Jun 252015

It is great to have the opportunity to look more closely at what has been most popular in Jisc MediaHub over the past month. There are always fascinating themes running through the top 10 searches, items and subjects. In May 2015 the most active theme was ‘unrest, conflicts and war’, with the Rwandan Genocide, Spanish Civil War and Bloody Sunday being specific examples. Other notable themes are health, the environment and places. The month of May also brings with it several timely areas of interest, including May Day and VE Day. There was also a particular interest in the North Highland College’s Johnston Collection, as shown by the popularity of the subject ‘human interest’.

A screenshot of Jisc MediaHub’s “Most Popular” page, captured on Wednesday 27th May 2015.

Jisc MediaHub’s “Most Popular” page, captured on Wednesday 27th May 2015.

So, we begin our exploration of the May 2015 themes with our second most popular subject, after ‘environmental education’.

Unrest, Conflicts and War

This is a consistently active theme in MediaHub. Last month’s most popular lists all include searches, subjects and items on the Rwandan Genocide, a mass slaughter of Tutsi  and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority from April 7 to mid-July 1994, resulting in an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans being killed.  This interview from Channel 4 Early Evening News with Alvaro de Soto,  Adviser to the UN Secretary General at the time, talks about the Rwandan Civil War, genocide and the displacement of the Tutsi in Rwanda. Another popular item is this News At Ten report from the city of Goma in Zaire (now part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) which appeared to have been completely abandoned and was only a few miles away from the refugee camps where a million displaced Rwandans had fled to.

Image of Rwandan refugees in a refugee camp near Goma, Zaire.

Rwanda: Civil War. ITV News, 1996.

Bloody Sunday has been another popular search, likely because of ongoing interest in judicial process around the original event, as well as continued debate of the associated inquiry.

Bloody Sunday was an incident which took place on 30th January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment (imprisonment without trial). Interest this month may well reflect press attention in the run up to June 15th, which marked the fifth anniversary of the publication of the report of that Inquiry into what happened that day. The Inquiry was chaired by Lord Saville and ran from 1998 to 2010 at an estimated cost of over £2 million, making both it’s findings and the process of undertaking the Inquiry the subject of debate and controversy.

In Jisc MediaHub there are a lot of resources – particularly news coverage – including footage from Bloody Sunday, reports on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and anniversary events. Below is one example of these, a photograph of a march in Londonderry on 3rd February 2002, where thousands gathered to retrace the steps of the Bloody Sunday marchers thirty years before.

A photograph of some of the thousands gathered in Londonderry 03 February 2002, to retrace the steps of the Bloody Sunday marchers of thirty years ago.

Thousands gather in Londonderry 03 February 2002, to retrace the steps of the Bloody Sunday marchers of thirty years ago. Getty (Still Images), 2002.

The sixth most popular search is ‘Spanish Civil War‘ (which took place from July 1936 to April 1939), with some very interesting search results, including posters from the Imperial War Museum Spanish Civil War Poster Collection found in the VADS/CultureGrid collection, news reports on the conflict such as Spanish Civil War 7th Edition (Gaumont British News collection), interviews with people who were there, and even commemorative plaques and sculptures! The sculpture below is of ‘La Pasionaria‘, Dolores Ibarruri (1895-1989), who was a Spanish communist who came to symbolise Republican resistance against fascism during the Spanish Civil War. It can be found in the City of Glasgow. On its pedestal it says it

pays tribute to the courage of those men and women who went to Spain to fight fascism / 1936-1939 / 2,100 volunteers went from Britain; 534 were killed, 65 of whom came from Glasgow.

Photoograph of the sculpture called 'La Pasionaria', a stylised female figure, representing Dolores Ibarruri, in a long dress, standing with legs apart and arms raised.

La Pasionaria VADS Collection: Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. Culture Grid.

This image is part of the National Recording Project (NRP) of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association,  providing images and textual information giving core data on over 9,000 public sculptures and monuments in a geographical area covering 75% of Britain. This collection is part of VADS: the online resource for visual arts.


The environment – and environmental education – was a very popular subject area in May. A very wide range of environmental issues are covered in MediaHub, from pollution and climate change through to wildlife, natural phenomena and landscapes. In particular the images in our collections show how amazing the natural world is, for example the 2007 photograph of Antarctic icebergs shown below. There are also items in MediaHub directly covering the negative effects people are having on the planet, such as the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill off the Alaskan Coast in 1989.

A photograph of icebergs stranded in a shallow bay and an emerald pool of water in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Icebergs on the Antarctic Peninsula. Getty (Still Images), 2007.

‘Cheetah’ was the eighth most popular search last month. Here is a wonderful still image taken from a short film of a mother Cheetah standing guard over five young cubs in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. If you take a look at the record for this item you will notice the MediaHub location feature. This enables you to easily see where the Serengeti is located and click through to other items in MediaHub which have the same location.

An image of a mother cheetah on a mound in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, standing guard over five cubs

Mother Cheetah and Cubs. Getty (Moving Images), 2007.


Italy, London and the more specific King of Prussia Hotel in Heanor are all popular places people have searched for in Jisc MediaHub. Heanor is a town in Derbyshire, where The Market Hotel on the Market Place was, until the outbreak of World War 1, called the King of Prussia when its name was changed for obvious reasons. In October 2009, the hotel had another revamp and is now just called The Market. As always with such specific and individual items it would be great if to find out why this particular image below was so popular last month! Just let us know in the comments below or share your theories on Twitter with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10.

A photograph of The King of Prussia PH, Market Street, Heanor, c 1890s.

The King of Prussia PH, Market Street, Heanor, c 1890s. Picture the Past (via Culture Grid).

Many people in May searched for items on Italy, probably as a result of the current migration crisis across the Mediterranean, particularly triggered by instability and conflict in Syria, Lybia, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and surrounding areas. Try selecting “Newsfilm” when you search MediaHub for footage around those countries to get a sense of historical context to the current spike in migration. Looking further at MediaHub’s substantial resources on the history and politics of migration and the UK , I was surprised to discover that women were only able to apply for visas to bring in their husbands or fiances in 1983 (under the British Nationality Act), before then only men could bring over their spouse from another country. Of course the law, processes, tests and costs of citizenship have, of course changed a great deal since then and continue to be the subject of animated public debate.

But for some people searching for this month maybe, like me, Italy has a special place in their hearts and they were planning to go on holiday there. Below is a still image taken from the wonderful short film showing a ceremony and football match which took place in Italy in 1931. I recognise the place where the football was being played as the Piazza Vecchio in Florence, as I have just visited there!  What a wonderful backdrop and just look at those stripy shorts!!

A still image taken from a short film showing a football match being played in the Piazza Vecchio in Florence, Italy in 1931.

Football in Costumes – Ceremony in Italy. Gaumont Graphic, 1931.

“May Specific” Items

There are always popular searches, subjects and items very specific to the time of year, and May is a particularly busy month for these. Victory in Europe (VE) Day was the Public Holiday celebrated on the 8th May 1945 to mark the end of World War II. Below is an image of a triptych, showing civilians gathered under the trees outside Buckingham Palace celebrating VE-Day. According to correspondence held by the Imperial War Museum this painting was one of several offered by the artist, Leila Faithfull, to the War Artists Advisory Committee, they purchased it for £45.

An image of a painted triptych showing civilians gathered under the trees outside Buckingham Palace to celebrate VE Day

VE-Day Celebrations Outside Buckingham Palace. Imperial War Museum, 1945.

There are another couple of May-related popular items. One is a short film called All Around the May Poll, showing people going to vote in the General Election of 1929 and the masses of people in London awaiting the results – the title is a clever play on words! The other item is a short piece of film reporting May Day in Havana, back in 2007, which shows thousands of Cubans taking part in the traditional May Day festivities in Revolution Square.

A image of Cubans in a May Day rally in Revolution Square, Havana.

May Day in Havana. Getty (Moving Images), 2007.


