Christine Whittaker

Forename/s: 
Christine
Family name: 
Whittaker
Work area/craft/role: 
Company: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
592
Interview Date(s): 
17 Aug 2009
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
100

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Interview
Biographical

Christine Whittaker  - the ‘doyenne’ of British film researchers (The late Jane Mercer, former Chair of FOCAL International) for more than  30 years she has spent defining – and indeed refining – the role of the film researcher in television production.

Christine has also given generously of her time to voluntary work with organisations such as FOCAL and, most notably, IAMHIST, the organisation of which she has been the President for many years. She also lectures and teaches about Film Research at national and international events and at Birkbeck College, University of London. After taking a degree in Modern Languages with a view to becoming a translator, Christine joined the BBC World Service, where her work included broadcasts to French-speaking Canada. From there she transferred to BBC Television and became a factual researcher in documentaries and, inevitably found herself being asked to look for bits of footage. It was while seated one day at a Steenbeck at the Imperial War Museum, according to Christine, that she realised that film research was what she really wanted to do. The rest is history. For many years Christine was the only film researcher on the BBC staff. Eventually, the late 1980s saw a recognition of the expertise that she had helped to pioneer as a profession in its own right. By that time her list of credits had become legendary – Nippon, All Our Working Lives, Out of the Doll’s House and Pandora’s Box. Then of course came People’s Century - a 26 part Emmy award winning series on which she was credited as the Archive Producer – marking a giant leap forward for the film research community as a whole. Other credits are Days That Shock The World (Lion Television);
Now the War is Over (BBC);An Ocean Apart (BBC);40 Minutes (BBC);Time Watch (BBC); the Vera Lynn Story
Christine has worked tirelessly to spread the word about the value and virtue of archive footage and its proper use. She lectures at seminars and conferences around the world and she  campaigned enthusiastically on behalf of the archive business. 

Christine was honoured in the FOCAL International Awards 2006 with the Lifetime Achievement Award. This Award is a gift of the FOCAL Executive to one of its Members who has performed long service in the archive industry and is recognised in a general sense to have contributed to the promotion, good practice or understanding of the content industry.