Using Social Media to Build Hidden Screen Histories - A Case Study of the Project

Vanessa Jackson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Many television historiographies concentrate on the analysis of canonized texts, but the digital revolution gives us a new starting point for documenting and preserving screen histories.

I have embarked on a postgraduate research project to document and celebrate the programme making, and culture of BBC Pebble Mill, using social media to access a largely hidden history.

At its height Pebble Mill produced 10% of BBC television output, dramas like ‘Nuts in May’ and ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’, daytime programmes like ‘Pebble Mill at One’ and factual series like ‘Top Gear’, ‘Countryfile’ and ‘Gardeners’ World’.

Work has been done by Lez Cooke and others on some of the dramas produced at Pebble Mill, but little or nothing has been done on the factual programming.

At the centre of the project is a website: I have recorded video interviews with key programme makers like David Rose, and Michael Wearing Concerning major drama productions, writers like David Rudkin as well as editors, costume and make-up designers. Pebble Mill is remembered fondly by the people who worked there, many keeping photographs they are happy to share on the website. I post a daily blog, and link to the ancillary Facebook page. Currently there are over 900 Facebook friends, and they have proved invaluable, adding comments about working on certain productions, identifying photographs, and sparking memories in others.

This project illustrates how online technologies can help build and preserve an archive of collective memories, sharing screen histories a new way.

This presentation includes case study examples of the Pebble Mill archive built through the project, as well as an analysis of who the curators are, how and why members of the online community contribute, and some of the challenges the project faces, particularly copyright.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012

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