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.

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157 comments

  1. Hi! Are you copying any of your VHS’s to DVD and would you consider selling a copy if so? I remember enjoying, “A Masculine Ending” (tape 601) but it isn’t commercially available and I’d like to show it to my mum as I think she missed it first time around. If you can let me know I’d appreciate this. Thanks (there’s also a gentleman called Patrick de Klef who’s left a similar comment on the page for this tape.)

    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.

  2. 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.
    cheers
    Dave

    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.

  3. 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

  4. 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. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOv6laHcBWbmT_fHI4rc5LQ

  5. 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.

  6. 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
    chloe.monget@lva.fr

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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 –
    tunnelfilms@gmail.com tunnelfilms.co.uk

    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.

  11. 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: https://vhistory.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/sm-tape-591/
    Thank you so much.

  12. I’m looking for a very rare clips of Mrs. Doyle, and all I can remember, is that it was her on some kind of comedy show, not in the actual Father Ted series.
    She was having a rant about the book she’d been reading, like she did in the series, about eff this and eff that, and ‘ride me sideways was another one Father’, and me and me pal were so impressed, we learnt it off by heart at the time.
    She says, and I hope I’m getting this right….
    Diggery dog cock balls soapy shag bucket anus toggle vibro boy spaniel squirt.

    I just cannot find the tape I had it on, but trawling the internet, I think it might be from Comic Relief ’97, which I think is your tape number 2356(65?).

    Do you still have it, in some kind of digital form?????

    1. I’ve found the Mrs Doyle bit from Comic Relief but it isn’t the scene you described.

      Unless she appears on the show more than once, but I checked the whole Father Ted segment of the show and this is the only bit she does.

  13. I’m interested in the following tapes, is there ant chance that we could do a trade?

    17 Superman II
    85 Superman III
    104 Superman
    288 Children Of The Corn
    243 Wargames
    378 Supergirl
    1778 Sneakers

    1. Of the ones you’ve listed, I’ve digitised all but Superman II (which might mean I can no longer find the tape). What’s your particular interest in collecting these, given that they’re hardly hard to find films?

      1. I’m a collector of workprints and tv versions which were broadcasted on tv in the USA/Uk with extra footage. I like my 80’s stuff in the UK. That’s the reason i’m trying my best to find them. If you could do me copies of those, i would be very grateful. I did send you an email on 21st july with my trading list of what i have got to offer. Please do let me know if any one has the Superman 2 copy.

        Do you know of anyone who has the irish broadcasted versions of superman films?

      2. I don’t know of anyone with irish recordings.

        I should warn you about the Children of the Corn recording. Several people thought that mine was an extended edition that’s only been broadcast once, but on examination, they concluded it was just a normal version with no extra scenes. Take a look at the discussion on the entry for more details.

        It’s possible I do actually have Superman II – it’s just that I’ve still got a few boxes of tapes left to digitise, so it just hasn’t come out yet.

        My recordings are very high bandwidth, so a full tape is often around 12G in size, which makes them hard to transfer easily. Let me know (via email if you prefer) how you want to proceed.

      3. thanks for the message, is it possible to shrink the size from 12gb to 4.3gb
        I do have a portable HDD but it’s got stuff on it, this will take a while. I have to buy a hdd to get rid of the stuff on the portable hdd.

        If it was a 4gb size its easy to upload on Mega.nz (50gb free u/l) or send the stuff through the post.

      4. As a test, I’ve re-encoded Wargames at lower bandwidth, and that’s dropped from 8G to 2.9G, which is a bit more manageable. It takes a long time to encode them, though, so I’m not desperately keen to spend hours encoding stuff. If you want to pick the most important ones, I can probably do two or three.

      5. thank you for doing that. Don’t do any more re-encodes. I will have to sort out a hdd for that, for the big files. Will get in touch with you. Is this your email VHiStory comment-reply@wordpress.com
        I have sent you my trading list

  14. Hi, I saw a picture of Matt Johnson from The The from The Music Biz show. Do you have any more video of Matt Johnson/The The and is the interview from Music Biz available to view. Regards

  15. is there any way to got a digital version of the show “the music biz” from around 1995 in your archive. I’ve been looking for this for ages. You archive is amazing !

  16. Hi, Do you ever seen any recordings? I remember enjoying, “A Masculine Ending” (tape 601) but it isn’t commercially available. Thanks, Helen

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