.

A new streaming service showcasing six decades of rich film and television history is now on offer to library-goers across North Yorkshire.

The British Film Institute (BFI) Replay service is available to public libraries, showcasing about 100,000 digitised videos and television programmes.

The footage includes soap operas such as Coronation Street, Brookside and Crossroads, as well as Albion Market, General Hospital and Family Pride, the first British-Asian soap opera. The collection includes children’s TV with episodes of Metal Mickey and Animal Kwackers.

Filmmakers and actors explain their craft in a series of vintage interviews with the likes of Robin Williams and Ben Kingsley.

Ground-breaking multicultural TV from the 1970s onwards is explored through a number of magazine shows intended to address diverse audiences. This includes Central TV’s Midlands multicultural arts review series Here and Now, featuring a young Benjamin Zephaniah, the renowned poet who died in December.

BFI Replay also celebrates the heyday of regional television, including popular figures such as Richard Whiteley in Yorkshire TV’s Calendar People interviewing famous names from the region.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for libraries, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “I’m delighted to see the introduction of this new service to our libraries, which are a fantastic resource to gain access to culture, information and creativity.

“The BFI Replay service offers something unique and is another asset for our communities to enjoy. I would encourage anybody with an interest in social history from the last 60 years to explore the collection.”

The clips cover screen history from the 1960s to the 2010s, offering a glimpse into Britain’s past, people and places. They record and reveal an era of rapid social, industrial, political and technological change.

Drawn from the collections of the BFI National Archive and partner UK Regions and Nations Film Archives, they also include material from ITV and Channel 4, revealing a picture of public life in the video era.

Anybody who signs into a library computer using their library card can access the streaming service.

North Yorkshire’s library service offers an array of free research websites, including Ancestry, Find My Past, the British Newspaper Archive, GreenFile and the 1921 Census. For more details, please visit North Yorkshire Council’s website at