British Entertainment History Project Interview No. 710
Interviewee: Anne Hanford, formerly Head of Television Library Services at the BBC
Interviewer: Sue Malden
Transcriber: Linda Hall-Shaw
SUE MALDEN: Thank you very much for talking to us Anne.
ANNE HANFORD: It’s a pleasure.
SUE MALDEN: It’s a great opportunity. Could we start by just asking your date of birth?
ANNE HANFORD: 23 December 1937
SUE MALDEN: And the place of birth
ANNE HANFORD: I was born in Nottingham
SUE MALDEN: And your nationality
ANNE HANFORD: British
SUE MALDEN: One question we always like to ask is whether you have received any awards in the conducting of your job and work and so on.
ANNE HANFORD: Well I suppose I am a Fellow of the Royal Television Society. I think that’s probably the only one you could describe as an award.
SUE MALDEN: Any honours yet?
ANNE HANFORD: No, no, none.
SUE MALDEN: I am sure they’re to come. Can I ask a little bit about your family background? Did your parents or any relatives have anything to do with television when you were younger? Were you influenced in that way as part of working in television?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:15] No, certainly not. I don’t think my family had a television for many years. My father was a librarian so I suppose that’s was what led me into that profession but not connected with television at all. He was very interested in photography. He was quite interested in what you might call the creative arts generally but not particularly television.
SUE MALDEN: When did they get a television?
ANNE HANFORD: Oh, I should think at least ten years after the television had started.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:59] But you had one for The Coronation?
ANNE HANFORD: No, no we didn’t so that probably is a clue. My father is a convinced republican so that wouldn’t have driven him …
SUE MALDEN: No I’m sure not but that’s quite often been a landmark for a lot of other people.
ANNE HANFORD: Oh, yes, yes it is.
SUE MALDEN: So, what about your schooling then? Where did you go to school and any other education after school?
ANNE HANFORD: Well I went to Mundella Grammar School in Nottingham and then when I left, because I’d decided by then I wanted to be a librarian … In those days, graduates in librarianship were really very few and far between … so I went immediately to work in Nottingham Public Libraries and I did my professional qualifications on a part time basis. First of all, at I think it was called the Nottingham and District Technical College and then after, when I moved to London, at North West Poly. So that’s where I did my professional qualifications.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 03:10] What did you say the name of the school was?
ANNE HANFORD: Mundella. He was the architect of, I think it’s the 1871 Education Act. He came not from Nottingham oddly but I think he came from Leicester the great rival of Nottingham. But the grammar school because of the Education Act, I think it was 1871. The Education Act underlined free secondary education so that’s I think why the school was called after him.
SUE MALDEN: It makes sense. So, was it hard work trying to keep down a full-time job working in the library and doing the qualifications part-time or did you get much support from the library for that.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 04:00] Well, certainly in the beginning they gave a day release for part of the classes but when I moved to London that didn’t happen so it was all evening classes. Well I suppose it was hard work but I thought that’s what everybody did so it didn’t seem to me anything exceptional but I suppose it was, looking back, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
SUE MALDEN: And you’re probably right that that was the way in which many people got librarianship experience and qualifications.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, it was, it was. They had a full-time, I think it was, a year’s course, at some of the … not the universities …some of what were really polytechnics. Usually people were partially qualified by the time they went and by the time I was partly qualified I was married, so that didn’t really seem a very good idea. So, I finished it on the part-time basis.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 05:12] That makes sense. So what year did you move to London?
ANNE HANFORD: When I was married in 1956.
SUE MALDEN: And did you get a job in London as well.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, I did. I worked in Nottingham Public Library which when you are young you think that’s the norm for all public libraries. When I went to Wandsworth, which had a certain kind of professional reputation, it went in for photographic charging of issues and it had great kind of articles in the professional press and I thought this is a good place to work but in fact it wasn’t anything like as good a library as the one I had left. And I wasn’t actually terribly happy there but that led to other things which you will no doubt come to later.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 06:09] Yes. So, while you were there you spent time in the evenings pursuing further academic training at the Poly.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, I did. I mentioned North West Polytechnic which was actually … they did full-time courses. It was fairly known in the profession but when I was working at Wandsworth there was a more local one which was called, if you can believe it, The Clapham Common College of Commerce. [Laughter] Not a well-known academic institution.
SUE MALDEN: It doesn’t slip off the tongue.
ANNE HANFORD: No, not easily, no, no.
SUE MALDEN: OK. So, we have got you now qualified as a librarian having been working at Wandsworth Public Library, not that impressed. What happened next?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 06:58] Well, while I was working in the reference library there they recruited somebody to the staff who came to be shown round all the areas of the library and she had worked for Associated-Rediffusion which was the first independent television company and she had been reluctant to leave there but she had to widen her professional experience to become professionally qualified and she said that they were actually looking for somebody to fill her job which was in their library. Library in the sense that they owned books and periodicals, it was nothing to do with film or anything but it was working for Associated-Rediffusion. So, because I wasn’t very happy there I went for an interview and lo and behold I got the job. So that’s really how I started in a television organisation.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 08:11 That’s amazing. It was quite by chance really.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, totally by chance. I mean, I had been looking in all kinds of special libraries because I had decided, you know, that public libraries are not all that they are cracked up to be. [Laughter] So I had been looking but that had not come across my horizon until I met this girl which was amazing.
SUE MALDEN: Incredible. And can you remember the name of whoever interviewed you for this job?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, Annette Jacobie, she was the librarian … she was called the librarian. I never was terribly sure what her actual professional background was, it wasn’t professional librarianship that’s for sure, but she was very good. She was very good at the job. Perhaps it was journalism because a lot of the kind of work was not to do with books. I mean the collection of books was minute. [TIME 09:10] Just the kind of standard reference works really, to look up dates and names and [unclear] And, don’t forget, there was absolutely no kind of online access to information. I think that’s the interesting thing really about being a librarian in the common sense, people actually came to you for information because it was quite hard to find it. You know, you didn’t just Google it and any fool could do it, you actually had to know the sources of specialist information particularly. And that was partly covered by the professional courses, of course, but as you can imagine changing from the general public coming in and wanting to know … well sometimes they were quite difficult but usually, if you knew what you were doing, they were fairly easy to answer …[TIME 10:13] but you can imagine working for a television company where Associated-Rediffusion were very anxious to steal every march they possibly could on the BBC and one of the marches they did steal was they were the first to actually broadcast television schools programmes. They did that before the BBC and the BBC were really not best pleased about this because they were planning it, etc. etc. but Associated-Rediffusion did it first. So, there was quite a lot of work for people who were working on those educational programmes, working on documentaries, well working on all Rediffusion’s output really so it was a bit of an eye opener to me and I certainly found out a huge amount more about sources of information which became very useful to me. So that’s that [Unclear]
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 11:10] Yes, I can imagine you also then start getting attuned to the kinds of ways and things that people in television ask you for. It’s not like the public.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, absolutely. I really enjoyed that and it was very interesting. And then one day when I was sitting there minding my own business … I mean obviously I did have quite a lot of contact with people who worked in the Film Department, well the directors who used the Film Department and someone kind of from the film department came in and said “Oh well you know we’re desperate for somebody to work in the Film Library here.” And I said “Really, well I don’t know anything about film, technically or anything.” And they said “Oh no, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter.” [TIME 12:08] So, I was persuaded to take a job in the Film Library which was really developing a stock shot library for compiling outtakes from film that might be useful in the future and cataloguing it and making it available. You had to then actually handle the film. You had to kind of cut it up and join it and all sorts of things like that which was a bit foreign to me. I was a bit reluctant to take it because I had been so happy in the work I was doing and the film thing seemed a bit more kind of pedestrian and a bit cut off and a bit technical. But I have to tell you that the thing that swayed me was the money because I was very poor. [TIME 13:05] We were very young and poor in those days and the salary was actually fixed by ACT. It was ACT rates. It was also a closed shop. I had to join ACT as well which was a bit foreign to a librarian but there you go. [Laughter] So, I am ashamed to say that was the deciding factor.
SUE MALDEN: And so what about the librarian posts then, where they also ACT.
ANNE HANFORD: Well, I mean, deep down it was a bit of a euphemism really, a library. The stock shot thing was quite interesting and they never had anyone with any kind of professional library qualifications before, so it was a bit dire. Gradually I began to take on more and more work not just the stock shots. You know, looking at the complete programmes, how they stored those and indexed those. [TIME 14:14] So, it really kind of developed from there and I have to say, the whole, what shall I say, philosophy, method of selecting people to work in film libraries is usually taking the failed film technicians. If you weren’t a very good cameraman or a very good editor they thought ‘Oh put them in the library, they can’t do much harm there.’ So, it was a rather strange kind of environment to walk into. And then I worked there in that kind of range I suppose for a couple of years. Then obviously I got to know the people who used film in the programmes and they asked me to become a film researcher. [TIME 15:10] So, then I started doing film research for Associated-Rediffusion’s documentaries and This Week, their current affairs programme. So that’s how I started doing film research. So, there I was.
