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Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Listen to the century speak
Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke, right, with British Library Board chairman, Dr John Ashworth.
More than 6,000 BBC recordings of the loves and lives or ordinary people have been handed over for public access at the British Library.

The world's largest oral history archive was presented on Wednesday by the BBC's Director-General, Greg Dyke.

The recordings were made for The Century Speaks, a 16-week series of programmes produced by each of the BBC's local radio stations last year.

Views of life, love, food and the future are among the interviews, which make a powerful record of the 20th Century.

The recordings will now be stored in the Library's National Sound Archive.

Visitors will be able to use a jukebox-style sound bank to hear excerpts from the collection.

The project resulted from a unique collaboration between the National Sound Archive and BBC local radio stations.


Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke: "A remarkable treasure"
The interviews were gathered under 16 broad subjects including living together, crime and the law, getting older and eating and drinking.

Some of the material was then used in the programmes which were broadcast in the run-up to the millennium.

The collection is the largest in Europe and is only second in size to Steven Speilberg's worldwide video project on the Holocaust.

Chairman of the British Library Board, Dr John Ashworth, said: "The Millennium Memory Bank has given thousands of ordinary people the chance to record their memories of a vanished or fast-vanishing Britain.

"Historians will in the future find it invaluable. We are all greatly indebted to the BBC for undertaking this project."

Mr Dyke said he was happy to be "the bearer of a great gift to the nation".

"I bring a truly remarkable treasure which broadcasters, scholars and members of the public will delve into for centuries to come for an understanding of what made the 20th Century tick.

"The Century Speaks is the largest single project in the history of radio and I have to say it is something that only the BBC could or would broadcast."

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