When the Information Section was formed at Television House in February 1969, part of its multifarious functions was to keep records of the Company’s programmes and Alys Carter, pictured, was given the job of looking after these at Teddington. Alys, formerly Secretary to Dodo Watts, found at first that some were opposed to parting with their programme records. But in a relatively short period she has, by producing them rapidly whenever required, made converts and has now extended her job to take in other Company archives. In journalistic terms these records are equivalent in importance to a newspaper’s back numbers. They are the Company’s memory file.

Alys Carter

Certainly they fulfil requirements which are various and not always obvious. Many programmes are far from dead after their first transmission. They are sold all over the world for later screening and Alys provides the scripts that have to go with them. It is often necessary, too, to refer back to programmes to find out who appeared in them, who made them, where they were made, what was said, how long they took to make, and how much they cost. The impressive coverage by ‘This Week’ of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, for example, provided material for the much acclaimed ‘Report’ documentary, ‘Remember Czechoslovakia’. Current affairs programmes, in particular, create more than transient interest among viewers. Requests for information are frequent and take in a wide spectrum of people from comprehensive scholars to university professors; some of the latter including an increasing number of academics who are making special studies of television as a communications medium.

Alys is, like all archivists, preoccupied with considerations of space – where to put everything, what is to be kept or thrown away. And now space becomes even more important. In her corner of the Cottage at Teddington she is in the process of centralising the Company’s technical books and in setting up, as a branch of the Information Section, a small comprehensive library of standard reference books for the use of all departments based at Teddington.

In character with all libraries, the value of the Company archives will continue to increase with time.

About the author

June Roberts was the editor of the Thames Television house newspaper, Talk of THAMES

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