SUE MALDEN: So when did Associated Rediffusion start broadcasting?
ANNE HANFORD: Well I joined them in ’57 so I think it was about ’55 - ’54 / ’55. It hadn’t been going very long.
SUE MALDEN: So you were right there at the very beginning.
ANNE HANFORD: Well, nearly at the beginning, yes.
SUE MALDEN: And had they been keeping all their programme output from the start?
ANNE HANFORD: They kept a fair amount. You see it hadn’t been going all that long. So, I mean It wasn’t a huge collection. They hadn’t really begun to grapple with what happened later, the volume of material was not that great so it wasn’t that serious. [TIME 16:25] I have to say, looking back, they stored the material in vaults which were on the roof of Television House in Kingsway and they were as hot as hell in summer and as cold as anything in winter. So, the worst possible place you can store film but I didn’t know that then. [Laughter]
SUE MALDEN: That’s amazing and I can imagine being that young a company most people could remember their output
ANNE HANFORD: Oh, they could.
SUE MALDEN: So they had no perception that they needed a catalogue or anything.
ANNE HANFORD: No, no. I have to say that idea went on for many years including very renowned people in the BBC. I remember Paul Fox saying to me “Well I can remember all the programmes I made, so why do you need a catalogue?” basically. So, it wasn’t fairly common. [TIME 17:24] I think it was a misconception even when you had only made a few programmes. But generally speaking the directors were pretty congenial, there were Peter Morley, Cyril Bennet, Elkan Allen, Geoff Hughes. They were actually relieved that there was somebody who did actually seem to vaguely know what they were doing. That said, it was a bit vaguely but I suppose compared with what had been in place before it was an improvement.
SUE MALDEN: That’s an amazing sort of challenge in a way isn’t it getting plunged in with something completely new to you, I can image, handling film as opposed to books and papers. A completely different world.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 18:22] Well it was but then I began to see how important it was to try and document the material properly. What was a matter of course with books and printed material, I thought that was how the world was, being rather young and naïve. I thought well I am sure everything’s perfectly well organised and then to find a whole area which was completely kind of unchartered in a way was … I loved it. I loved it.
SUE MALDEN: I can image it must have been really exciting.
ANNE HANFORD: It was. It opened my eyes generally to a much bigger world than working in a public library.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 19:26] And I suppose also being able to apply those skills and way of thinking and analysing knowledge and information to something that desperately needed it.
ANNE HANFORD: Well it was because again I was just amazed that nobody thought about how you analyse the content and then how you indexed it and then you tried to take into account how people were going to use it. And, in fact, that was so much more difficult than with printed material because I quite quickly began to realise that when somebody asks for a piece of film to re-use in a programme, its quite likely to be for quite other purposes than that for which it was originated [TIME 20:26] so just actually saying what it is, is perhaps not sufficient you have got to actually look forward to try and image how it might be re-used or take that into account as far as you can. So, it’s quite a different skill in many ways.
SUE MALDEN: Definitely, yes. So, you started in Associated-Rediffusion in, when did we say, 1950 ...?
ANNE HANFORD: ’57.
SUE MALDEN: So, about how long working on the stock shots?
ANNE HANFORD: Well probably about maybe eighteen months, a couple of years, and then I moved on to film research. And then the BBC thing came up in a quite … again, my life is full of fortunate accidents, [Laughter] perhaps most people’s are, fortunate or unfortunate. [TIME 21:25] But then when I was working in the film library at Rediffusion I became aware of this professional group that was part of ASLIB, the Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureau. I think way outside television a lot of big companies had collections of film, ICI, British Transport, you know a lot of big companies and also, of course, Shell had a very big collection. Quite a lot of professional bodies had collections as well and I think people began to realise in the library profession that there was some need for a kind of group to look at the various professional problems so ASLIB started this, [TIME 22:29] I think it was called, the Film Productions Librarians’ Group. It was a bit strange. So, I became involved with that and they had meetings, etc. and one of the people who was a regular attender came from the BBC Film Library and her name was Elizabeth Russell and she was a librarian too. She was a professional librarian so they weren’t absolutely unknown but they were rare and I think before she went to the BBC she worked for British Transport with their collection of film. Anyway, so we met on a fairly regular basis and then she came to one meeting and said you know something really very unexpected had happened to her she was pregnant, so she was going to have to leave her job. So, the BBC was going to advertise the job so that’s how I came to ….
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 23:31] A few questions from that, can you remember who else was in this ASLIB Special Library Group?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, there was somebody who worked for Shell, Michael Molds I think there were one or two academic libraries. I honestly can’t remember all their names now. Oh, and also the BFI used to send people as well so you got to know quite a few people who were involved in the …
SUE MALDEN: Did you feel you were learning much from them about this new kind of librarianship that you were suddenly plunged into.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 24:28] Well yes, I did because obviously their collections were different to television collections. So, yes I did and there were a lot of common problems which were really about the issues we have already talked about. About preservation, about cataloguing standards and in fact they did actually produce some rules for cataloguing and things like this. So, yes and it was certainly very helpful to me because I did feel before I joined them that you were a bit of a lone wolf and nobody to ask about … or there wasn’t much literature or anything. So yes, it was useful, definitely.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 25:24] Do you feel you taught them something as well. What it was like right at the coalface?
ANNE HANFORD: Well yes, I think I did.
SUE MALDEN: And I would imagine you would have been under more pressure, especially time pressure, in the kind of work you were doing within Associated-Rediffusion than maybe someone in Shell who was looking after shares or oil exploratory films that are not.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes definitely, the time pressure thing in television is one of the key factors and also the way in which the material is used and really as time went on and the collections became very large and so people began to say well, we need to keep all this and can’t we send it out into the middle of nowhere and, it will be cheaper and etc. etc. [TIME 26:25] But in television something you want to re-use is just as likely to be ten years old as it is to be ten minutes old. In fact, the most recent material is probably used more frequently. But when you want it you want it whether it is ten minutes or ten years old and that is one of the problems I think.
SUE MALDEN: And that environment very much drives or dictates to some extent how you organise and manage the library from a slightly more relaxed working environment.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, yes it does.
SUE MALDEN: The other question based on what you said was Elizabeth had to leave the BBC. Did she decide she wanted to leave being pregnant or did they have a rule then that if once you became pregnant you had to leave?
ANNE HANFORD: No, no they didn’t have a rule. It was her choice, she felt she had to. Not an example I followed I have to say. [Laughter]
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 2733] So, what year was this?
ANNE HANFORD: That was ’61, I first went to the BBC.
SUE MALDEN: So, knowing that she was leaving did she give you information about how to apply for the job?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, she did tell me it would be advertised so then I looked … [Interview interrupted by a telephone call]
SUE MALDEN: So, we have now got to the point where you are working at Associated-Rediffusion as a film researcher, you are a member of the ASLIB special film library group and you hear that there is a vacancy going at the BBC. This is 1961? So over to you.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 28:27] Right, yes 1961. I didn’t know very much about the BBC except the conversations with my colleagues in the film production librarian group, etc. And so, I applied on the application form and I was a bit doubtful whether there was any point in applying because the very reason that the last person in the job was leaving was she was pregnant I thought they were hardly likely to want to appoint another young woman. I was only 23 at the time. So, I thought this is a bit of a long shot, but never mind and so anyway I applied and they said yes, yes, they asked me to come for an interview. Of course, I was one of the rare people who did h ave some experience in television. [TIME 29:37] I mean probably there can’t have been many. So, I was called to an interview which was at the television film studios because the Film Library was part of the Film Department and the Film Department was based at the film studios at Ealing. And so, I went for an interview and I think there were four people interviewing me. There was obviously part of the management of the department, there was somebody from Personnel, somebody from Appointments Department. In those days, Appointments Department was separate from Personnel so it was quite a formidable sort of set up. So, there I was being interviewed. Apart from it being rather overawing and I was very interested to see the film studios because, of course, I was aware of the Ealing Film Studios place. [TIME 30:47] I was quite interested in films myself so I was really intrigued to go to the actual building and it looked just like all film studios, like they were going to come and collect it up and cart it away at any moment but I thought it was very exciting. And I honestly can’t remember very much about what they asked me but they must have asked me a lot about the work I had done at Rediffusion and this and that and they didn’t seem to be very put off. And the person from the Film Department that interviewed me was the assistant head, a man called David Martin who became my boss when I was appointed. He was a real old BBC hand but he was a fairly enlightened forward-thinking person and so he couldn’t have been better for me really. [TIME 31:52] Anyway, much to my amazement, and I think probably my husband’s amazement, I did actually get the job. And I remember that when I got the job the BBC went … The appointments process takes an enormous length of time. Weeks go by, you sign different bits and pieces. Anyway, after I had accepted the job the BBC had its annual pay review and the pay went up before I had even started. So, this impressed my husband no end. [Laughter] And, in fact, it was over a thousand a year which was quite a big deal in those days so I was really pretty pleased with it.