‘Health’ was another popular subject last month, especially the programme called Outbreak! Case Studies in Clinical Infection: Commensals and Pathogens which provides visual, written and spoken descriptions of the many organisms which may be present in and on the body. The film, which is one of our restricted access medical materials, is part of the University of Sheffield Learning Media Unit collection which covers a wide range of subjects and programmes, and is useful across the academic subject range, including medicine, bio-medical science, chemistry, life sciences, biology, sociology, environmental and earth sciences, archaeology, music, law, geology, civil engineering, English language and the performing arts.

And finally…

You may have noticed that the eighth most popular subject is ‘human interest’ and wondered what results this would return. If you try searching for this you find, amongst other items, a large and fascinating collection of photographs from the North Highland College Johnston Collection. This collection represents the work of three generations of Caithness photographers who captured images of life in and around the area between 1863 and 1975, and so provides a unique record of this part of the far north of Scotland, its industries and people. Many of the photographs are studio portraits, including the one below of three children taken in around 1905.

A photograph of three children - one girl in white suit and hat, and her two brothers in black sailor suits with white collars, taken circa 1905.

Three children – one girl in white suit and hat, and her two brothers in black sailor suits with white collars. North Highland College, 1905.

It is really interesting to look at old photographs to see what people used to wear and what different locations used to look like, especially considering that at that time not many had cameras.  It certainly makes you realise how we take for granted the ability to take photographs, and not just using cameras but also our mobile phones! If you have any interesting photographs, old or new, why not  share them via the Jisc MediaHub community?

Did you know that you can also leave your own comments on interesting images, videos, or sound items? To view or add your own comments to an item just view the full record page – for example the photo above – and click on the “Comments” tab. From there you can either read what others have commented, or you can add your own comments to an item. If you are already logged in you just add your own comment and click “Submit”, otherwise you’ll be taken to the login box before seeing the comment form. You can choose to make your comments private, or you can share them with the whole MediaHub community.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on why some of the items above are popular, as well as in what ways you are using what you have found in MediaHub – leave your comments below or share your tweets with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10, alternatively you could choose to add your comments or responses on the items themselves!

Jun 082015

For the last few weeks you may have noticed a new link appearing on MediaHub, both in the menu bar (see image below) and popping up as you browse and search, which points to our user experience survey.
Image of the Survey Link in the MediaHub Survey

If you have already taken part, then sincere thanks from the MediaHub team! If not then we hope these five reasons will help you understand why you taking a few minutes out of your day to respond to our survey means so much to us…

1. Tell us how you really feel

Your honest feedback means the world to us. Yes, even the less flattering comments.

In the last year we have enhanced the quality of video provided in MediaHub, we’ve been developing a new iOS App (due to launch imminently), we’ve been working on our help and support resources, we’ve added new external collections… But do you like what we’ve done? The User Experience Survey works a little like a school report for us – it helps us understand if we are focusing on the right areas, if you are happy with our work, and where you think we should be aiming for. Just be honest with us, be helpful, let us know what you’d like us to be doing.

Crowd of happy, rosy-faced clubbers (PYMCA, 2003)

Crowd of happy, rosy-faced clubbers (PYMCA, 2003)

2. Help shape the future

From improved citation information within the service, to those new mobile apps, your feedback throughout the year helps us ensure that MediaHub continues to meet your needs, and those of your fellow MediaHub users, fans, and critical friends. We love talking to you at events, meeting you at webinars, and hearing from you via the Helpdesk but we would love to hear from more of you and the survey helps us to hear from a lot of people all at once. And the more people complete our user experience survey, the better chance we have of understanding what you love about MediaHub, what we could do more of, what we could do less of, what we could do better, and what we should be focusing on in the future.

"Dashboard of Ford Explorer" (Getty Images, 18-12-2008)

“Dashboard of Ford Explorer” (Getty Images, 18-12-2008)

3. Show off your own achievements

One of the things we get most excited about is hearing about MediaHub is used in practice, how you are using our service in your day to day teaching, learning and research. And we are just as keen to help you share your experience and best practice with others, which is why in this year’s survey we are asking you whether you would be interested in providing us with a guest blog post or case study on your use of MediaHub. If you say yes, then your story about how you use MediaHub could be appearing on this very page and inspiring your peers and fellow MediaHub users soon!

We really would love to help you show off your own achievements, just let us know that you’d be happy to take part!

Terry Spink's parents discuss their son's gold medal (ITV Late Evening News, ITN Source, 01-12-1956)

Terry Spink’s parents discuss their son’s gold medal (ITV Late Evening News, ITN Source, 01-12-1956)

4. Help us to support you better

We want to support you whenever you need us to. We are therefore very keen to hear how you find our help and support resources – including this blog. The more we understand what you find useful, and what you would like us to do differently, the better the support we can provide. We are here to help you make the very best use of our diverse array of videos, images and sound, but you are the best people to tell us how we can do that… Do you want more webinars? Would you like more flyers and posters for sharing around campus? Would you like new widgets or digital training materials? Tell us!

Screenshot from the Explore Jisc MediaHub support video

Screenshot from the “Explore Jisc MediaHub” support video

5. Delight the MediaHub Team 

Whether you have lovely things to say, or constructive criticism to share, we love hearing from you. It really truly makes our week!

If you can spare 5-10 minutes from your day to complete our survey we promise you that we will be listening to what you have to say. Your comments help us to plan future developments, they contribute to how we plan future training, support and learning materials, and they also help us to reflect on where our own successes have been.

Some of the people behind MediaHub (L-R: Nicola, Lorna, Mark, Catherine, Niall, Viv).

Some of the people behind MediaHub (L-R: Nicola, Lorna, Mark, Catherine, Niall, Viv).

We will be closing our survey at the end of this week so thank you again for reading this far, and get those responses to us by the 12th June please!

Finally we should also add that we are, of course very happy to hear your honest feedback at any point in the year, not just whilst our survey is running. If you ever have a comment, question or just want to chat with us, you can leave a comment here on the blog, you can email us (via edina@ed.ac.uk), reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook, or give the EDINA Helpdesk a call (on +44 (0)131 650 3302).

Further resources


 June 8, 2015  Posted by at 7:07 pm JISC MediaHub Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
May 212015

This week the 60th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Austria and we thought we would mark the anniversary for the contest with a look back over Eurovision’s history as captured in Jisc MediaHub.

Image of Scooch rehearsing at Eurovision 2007

Eurovision Song Contest 2007 – Dress Rehearsal Finals
(Getty Images, 11-05-2007)

The first Eurovision Song contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland with only 7 countries taking part, each performing two songs. This quite genteel first “Eurovision Song Contest Grand Prix” began what would become both a cult and mass media phenomenon. But that event also marked a significant moment in international event broadcasting. In fact behind all the glitter and high camp of Eurovision is a sophisticated broadcast network which works together to provide the infrastructure for broadcasting and negotiating the rights to large scale broadcasting events such as the Olympics, the FIFA World Cups, and, of course, the Eurovision Song Contest.

Before the glitter: the emergence of Eurovision

The European Broadcast Union began life in 1950, and saw a group of broadcasters working together to exchange news and current affairs footage. Initially, that exchange took place through physical copies being swiftly transported around Europe by plane but in May 1959 an experiment began trialling use of the “Eurovision Network” to exchange news even more quickly between 10 participating countries. A 1959 Roving Report (ITN Source, 1959), hosted by Robin Day, shows how that network worked, and the kinds of live events being broadcast in parallel across Europe, including the State Opening of Parliament and the coronation of Pope John XXIII.

Screenshot of the Roving Report

“Calling Brunssum…”  Broadcasters from across Europe call into a Eurovision Network meeting.
“Robin Day presents a report”, Eurovision News (Roving Report, 27-05-1959)

Every day during the experiment a large scale conference call would take place at 3pm to discuss the footage to be exchanged, and this would then be broadcast over the “Eurovision Link”, using relay links (requiring support from some 500 technicians) which literally relayed the broadcast signal from region to region at scheduled times of day.  The Eurovision Link enabled the exchange of key broadcasts or news footage from across Europe, whether being broadcast live or transmitted as a daily digest of footage to all of those broadcasters participating in the network. Whilst it is now commonplace to watch events as they happen, live on TV or the internet, the Eurovision Link was a huge achievement at a time not only before the internet, but also prior to the use of Satellite dishes for television broadcast. As Jan Rengelink, the Programme Commissioner of Netherlands TV, puts it in a live interview over the Eurovision Link (between London and Holland): “it is an enormous but also expensive achievement”. Rengelink notes though that daily exchanges also raises issues associated with switching from one country to another, of organisation,expectations, timing, and language.

