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Television’s hidden history

We cannot study television classics like literary ones. They're locked away in inaccessible archives

By John Davies   February 2002

Imagine that there are works of art that can only be seen in certain circumstances, by certain privileged individuals. Individuals who can tell the less privileged about these works, but cannot show them, or copies of them, in public. If the works of art in question were paintings or novels, this bizarre situation would be unthinkable in the modern era. But when it comes to television, the law-and the practice of those who hold the archives-is ensuring that such is the case. In effect, you are being denied access to much of the medium’s history.

Last year, in a lecture…

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