SUE MALDEN: No, that’s a good point. How did that compare with the Associated-Rediffusion …
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 32:52] Well, it was more. It was more than I had been paid at Rediffusion and, in fact, I was beginning to feel a bit put on at Rediffusion because I could see they weren’t really paying me the proper rate for the job in the researcher area and I suppose that’s what made me feel a bit kind of fidgety but I mean nobody could believe that the BBC would pay me more. In general categories ITV paid much more but not in the libraries area.
SUE MALDEN: So David Martin was the sort of key management person to make a decision.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, he was.
SUE MALDEN: Can you remember who from Personnel was there?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 33:46] Yes, it was a man called Sidney Budd, I think it was Sidney W. Budd as he always signed himself. He was a bit sort of grey and pale but perfectly nice.
SUE MALDEN: So when you started there what was the Library like? What was there?
ANNE HANFORD: Well the job was Assistant Film Librarian and the Film Librarian was a man called Viv Maccoby. He came from a vaguely film background. I think he had been with British Transport Films way back but he wasn’t a professional librarian but he had been the Assistant Film Librarian and I can’t remember now just how long he had been the Film Librarian. [TIME 34:51] Not that long, probably a couple of years because the original or previous holder of the post was still sort of spoken of. He used to swim in Highgate Ponds and it was thought he was drowned and he was never found so there was always a bit of a kind of mystery about the place. As I say, these accidents that happen to me befall other people. So, Viv Maccoby had taken over and he was quite knowledgeable about film but he had a very kind of what I call the film industry idea about how libraries should be organised and I think my predecessor had begun the work of trying to introduce more professional methods but she hadn’t really been there long enough for this to be successful. [TIME 36:04] So, I had to work on that and it was actually quite hard going. The categories were … As you might image there were people who answered enquiries. They were the kind of professionals if you like, they answered the enquiries, they catalogued the film material. There were people who looked after the technical aspects who checked it and made sure it was technically sound. People who worked in the storage areas. I can’t remember how many people there were. There were probably about twenty I should think altogether then, I can’t just remember.
SUE MALDEN: It was quite substantial compared with Associated-Rediffusion.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes it was. And that was another thing I realised I didn’t know anything about and that was managing people. [TIME 37:07] I mean I had never managed anybody except myself [Laughter] probably, not that very well. That came as a bit of a shock. I suppose the kind of pedestrian elements you get as a manager, you have to order overalls and make sure you don’t run out of stationary and all these things that had never occurred to me. They had never been part of my responsibility. And then people who clearly weren’t doing their work very well and all the things that weigh on you as a manager and I began to see, as I say, there was something else I didn’t know anything about and I had to learn that pretty rapidly.
SUE MALDEN: So, what were your duties or what was your role then?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 38:05] Well, my role really was to be the number two. To assist Maccoby in running the library so naturally, he would delegate to me the things that were boring and mundane and sometimes the things that were too difficult for him to do. To be perfectly honest, he was a very nice man and he was quite knowledgeable but he was a perfectly awful manager. Even I that didn’t know anything, could see that. And in fact, that really gave rise to the next thing that happened. I suppose I had been there about nine months I think, certainly less than a year.
SUE MALDEN: And, the Library was based in the Film Studios?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 39:02] Yes, it was. They had some storage areas at Lime Grove because the Library’s history was that when television started again after the War in 1948, it had been based at Alexander Palace and the Library, such as it was, was at Alexander Palace. Then they moved to Lime Grove and before the BBC acquired the Film Studios, so the Library was based at Lime Grove. So, they had, well I think they were the old film vaults that the studios that were originally there had owned, and they were on the roof as well and they used to flood quite regularly. In fact, there was a pair of duty wellington boots you had to put on if you had to go onto the roof if it was raining. [TIME 40:08] Lime Grove was a terrible building. It was in several separate blocks which were not connected at every floor and, as I remember, there were film vaults on two of the blocks so you couldn’t get from one to the other. It was a nightmare, absolute nightmare to run. So, there was storage there and the rest was at Ealing. And Ealing had had a very expensively constructed block, called the Film Vaults Block which had been constructed for nitrate film because of course, when the BBC started the television news was on nitrate stock. And, in fact, other programme material, but most of it was television news on nitrate stock which had to be stored in these special vaults which, of course, was very uneconomic in the amount of material you can store in any given square footage. [TIME 41:08] So, it then began for safety film to use other areas in the film studios that were not used for anything else and, in fact, they tended probably not to be very suitable, because they weren’t being used for anything else that’s why they weren’t very suitable. The whole, kind of, managing the stock was hugely difficult. The other thing the BBC had done before I arrived is, because they could see that the storage was getting a problem and it was bursting out at the seams, they decided they would make this agreement with, what was then, The National Film Archives which became The National Film and Television Archives, that they would actually store some of the older material at The National Film Archives who had more nitrate storage facilities but they were at Aston Clinton which way out in Buckinghamshire. [TIME 42:20] So, you can image they didn’t seem to give much thought to when Television News wanted some material that had been sent to The National Film Archives at Aston Clinton, a taxi would be sent to Aston Clinton to get this film back again. So, you can imagine, the taxi bills became quite horrendous. [Laughter] There was always somebody who was in a taxi on the way to Aston Clinton. So, that was one of the management problems and naturally the users, the producers and editors who wanted the film were not impressed by this. They thought what idiot decided to do this, etc. [TIME 43:07]
So, that was one of the issues and, in fact, I have to say, that one of the problems which became apparent to me is that the Library was not well regarded by the production staff. Now, I wasn’t used to this either. I mean, when I worked for Associated-Rediffusion because there had been so little there before I started, they all thought I was wonderful and I wasn’t used to being not thought of as wonderful and doing a good job, which I found quite hard to cope with. So that was one of the things …
SUE MALDEN: Can I just recap on dates? You started 1961. When did the BBC acquire the Ealing Studios? Had they already got them?
ANNE HANFORD: Oh, yes they had.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 44:04] So your base was in Ealing but you got the problems of Lime Grove and all the nitrate, or, not all, but some of the nitrate stuff was at Aston Clinton. What were you going to do about this?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, it wasn’t within my gift, except to draw it to the attention of the management that this wasn’t actually working very well. Then another rather kind of bomb exploded in the situation in that, as I say, after about nine months, less than a year, they had one of the BBC’s reviews of departments. They had a kind of O and M Department that went around looking at various areas that were either not functioning satisfactorily, or they wanted to expand or what.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 45:18] O and M stood for?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, Organisation and Method. It wasn’t called that, that’s a phrase of my youth and nobody uses it now but it was very much in vogue then. In fact, in the BBC it wasn’t actually called that. I can’t remember what it was called now but that’s what it was. It was actually to look at the methods and make recommendations to the management. It was a quite independent department which would then make recommendations to the management of the departments which they were looking at. I think the investigations had been going on actually before I arrived. Again, it was a very very long process and they produced a report which I never saw but they produced a report which quite clearly said you have got to get rid of that Vivian Maccoby because he is quite useless. [TIME 46:22] I am sure they didn’t phrase it in those terms and the BBC, as it was in those days, they actually found him a job somewhere else in programme purchasing or something to do with films, because he was quite competent in certain film issues. So, there we were without a Librarian. So, they told me that they were going to advertise the job and if I wanted to apply for it I could but it would be advertised externally and internally, etc. etc. And I did think about this but then I fortunately had the sense to realise that really my kind of management experience was not of the best and I would probably follow Vivian Maccoby if I wasn’t careful so I decided I wouldn’t apply for the job. [TIME 47:41] So, I didn’t. So, they held the Board, the Appointments Board. I mean, I never knew who all the candidates were but they appointed a man called Brian Enright who worked in the library at The House of Commons which seemed a really quite odd appointment but they did. And they appointed him but he was on three months’ notice so I had to manage the Library for three months anyway. [Laughter] I have to say, by the time the three months had passed by I began to think I should have applied for this job, I am not perhaps quite as bad as I thought I was and under pressure I began to learn very fast. But no, I still think looking back, that was right. Brian came and mercifully it was a very good combination. [TIME 48:52] He knew much more about particularly about the politics with a small p of managing and well, probably, about management generally but he knew absolutely nothing about film and television. And to be quite honest he didn’t know a huge amount about libraries either because the Library at the House of Commons was so specialised and so geared to that particular range of activities. He was an academic and he was used to using academic libraries so in that sense he was aware of the professional problems in libraries but he wasn’t a professionally qualified librarian either. [TIME 49:51] He had a PhD from Oxford and he came from very working- class origins, like myself, and so we got on extremely well and I learned hugely from him and I think he learned from me as well. So, it was a very good combination.
