The VHiStory Project

I’m digitising my large collection of VHS tapes, recorded from UK Television between 1984 and 2003, providing some commentary along the way. I don’t think I have anything that’s ‘missing’ from archives, although there are plenty of ad breaks and segments of news programmes which might possibly be of historical interest.

a box of VHS tapes

The tapes were packed with pages from the Radio Times, January 2007

I won’t always be commenting on the programmes themselves – I won’t have time to watch them all. I’ll try to call out ad breaks, news reports, continuity stuff that might not exist elsewhere.

Do let me know if I mention something you think might be of some value. You can leave a comment on the relevant post.


    1. It’s not in my database, and 2001 is around the time I switched to digital recording, away from VHS. I haven’t even started looking at my digital archive yet, that’s a whole other blog.

  1. I see from your list you have the 1990 christmas lectures. I work in science communication, and can remember these from my childhood, and am very interested to see them again. I think I heard that the RI don’t have a copy – or at least a good quality one.

    1. I haven’t got to that tape in my blog yet, although it has been digitised. I’ll get around to it in time. If the RI want a copy, I’d be delighted to provide one for them.

  2. Could you please upload the full Ruby Wax/Sandra Bernhard interview segment? Apparently it was very awkward, been looking for it for ages.It’s Tape 800 Thanks

  3. will it ever be possible to buy a 1tb hard drive from you with all the tapes on it? what quality are you managing to get when archiving?

    1. The raw rips are quite big, as I’m deliberately ripping at super-high bandwidth to preserve all the noise that VHS entails. So far, it’s spread across about 7 4TB drives.

      One 4hr tape clocks in at around 12GB and the quality is fairly good, mostly depending on the quality of the original tape. There’s definitely an upper limit on how good it can look, and I think I get fairly close to that. There’s plenty of examples on YouTube (re-encoded by YT of course) on my channel.

  4. Hiya! What an archive! I am rather envious I have to say. Do you ever trade shows with people, to share your glorious nostalgia? I am a nostalgia nut and collector myself and would love a hoard of treasures like yours.

  5. Hi,
    we are a french Magazine, called Collectionneur&Chineur, and we are going to talk about your blog in our next issue. Car you send me your e-mail where I’ll send a PDF of the page (in French).
    Can’t wait to ear from you. Have a lovely day.

    Kind regards.
    Chloé Monget
    journaliste Collectionneur&Chineur and Antiquités Brocante

  6. Hi could you please tell in what tv show Anna Friel was guest .I saw the photo but I can’t understand the show

  7. Can I ask what capture software do you use to capture and digitise the recordings?. I use Virtualdub from time to time but find it captures really big file sizes in avi. A lot of my vhs recordings are really poor: scratchy lines are very apparent and often very erratic jumping which the auto tracking system on the player can’t resolve. I’ve been told only a TBC (time base corrector) can fix the jumping issue. A lot of the tapes have been stored quite well, but it’s likely the deterioration on playback, poor quality tape or vhs recorder that has damaged (or all three) that had resulted in poor playback.

  8. There are lots of recordings I taped back in the day that I really wished I still had, one of these is the Royal premiere of Jurassic Park in July 1993 at the Empire Leicester Square in London. It was an half hr programme presented by the late Caron Keating (daughter of Gloria Hunniford), where she arrives in a Jurassic Park tour car. Inside she interviews Bob Peck, Jeff Goldblum, Ariana Richards, Michael Crichton, Attenborough and Steven Spielberg, with various clips from the film shown in between. They then show Princess Diana meeting and greeting the cast and crew before going in to see the film. Sadly though a family member taped it over not too long ago. It’s strange there’s not a single clip from this event on YouTube. Can’t recall what channel it was broadcast on; I’ve searched on the BBC Genome site but can’t find any mention of it, so I must assume it was shown on ITV, though it never contained any adverts.

    I still have a few other interesting stuff on tape though: Charlton Heston receiving the big red book from Michael Aspel on This is Your Life back in the mid 90s, the second episode of V The Original Miniseries (where Martin helps Donovan escape the mother ship), which was shown on ITV in 1988 or 89. What I like about this showing, compared to the DVD release, is the original soundtrack which. The remastered DVD track drowns out a lot of the music and original sound fx during the escape scene in the squad vehicle and dosent sound as dramatic.

    1. Hi
      Very impressed with your project and the fact you’ve created a website for it. I recently went through a similar exercise myself. My tapes stretch back to before 1983, and my parents were recording on those old Philips square tapes prior to even VHS! Having stored thousands of tapes myself, I was amazed when I was transferring them that very few had deteriorated substantially, and many looked as good as ever (which some would say wasn’t that great anyhow).

      Still, I am proud to have the material. I live in Australia, so have a mix of Aus, US, UK and foreign material. We used to get a lot of good docos and foreign miniseries and although I’m amazed how much is now available on DVD, some of this material is still of the moment, and not repeated. This includes some live performances screened on TV only once (comedy debates, theatre etc), and some great BBC docos (Horizon, Timewatch, Reputations) and dramas (Omnibus etc).

      Anyhow, just wanted to say that although I did edit out a lot of ads etc, I do feel some titles, intro and interviews are special, and did keep some accidentally recorded material as well. I used a Canopus ADVC-100 Advanced Digital Video Converter myself, and could tweak various settings as needed to boost blacks and fix contrast issues. My original intention was to send the signal through a S-VHS box, as even with standard material the signal is better. I started doing the High Quality rips too but realised it would take to long to re-encode so went straight to MPEG2 except for some special material. I know there are probably better codecs now, but wanted consistency and the project took a loong time!

      Anyhow, best wishes. It was a great feeling to complete my project, and it was hard to finally throw the tapes away. Some I’ve kept, but most have now gone to landfill (what a horrible pollutant these tapes must be!).

      What took me a long time was to see whether I could get a better digital copy of some of the films and series. This wasn’t always straightforward as I had some foreign films with subtitles that aren’t available as such, and there are sometimes differences in film prints. For example, I have the extended version of La Ronde which has never (to my knowledge) been commercially available.

      Anyhow, thought I’d share my experiences. It’s always good to know I’m not the only mad hoarder out there!

  9. Hi there, thanks so much for an amazing project. I’m making a documentary about Malcolm Hardee and looking for rare footage of British stand up comedy on TV in the early 80s/90s. I see Malcolm comes up in one show himself, in the History of Alternative Comedy which I have a copy of from the BBC. And also the Greatest Show On Legs turn up on Amnesty International’s Big 30 programme which I have just found a copy of online but could do with a digitised copy of.
    I’d be interested in talking to you about other clips too. Best wishes, Jody –

    1. It doesn’t ring a bell. It’s possible I might have recorded it at the end of another tape, in which case I’d mention it when the tape comes up, so check back with the blog occasionally in case I have.

  10. Hello! This is such a wonderful blog, I’m so glad I came across it. Scrolling through each page makes me feel very nostalgic.
    I was wondering if it would be possible to have copies of your recordings of Slattery and McShane (S+M). I have only managed to find clips of the episodes on YouTube and I would love to be able to see the entire series. The blog post I am referencing is:
    Thank you so much.

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