Radio Contributors and Scriptwriters Files 1963-1972

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 898 BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT12
  • Dates of Creation
      1963 - 1972
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      Primarily English, although some papers are written in foreign languages.
  • Physical Description
      Circa 28,800 files (c897.5 linear feet)

Scope and Content

The files contain correspondence and contractual papers relating to the engagement of contributors to BBC radio programmes between 1963 and 1972. They cover a range of types of contributor including, but not limited to, scriptwriters, speakers, composers and artists. The contributions include domestic and overseas programmes, but not generally the regions.

The contents of the papers can vary depending on the contributor, but a majority of material consists of contracts and booking requisitions. The correspondence that is included in some files refers to external requests for auditions, bookings and contractual negotiations. Internal BBC correspondence concerning the contributors in the form of letters and memoranda are also held on file. Occasionally biographical information, including photographs, was sent in by contributors and held on file.

It is noticeable that compared to the earlier papers of the RCONT1 series there is far less correspondence held in the files. One possible explanation for this, suggested by references in correspondence to telephone conversations, is the increase in popularity of the telephone, which began to replace the written word as the popular means of communication. As a result details of the relationships between contributors and the BBC are not captured on the same scale as those of earlier papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Central Registry administered large quantities of contracts and correspondence with contributors to various radio programmes. Different types of programme contribution required different types of contract, which were issued by different offices. Therefore, separate file sequences were held by the Central Registry for material concerning artists, talks, scriptwriters, composers, children’s programmes and others. These main files in these sequences were amalgamated into one continuous run of radio contributors. The copyright section also had its own sequence of files that covered television and radio contributors.


This series consists of one continuous run of contributor files. Each file contains papers relating to one contributor, as a sufficient quantity of material was generated to warrant a personal file.

The files are arranged alphabetically by surname, with those files not concerned with individuals (e.g. groups, orchestras and public bodies) forming part of the same alphabetical sequence. The papers within each file are arranged chronologically, usually with the most recent records at the front of the file.

The papers are stored in buff coloured files to distinguish them as main contributor files. When the Central registry underwent reorganisation in the late 1960s the main files from all the separate booking areas were amalgamated. Where contributors had files originating from more than one booking section, the files were broken up and all the papers placed in one chronological sequence, sometimes over a number of files. Where more than one file existed for a contributor the file number and covering dates were written on the front of the file and references were made to the other files for that contributor in the sequence.

In the Written Archives Centre catalogue all RCONT12 files have been allocated a number (e.g. RCONT12/21248: Reith, Lord ). Please note that these numbers are not found on the file covers.

Although the files are physically arranged in one continuous run, two file lists exist for the series. These cover the separate periods of 1963-1967 and 1968-1972, with each list arranged alphabetically and indicating the type of files each contributor has (e.g. Artist, Scriptwriter, Talks, Composer, etc.) The two sequences of lists originated according to the way in which the files were separated and stored in Central Registry before their eventual deposit at the Written Archives Centre.

From the creation of the Written Archives Centre catalogue in 2018, the final element of double-barrelled surnames has been used as the first element in file titles, in accordance with the NCA (National Council on Archives) rules on personal, place and corporate names, though the physical files remain as they were originally filed.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Buff coloured files containing written papers. This is in accordance with early Registry practice and was intended to distinguish contributors’ files from programme, departmental, and policy files, which generally have pink covers.

Custodial History

These files were originally created and held by the Central Registry. Papers were forwarded to the Registry from the Radio Artists Contracts department, formerly part of the Programme Contracts department.

The continual increase in paperwork holdings led to difficulties with storage space in the late 1960s. At the time ‘nominal’ files were housed in the Central Registry, registry stores, and other locations across the BBC, such as Ware.

The process of reorganising the Central Registry holdings began towards the end of 1968. A proposal was put forward to amalgamate all holdings and then to split the files into two distinct groups according to date. Papers dating to 31 December 1962 would be stored at Caversham, whilst later papers would remain with the Registry in London. Semi-current files from 1 January 1963 to 31 December 1967 would be held in a storage area of the Langham whilst files dating from 1 January 1968 would be kept as the current group of files on the ground floor.

It was originally suggested that the grouping of files would continue in five year runs. When the ‘current’ grouping of files reached the end of the five year period they would be moved to the store to make space for new run of files to be opened on the ground floor. Those already held in store would be transferred to Caversham. This arrangement led to the first three sequences of radio contributor files covering the following periods; circa 1922 to 1962, 1963 to 1967, and 1968 to 1972. However, in 1976 the Chief Registry and Records Officer suggested that the next split should be made after 10 years rather than 5 due to space and the costs incurred by the purchase of new file covers. This may account for the next sequence of files ( RCONT15 ) covering the ten year period 1973-1982.

The files for the 1963-1967 and 1968-1972 sequences were at some point, probably around 1986, transferred to the Records Management Centre for storage. It was at this point that the file lists were created for the two sequences, listing the titles of the files and the type of each file (e.g. Artist, Scriptwriter, Talks, Composer, etc.)

Between 31 January and 14 February 1990 the files of both sequences were transferred from the Records Management Centre to the Written Archives Centre.

Related Material

BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT1 is the preceding run of files for individual contributors. The files hold correspondence and contractual papers before 1963. These are ‘main’ files where there were sufficient papers on one contributor to warrant personal files with individual titles. The files for these contributors from different departments were amalgamated into one run within the RCONT1 series.

BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT2 - RCONT11 are preceding runs of miscellaneous papers dating before 1963. They hold the papers of those who generated an insufficient quantity of material to warrant the creation of a personal file in RCONT1 . The RCONT7 series consists of files dealing with requests for permission and payment to individuals or bodies for the use of their copyright material in television and radio programmes.

BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT13 is a concurrent run of miscellaneous files for radio artists covering the period of 1963-1972. BBC/R/RCONT/RCONT14 is also a concurrent run of miscellaneous files that covers the contributions of scriptwriters for this period.

Later radio contributor papers are held in continuing sequences under the sub-sub-fonds BBC/R/RCONT: Radio Artists and Contributors .

BBC/CORP/CCONT/RCONT18 is a concurrent run of files containing material generated from the copyright section between 1963 and 1969. There are further runs of copyright files dating after this period.

The sub-sub-fonds BBC/T/TVART: Television Artists and Contributors holds equivalent files for television programme contributions.

The sub-fonds BBC/NR: Nations and Regions holds contributor files for bookings that were made outside of London ( BBC/NR/M: Midlands Region, BBC/NR/NI: Northern Ireland, BBC/NR/N: North Region, BBC/NR/SC: Scotland, BBC/NR/SE: South East Region, BBC/NR/SW: South West Region, BBC/NR/WA: Wales and BBC/NR/WE: West Region ). Some artists may have papers in both the sub-sub-fonds BBC/R/RCONT and sub-fonds BBC/NR .

Long Term Contracts for contributors may be found in separate series under BBC/T/TVART/T49 for television and BBC/R/RCONT/R94 for radio.

There may be correspondence with artists and contractual documents in separate programme production files (see sub-sub-fonds BBC/R/PRR: Programmes Radio ).