Watching the daily conference calls (from minute 5:35) in this wonderful Roving Report is not only reminiscent of some of the complex etiquette of modern conference calls but also brings to mind the rhythm and traditions of Eurovision Song Contest voting: countries ring in and awkwardly greet each other before efficiently exchanging information – although in this case it is news footage to be shared rather than the awarding of Eurovision points.

Despite huge technological developments the Eurovision Network was still being used to distribute news footage between European news broadcasters in the 1980s, as demonstrated in a fascinating 1988 documentary, “A Day in the Life of ITN”,  which looks behind the scenes of Television news reporting.

Screenshot from A Day in the Life of ITN

The Eurovision Network, discussed from minute 3:30 in the film, A Day in the Life of ITN (ITN Non-released, 1988)

Technical standards have moved on a long way since the 1980s but the European Broadcasting Union’ s technical infrastructure are still an essential part of day-to-day European broadcasting. For instance in this 2001 edition of the ITN Early Evening News both the lead and second stories have been provided through the EBU network, as is evident from the Shotlist:

Screenshot of the Early Evening News clip and the associated Shotlist

The Shotlist from this 2001 newsclip shows the credit for one of several clips provided by EBU broadcasters, in this case a fire report from EBU Netherlands. EARLY EVENING NEWS: PROGRAMME AS BROADCAST (Programmes as Broadcast, 01-01-2001)

The collaborative use of news footage like this enables European broadcasters to share the burden of reporting on events that will have relevance and interest across Europe and beyond, since the EBU also includes members and associate members that extend far beyond the EU and include Turkey (since 1950), Israel (since 1957), and Egypt (since 1985). Whilst the use of these clips enables real time reporting on world events, it also means that when it comes to archive copies of programmes there are lots of different international rights holders – so if you do find yourself watching the news clip above you will see the message “For copyright reasons we are currently unable to show this section of newsfilm”, but you will hear the audio in common with clips from other agencies, this was newly created by UK based journalists and then dubbed over the footage from EBU Netherlands.

Indeed, the Eurovision Network is seen as so essential that when the Greek state broadcaster ERT was shut down in 2013 due to the Euro crisis, the EBU set up a makeshift studio the same day to ensure continuity of access to news gathering and the relaying of broadcasts. And, just as they innovated in 1950, the EBU continue to look to the future of broadcast media, as evident in this Institution of Electrical Engineers Seminar on broadcasting, from 2005, on plans for developing digital terrestrial broadcast frequencies, from Phil Laven then Director of the Technical Department of the EBU.

Screenshot of Phil Laven talking on RRC-06 from IET.tv, 2005

RRC-06 and beyond… (IET, 01-06-2005)

Important as that technical change and innovation, the support for member organisations, and the EBU infrastructure may be, this post is about Eurovision and for most of us that means the Eurovision Song Contest.

Douze Points

The first Eurovision Song Contest, in Lugano in 1956, wasn’t the live event that we are used to watching synchronously across Europe. The contest features two songs for each of the seven countries who were represented: the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland. The contestants wore evening dress, performed with an orchestra led by their choice of conductor, and the winner was decided by a Jury who never revealed their scores (according to Simon Barclay’s The Complete and Independent Guide to the Eurovision Song Contest 2010), nor the order that the entries came in, they just declared the first ever winner, 32 year old Lys Assia from Switzerland. To get a sense of the look of that first contest, this clip from May 1956 showing film stars leaving London for Cannes, gives a great sense of high fashion at the time:


(ITV Late Evening News, 02-05-1956)

That entire first Eurovision Song Contest was complete, with the winner announced, within 1 hour 40 minutes – less than half the length of recent Eurovision finals – partly thanks to a recommended song length of three and a half minutes. However, by 1958 that recommendation had become a strict Eurovision rule, with songs required to be no longer than 3 minutes, a move triggered by a particularly long Italian entry, “Corde della mia chitarra” by Nunzio Gallo, at the second contest. At 5:09 minutes Gallo’s entry remains the longest song in Eurovision history. By contrast this year’s Finnish entry “Aina mun pitää” (I always have to) by Finnish punk rock band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät is a mere 1:28 minutes long and the shortest entry to have ever been entered.

Eurovision Expands

Sadly, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät won’t be performing on Saturday though as it lost out on a place in the first Eurovision Semi Final on Tuesday. Indeed the growth in participant countries means that, since 1993, there have been a range of qualifying stages added into the competition from a pre-qualifying round in Ljubljana for Eastern European countries, to a relegation system, then a points based relegation system based on the previous five years performances. By 2004, as new member states were joining the EU, Eurovision was still growing with 36 countries participating. To cope with the numbers a new system was devised using semi final stages to refine the final show into something of a more watchable length (usually around 25 performances), and (with a few subsequent modifications) that is the system that remains in place today. This year, across three live shows, 40 countries will be competing, just under the record of 43 participants, in both 2008 and 2011. So, how did 7 countries become 36 and then 40+?

The EBU has welcomed new broadcasters over the years, expanding the network across and beyond Europe, but internal changes in Europe have had a particular big impact on the expansion of Eurovision. When the EBU was founded in 1950, east and west Europe were in the midst of the cold war. The EBU and their Eastern Bloc counterpart, Intervision, were both founded after the collapse of predecessor organisations International Radio and Television Organisation (founded 1946) and the International Broadcasting Union (founded 1925) in which both sets of broadcasters had been involved. Competition between the networks’ continued into the world of song, with Intervision organising a rival to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1961 in the shape of the the Sopot International Song Contest which then became the Intervision Song Contest, which ran until 1988. When the Intervision network merged with the EBU in 1993 which introduced a huge range of new contestants (hence those qualifying rounds in Ljubljana).

Complex politics and Eurovision have always gone hand in hand, from beginning revolutions in Portugal (1974), public protest over gay rights legislation in Russia in 2009, to this year’s entry from Armenia, a super group called Genealogy who have been brought together from across the Armenian diaspora. Their song “Face the Shadow” has already undergone a name change from “Don’t Deny”, in response to allegations that the lyrics are political and intended to make a statement to mark the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

Image of Russian gay rights protestors

Participants in a gay rights protest in Moscow
(Getty Images, 16-05-2009)

And it’s not just the songs or the audience contest that gets political, it’s the contestants too. When Dana (Scallon), an 18 year old school girl, won Eurovision for Ireland in 1970 she became a pop sensation which endured until she decided to make a move into politics as an independent candidate running for President of Ireland in 1997 (she came third), then standing and winning a seat as a Member of the European Parliament. Dana isn’t the only winner to make an unlikely career switch though: in 2004 Ukraine won the contest with “Wild Dances” by Ruslana (Lyzhychko), a classically trained conductor and pianist whose Eurovision stage show included skimpy Xena: Warrior Princess style outfits, whips and flames. Ruslana supported the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and has capitalised on her Eurovision fame, remaining a prominent voice in politics, most recently as part of the 2013-14 Pro-EU “Euromaiden” protest movement.

Things aren’t always so serious in the world of Eurovision though so, to finish, lets address some of those eternal Song Contest questions…

Isn’t all the voting political?

One of the frequent complaints about Eurovision is that voting is politically motivated, making it an unfair contest. This argument tends to arise when the UK doesn’t perform well. And, since there hasn’t been a UK winner since Katrina and the Waves’ “Love Shine a Light” brought Eurovision to Birmingham in 1997 it’s as regular a part of Eurovision media coverage as the annual critique of the UK entry.

But is the voting really all that biased? In a recent paper for the Journal of Applied Statistics (Blangiardo and Gianluca Baio, 2014) found only a mild positive voting bias, although their findings on increased votes for English language songs may explain why so few songs are performed in any other language in recent contests.