SUE MALDEN: So how long did that last?
ANNE HANFORD: Well that lasted … I suppose he came in about ’63 and then that lasted until I went on maternity leave which was in … No probably he came in ’62, it was longer than that. So, I then went on maternity leave in ’65.
SUE MALDEN: How long did you have for maternity leave?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 50:57] Thirteen weeks.
SUE MALDEN: And did you have to be off the premises at a certain time?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, the law said that you couldn’t work the last four weeks of your pregnancy term. That was the legal requirement but no, apart from that, no there was … and the BBC I have to say were very in advance. You know, they gave equal pay despite the latest furore, in the, what shall I say, prescribed jobs. They gave equal pay before the law compelled them to do so. They paid maternity leave before the law compelled them to do so. They were in a way very very advanced.
SUE MALDEN: But if you take that four weeks out of the thirteen it leaves you nine weeks to get yourself organised at home and back to work. Which must have been quite something to do.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 52:04] Well, yes it was and I think that having decided to do it then you know you have to do it and, I have to say, my husband was entirely supportive of this idea and without that it would have been quite impossible and it was, of course, very unusual in those days anyway. It was quite hard to do but looking back I am glad I did it. It would have been very difficult to have the career I did without.
SUE MALDEN: To keep your career going, yes.
ANNE HANFORD: And my sons appear to be as normal as could be expected.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 53:00] Under the circumstances. I mean I am just full of admiration not just for this interview. I think that gave you nine weeks to get sorted. I don’t think I got to the bottom of our stairs by nine weeks, because I did have a tall thin house, but to have got child care organised, back to work and all the rest of it was quite something. So, you are back to work, and what arrangement had you been able to make for looking after Jonathan.
ANNE HANFORD: Well, they had a system of health visitors, so most of them it turned out in the future were quite useless, but this one happened to be quite good, so I told what I wanted, I was looking, and she actually recommended a child minder for me locally, so I was quite fortunate, and that worked out quite well. [TIME 54:06] So that was lucky because I think if that had been more difficult then it might well have put me off doing the whole thing, but it did work.
SUE MALDEN: It worked well. So back at work then, and what developed next?
ANNE HANFORD: Well I suppose what developed next was … I am just trying to work out the chronology. Can I just check my dates [refers to notes] I missed out quite an important bit, while I was on maternity leave, Brian Enright had got another job. [TIME 55:13] He had found the period at the BBC very useful and interesting, but really his sights were set on an academic library career and he regarded this as a useful, kind of, period of experience, so he applied for the job at the City University and he got the job. And he was going to take up the appointment fairly quickly after I returned from maternity leave. So, I actually had to go for an interview for the job while I was still on maternity leave. I hadn’t actually had the baby by then [laughter] [TIME 56:18 ] and so again I thought it was going to be a bit tricky. Again, it was advertised externally as well, so I was in competition with other people, and I went to the interview which seemed to be an almost a direct replica of the one I had for the assistant, in fact I think it was Sidney Budd again if I remember, yes it was, because he asked me this question “Do you think that you will be able to manage with this small baby?” which I mean, he would be locked up now for asking me. So, I said well “What do you think I am sitting here for?” Anyway, I got the job again. There was a shortish handover by the time I got back with Brian.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 57:22] So it was about 1965, still at Ealing Studios, and now you’re in charge.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes. Now I am in charge.
SUE MALDEN: So presumably the first thing you had to do was to replace yourself.
ANNE HANFORD: I did, yes I did.
SUE MALDEN: So who did you get for that?
ANNE HANFORD: I got Janet Andrew from Granada.
SUE MALDEN: So she also had …
ANNE HANFORD: No hang on, what am I talking about, no I got Tony Treble. Sorry I am leaping ahead, no I got Tony Treble he came from another part of the BBC. From the Sound Archive.
SUE MALDEN: Ah right, so a sort of… a kind of fellow understanding of the kind of the demands of the material you were looking after, in a sense.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 5821] Yes. Well in fact he did come from the Sound Archives, but he had actually been working in the Film Library as a Senior Selector, so he was already working, even though he had come from the Library, so he was, if you like, a kind of promotion to be my assistant.
SUE MALDEN: Excellent. So, you had got Batman and Robin now to get sorting things out.
ANNE HANFORD: That’s right.
SUE MALDEN: So what strikes me might have been the next big milestone was this problem of storage and your nitrate out at Aston Clinton, some in the vaults, some in Lime Grove, so would you say that was one of the big things you had to start addressing?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 59:19] It was, it was. That was one of the difficulties because you can’t ignore storage, I mean it’s kind of piling up on the floor around you, you’ve got to tackle it. What we did, was we copied, we still had some nitrate film left, we copied that, we managed to get a budget for copying it, so we copied that on to safety stock and we sent the originals to Aston Clinton, but at least we had a master copy and we also got master copies of the material that they were holding, so that kind of removed the need, except on very rare occasions for taxis from Aston Clinton. And that applied to any of the nitrate stock and we also began to look for other storage areas.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:00:30] Is this when Windmill Road loomed. So, what was your first impression when you looked at Windmill Road? I mean what was it, what was there?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, the block that we moved into was ... It had been used by Pyrene, who made parts of fire engines, they didn’t make fire engines themselves, they made parts of firefighting equipment, it was a huge building with a north light roof, which was not the best construction, and when I first went to look at it the floor was covered in pools of water, it looked like a scale model of the Great Lakes. [TIME 01:01:31] So, I said to the BBC architect that came with me as part of the inspection “I suppose you can do something about this?” and he said “Oh yes, no problem at all.” Well that roof leaked from that time until the building closed, so it was never solved because the construction of the roof…you could alleviate it to a certain extent but you could never … but fortunately I didn’t know that at the time, so in the end it was decided that the Library would move from Ealing Film Studios to Windmill Road.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:02:25] Was Windmill Road used for storage only at first ...
ANNE HANFORD: Yes it was
SUE MALDEN: So you still had a taxi run.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes you did.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:02:45] OK, so we are now looking at the move to Windmill Road. Which happened over …
ANNE HANFORD: That was over a period of time, as you say. Initially it was used for storage only and for the activities associated with storage, there were some staff based down there, but in fact the Library totally moved to Windmill Road. This is another kind of landmark of my maternity leave. I had maternity leave again in 1968 when my second son was born, who now actually is a freelance video editor so he must have caught something in the atmosphere. [TIME 01:03:41] And I did the planning for the move before I went on maternity leave, but we actually moved when I got back again, so it was quite conveniently placed but that was in ’68 and then that meant that the whole of the Library staff and the whole of the storage was in one place.
SUE MALDEN: And was Tony Treble in charge while you were away?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, he was.
SUE MALDEN: And the length of maternity leave was the same amount, the thirteen weeks?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, it was.
SUE MALDEN: Although you were probably pretty expert at this by now.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, yes I was.
SUE MALDEN: So the whole lot moved to Windmill Road. And what about offices? Were those offices as they were or did you have to kind of decide what premises layout …
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:04:37] That was part of the planning process because the building was in many ways suitable because by far the largest proportion of it was ground floor only and there was a kind of slice on the side on the first floor that you could use for offices. And I can’t remember … We then also acquired another block on the same side in a building opposite in North Block which we could also use for storage although that was initially on the first floor so that was a bit of a problem as well.
SUE MALDEN: And weren’t some kind of special project guys in that building for a while? I remember they had strange props were seen in the car park sometimes.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:05:38] Yes, they were. That was a shared space but we gradually expanded and took over the whole of South Block and the whole of North Block as well. Because that is absolutely one of the fundamental problems, it just grows and grows.
SUE MALDEN: But that was in that sense a good choice of site I could image because the expansion was possible there.
