Page last updated at 20:33 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Newsnight's librarian delves into the archive

Adam Gotch in the Newsnight tape store
Adam Gotch is the longest-serving member of Newsnight staff

Adam Gotch has been working at Newsnight almost as long as the programme has been on air. He joined the programme in August 1980, just six months after Newsnight was first broadcast and has been here ever since.

Adam is undoubtedly the person with the best knowledge of the programme's archive, which is why, as we turn 30, we have asked him to select some of his favourite films.

SPEAKING TO THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER

Speaking to the Yorkshire Ripper

In 1980, amid fruitless police enquiries into murders and assaults by the Yorkshire Ripper, Martin Young went to Leeds for Newsnight to document the feelings of relatives of the victims, and of women who had survived his attacks.

In the powerful interviews each of the people addressed the camera as though speaking directly to the Ripper himself.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because he felt that despite the media frenzy that surrounded the murders at the time, it reported the story in an innovative and compassionate way, and really reflected the deep fear that was felt in Leeds at the time.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 27 November 1980.

DID MI5 SPY ON THE PRIME MINISTER?

The prime minister and the MI5 plot

Newsnight's Julian O'Halloran investigated the shadowy world of espionage with the revelation that then then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson and other members of his government were possibly bugged and burgled in the 1970s.

Those behind the allegations claimed that an intelligence services' "dirty tricks" campaign attempted to undermine Wilson's Labour government.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this classic Newsnight investigation because it used lots of the BBC's rich archive to help tell the story, and because it helped clarify the situation about whether or not the rumours of Harold Wilson being bugged were true - by going straight to the people who knew.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 5 December 1986.

THE EVER GROWING ARMY OF LONDON'S HOMELESS

Don McCullin's story of London's homeless

Don McCullin, an internationally-regarded British photojournalist particularly recognised for his war photography and images of urban strife, examined the underside of society - the unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished - in this moving 1989 film for Newsnight.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because it was one of the earliest examples of the programme using a famous person as the reporter. Don McCullin had approached Newsnight because he wanted to tackle the homeless problem and even though he had photographed many awful situations he was still deeply affected by what he found and his compassion is really tangible, Adam says.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 24 October 1989.

THE PLIGHT OF THE KURDISH REFUGEES

The plight of the Kurdish refugees in Halabja

At the end of the first Gulf War in 1991, Charles Wheeler joined a relief convoy to make his way into Iraq from Iran as a human sea of Kurdish refugees came in the opposite direction. They were fleeing from the Iraqi onslaught and amassing on the Iran-Iraq border near the town of Halabja.

The report made a significant impact on government, and was subsequently sold to the US Networks. Within a day or so, a British initiative launched by John Major, persuaded the Americans to set up safe havens in Iraqi Kurdistan, which, under UN protection, remain to this day.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because it is not about the battle or the bombing, it tells the story of the people - and it is a reminder of the fear they felt under Saddam Hussein. It made a significant impact on government and it would be remarkable to think that the film played a part in their subsequent intervention, Adam says.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 15 April 1991.

THE LAST DAYS OF SERB OCCUPATION

The end of Serb occupation in Pristina

Mark Urban reported on the tense final 24 hours of Serbian control of Pristina in Kosovo in June 1999, speaking to scared civilians on both sides as liberating Nato troops prepared to enter the town at the end of the Kosovan war.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this film because the sequence of the Serbian army leaving really struck a chord with him - particularly the growing fear of both communities breaking up.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 14 June 1999.

IS THE WORLD OUT OF TIME?

Is the world out of time?

A call by US scientists for the end of "leap seconds", where an extra second is added periodically to keep clocks in sync with the rotation of the Earth was investigated by Newsnight reporter Stephen Smith in 2005.

Newsnight's librarian Adam Gotch chose this light-hearted film because it is a good example of an on-the-day Newsnight film with a sense of humour, that really taps the rich vein of BBC archive material and called for his creative input. He was closely involved in finding the archive, which he says can sometimes be difficult to locate in the BBC Library, but, when found, can be just the right material.

Watch the film in full

Originally broadcast on 10 November 20005.

A special programme to mark Newsnight's 30th anniversary will be broadcast on Saturday 23 January 2010 at 8pm on BBC Two.




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