At the first Eurovision Song Contest the jury didn’t disclose the points or placings of the Eurovision entries, but things have moved on since then. The positions of competing countries have been public since 1962, and the live points boards have been an (often unintentionally hilarious) feature of the contest for a long time, revealing who has received points from 1 to 10, as well as the highest possible mark of 12 (douze) points. No one actually gets awarded or is announced on the night as having “Nil Points”, but the phrase for losing entries with absolutely no points has become part of Eurovision legend nonetheless.

Tele voting (phone calls, texts and email votes) were trialled in 1997 and by 1998 all countries were participating although back-up juries were created in parallel, as a failsafe in case of problems with the voting system. However, the juries of music professionals (one jury for every participating nation, each with five jury members) have never quite gone away and now, as part of the rehearsal process and press cycle around Eurovision, special performances take place for the juries the day before each Eurovision Semi Final or Final. The rankings of the contestants by the juries are combined with the results of the televoting to reach the final number of points that each country awards. Those juries do make a difference to the results, as was evident in controversy around the release of jury scores following the 2014 Eurovision final as a particularly risqué presentation of Poland’s entry, “My Słowianie – We Are Slavic” by artists Donatan and Cleo, was placed far higher by public votes than by jury members.

Does Ireland really always win?

Despite the not entirely justified cynicism around voting, there are many cliches about Eurovision that are true. There really is a rule about how many people can be on stage at once: 6 people, no animals. Young female singers are disproportionately likely to win: in fact 39 of 63 Eurovision winners having been solo women – and the average age (mean, median, and modal) of those winners was 23 years old. In fact in 1969 when four songs, including Lulu’s “Boom Bang-a-Bang”, shared first place all of those winners were women performing on their own, and only one was over 30. And Ireland, with seven wins, is easily the most successful country to perform at Eurovision, with Johnny Logan the most successful Eurovision winner with 3 wins as either performer or writer to his name.

This clip captures the background to Logan’s first win (as a performer) in 1980, including an interview with writer Shay Healy and the winning song, “What’s another year”: “1980 Eurovision Song Contest – Victory for Ireland“(London Broadcasting Company / Independent Radio News audio archive, 20-04-1980). After two more wins for Logan in 1987 (as performer and writer) and 1992 (as writer), Ireland found itself in the unprecedented position of having won Eurovision three times in a row (1992-4) before winning again in 1996. That honour also proved expensive as it meant Ireland hosting the show four times in five years, starting with a venue in the unlikely rural town of Millstreet, as captured in this wonderfully odd interview: “Eurovision Song Contest venue in rural Ireland” (London Broadcasting Company / Independent Radio News audio archive, 13-05-1993), before moving the production to Dublin.

However, arguably Ireland’s most successful Eurovision contribution was actually the half time show they provided when hosting in 1994. A performance of traditional and modern Irish dance styles set to an upbeat celtic score would go on to become the (still) phenomenally successful Riverdance, which made dancer and choreographer Michael Flatley a household name and led to an explosion in the global popularity of Irish dancing.

Image of dancer Michael Flatley and his company of Irish dancers

‘Celtic Tiger’ At Wembley Arena
(Getty Images, 18-04-2006)

Isn’t it all a bit naff?

Whilst Eurovision may boast cutting edge technology, complex politics and some very quirky entries it is also often accused of being a bit naff and a bit dated. Indeed this 1998 clip sees Janet Street Porter explain why Eurovision has two very different audiences: a mainstream Saturday night TV audience, and a cult audience enjoying the in-jokes, the irony, the campness.

Screenshot from interview with Janet Street Porter


Eurovision is consistently one of the most watched non-sporting TV events in the world with hundreds of millions of viewers each year with sponsorship, week long television coverage, year round web activity, and spin off contests from Junior Eurovision (in which all performers are under 18 and must also write their own songs!), to the Eurovision Dance Championships. Despite this popular appeal the contest simultaneously occupies a more counter cultural space most famously with LGBT communities, but also with many appreciating the event in a wholly post modern ironic way (currently the mainstream UK experience), as well as those enjoying it, perhaps most subversively of all, on an entirely earnest fan basis. That peculiar blend of mass and cult phenomenon gives the contest a unique character that persists no matter how cynical the song selections may be, no matter how much stunt staging and costuming occurs, and no matter how tactical the voting. For some of us, that character and quirkiness is a huge part of the charm which is why on Saturday night, as Charpentier’s Te Deum announces the opening of the contest, there will be parties throughout Europe with fans gathering to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest in all of it’s strange glittery wonder.

And if you are a Eurovision fan celebrating this weekend (as I will be), or have other highlights from the pop culture year to share, why not add your images to Jisc MediaHub? For instance, I added my image of a lego model of the Eurovision 2014 venue using the My MediaHub Upload feature:

Image of a lego Eurovision Stadium

LEGO Eurovision Island: Queen Margrethe of Denmark prepares to greet fans, by MediaHub User Nicola Osborne

No matter whether or not you usually watch or enjoy Eurovision, 60+ years of collaboration in broadcasting is certainly an impressive achievement for Eurovision and the ambitious broadcasters who first decided to create a continent-wide network for sharing the news. It will all be about the glitter, reigning winner Conchita Wurst, and the performance of UK hopefuls Electro Velvet on Saturday night, but all year round the delivery of live events, news and sports depends on the technical collaboration behind the sequins.

See also

  • More discussion of technical challenges facing broadcasters can be found in this IET video: “I’m a broadcaster – get me out of here“, featuring David Wood, then Head of Technology at EBU.
  • Hear Scott Fitzgerald, the 1998 UK entrant (performing the song “Go” by Bruce Forsyth’s daughter), comment on what he thinks is wrong with Eurovision song selection processes: “Scott Fitzgerald on Eurovision Song Contest” (London Broadcasting Company / Independent Radio News audio archive, 14-04-1988).
  • Upload your own images – login to My MediaHub with your UK Federation details and go to your Uploads area.
  • Explore the official Eurovision Song Contest website, which includes a history of the contest.
  • Read up on the academia of Eurovision with Dr Eurovision, UK based fan and academic Eurovision expert Dr Paul Jordan whose PhD examined Estonian national identity and nation building through Eurovision.
  • Blangiardo M. and Baio, G. 2014. Evidence of bias in the Eurovision song contest: modelling the votes using Bayesian hierarchical models. In Journal of Applied Statistics, pp.2312-2322. DOI:10.1080/02664763.2014.909792
  • Find out if Martin O’Leary, a Swansea based Glaciologist using computational methods in his research, has succeeded in predicting the Eurovision winner – he has provided forecasts based on statistical analysis of Eurovision data since 2012.
  • Read more about the history of politics around performances at the Eurovision Song Contest in Sarah Lipkis’ excellent May 2014 blog post, Eurovision: How Politics Takes Center Stage, for the World Policy Blog.
  • Enjoy “My Lovely Horse” (via the Hat Trick YouTube channel), a parody Irish “Eurosong” entry created by Neil Hannon, of The Divine Comedy, for the “A Song for Europe” episode (Season 2, Episode 5) of Father Ted. The episode aired less than a month before the contest, at the height of the country’s Eurovision success in April 1996. Ireland’s real entry, “The Voice” by Eimear Quinn, won the 1996 contest.
May 052015

The imminent 2015 UK General Election is proving to be one of the most uncertain we have known; however in the recent past it was not uncommon to encounter hung parliaments where no single party had managed to gain the majority of seats. We thought it would be interesting to search through Jisc MediaHub for examples of where this had occurred, the personalities involved and what strategies had been used to form a working government.

Ramsay MacDonald: 1st Labour Prime Minister Who Is Who In Labour: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel    21-01-1924

Ramsay MacDonald: 1st Labour Prime Minister
Who Is Who In Labour: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel 21-01-1924

The general election held in 1923 resulted in a hung  parliament. Although most seats were won by Stanley Baldwin‘s Conservatives, Ramsay MacDonald went on to become the first Labour Prime Minister after forming a coalition with the waning Liberal party. The cartoon below shows the three candidates racing to the laurel crown: Baldwin with his trademark pipe; the Liberal leader, H.H.Asquith, being supported by David Lloyd George and Ramsay MacDonald being helped up the ladder to victory by the ‘working man’.

