IN THE course of researching the Lives of the Great Songs series (see Richard Williams on 'Fever', page 22), some of my colleagues have chanced upon one of the capital's hidden treasures. The National Sound Archive has rather a formal, academic ring about it, but this unassuming building just along from the Science Museum is an aural cornucopia - and not just for its wildlife and industro-mechanical sound collections. The Listening & Viewing Service offers free access, by appointment (071- 589 6603), to the Archive's collection of almost a million records. It's hard to believe but helpful assistants will track down that old Sham 69 song which has been echoing round your mind for the past decade, and let you listen to it as many times as you want. I bring it to your attention because this is just the sort of resource that is the mark of a civilised country, so a funding review is almost certainly in progress somewhere. Speaking of which . . .
A FORTNIGHT is a long time in showbusiness. Two Sundays ago, I appealed to readers inside the BBC to send in examples of how Producer Choice is, or is not, working. Since then, of course, the argument over the way the corporation is being run has become front-page news. The stakes were raised by the public pronouncements - first reported in this newspaper - of Mark Tully, one of the BBC's most respected employees. Tully's claim that 'many of the staff feel there is some sort of Big Brother watching them' is certainly borne out by the many letters I have received, virtually all of which are prefaced by words to the effect: 'I wish I could be more specific, but if it were traced back to me . . .' Among the specific instances of bureaucratic nonsense we have received, however, there are some gems. Like the BBC radio presenter who wanted to use a particular person's voice in a programme, but was unable to do so because the BBC television library wanted to charge pounds 50 for tapping the person's name into the computer. The reason? There was no 'trading agreement' between the two departments. Or the interviewee who was refused the train fare to London, where studio time had been booked, forcing the programme-maker to use the local BBC studio instead. The train fare? pounds 19.50. The cost of the studio? Three times that. More please.Reuse content