ANNE HANFORD: It was. It wasn’t the most suitable construction as I explained, but various things were done over the years, but it was a fairly strong industrial building which was another good choice because, of course, the weight of film and later video tape was pretty substantial. So, it was a good choice.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:06:30] And, if I remember rightly, back to the fire equipment that was made, wasn’t there a great tank underneath the car park between the two buildings?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, there was supposed to be. There was a little kind of hatch that went down into it and people used to go down and look in it but I never quite knew … We didn’t ever utilise it. [Laughter]
SUE MALDEN: No, you never knew what was in there. So, you just mentioned video tape then. Do you think the merge of responsibility for looking after film and video tape is the next milestone?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, I think it was. That was a very difficult struggle.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:07:22] Was that you. Because for people with the benefit of hindsight it’s so logical that if the television output was on film and video tape then it’s a fact that it was the output should be managed together. It’s pretty obvious with the benefit of hindsight but I would image at the time it wasn’t quite like that. Was that your idea that you were driving forward?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes because it became more and more apparent that it was just very difficult to … Well it was just very difficult to even document the whole of the output because the video tape was under the control of the recording engineers. And, the history of that being that two-inch tape was re-useable and it was very expensive in comparative terms and there was a great pressure to wipe it and re-use it and so therefore the engineers were thought to be the best custodians for this. [TIME 01:08:32] Again, these things don’t happen overnight and eventually the collection grew and grew and grew and they certainly were not documenting it. It was very difficult to find and the production departments were getting very frustrated and also more important, the Library had no kind of say in what was wiped and what wasn’t. That was left to a combination of … In all fairness, the engineers didn’t decide themselves, they used to circulate great lists of tapes which in their view, i.e. age and condition, were eligible for wiping, to the originating production departments and the originating production departments and BBC Enterprises, as it was called then, who sold programmes would be the arbiters of what was kept which was hardly the best archival principle known to man. [TIME 01:09:39] We did manage to insert a bit of a sort of safety thing, in that we could see the lists as well but I mean the lists weren’t all that reliable and it was a very cumbersome process. Also, what was worst, you didn’t have a joint catalogue. So, if someone asked for a programme then there was no one database, if you like, of what was available. So, I then began what seemed like a hundred years’ war with the BBC Engineers. And that took quite a long time and there were a lot of politics involved because some departments again had never been part of the BBC’s Engineering Division which again was a bit kind of unusual and they made various takeover bids over the years to control the Film Department but these had been fought off. [TIME 01:10:40] So, I didn’t start with any great advantage because I was part of the Film Department so there was that difficulty as well but in the end rational thought prevailed and Robin Scott at that time was the … I think he was the Deputy Managing Director of Television at that time and the thing got to a pretty pass and nobody could agree about how this matter should be resolved so he took it on. And, naturally he could see straightaway that it had to be done. So, he again was a really key figure in helping the development of the Archive and he was always very helpful and sympathetic. So that was quite a good move. But that was a big thing.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:11:37] I am sure, yes. So up until that point, there you are managing the Film Library with your professional librarianship, there’s the enquiries, the cataloguing, intake, selection, all going very nice and professionally and then you’re then taking on all this video tape. Were the staff in the Archive expanding? I don’t mean individuals getting fatter and fatter …
ANNE HANFORD: Yes. There were numerous cases we had to put up for increasing the numbers of staff and changing the structure to cope with getting larger and also acquiring different responsibilities, so yes the staff did get larger as the time went … It was never large enough but it did get larger.
SUE MALDEN: But again, more and more to need to manage and so on. So, the job is growing in just like so many ways. Isn’t it?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:12:42] Exactly.
SUE MALDEN: How long did it take do you know from the beginning of the idea of merging film and video tape until it actually …
ANNE HANFORD: I should think it took about five years from the origins of saying hang on this isn’t very sensible. I should think it took about five years. It was ’75 that it finally happened.
SUE MALDEN: Yes, I see it could be at least five years. I mean who on the video tape side were you kind of negotiating with? Or discussing with?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, it all started … There were various working parties that were looking into this problem which is why it took five years and initially the Engineers thought this was a kind of flea bite and they didn’t really need to worry about it too much. [TIME 01:13:45] The BBC Engineers are very much a breed unto themselves. They used to have a special training department which was based in Evesham. I always used to think that there’s something about the BBC Training Department that turned quite reasonable rational people into quite different rather rigid and difficult people [Laughter] That might have been just my experience. They weren’t too good about dealing with women either. That was the only category I had that difficulty with but, interestingly. Anyway.
SUE MALDEN: Did you experience any BBC training? Other than learning on the job really.
ANNE HANFORD: Well no. There probably were various individual courses and they had a sort of senior management training exercise which they did every few months at Uplands and I went to that. So yes, I did but it was a bit spasmodic. So yes, I did.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:14:59] Probably a bit after the event anyway. Telling you what you had already kind of learnt sort of thing.
ANNE HANFORD: Indeed. Anyway so, the Engineers were a bit of a flea bite so they sent along somebody fairly junior. (This was when Robin Scott began to take an interest.) I don’t like to say this but he couldn’t argue his way out of a paper bag and so naturally I was beginning to make quite significant progress. And then they decided that things were not exactly going their way so they rather upped the ante and then they sent Bryce McCririck who eventually became the Director of Engineering but he wasn’t the Director of Engineering then. So, they obviously took this extremely seriously. [TIME 01:15:56] He was better at arguing but logic wasn’t on his side and so eventually it did come about but it was difficult. And then after that when the decision had been made, then, of course, I had to deal with the heads of the Engineering Recording Department for the day to day operational contact and that wasn’t terribly easy either. Eventually it settled into a quite workable relationship except, of course, it was at Television Centre so again you got the split site and that’s when we started having a unit actually based in the area at Television Centre and I think the people that worked there did a very good job and that really improved relations but it really was a bit of a gradual process.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:16:59] In all those negotiations and discussions did you have much support from the Film Department management or were you left to it kind of thing?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, I could get support when I wanted it. I mentioned David Martin earlier, he was a very good manager and I could always go to him you know if I needed any support. But really, I was the one with the specialist professional knowledge and the operational experience and knowledge and so they did really leave it to me and then when you got to a policy making point I’d write endless papers you know and then it would happen. But no, I didn’t feel I lacked support but in fact the support I could have was fairly limited by definition.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:17:53] Maybe at that point I could just ask what was it like or what was your experience being one of probably not many women at a relative senior level in both the Film Department and dealing with VT Engineering? Was it particularly difficult and obstructive, or …
ANNE HANFORD: No I didn’t think so. I mean there are advantages and disadvantages and I never was reluctant not to take the advantages. In the Film Department, particularly, yes of all the other managers at the Management Meetings I was the only woman. But they were in their specialist areas, editing, cameramen, sound, technical area, and so, no I didn’t have any problem and the General Manager who I have not mentioned at all because David Martin was actually the Assistant Head. [TIME 01:18:53] But the man who became General Manager had been Head of Department for a long time, he was there when I arrived, Jack Mewett, was a bit of a legend in his … and as I say, he fought off all efforts by the Engineers to take him over. He was a rather remarkable man in many ways. And so no, I had my specialities and in fact I was rather kind of in a way privileged because if he had some visiting dignitary I tended to be the one who was invited to the lunch to show how enlightened he was, so the others got a bit fed up with this I think. As I say, you take the rough with the very rough. So, no, I didn’t have any trouble in the Film Department, I didn’t have any trouble with the production areas or … it was with the Engineers and those who had been through this rather curious engineering training process. [TIME 01:19:58] The Film Technical Manager, who was part of the Film Department, was in fact from an engineering background and I had a hell of a lot of trouble with him but not, generally not, no. So, I don’t actually tend to be all that sympathetic to what is, in my view, an over concern of women now. I mean I think they should have tried it before. I always felt the best thing to do if I could sense there was that kind of feeling is to pretend you didn’t notice and get on with it just the same. That was my way of dealing with it. But, as I say, I had very little to deal with, apart from the Engineers.
SUE MALDEN: Tony Treble still with you? Where are we, we are about 1971, well if we look at VT up to ’75
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:21:02] Yes, Yes, I can’t remember the date he went but he certainly wasn’t there, let me think, yes he was there for my last maternity leave which was in 1970, so yes, he was still there right through and in fact then, let me think … no when I was on maternity leave in ’70 he had actually gone then, it was around that period.
SUE MALDEN: And that was when you recruited Janet Andrews to succeed him as deputy.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes
SUE MALDEN. It would seem to me maybe; the next big milestone was the Briggs Report do you think?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:22:07] Well I was thinking about this when you mentioned it as one of the topics, and in fact that was’79. I think it was ’79 [Checks notes] I beg your pardon, it was ’76 and it was announced. The BBC was getting a fair amount of criticism, I think mainly about access and all the other things about it’s Archive, and so in ’76 they actually … I don’t know who had the idea of asking Briggs to do it, but it was a very distinguished committee full of historians, and there were all sorts of odd people on it like Benny Green and Donald Sinden not just academics and it was quite interesting. [TIME 01:23:20] And so, it was announced, and don’t forget that all the libraries and archives were in separate parts of the BBC, so all of us who were responsible for libraries and archives were called together and explained that this was going to happen and we were given various, kind of tasks associated with liaising with the committee. And so, I was given the job of arranging the visits to all the what you might call the non-book libraries, you know, the Sound Archives, the Picture Library, the BBC still had Hulton Press then as well, and so I organised the visits, I talked to the committee both in formal sessions and informally. And it was a quite interesting kind of exercise but I have to say, thinking about it didn’t actually make very much difference at the end of the day. In fact, I did have my picture on the front page of The Times. [Laughter] [TIME 01:24:34] When the BBC appoints a committee to advise on preserving archives then … I had a call from the photographer of The Times, well publicity put him on to me, saying could I take your picture in the Film Store, which is always a great visual background, so I said sure, yes, so I went down and looked at the cans like I always did for these and nobody was more amazed than me when it appeared on the front page of The Times. I’ve never had my picture on the front page of The Times before or since. And so, it was quite a big event, but I think in practice the only thing that it did was actually, what should I say, draw attention within the BBC to the significance and importance and perhaps it made it a bit easier to get more resources and to answer criticisms. [TIME 01:25:38] But I think in practical terms it certainly didn’t lead to any organisational changes.
SUE MALDEN: And, do you know, who in the BBC had the idea to call in Briggs
ANNE HANFORD: I’m not sure, I really am not sure. I think it was somebody in the BBC Secretariat that was a senior kind of policy advising area of the BBC, I never knew who actually said “Oh and that Briggs chap would be good” but you see I think he was the author of course of the official history of the BBC, so he was quite an obvious choice I think in that sense.
SUE MALDEN: It just struck me as quite a smart way of dealing with that external criticism that was around at the time.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:26:34] I think that was it, I think it was and that’s why I think the idea must have originated in the Secretariat of the BBC who presumably at a fairly senior if not political level had to fend off all these enquiries and queries. I think they said no they would do this. But I really can’t remember any really practical organisational changes. It just made it, I think made it easier to make cases for resources, so in that sense it was helpful.
SUE MALDEN: I must say, having looked at the Briggs Report, it looked to me as if perhaps it was an opportunity for you to say things in professional terms that you thought should be done and get an audience with them that might have been more beneficial.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes indeed, yes it was really. It was for the benefit of the BBC I have to say.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:27:44] And was that selection criteria that you had worked with, was it Alan Shallcross
When did that come into …
ANNE HANFORD: Well, no. I can’t remember that was actually I think rather more part of the video tape problem because, of course, one of the things I said should apply the same criteria because … so I think that was more associated with that and I think, in fact, we already had the selection criteria before Briggs and they didn’t really do anything. They didn’t argue or suggest we changed them.
SUE MALDEN: But kind of endorsed it in a way.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, exactly, so I don’t think that.
SUE MALDEN: And, I suppose, the other thing I have to say was the recommendation for the post of Archive Selector sort of came out of it.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:28:45] Well yes that’s right but in fact we really had a kind of basis for that anyway so it was helpful in that sense but the machinery was there as it were.
SUE MALDEN: Yes, just from looking at it I could see a lot of your thoughts you kind of articulated in what looked to me to be quite a useful format.
ANNE HANFORD: It was. It was useful. It was just not … I think for the great British Public it didn’t make a huge amount of difference.
SUE MALDEN: I am sure not. On my list next, I think is the Strike. I can’t remember when that happened. It was in the eighties sometime.
ANNE HANFORD: I can’t. Do you know I couldn’t. I was trying to think about that. I think it must have been the early eighties. Again, it was very dramatic and important at the time but now, looking back on it, it doesn’t seem to have been that critical. [TIME 01:3000] I was trying to look back and think what really gave rise to it. And I think what gave rise to it was the video tape. The assumption of responsibility for video tape because that began to be stored at Windmill Road by then. It wasn’t just kept at Television Centre because again they ran out of space and so we moved part of the storage area into the library building in Windmill Road. It is one of these small housekeeping things that give rise to revolutions. I mean it seems ridiculous to think of it in those terms. But the way we used to handle enquiries out of normal hours, there would be a professional assistant on duty, evenings, weekends, public holidays, to answer enquires from people, particularly in news and current affairs who needed material over the weekends or in the evenings. [TIME 01:31:08] And then they would be assisted by a non-professional person, usually somebody in the film storage areas to get the material out or, so that it made as many people as possible available on this assisting basis, we used to include the clerks who were not normally employed in the Film Store but were doing other clerical duties. So, it just seemed a way of shifting the load a bit and that worked perfectly well when you were only talking about really only the odd can of film but once the video tape came on the scene, then two-inch video tapes are very heavy and staff who were engaged to type catalogue cards or file couldn’t actually manage to lift these great weights and so it then became obvious that we couldn’t really continue this. [TIME 01:32:15] We would have to restrict this assisting getting stuff out to the staff who were normally deployed for that duty. And then, of course, I think what gave rise to the difficulty was it meant that the staff who had previously received the shift allowance which added to their salary for doing this work, it would obviously not be logical to continue paying them the shift allowance if they weren’t working shifts. Looking back on it I think that’s what gave rise to the difficulty. So, a whole load of negotiations took place as to what we could do about this and we went to ACAS and it sounds terrible to say this but I cannot now remember why it was so difficult to resolve .[TIME 01:33:11] I think for once the Film Department management were not very helpful in this respect and didn’t handle it very well. In the end, we went to ACAS and an arbitrator was appointed, a Professor Bain and he did a very unsatisfactory job and it left a lot of very bad feeling. I just don’t think it was handled very well and I probably blame myself I perhaps didn’t handle it very well either. Looking back, it seemed to me an issue that you had to resolve this kind of shift allowance, a re-definition of duties. You know, looking at it with the benefit of hindsight, I don’t see why it got to such a difficult situation.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:3411] I agree. And also, an area like archives and libraries. It’s the last place people expect to be out on strike. It was bizarre.
ANNE HANFORD:. It didn’t provide a lot of good publicity. No, it didn’t. I think it was very unfortunate but in the end it was resolved by … I can’t just remember what the arrangements were. I think it was some kind of harmonisation of the shift allowance which again, looking back on it, I felt well isn’t that what you would do. It was probably a combination of circumstances, of personalities, all the things that usually happen but it was not a very pleasant period and, again, being a librarian, I am not used to walking through picket lines and being shouted at. [Laughter]
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:35:07] A strange time wasn’t it. I was thinking maybe the next big milestone is again something I know that you’d argued for in the same way as you had argued for the logic of bringing video tape and film together and you’ve referred to it already that all these different libraries and archives were scattered in their different places in the BBC. So, I suppose, was it about 1990 when the BBC was going through quite a bit of change anyway, Resources Department was set up and then there was Services Division within Resources and the Library found itself there together with so many others.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:35:55] Well that in a way was … I very much welcomed that because I had been saying for years the libraries are all set up in different directories, to meet different needs at different times. They had all developed separately and they’d all got their own methods. We had kind of informal seminars but there were no kind of formal contact or requirement for us to have common standards or anything which, when you got to that sort of scale was really not very sensible and I had been saying that years. In fact, when the whole resources reorganisation took place and we found ourselves working for Keith Anderson (he was a Controller then), he was very sympathetic. He had worked previously in Programme Planning so he had had quite a lot to do with tape. [TIME 01:37:04] And Programme Planning were very connected with the whole video tape problem because, of course, it was a resource to them and the great Joanna Spicer, the great BBC lady … She was an extraordinarily intelligent woman but she could not see this anomaly of splitting the video tape from the rest of the archive and I remember she said once she couldn’t foresee that the BBC’s tape holdings ever be more than five thousand which I felt should be written on her gravestone. It was extraordinary that somebody so intelligent could reach … you know, sort of couldn’t cope with the idea. Anyway, Keith had worked for her and so he was also quite familiar with the whole history and difficulty. [TIME 01:38:02] He was really a very good boss. And in many ways, the way the BBC was going it was quite illogical that we remain part of the Film Department so then we began to try and put together … I mean he quite saw the argument and so we began to try and put together all the libraries within the Television Directory which meant the Television Music Library and certain of the Picture Libraries, etc. etc. So, we were beginning to do that and that was quite difficult because the libraries were really so dispersed and it was obviously going to be a very long job to harmonise their methods and have a common information system and all the things we knew that you really needed to do. By the time that was beginning to develop, then the great John Birt arrived on the scene and, in a way, it dealt the final blow to say all libraries should be combined. [TIME 01:39:13] That was part of that regime and that exercise which was quite right. I had no quarrel with that although it didn’t have very good results for me but that was quite right. It was too little too late. I think it should have been done many years before but the structure of the BBC didn’t permit it. So, that’s how it was and I suspect the BBC has not really recovered the situation even now because it had gone on too long.