Cartoon impression of the 1923 General Election: The Political Race: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel: 03-12-1923

Cartoon impression of the 1923 General Election:
The Political Race: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel: 03-12-1923

Ramsay MacDonald’s term in office proved to be very short lived. Although he had some successes he found it increasingly difficult to keep Labour’s fragile coalition with the Liberals intact. This came to a head with the Campbell Case which led to allegations that the Labour Government was being influenced by communist groups. As the Bolshevik threat was a very real fear at the time, Conservatives and Liberals were able to unite and win a motion of ‘no confidence’ against Labour. Parliament was dissolved and another general election set for less than a year since the previous one. Click on the image below to see a very rudimentary animated carton drawn at the time.

Cartoon on the Oct 1924 General Election Gaumont Graphic Newsreel  27-10-1924

Cartoon on the Oct 1924 General Election
Gaumont Graphic Newsreel

A mere 4 days before the 1924 general election a huge scandal erupted following the publication of the Zinoviev letter by the British Press. The letter, purporting to be from a senior Soviet called Grigory Zinoviev, urged the British Communist Party ‘to stir up the masses of the British proletariat’  in order to  pressurise the British Government into strengthening relations with the Soviet Union. This was political dynamite and dashed any hope of victory at the polls by Labour; although it is now accepted the letter was a forgery.

Stanley Baldwin won a decisive victory and went on to form a majority Conservative government which ran to full term. For him the previous coalition had ultimately proved beneficial, despite the fact he was locked out of power during that time.

Mr Stanley Baldwin, who will lead the greatest Conservative majority since 1832 Gaumont Graphic Newsreel: 03-11-1924

Mr Stanley Baldwin, who will lead the greatest Conservative majority since 1832
Gaumont Graphic Newsreel: 03-11-1924

There was a lot of excitement around the 1929 general election which was the first to take place under universal suffrage. It was called the ‘Flapper Election’  as it was the first time all women aged 21 and over were allowed to vote. This was reflected in frivolous press coverage including the rapidly developing medium of newsfilm. Click on the clip below to see young women rushing to the polling station straight from the public baths and still in their 1920’s swimming costumes. This time Ramsay Macdonald’s Labour Party won the most seats but did not have a majority and were forced to enter into another coalition with the Liberals, who were now lead by David Lloyd George.

Flappers make their way to the polling station All Around The May Poll: Gamont Graphic Newsreel 30-05-1929

Flappers make their way to the polling station
All Around The May Poll: Gamont Graphic Newsreel 30-05-1929

A few months later the Wall Street Crash set off the chain of events which would lead to the Great Depression of the 1930’s. MacDonald’s Government had to try and find solutions for rising unemployment and struggled to cope with the economic crisis. There was great division between the parties about the best way to promote growth and safeguard those in need, and our own experience of  the 2008 financial crisis very much reflects the same problems.

The unemployed march to Hyde Park to demand removal of Dole restrictions Hunger Trek Ends: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel  31-10-1932

The unemployed march to Hyde Park to demand removal of Dole restrictions
Hunger Trek Ends: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel 31-10-1932

After the upheaval of the World War II, subsequent general elections resulted in majority governments. In fact it was not until March 1974 that another hung parliament arose, following Edward Heath’s narrow defeat by Harold Wilson. In this unusual situation neither the Conservatives nor Labour could have made a coalition agreement with the Liberal Party to enable them to form an overall majority.  Again, this general election was held against the background of an economic crisis including the Miners’ Strike and the Three Day Week.


Ted Heath grins uneasily as he leaves No.10. U.K.: Harold Wilson returns 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister after resignation of Edward Heath: Visnews 04-03-1974

Heath remained Prime Minister for a short while until his negotiations with the Liberals failed and he subsequently resigned. Harold Wilson was then invited to form a minority government. Click on the image above to watch scenes outside Downing Street as Edward Heath relinquished power. By this time he was an unpopular figure but nevertheless you may be surprised to witness  the amount of hostility shown by the gathering crowds. Nowadays access to Downing Street is restricted.

UK: Harold Wilson returns to Downing Street as Prime Minister after resignation of Edward Heath Visnews: 04-03-1974

UK: Harold Wilson returns to Downing Street as Prime Minister after resignation of Edward Heath
Visnews: 04-03-1974

This Labour minority government was not expected to last for long and Harold Wilson called another general election 7 months later at which Labour won a majority. Less than 18 months afterwards Wilson resigned unexpectedly, to be succeeded by Jim Callaghan until the next general election in 1979 when the Conservative’s swept to power with Margaret Thatcher.

Since then we grew used to a two party system in which UK politics was dominated by battles for power between the Conservatives and Labour. The global financial crisis of 2008 heralded a phase of great economic uncertainty which still continues today and  (along with changes to British society) has reshaped the political landscape. When Labour lost their majority in the general election of 2010  no single party had enough seats to form a government, resulting in the first Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

DavidCameron & Nick Clegg hold their first joint news conference Getty  (still images) 12-05-2010

DavidCameron & Nick Clegg hold their first joint news conference
Getty (still images) 12-05-2010

As we approach the General Election 2015 polling day we know the outcome is impossible to predict and we may already be at the forefront of an age of coalition governments which will change UK politics for the foreseeable future.

Further Links:



Apr 282015

It’s time to take a closer look at the most popular searches, subjects and items in March. Thank you very much for your interest in being in the front row of our fashion show which was the last post on the Jisc MediaHub blog, as shown by ‘fashion’ being the fourth most popular search term this month!

As always, there are a number of interesting themes running through last month’s most popular lists.

Screenshot of Jisc MediaHub's Most Popular page, captured on Friday 27th March 2015.

Jisc MediaHub’s “Most Popular” page, captured on Friday 27th March 2015.

Unrest, conflicts and war

By far the most popular search terms and subjects are centred around the First World War. From 2014 to 2018 the First World War Centenary  is being commemorated globally through a series of events and projects. IWM First World War Collection is proving to be a very popular resource, judging by its place as the third most popular search term. The subjects of the British Army and the Western Front during this time are a particular focus of MediaHub users searches at the moment. For instance, below is a photograph taken by Lieutenant John Warwick Brooke on the 29th May 2018 of the French infantry coming back through Passy-sur-Marne and passing a British regimental band resting by the roadside, at the Third Battle of the Aisne.

An image showing French infantry marching through Passy-sur-Marne and passing British infantry resting by the roadside. Taken on 29 May 1918 during the Battle of the Aisne.

The German ‘Blucher-York’ offensive 27 May – 4 June. IWM First World War (via Culture Grid), 1918.

A great collection which can be accessed through Jisc MediaHub is the First World War Poetry Digital Archive, an online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research. Launched on 11th November 2008, the First World War Poetry Digital Archive (based at the University of Oxford) makes available to the general public a wide array of archival resources relating to literature of the First World War, including material from the Imperial War Museum Photographic Archive. There are many items showing war efforts on the home front (the seventh most popular subject), an example being this image of women painters working on the exterior of the District Railway at Hammersmith, London.


Eight female painters at work on various sections of the exterior of the District Railway, Hammersmith. First World War Poetry Digital Archive.

There are also some short films including Every little helps, a British propaganda film on food saving and producing activities in Ilford, Essex, 1918, which stresses the need for part-time work to win the war. The film collection holds an array of moving image items relating to the last three years of the war, and includes items from the Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive.

Other popular subject terms relating to World War I are ‘destruction’ (a keyword used in the IWM First World War Collection to describe the devastation caused by the bombings) and ‘land warfare’. Air and water warfare are also covered in MediaHub, with one particular example also our seventh most popular item this month: a short film from 1918 showing German submarines and bi-planes in action.


