Humphries, Steve
September 2008
Oral History;Autumn2008, Vol. 36 Issue 2, p99
Academic Journal
At the 2006 Oral History Society conference, historian and documentary film producer Steve Humphries spoke about his experiences developing and producing oral history programmes for television over the last twenty-five years. This is an edited transcript of the talk. Humphries outlines the rise and fall (and rise again) of interest in oral history among those who commission television programmes, drawing attention to the role of individual documentary pioneers such as Stephen Peet, whom this event commemorated - as well as the influence of new technology and audience research - in driving some of the major shifts in television history programming. In the process of this overarching narrative he argues that oral history is particularly important for at least three reasons: it provides access to unique stories, although often with a deeper social significance; that it packs considerable emotional power; and finally, as people's history, oral history has been a major force for the democratisation of history on television.


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