BFI Player unveils top 10 Britain on Film videos
Staff Reporter | On 07, Dec 2019Reading time: 3 mins
BFI Player has unveiled its most popular videos from its Britain on Film archives.
Britain on Film is one of the largest and most complex archival projects ever undertaken by the BFI. Preserving and transferring documentaries, home movies, news footage, forgotten TV programmes and government films from the last century, the ambitious scheme paints a map of the British Isles, offering a window onto history as well as the people behind it.
It has proven popular with users, racking up more than 75 million online views to date. The most watched film is Sunshine in Soho (1956) with over 2.5 million views, followed by Christmas in Belfast (1977) with almost 2 million. The top ten also features A Day in Liverpool (1929), Portsmouth’s Charlotte St Market (1977), Milton Keynes and the Area (1970) and Aberdeen (1970).
To help celebrate the list of lesser known films and pieces of content, Paul Merton has starred in a countdown of the top 10 videos as part of the 25th birthday celebrations for The National Lottery, which helped funded the project.
From a nostalgic time capsule of 1950s to a tram ride through Edwardian Nottingham, the top 10 uncovers hidden histories and everyday lives of Britain, reflecting deeper connections with communities, people and places and ways of life on a local level.
The full top 10 most watched Britain on Film video
1. Sunshine in Soho – Melodie Hyams, 1956 (2,548,336 views)
1950s Soho beats with far more energy than its 21st century counterpart in this vivid time capsule.
2. Christmas in Belfast – 1977, Crown Copyright (1,984.223 views)
Christmas in Belfast at the height of ‘The Troubles’ where traditional holiday activities and images are punctuated by reminders that not all is as it should be.
3. Tram Rides through Nottingham – 1902, BFI (505,430 views)
Pioneering filmmakers Mitchell and Kenyon conduct an evocative ride through Edwardian Nottingham, following the same route as today’s Nottingham Express Transit tramway.
4. Aberdeen – 1970, National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive (401,351 views)
Explore the growth of Scotland’s oil capital, from small ancient burgh to bustling metropolis in this lively and colourful educational documentary produced for the ‘Cities of Scotland’ series.
5. Chichester Tour – 1962, Screen Archive South East (376,961 views)
A fascinating amateur film showing the cathedral city of Chichester before the arrival of its ring road and the pedestrianisation of its Roman streets featuring a variety of shopfronts, some of which are still trading in exactly the same location.
6. Changing Face of Camberwell – 1963, London Borough of Southwark (347,375 views)
Looking back at Camberwell’s Victorian history, and forward to the future, this film captures the impact of changing architecture on local residents and what was lost.
7. Day in Liverpool – 1929, BFI (225,649 views)
Metropolis meets Merseyside, as this city-symphony inspired early travelogue portrays a day in the life of a city thriving with modernity.
8. Portsmouth’s Charlotte Street Market – 1977, Wessex Film & Sound Archive (179,718 views)
An affectionate snapshot showcasing the colourful bustle of Portsmouth’s oldest street market– where independent traders and shoppers mix under the brooding presence of the infamous Tricorn Centre, demolished in March 2004 after being voted ‘Britain’s Most Hated Building’.
9. Belfast: No Way Out – 1970, Fremantlemedia Ltd (171,436 views)
What was life really like in 1970s Belfast? Beyond the Troubles the current affairs magazine show ‘This Week’ addresses social problems, talking to people in poverty struggling to cope.
10. Milton Keynes and the area – 1968, UEA’s East Anglian Film Archive (156,350 views)
Anglia TV footage of the pre-existing towns and pretty North Bucks hamlets newly incorporated into the New Town Development of Milton Keynes.