SUE MALDEN: Yes, I think you are right. But you were right it was quite logical to do that.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:40:00] Yes, absolutely right. No, as I say too little too late wasn’t in it.
SUE MALDEN: And what are your thoughts on the kind of fortunes of the Archive after that – Information and Archive as it was called?
ANNE HANFORD: It started before that the great kind of producer choice kind of philosophy that you had to recognise and charge every possible cost to a programme. Again, I see the logic of that and I think probably the BBC had very much neglected any kind of true costing for producing a programme. [TIME 01:40:57] I think that is quite right but that particular kind of costing and the recovery doesn’t suit libraries and archives because libraries and archives have very high fixed costs compared with their variable costs so it doesn’t matter whether you get ten enquiries a week or ten thousand, you still have to catalogue the material, you still have to store it. Your fixed costs are very high. And, in fact if you discourage people from using it becomes even more expensive. It is not a very good basis for recovering the costs of libraries and archives. And, if you try and do it then you find yourself in great difficulties. So, I think the real difficulty started with that, not so much the restructuring of the BBC. In fact, actually, this came about really while we were managing to get together the libraries within the television service. [TIME 01:42:00 And I did actually manage … I think Michael Chatham was still the Chief Accountant then and I did manage to persuade him … I mean he was a very intelligent man and generally well-disposed and I did manage to persuade him that it wasn’t the right way to recover the costs. You needed some kind of subscription basis. You need to reflect the use in some way but you can’t charge tuppence ha’penny for every time somebody borrows a can of film. It doesn’t work and he could see that. But, of course, in the Birt regime that was not regarded so sympathetically and I think a lot of the BBC libraries and archives suffered as a result of that and probably still are.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:43:03] I am sure you are right. Yeah, it was a really bad, really bad time for them all.
ANNE HANFORD: And I think the other thing is that there were quite clearly aspects of the BBC’s libraries and archives that went far beyond the use and value to the BBC and that’s where the relationship with the National Archives comes into play and that goes, well certainly, for television programme output, radio programme output, certain parts of the music operation. They’re quite beyond the BBC’s interests and usage and I don’t think that’s ever been satisfactorily resolved either. [TIME 01:43:54] So, those are the difficulties. The other difficulty I see … I mean I look at some of the articles in The RTS Journal and I think I can’t understand a word of this. I do not understand this, I don’t understand the processes and I think the production processes themselves are very difficult for libraries and archives to handle. The volume of material that is produced at the origination stage compared with what is televised and the whole kind of ownership of the production process makes it very difficult. I think those are the difficulties, added to which the general technological thing where you’ve got … the last job I did, the last major finance case, for the BBC was the case for transferring two-inch tape to the digital format tape … and I can’t remember the cost, it was huge, I mean it was huge [TIME 01:45:09] … and I think everybody took a sigh of relief and thought well that’s it but that isn’t it that’s only the start of a very long transfer process. And you might argue that once the material is in the digital form it is easier. Well it’s easier but it’s still expensive and the lifetime of any particular format and production process gets shorter and shorter and shorter and I think that’s the great enemy of libraries and archives as well.
SUE MALDEN: It’s almost as if there’s a real need to re-evaluate what is the end product, what is an archive or a library in an organisation like that. I think that covers your career really well do you feel you’ve said everything in that sense.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:46:14] But two really other key areas that I think that you worked in [Are we alright for time by the way?]
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, I’m all right.
SUE MALDEN: Yes, so I think the other two really key areas are the work you did in the establishing of The International Federation of Television Archives and also your work with The Royal Television Society’s History and Archive Group. So, if we could perhaps go on to those now. International Federation of Television Archives or FIAT IFTA as it’s known, could you talk us through the start of all that.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:46:53] That again it was like a small kind of unexpected event, it was in 1975 when … I think I mentioned Robin Scott’s help and involvement in developing the growth of the archive and the whole problem of tape. He asked me in ’75 to a meeting. He said he had some contact from The Institute of Audio Visual in Paris, the INA as it’s more easily called. They had taken over the responsibility for the old RTFC French national television output. They had taken over the responsibility for their collection. [TIME 01:47:50] And I don’t know how they got in touch with Robin Scott, maybe they had just written to the BBC and they had thrown it at Robin Scott, being the Deputy Managing Director of Television. He was quite an interesting man himself and he had worked in Paris a long time and was a fluent French speaker, so that may have been one of the reasons as well. So, he said would I come to this meeting in his office, there were three people from the INA who wanted to talk to him about television archives and they were thinking of setting up some international body and so I went to this meeting and there were three people from the INA, none of which are there any longer. [TIME 01:48:44] They spoke some English and my French was appalling. I hadn’t spoken French practically since I was at school, well perhaps not … because I had an interest in a house in France … my French was not really adequate, but anyway under Robin’s guidance we managed to get through it. So, they were proposing to set up this international body for television archives, it was mainly, initially entirely European, that was their object. They suggested inviting, besides INA, somebody from Swedish Television and somebody from Portuguese Television and somebody from Italian Television and one of the German companies, Norddeutscher Rundfunk. [TIME 01:49:54] I think that was about it. So, Robin said yes, yes, yes, and anyway so he said well yes, I would be the contact. So, then the next thing, they asked me to go in … I suppose it must have been later in 1975, they asked me to go and visit them at the INA in Paris. So, I went, full of trepidation. [Laughter] I did manage a mixture of English and French, we did manage to get through it. And it was quite revealing to me, I mean it was an absolutely huge collection, but again in the most terrible kind of disarray. I think it brought home to me then that the BBC was considered to be the absolute epitome of professionalism. [TIME 01:50:57] I was rather horrified by this because I knew only too well what we weren’t doing right, but when I saw INA I began to think well Christ that’s right. So that’s how it started, so I went to Paris and they showed me around and we talked about it and then they set up the first meeting with the representatives in ’76 – So that’s how it started.
SUE MALDEN: Can you remember who it was from INA who came along with the idea?
ANNE HANFORD: The person who came along, well three people from INA came to the ’76 meeting, two of whom I had met before at the earlier pre-meeting. [TIME 01:51:52] One was called JacquesDumont
Dumont, he was an engineer, I think he was the Director of the INA at that time, I think he was the first Director, he was an engineer. He was really quite, for an engineer, he was quite enlightened and he realised he’d got a serious problem and then there was a guy called Christian Castellani. He managed the Archive on a more day to day basis. He was a Corsican and he was very kind of … Jacques Dumont was a very serious engineer and Christian was leaping about Corsican, I mean he was just extraordinary … the contrast between the two men … but again he was very keen on getting things right. [TIME 01:53:01] And then another man called Mays, he was responsible for the documentation but he fell out of the picture quite quickly, I don’t know what happened to him, and then Dominique Santville took his place and she was a stalwart member for many, many years.
SUE MALDEN: So you think that to some extent they were looking to the BBC as the kind of role model as to how things should be done?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, I think they were and I think that’s the thing I found the most scary. I thought there are limitations here. And I did try my best to say look, if you are starting out at a much earlier stage then don’t repeat the same steps. Don’t make the same mistakes. Don’t go down the same blind alleys, there are other ways. [TIME 01:54:00] I tried to be as open as I possibly could about this but they didn’t want to know about that. They said “No, what do you do.” It was quite difficult. And then RAI, the Italian company were a particularly difficult company. Initially different people came to each meeting and you had no idea what their responsibilities were and when you said well so and so came to the last meeting, they would say ‘who?’ They had no idea, they didn’t know there had been any previous involvement and really until Vittorio Sette came along who seemed to be then in a more established there were just different people turning up all the time.
SUE MALDEN: And what about the other broadcaster representatives?
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 01:54:57] Well, Stellan Norander came from Swedish Television and he was very experienced and I think really, they had a quite well managed archive. They were very small in relative terms but it was quite well organised. I was never really quite sure what his background was but he was good and he was sensible. He was a good member of the team ….