Another clear theme in March’s most popular lists is that of ‘disaster’. The second (and sixth!) most popular search is the R101 Airship, which was one of a pair of British rigid airships completed in 1929 as part of a British government programme to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire. Below is a short film showing the R. 101 flying over London before landing in Cardington, where it started its 200-mile maiden voyage in October 1929.

Screenshot of the R 110 Airship in the air, taken from a short film showing the airship's maiden voyage in 1929..

Britain’s million-pound monster comes to London. Gaumont Graphic Newsreel, 1929.

On the 4th October 1930 the airship departed from Cardington destined for Karachi which was at that time part of British India. This proved to be its last ever flight, as the airship nosedived and crashed southwest of Beauvais in France, killing 48 of the 54 passengers and crew. This disaster signalled the end of the British initiative to develop lighter-than-air aircraft.

Another kind of tragedy were the Notting Hill Riots of 1958, with an ITN report on the riots entitled ‘Notting Hill Riots Special‘ being the most popular item and the third most popular search. The short report looks at the grievances  which had caused the recent disturbances in West London.

Image of a man interviewing a shop owner following race riots in Notting Hill in 1958.

Notting Hill Riots Special. ITN, 1958.

Unfortunately, it is not only in 1958 when there were riots in Notting Hill. MediaHub has other short audio and visual news reports on disturbances in 1981, 1987, and 2008. One example is a radio interview with Alex Pascall, carnival organiser, on the aftermath of the Notting Hill Carnival in August 1987 where one person died (stallholder Michael Galvin) and one-hundred were injured following disturbances involving policeman and rioters.

‘Fire’ is the seventh most popular search, which brings back some very interesting items! There are many still images of fires, as well as of the equipment to put them out. Below is a fascinating article from 1910 showing a picture of a new fire engine and information on the fire stations in Sheffield. The Sheffield Fire Brigade’s Motor Escape Reg. No. W 1000, was purchased in 1907 for West Bar Green Fire Station.

Image of an article from 1910 about the Sheffield Fire Service, with an image of a newly-purchased fire engine and fire crew.Sheffield_Fire_Brigade_1910

Sheffield Fire Brigade’s Motor Escape Reg. No. W 1000, purchased 1907 at West Bar Green Fire Station. Sheffield Images, 1910.

There are also a number of videos and short news reports about fires in MediaHub, such as a Forestry Commission film (Forestry Commission Fire Exercise. ITN News, 1956) which brings to mind the very recent arson attacks on forest and grass land in South Wales. A 2011 Forestry Commission report, Wildfires in Wales specifically looked into some of the social factors that can lead to deliberate starting of wildfires like these. And thankfully fire and rescue equipment has moved on since 1910, with modern day fire fighters working with technologies far beyond Motor Escape Reg No. W 1000 in order to keep these fires under control.


Science is another hot topic this month, with both ‘forensic’ and ‘DNA’ being popular search terms. There is a huge variety of items available in these subject areas, ranging from computer-generated 3D animations through to talks and presentations. The digital images from the Wellcome Images collection are particularly impressive, including these beautiful and vastly magnified crystals of DNA repair protein.

Image of crystals of a DNA repair protein bound to DNA.

Crystals of a DNA repair protein bound to DNA. Bernard O’Hara and Renos Savva, Wellcome Images. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0 ( http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/B0003753.html)


There are two very popular items from March with a political theme. The second most popular item is a news report from 1990  (‘World Has Been Swept by Change‘) from AP Television News on the changes which had taken place since Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Russia five years previously.  The era of “perestroika” and “glasnost” had far reaching effects both nationally and globally.

Screenshot of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sitting side by side signing declarartions. 1990.

World has been swept by change. AP Archive, 1990.

One popular item, the ITN report on the Selma March, has been of particular interest this month due to March 7-25th marking the fiftieth anniversary of this landmark civil rights event, also highlighted in the recent Oscar nominated film ‘Selma’. This was a peaceful protest march between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 for civil rights in America. It is hard to believe that the Selma to Montgomery marches highlighting racial injustice happened only 50 years ago given the progress that has been made, although recent events over police conduct in the USA show that tensions still remain around race and equality of treatment.

Image showing Martin Luther King at the head of the Selma March, 1965.

Selma march: takes place. ITN Reports, 1965.

Much closer to home, but also popular this month, is the question of Welsh devolution. The tenth most popular item is a report, made back in 1976 and looking at the future of the Welsh Assembly. The National Assembly for Wales was actually established quite a few years down the line with the creation of the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997.

Arts, culture and entertainment

This theme is always very popular, in fact it is the fourth most popular subject searched. This month popular arts, culture and entertainment MediaHub content includes war art (the tenth most popular search term), music (ninth most popular subject), and a painting by Rossetti (fifth most popular item).

Music features heavily in MediaHub, with audio files as well as images of sheet music, instruments and scenes where music is played or listened to. Many traditional Scottish tunes are available to hear through the School of Scottish Studies Collection (University of Edinburgh), via Tobar an Dulchais. This website contains over 34,000 oral recordings such as folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, traditions, stories and other information. The material has been collected from all over Scotland and beyond from the 1930s onwards. One particular example is a tune called Lochaber no More,  played on the Highland bagpipes.

A particularly lovely popular item is an image of the painting entitled Girl at a Lattice by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted in 1862. This is part of the Fitzwilliam Museum Collection, in Cambridge (UK). Images from the collection cover a wide range of pictorial content drawn from the rich, diverse and internationally significant collections of The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, including major artists such as Canaletto, J.M.W. Turner, George Stubbs and John Constable. Every image is tagged by geographical location and a date or period, and many of the images are linked to contemporary social and political events.

Image of the painting 'Girl at a Lattice' by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1862.

Girl at a Lattice. The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2009.

The search term ‘war art’ brings back a lot of interesting results. Drawing and painting scenes in times of war was both necessary before the use of photography and filming was prevalent and, in some cases, therapeutic. There has now also been a move to use the negative effects of war for more positive ends, by making de-commissioned weapons into objects of art. Below is a short film on how the Mozambican Civil War, which  raged between 1977 and 1992, still remains present in the lives and thoughts of many – including artists who are converting weapons used in the conflict into creative works.


Making art from Mozambique’s relics of war. Getty (Moving Images), 2009.

And finally…

Here is a nice, happy item to finish this post on! The eighth most popular item is this short newsreel (one of our featured items last month) entitled ‘A Yorkshire Romance‘ about Sir William Sutherland M.P. marrying Miss Annie Fountain at Darton church, Barnsley. Mr. Lloyd George was present at the wedding and was afterwards made a freeman of the borough.


A Yorkshire romance. Gaumont Graphic, 1921.

This leads me on to wonder if there are particular items in Jisc MediaHub which make you feel happy? Do let us know and we can share them! Also, as always, we would love to hear your thoughts on why some of the items above are popular – just let us know in the comments below or share your theories on Twitter with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10.

Mar 122015

You may be aware that recently there have been a number of Fashion Weeks for Autumn/Winter 2015, with 4th to 11th March the last major fashion week of this season in Paris. For anyone interested in fashion and indeed how culture affects style and trends (and vice versa) Jisc MediaHub has a really wide and fascinating range of items, from still to moving images, and even some audio clips.

Fashion Week

The major fashion weeks are held in New York, London, Milan and Paris and there are two major seasons per year – Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer. For womenswear, the Autumn/Winter shows always start in New York in February and end in Paris in March. There are a number of short video clips of actual fashion shows in MediaHub, many of which also giving you a peek into what goes on behind the scenes. One example is this short film of Matthew Williamson’s Autumn/Winter collection at London Fashion Week 2010.

An image of models back-stage of a fashion show getting their make-up done.

London Fashion Week 2010. Getty Images, 2010.

And don’t forget men’s fashion! The Zoolander antics in Paris earlier this week were a great reminder that men’s fashion and tailoring are an essential part of any fashion week. Here is a great example of a menswear collection catwalk show from Alexander McQueen as part of the Milan Fashion Week 2009.

An image of a male model from the Alexander McQueen Men's Fashion Collection, shown in Milan Fashion Week 2009

Milan Men’s Fashion 2009. Getty Images, 2009.

