BFI to open up film archive

Digital jukebox will feature 300 movies and TV shows

The British Film Institute ( BFI ) is to open up its film archives to the public, providing free access to some 300 films and TV programmes.

Its Digital Jukebox , due to open next month, will give visitors to the BFI access to rare film and TV shows from the BFI National Archive, which spans more than 100 years of moving images.

The Mediatheque at BFI on London's South Bank will include clips from Queen Elizabeth II's coronation and the 1966 World Cup final, as well as the first episodes ever shown of TV shows such as Blue Peter and Coronation Street.

Computer maker Hewlett-Packard (HP) will provide the technology infrastructure for the Mediatheque, and has donated 17 work stations as part of a two-year partnership with the BFI.

"HP is giving us some hardware and some cash, and access to its expertise in digital technology and management," said film director and BFI chairman Anthony Minghella.

"The strategy has been to duplicate and digitise important material, and that's very costly," Minghella added.

The BFI hopes to add around 30 digitised titles per month to the Digital Jukebox service. There are also plans for other centres around the country to offer the public access to regional film archives.

Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, said: "One of Britain's richest cultural treasures is its film heritage and together the BFI and HP are making sure it can be enjoyed and appreciated by a broader, more diverse audience."