SUE MALDEN: Of FIAT?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, he was very good. And then, the German, Otto Sprenger, who came from NDR, he was very very German and quite difficult to deal with. He had absolutely no idea about libraries and archives at all. And really, I think it was a political kind of appointment. So, he was quite difficult to deal with. [TIME 01:56:04] I remember at the early FIAT conferences whenever things got difficult he would say “Coffee Break”. [Laughter] That was just a way of cutting off the argument and debate. So, it was very interesting but obviously gradually as time went by more people came along. Of course, the American companies came along, Sam Serrat was at CBS at that time and Sam Kula from the National Archive in Canada, and he’d actually worked at the National Film Archive in England so I knew him anyway. So gradually more and more people … and then more people from more developing archives came along, the South Americans and the Japanese, rather oddly, a guy called Ekizo Imamura who was extremely able able man. [TIME 01:57:08] And when I went to NHK to see their archive I thought the Japanese, with their great reverence for the past, would regard archives as important. But it didn’t and they were in a very formative stage, large but very formative. So, all kinds of … It was a very interesting experience for me because I went everywhere which again doesn’t happen so easily now. Although I had Robin Scott’s authority and permission to go wherever I liked as often as I liked and there were no questions asked. So that was in a way a good period because having that freedom meant that I could develop these contacts. And I think it was very valuable to the BBC as well.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 01:58:18] Yes, it was great to be able to make that comparison and talk to other professionals.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, yes it was.
SUE MALDEN: Were Portugal or RTP were they one of the founding people?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes. They came along a little later, they weren’t at the first two or three maybe.
SUE MALDEN: So the core people were France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes, and closely followed by Portugal. I think they came to the second or third meeting.
SUE MALDEN: And then they went on growing. And so, the structure of FIAT, they had an Executive Board, and a President and a General Secretary. When did they put that kind of structure in place?
ANNE HANFORD: Well, fairly quickly. The first or second meeting they made the rules. The statues were, of course, drawn-up according to French law. [TIME 01:59:21] I don’t know whether that still causes any problems but they are according to French law. And they wrote the statues. So, it was quite early on that they then put the structure in place. Otto Sprenger was the first President and then I followed him as the second.
SUE MALDEN: Who was the General Secretary to him?
ANNE HANFORD: Oh well, the General Secretary was … I think Christian Castellani took the first General Secretaryship.
SUE MALDEN: Ah, an interesting combination.
ANNE HANFORD: Well it was.
SUE MALDEN: And you became the second President and so your involvement with FIAT continued for many years after that didn’t it.
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 02:00:15] Yes, it did. Looking back, it would probably have been better to do it in a slightly different way but the archives were at such different levels and at such different stages in development and also their kind of national and organisational structures were so different so it was very difficult to harmonise any kind of procedures. Perhaps we did as well as we could do with those factors.
SUE MALDEN: Yes, I think you are right. The one thing I learned from that, particularly when you said about Sweden, that you are often all talking the same, not necessarily the same language, but you are using the same words like cataloguing, collections and so on but to realise the scale on which one archive is operating compared to another, I found difficulty in[TIME 02:01:19] seeing that at first I hadn’t realised what a small set up SVT was compared with the BBC and there are inherent difficulties in that, especially if you are the big one who can’t always behave the same as the small.
ANNE HANFORD: Yes. That’s when they started trying to harmonise the … you know produce sets of recommendations, that again was difficult. I mean the archive selection thing which was practically copied from the BBC, because we thought about it and refined it, and I think wasn’t a bad stab. But when you came to talking about cataloguing, then that was really difficult because again the scale of the collections, how they were used, how it fitted in the organisation, you know the pattern of the organisation, made that very difficult. But that was when we produced this kind of minimum data list [TIME 02:02:24] – the things that you had to put down about programmes. And it was quite a surprise to me that a lot of the organisations they placed a great deal of emphasis on finding material by subject but they didn’t have a proper stock control system. So, to actually know what programmes you had got and what elements of the programmes you’d got, whether you had the negatives or whether you’d got two copies, what the technical standards of each copy, were surprisingly non-existent which I found quite extraordinary. So, different organisations saw things in a very different light.
SUE MALDEN: Well, I think that’s FIAT. It’s now FIAT in its 40th year this year. The last area really was your work with the RTS History and Archive Group, with Leonard Mile the key contact there
ANNE HANFORD: [TIME 02:03:32] Well Leonard Mile was the contact, I can’t just remember when it was first set up. I joined in ’85, it had been going a while since then two or three years probably, and Leonard was the original Chairman, and obviously the RTS Board had asked him to take on this role. And I knew Leonard on two counts because he was actually one of the Controllers of Programme Services when I first went to the BBC but then he very soon after went to Washington so I didn’t really know him very well in that sense to work with him at the BBC, though he did come back later in other roles and I knew him but he was also a neighbour, he lived just down the road in Taplow so I knew him privately as well. [TIME 02:04:37] He invited me to join the Group in ’85 and then when he gave up the Chairmanship, which would be in ’91, then they asked me to take over chairing the Board, which I did.
SUE MALDEN: And who else was on that group then?
ANNE HANFORD: Oh there was somebody from the Archive, no actually, there wasn’t anybody from the Archive, I suggested inviting David Francis who was the Curator so he came along quite quickly, there was John Chittock who was really a kind of journalist who had taken a special interest in television and archives and who ran a lot of … I think he ran a few periodicals etc. and then there was James Bredin [TIME 02:05:44] who was a retired kind of ITV person, obviously the RTS had representatives, there must have been an historian, I can’t remember who the historian was but they were the main people.
SUE MALDEN: What was their role? Advising the RTS about archives?
ANNE HANFORD: Yes advising the RTS, I think how the group started, the RTS was always getting enquiries about what to do about this and what to do about that, and in fact they didn’t initially have their own archivist, I think she came along probably as a result of the formation of the group. I think they began to realise that there were motes in their own eye and they really ought to do something about it. And so, I think that was the idea. [TIME 02:06:40] And it was combined that the sort of history of television and archives were considered very closely linked, which in fact I think that they are so it was quite a happy coincidence. I can’t remember who the historian was – it’ll come to me. It did quite valuable work and that produced one or two publications and a fairly definitive list of television buildings which took years to compile. And also, I wrote for them a thing for establishing and maintaining television archives guide, really a very simple kind of rules to live by, because again I think what people don’t realise - this isn’t particularly to do with the RTS - but I think what people don’t realise is the minute you’ve transmitted your first programme you’ve got an archive and the longer you take to recognise that and come to terms with it, the worse the situation becomes. [TIME 02:07:50] Particularly when we were talking, perhaps more in the context of FIAT, trying to get this through to the management of these companies that the longer they left establishing a proper foundation the worst it would be and the more difficult it is. It’s very difficult to go back and it was very difficult for the BBC to go back and I am sure we never did, properly. Once the water is swept under the bridge then actually going back to the source is hugely difficult. I still think that and I look at various things that are happening and I think ‘you haven’t really quite grasped that have you’.
SUE MALDEN: [TIME 02:08:51] One very last question. Did you put … I am sure you did put all this expertise and knowledge … because in a way you were there right at the cutting edge of formulating how television archives needed to be managed. I mean It wasn’t being taught in library schools or anything like that really. Did you move on to do some kind of consultancy work once you left the BBC or whilst at the BBC.
ANNE HANFORD: Well I did a bit. Really under the auspices of FIAT, people were always asking … And again, the BBC were quite generous they allowed me to go and do … I did one for UNESCO. I went to Aruba and Jamaica and did a report on their television archives. That was an eye opener I can tell you. [Laughter] [TIME 02:09:49] So, I did that but that was while I was still at the BBC and then when I left, Channel 4 asked me if I would go and have a look at their television library and so I went there. In fact, the boss of the part of Channel 4 that was responsible for the archives was one of the ex-BBC Engineers so I had obviously got around to converting them by that time. He asked me if I would go and do this study for them. They, again, were in a terrible mess about documentation and controlling the material, particularly with the structure of their company, was very difficult. So, I did a report for them which I hope was useful and then I also did a one for the BBC on the various music collections which I came to rather later in life and certainly [TIME 02:10:53] isn’t my speciality but I did one for them which was for the British Library and the BBC jointly. So, I did that and then I did one or two more bits and pieces but then I decided that really it was time for me to actually …
SUE MALDEN: Rest.
ANNE HANFORD: Well to do other things you know. When I retired it occurred to me, as I remember, that I left school one day and, as it happened because of when my birthday falls - it wouldn’t have been legal these days - I wasn’t even sixteen – I wasn’t sixteen until the end of the year – so I left school then and it occurred to me when I retired when I was what 58 or retired from the BBC, I had worked all my life except for three lots of thirteen weeks maternity leave. [Laughter] [TIME 02:11:56] So I decided that … and also, I think your knowledge does get very out-of-date, particularly now, as we were saying earlier, the technologies are changing so rapidly and I thought that if I am going to actually seriously continue this I have got to keep up to date and I thought do I really want to do this and I thought well no, I think it is time to let somebody more attuned to the new technologies take over.
SUE MALDEN: Brilliant. Thank you very much.
ANNE HANFORD: Pleasure.