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Radio recordings: sport

Sports reporting, commentary and discussion have been central planks of British radio and an essential dimension of the national obsession with sport since the 1920s.

British sports broadcasting got underway in 1927 when the BBC's Outside Broadcast Unit began relaying the major sporting events, with recorded highlights being saved (from 1931-) on BBC Archive discs.

Following World War 2, coverage was extended to a wider range of sports, according to the public preferences of the day, with more extensive coverage of major events such as the Olympics. In-depth features on sporting events and traditions, and interviews with sportsmen and women then became commonplace. Some will be found in the online catalogue, among them dozens of interviews (mostly cricket-related, ca. 1970-1995) from the Don Rowan Collection (catalogue no: C1037), but many more are detailed in the BBC Sound Archive and BBC Radio International catalogues, both of which can be accessed on request in the Humanities - floor 2 reading room.

Accessing the collection

To access sound and moving image material:

  • Use the online Sound and Moving Image Catalogue to search for recordings.
  • The Listening and Viewing Service provides free public access to the Sound Archive's collections of recorded sound and video in St Pancras. Sound recordings can be accessed in Boston Spa also.
  • The Sound Archive Information Service is based in Humanities - floor 2 in St Pancras where books, discographies, periodicals and magazines are available on open access.
  • Many sound recordings have been digitised and are presented on the British Library Sounds website. A large number of the recordings are freely available for listening online though some are restricted to users in accredited Higher Education establishments.
  • The Transcription Service can provide copies of recordings once the appropriate copyright has been cleared.

Further information

Paul Wilson
Curator, Radio
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7446
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7441