University's ha-ha-harchive

500 hours of comedy footage

Veteran comedian Bernie Clifton will today open a valuable comedy archive, featuring around 500 hours of audio footage.

The treasure trove was built up by the late BBC producer and scriptwriter Mike Craig, who worked with stars such as Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd and Les Dawson in a career making more than 1,200 shows for radio and TV.

Craig died in 2010, and his widow Sue has now donated this collection, which consists of entire shows, interviews with comedians and light entertainment characters, and other archive material, to the University of Salford.

Many of the recordings formed the basis of his documentaries and radio programmes on the history of comedy.

Over the last six months, archivists at the university’s library have digitised and catalogued the tapes so they can be made available to students, academics and the public.

Access will be free, but members of the public will have to make appointments to listen to it on computers on the university network, because of copyright restrictions. Dr Chris Lee, senior lecturer and film and comedy researcher at the University of Salford, said: ‘Mike Craig’s choice recordings of the performances and memories of many British comedy greats are now available for comedy fans.

And in a meaningless sound bite, he added: ‘The alma mater of such luminaries as Peter Kay and Jason Manford has brought comedy to a digital level and made “logging on” the new “stand up”.’

Today’s launch comes as part of the sixth international comedy conference being held in the university.

Published: 31 May 2012

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