It is very fitting to include Alexander McQueen in this post as the exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty starts at the V&A, London on Friday 14th March and runs until 2nd August 2015. Below is another one of his dramatic creations, from the Alexander McQueen fashion show at Paris Fashion Week, Autumn 2006. The short film of Alexander McQueen: Paris Fashion Week 2009 also demonstrates how wonderful his designs are.

An image of a female model wearing a creation from Alexander McQueen at Paris Fashion Week 2006.

Alexander McQueen – Paris Fashion Week Autumn 2006. Getty Images, 2006.

Fashion Designers and their muses

A well as Alexander McQueen, MediaHub contains resources on other fashion designers, examples being Paul Smith, Karl Lagerfeld, Gorgio Armani and Vivienne Westwood. In many cases, there are particularly strong partnerships between designers and models, celebrities and muses. One very famous partnership was between Madonna and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Below is a picture of the singer wearing a pointed-bust corset by the fashion designer.

A photograph of singer Madonna wearing a pointed-bust corset by fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, taken on stage during her Blonde Ambition concert, Nassau 1990.

Singer Madonna wearing a pointed-bust corset by fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Time Life Pictures/Getty Images, 1990.

Fashion comes to the High Street

Of course, fashion is not just about Fashion Week and catwalks! Fashion pervades everywhere – from the catwalks to the High Street to the streets themselves. One clear instance of this is when fashion designers and models launch their own clothing ranges in high street stores, such as the Top Shop Kate Moss clothing range and the capsule collection designed by Luella Bartley for New Look, which included two ensembles. However, equally fashion can originate in the streets and go on to influence the catwalk. This is apparent when you look at fashion and youth culture and “street style” in particular, more on that a little later in this post…

Fashion re-lived and re-imagined

Trends come back around! At the moment denim and Seventies fashion, including tan, suede and kick flares, have re-appeared. If you want inspiration, or just wonder what people used to wear in years gone by, take a look in Jisc MediaHub – indeed you may remember that 1930s fashion was a very popular search term back in January this year! Here are a just a few examples of fashions from the twentieth century:

1920s fashion

A photograph of a pyjama suit worn by the actress Hilda Moore in the 1927 play Interference at the St James's Theatre

Jacket and trousers; pyjamas suit. Exploring Twentieth Century London (via VADS), 1927.

Swinging sixties

An image of the front of a Simplicity 'Designer Fashion' Dress Pattern No.7803 from the 1960s.

Simplicity – Designer Fashion Dress Pattern. VADS Collection: Arts Institute at Bournemouth Design Collection, 1960s.


Photograph of a model wearing a blue tulle-swathed turban with a cascade of ostrich feather pom-poms from the Kaleidoscope fashiobn show 1970.

Kaleidoscope fashion show 1970: “Blue tulle-swathed turban with a cascade of ostrich feather pom-poms”. VADS Collection: London College of Fashion – College Archive, 1970.

Eighties fashion

Photograph of a young woman in eighties fashion wear on the King's Road in 1984.

Girl in eighties fashion. PYMCA, 1984.

Fashion and contemporary youth culture

MediaHub gives you access to items from the PYMCA Image and Research Library, a collection of images sourced from all over the world documenting post-war lifestyles, fashions, hairstyles, music and subcultures of young people. These images provide powerful documentation of changing fashions and lifestyles of young people, depicted at their finest (and worst). Looking at these images, it becomes very apparent that music plays a big part in fashion and culture. Breakdancing, punk, mods and clubbing cultures, among others, are all represented.

A photograph of rapper Kool Mo Dee, taken in London in 1986

Kool Mo Dee. PYMCA, 1986.

Journey deeper into fashion

There are so many great fashion resources in Jisc MediaHub that it is impossible to cover it all in this blog post. In addition to PYMCA, here are some of the other wonderful collections you can access through MediaHub on the subject of fashion, style and culture:

There are a great array of fashion collections from VADS (the online resource for visual arts):

We also recommend the Gaumont Graphic Newsreel (Silent cinema newsreels from 1910 – 1934) for early twentieth century fashions and millinery, often including experimental and hugely glamorous ensembles.

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of fascinating audio clips of people talking about fashion. Some examples you may want to start with are a woman’s view of beauty, the reopening of Biba fashion shop, home-made and locally-made clothing in Shetland; local shops…, and the Hartnell fashion house.

We hope that by looking at some of the many fashion resources in MediaHub we have awakened your curiosity and creativity in clothing design, styles and trends. It is a fascinating area to explore, and one which will continue to evolve and leave its mark on culture and society as a whole. Do let us know if any of these items have inspired you – for instance do you have a favourite fashion image which you have found in MediaHub? Share your fashion highlighhts in the comments below or via Twitter using the hashtag #MediaHubFashion.

 March 12, 2015  Posted by at 10:21 am JISC MediaHub, JISC MediaHub Highlights Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Feb 102015

Welcome to the first Jisc MediaHub ‘Most Popular’ blog post of the year!  It’s great to see people taking a look at the ‘most popular’ items from last September. Some of the items which we picked out are still popular now! This month (January 2015) we take a look at the Most Popular page to find out what people are researching, learning or teaching about. As always it is fun to try and work out why these items may be popular and identify themes running through the most popular lists. If you have any theories of your own, can explain why something is popular or tell us why you searched for and used a particular popular item it would be fantastic to hear from you!

An image of the Jisc MediaHub’s “Most Popular” page, captured on Wednesday 21st January 2015.

Jisc MediaHub’s “Most Popular” page, captured on Wednesday 21st January 2015.


A few of the most popular searches, subjects and items are to do with specific places. The second most popular search is Bexhill (Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex). In Jisc MediaHub, there are many images of various sights in Bexhill which are part of the English Heritage ViewFinder Collection (a selection of historic photographs from important collections of the National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage). It is also interesting to note that by searching for ‘Collections Trust’  (the third most popular search term) you also get back items from the English Heritage ViewFinder Collection. Collections Trust is in fact an independent UK charity which delivers the online service Culture Grid.

Lancashire is another very popular place with specific relation to its cotton industry, as can be seen from the appearance of the search term “Lancashire” and “Cotton” and the subject ‘Cotton Mill’. An example of an item you get from searching “Lancashire” and “Cotton” is the photograph below of  Low Mill, Caton, Lancashire, a cotton mill established in 1784 and rebuilt in 1838 following a fire.

A photograph of Low Mill located in Caton, Lancashire, taken in 1956.

Low Mill, Caton, Lancashire. English Heritage ViewFinder Collection, 1956.

There are even more specific places of interest. A photograph of the exterior of the Canch Lido in Worksop, taken back in 1979, is the sixth most popular item.

A photograph of the exterior of the Canch Lido, taken in 1979.

Exterior of the Canch Lido. Picture the Past Collection, 1979.

The ninth most popular item is a photograph of “The Bunny Run” – Upper Batley Low Lane, Batley. It is a road which runs parallel with railway lines and was very popular with courting couples, hence the name! This item also links in to our next theme of …


The fourth most popular subject is ‘tram’, which may be topical due to Edinburgh trams having started running back in May 2014 and the Manchester tram network having just been extended. A particularly wonderful item is an image of a tinted postcard of an illuminated electric tram, which was specially commissioned to mark the occasion of the royal visit to Leeds of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 7th July 1908. This tram, decorated with 3,000 electrical lights, was particularly fitting as the royal couple were there to open the new electrical engineering wing of Leeds University.

Image of a postcard showing an illuminated electric tram for the Royal Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. At the bottom of the potscard "Illuminated electric car. King's Visit July 7th, 1908. There are 3000 electric lights and requires 150 horse power to run it."

Illuminated Electric Tram for the Royal Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Leodis, 1908.

Another transport-themed item is a silent newsreel shot in 1919 of a motor cycle trial run from London to Exeter, which was the ninth most popular item. It shows cars having trouble going up Trow Hill, and the results of a collision between two motorcycles, where “neither of the riders were much hurt”.

Still of a news report showing cars taking part in the motorcyle and car trail run between London and Exeter which took place in 1919.

