Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect