University’s National Fairground Archive brings All the Fun of the Fair to the Nation’s TV screens
Rare films and pictures from the University’s National Fairground Archive will be on show to households up and down the country this week with the first of two documentaries being screened as part of the BBCs Timeshift TV series.
To produce the documentary, the makers of All the Fun of the Fair worked in collaboration with staff from the archive which is based in the University’s Western Bank library to explore the history of British fairgrounds. The documentary, which is due to be broadcast on BBC4 at 9pm on Tuesday 2 August, looks at the rise in popularity of travelling shows in Britain during the 20th Century. Through interviews, films and photographs it illustrates the development of this popular form of entertainment from sideshows to freakshows and from early hand-powered rides to the arrival of steam and electricity.
The programme shows how fairgrounds were often the only form of entertainment in Britain’s rapidly expanding Victorian industrial towns and how they became sites of teenage rebellion in the 1950s.
The second documentary, which will be broadcast on BBC4 at 9pm on Tuesday 9 August, takes a look under the big top and tells the story of the circus. When the Circus Comes to Town looks at some of the biggest circuses of all time, from Billy Smarts to the present day Cirque du Soleil. It explores their timeless appeal, delving into their origins and marvelling at the human athleticism and showmanship of some of the big top’s greatest stars.
The documentaries reunite Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of the National Fairground Archive and newly appointed Head of Cultural Engagement, with Producer Francis Welch and Executive Producer Michael Poole who previously worked together on the BBC4 programme Rude Britannia.
For the Timeshift documentaries Vanessa acted as historical consultant and executive producer, working with Francis to arrange interviews, develop the scripts and bring together all the films and photographs from the archive.
Vanessa sid: “The relationship with Francis and his colleagues was fantastic and it was made clear that this programme was a key delivery and dissemination of not only the archive but the research of myself and the staff.”
As Head of Cultural Engagement, Vanessa will now be responsible for raising the profile and impact of the University of Sheffield on the city’s cultural landscape. Vanessa is currently working to develop next year’s Festival of the Mind, a University event designed to showcase the city’s cultural strengths. The first event relating to the Festival of the Mind, will be the Ideas Bazaar to be held this September in Firth Court.
Watch out for more information on the Ideas Bazaar in Overview – the newsletter for all staff, here on the staff web pages and @Sheffunistaff on Twitter.
You can find out more about the National Fairground Archive here: http://www.nfa.dept.shef.ac.uk/index.html
More information on the BBC’s Timeshift series is available on their website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012zmy7
All the Fun of the Fair is now availble on the BBC iPlayer here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b012zmy7/Time_Shift_Series_11_All_the_Fun_of_the_Fair/