The BBC is to create an online archive containing more than 80 years’ worth of its TV and radio programmes.
Every episode created by the broadcaster will have its own web page, BBC Vision director Jana Bennett has confirmed.
The corporation has already created more than 160,000 individual web pages for the project, with developers looking to create content for shows going back to the 1930s.
The pages will initially contain only information, clips and links, but the BBC hopes eventually to make whole programmes available.
These would be available through the BBC’s highly successful iPlayer catch-up TV service, or the web pages may direct viewers to other sites such as iTunes or other on-demand sites on the internet.
Jana Bennett said the online library would include ‘all the information we have on the richest TV and radio archive in the world’.
She added: ‘The BBC is committed to releasing the public value in that archive and these pages are going to play a central role in allowing us to do that.’
Ms Bennett, who was speaking at at the Banff television festival in Canada, said the iPlayer had been a ‘huge success’ since its December launch – receiving around 90 million requests to stream and download programmes.
Which? technology editor Matthew Bath said: ‘The BBC’s archive is a treasure chest of programming – from Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939 on the Home Service to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 – and if it’s free, it will be the ultimate in catch-up TV.
‘However, the budget for the ambitious project will be coming from its digital department, which has come under fire for overspending by £36m. If it all goes ahead, then the move by the BBC should allow consumers to get access to long-forgotten broadcast gems.’