Research and knowledge exchange

David Hendy

David HendyThe BBC Centenary History Project

David Hendy was awarded funds to work with the BBC to bring a previously closed Oral History Archive to a wider public audience. The archive consists of more than 600 interviews with senior staff, programme makers, presenters and contributors spread across the BBC’s 96-year history. The aim of the University funded pilot project was to enable Hendy to undertake an initial scoping of the archive, prepare a limited ‘pilot’ release to the public, and submit an application to the AHRC for a five-year project to collaborate with the BBC.

“The RDF award was, absolutely crucial in strengthening our case when applying successfully to the AHRC for 'BBC Connected Histories'. Although it did take a whole year after the end of the RDF project to submit the larger bid, because of its complexity and my Director of Research duties in my School, the AHRC grant was a direct development of the RDF project: the one led logically into the other.

It allowed us to have a crucial member of staff - with appropriate expertise - in place. The fellow recruited with RDF money for 6 months, Dr Alban Webb, is now on a longer-term contract with us and is a key Co-Investigator on the AHRC project. So it helped to establish the beginnings of an appropriate staffing infrastructure for BBC Connected Histories.

The RDF money allowed us (a) to sample and survey the archive material we intended to work with, and (b) to produce a 'pilot' version of one of our outputs. This, I believe, considerably strengthened our application, allowing us to prove the material was good enough, that we had the competence to produce something appropriate, and that there was evidence of clear collaboration and support from a key project partner, i.e. the BBC - because we'd worked successfully together on the pilot.

It also demonstrated a University commitment and interest in supporting the project - which probably strengthened our case in our application, namely our claim that the project would be underpinned by resources and expertise in the Sussex Humanities Lab, the Library and ITS.

In the case of my own project, the RDF investment was instrumental in bringing in an AHRC award of c. £780K, plus an additional £300K of support-in-kind from project partners - i.e. research activity 'worth' over £1m."

David Hendy, Professor of Media and Cultural History (MFM) 



May 2013: Hendy and the BBC first discuss the project

Dec 2013: RDF bid submitted

March 2014: RDF project begins

Jan 2015: Pilot material released to the BBC

Oct 2015: Bid submitted to ESRC Communities and Culture Network Scheme (unsuccessful)

April 2016: AHRC BBC Connected Histories bid submitted

Dec 2016: AHRC bid successful. Award value £787,310

April 2017: BBC Connected Histories Project begins. Will run to December 2021