May 16, 2022

British Council Releases New Online Archive Containing 120 Digitized Historical Films

From a British Council Announcement:

Over 120 films providing fascinating snapshots of the UK’s cultural, sporting, industrial and political heritage have been launched online to the public thanks to funding from Google and the British Council.

The films are from the British Council’s own film archive which dates back to late 1939 – and give an insight not only into a bygone age, but also serve to capture how cultural relations has changed. For several decades, the Council was an enthusiastic commissioner and distributor of documentaries, designed to showcase Britain to the outside world and promote democratic values at a time when fascism was spreading across Europe. The films were largely shown at embassies, consulates and to students and schoolchildren around the world.


For the last thirty years this remarkable collection of films has been preserved in the BFI National Archive yet rarely shown. The films are now available to the public to stream and download for the first time at


The films have been digitised by Time/Image, an archive agency that grew out of work placements organised at the British Council by New Deal of the Mind as part of the Digital Domesday project. Briony Hanson, the British Council’s Director of Film, said: “This is a hugely exciting Collection available digitally for the first time so that audiences can watch, enjoy, use and play with the films in imaginative creative ways. Important in its own right, the Collection represents a significant chapter in British documentary film history with involvement from some of the UK’s cinema greats from Jack Cardiff to Ken Annakin. Much more than that, it also gives a unique insight into how Britain wanted to portray itself internationally – a portrait which was probably quite far from the truth. With our self image very much in the spotlight again this summer as the world watches the Olympics and the Jubilee, these films encourage us to ask timely questions about what it means to be British.”
Direct to Film Collection
About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.