South Bank Show Production Archive

Scope and Content

The South Bank Show Production Archive (SBSP, 1978-2010) is a nationally valuable audio-visual collection. First aired in 1978, the South Bank Show is a longstanding, popular British arts television show broadcast on the ITV network for over 30 years before its cancellation in 2010 (and subsequent revivification on Sky Arts in 2012). The collection offers insight into British arts programming over three decades, as the Show sought to celebrate and interrogate both 'high' and popular art forms, and the classical and the new in culture, both home-grown and from across the globe. The programmes covered a diverse spectrum of talented people, productions and events from stage to film and TV screens, ballet and poetry to popular music and haute couture. The first episode featured Paul McCartney (1978) and subsequent programmes went on to cover the Royal Shakespeare Company (1979; 1982; 2009) alongside Brookside (1986), profiled the likes of Satyajit Ray (1978), Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli (1980), Al Jolson (1986), Paula Rego (1992), Thora Hird (1994), Wayne Sleep (1998), Amos Oz (2001), Jeanette Winterson (2004), and Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009), plus Yorkshire's own David Hockney (1978; 1981; 1983; 1988; 2010), the Phoenix Dance Theatre (1984) and Tony Harrison (1999). Melvyn Bragg's name is synonymous with the South Bank Show as its long-serving presenter and editor, while documentaries also came from Ken Russell (on classical music and musicians) and Tony Palmer with Isolde films. Comprising approximately 9000 items, the SBSP archive includes c.760 episodes and specials, and unseen rushes, spanning 33 years. The collection reflects the rapid changes in broadcast media technologies with holdings including 16mm film and 2" reel to reel audio tapes, through to digibeta and more recent formats, like DVCAM.

The SBSP Archive was acquired by the University of Leeds in January 2015 with the aim of both preserving and digitising the collection for use in research and teaching. The physical formats are not accessible but over 650 items have been digitised and are available through the catalogue.

Enquiries about the collection should be directed to Leeds University Library Special Collections.

Administrative / Biographical History

The South Bank Show is a television arts magazine show, produced by ITV between 1978 and 2010 which brought both high art and popular culture to a mass audience. The South Bank Show was conceived, written and presented by former BBC arts broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg, Chancellor of the University of Leeds.

Access Information

Digitised material is available from the catalogue for University of Leeds staff and students or in the reading room for non-university of Leeds users. Non-digitised material is unavailable for access but requests can be sent to the Special Collections enquiries email address.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

All content, whether digitised or not, is owned by ITV and permission for reproduction or use must be sought from them. Digitised material is available to view online or in the Special Collections reading room at the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds. To request a quote for digitisation of undigitised material costs please contact Special Collections with the relevant details. Please be aware that digitisation can be a lengthy and costly process.

Custodial History

The collection was managed by ITV archives until physical transfer to the University of Leeds in January 2015. Ownership remains with ITV.

Corporate Names