Motor Cycle Trail Run, London to Exeter. Gaumont Graphic, 1919.


Both ‘1930 fashion’ and ‘hairdressing’ are popular search terms (seventh and eighth consecutively). It is always fascinating to see how people dressed in years gone by, and to see that trends do indeed return! There are a number of photographs from the London School of Art. The photograph below is of a 1930’s evening dress. It shows a closer body fit associated with the 1930s; the waistline is at its natural level, and the hemline is at ankle length. This item is an example of the London College of Fashion – College Archive, found in VADS via the Culture Grid.

A photograph of a woman wearing an evening dress, taken in front entrance hall of Barrett Street Trade School, circa 1930.

Evening dress: front entrance hall of Barrett Street Trade School – 1 VADS Collection: London College of Fashion – College Archive. VADS, c. 1930.

Examples of creative hairstyling can be found in this short silent news report for ITN on the Hairdressing Festival, held at Seymour Hall in 1956. I particularly like the use of glitter and other accoutrements!

Still image taken from a news report, showing a woman putting glitter on a model's hair.

Hairdressing Festival. ITN, 1956.

Arts, Culture and Entertainment

This is always a very popular subject term in Jisc MediaHub. This month we have terms from opposite ends of the spectrum – ‘Othello’ as the ninth most popular search and The ‘Beatles’ as the tenth most popular. Below is an image of the painting Othello by the French orientalist painter, Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter (1844-1913), found in VADS, via the Culture Grid.

An image of the painting 'Othello' by Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter (1844-1913).

‘Othello’ by Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter. VADS (via Culture Grid), 1881.

Not that unsurprisingly there are a lot of items about The Beatles in Jisc MediaHub. A really fascinating item is the USA: Beatles on Tour in the Bible Belt, a news report about the Beatles tour of the American South, which was marred by protests after John Lennon managed to inflame America’s Bible Belt by stating that the Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus Christ’.

still image showing to young women holding up a hommade placard saying "Go Home Beatles".

USA: Beatles on Tour in the Bible Belt. Reporting, 1966.

Wellcome Images, Madeley –  and Arcimboldo!

When I first saw ‘Madeley’ (the fifth most popular search) I immediately thought of Richard Madeley the television presenter! However, it seems that the Madeley in question is in fact George E. Madeley, who is linked to IC (the ninth most popular subject). (N.B there are actually one or two items referring to Richard Madeley in Jisc MediaHub!) ‘IC’ as subject brings back items from Wellcome Images, a collection with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. IC refers to its Iconographic Collections. There are some really fascinating images from this collection. An example below is an image of a coloured lithograph printed by G.E. Madeley and published by T. McLean in 1830 of an apothecary.

A coloured lithograph of an Arcimboldesque figure comprised of different objects relating to pharmacy.

An Arcimboldesque figure comprised of different elements relating to pharmacy. Wellcome Images, 1830.

There are numerous coloured lithographs by G.E. Madeley which are of Arcimboldesque figures, i.e. figures composed of the attributes/elements of their trade. The term ‘Arcimboldesque’ comes from the Italian painter , Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), who used fruit, vegetables, fish, books and other objects to create imaginative portraits, e.g. for Allegory of Summer he used summer fruits and flowers. Other examples of Madeley lithographs are those for entomologist, mineralogist and physiognomist. Why not look in MediaHub for other examples?

 And finally…

The tenth most popular item is a photograph of an Antarctic Christmas, which was taken in around 1903  and which had the original caption ‘Antarctic Xmas No.s 1 and 3 messes. Starboard side decorated for the occasion. Flashlight.’ Looking at this photo I think about what life was like for the men in such an inhospitable environment. It is great to see that they had some normality, even though we learn that Antarctic Christmas for the crew actually took place on June 23rd! The photograph has an eerie feel to it when you look at the double exposure of the dog in the foreground. There are other images of the same 1901-1904 Antarctic Expedition in MediaHub, one showing The Antarctic Theatrical Company in costume!


Antarctic Christmas. Royal Geographical Society, c. 1903.

When you start looking in Jisc MediaHub you never know where you will end up! This became very apparent to me when I started looking at the Wellcome Images Collection, especially those with George E. Madeley as one of the subjects. This then lead me to search for Giuseppe Arcimboldo. If there are any journeys you have made through Jisc MediaHub, where you have either been sidetracked (in a good way!) or made a discovery or connection  you would not have otherwise made do let us know. We would also love to hear your thoughts on why some of the items above are popular – just let us know in the comments below or share your theories on Twitter with the hashtag #MediaHubTop10.

Jan 082015

Elvis fans

Elvis Fans, PYMCA, 2005.

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley – the King of Rock and Roll. Born to a modest background in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis became one of the biggest selling artists of the 20th century, selling more than one billion records. Elvis earned gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, as well as three Grammys and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Elvis never studied music formally. He sang at the Pentecostal church he attended as a child. Elvis’ devoted mother, Gladys, bought a guitar from the Tupelo hardware store for his eleventh birthday. Reports differ but apparently Elvis had either a rifle or a bicycle in mind.

After moving to Memphis at age 15, Elvis began to practise guitar regularly and absorbed R&B on Beale Street, the historic heart of the Memphis blues scene. Elvis came to the attention of Sam Philips, the boss of Sun Records in Memphis. After struggling to find the right track for Elvis, they struck gold on a 1954 late night recording session when Elvis started playing Arthur Crudup’s 1946 song, That’s All Right. Never released in the UK, That’s All right was remastered and re-released in 2004.

Watch this ITN News report from 2004 and see a ‘gaggle’ or a ‘pride’ of Elvis impersonators celebrate the re-release on a London bus:



Radio appearances, touring and record releases led to regional success for Elvis and after offers from three major record labels, Elvis signed with RCA in November 1955.  Now managed by Colonel Thomas Parker, by 1956 Elvis was an international star. His 1956 hits included Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog, My Baby Left Me and Love Me Tender.

Elvis was idolised by teens but felt the wrath of many for what they considered his overly suggestive performances. On his final performance on the Ed Sullivan TV show, Elvis was only shown from the waist up! Watch this 1958 clip from 30 seconds in, to hear London teenagers interviewed about Elvis. Our favourite quote – “He sends me!”:

Elvis Presley Fans

 Elvis Presley Fans, ITN News, 1958.

Elvis also achieved commercial success in films, making his debut in 1956 in Love me Tender for 20th Century Fox. Watch this video for lots of fantastic images of Elvis filming Love me Tender:

Memories of Elvis by Music Historian Micheal Ochs

Memories of Elvis by Music Historian Michael Ochs, Getty Moving Images, 2007.

In 1960, on his return from 2 years of national service in Germany, Elvis stepped back from live performance. He spent much of the 1960s making movies, which were often accompanied by soundtrack albums of variable quality.

A punishing schedule, often filming three films a year, meant very few non-soundtrack albums were released. A notable exception was the 1967 gospel album, How Great Thou Art, which won him a Grammy. By 1968 Elvis has grown increasingly dissatisfied with his career. An acclaimed performance in a 1968 TV special marked the start of his return to successful recording and live performance.

Chart success and a series of Las Vegas residencies followed the 1968 TV comeback. Elvis maintained a prolific touring schedule from the late 1960s up to his death in 1977. Wary of the public and divorced from Priscilla in 1973, Elvis’ use of prescription drugs increased in his later years and his onstage presence was not what it had been.

Get an insight into Elvis’ life in the 1970s in a fascinating 1980s interview with his step-brother, David Stanley. Including lots of Elvis songs, this interview tells of life on the road with Elvis, the singer’s wealth, legendary generosity and his increasing reliance on prescription drugs.  David recounts how angry Elvis would get with him about his use of marijuana, being so anti-drug use that he was keen to send narcotics police to David’s school to round up the kids who were on drugs. The interview quotes Elvis:

“If there’s anything I’ve tried to do, I’ve tried to live a straight clean life, not set any kind of a bad example”.

David describes how Elvis’ drug use steadily increased from 1973, initially using prescription drugs to cope with the punishing touring schedule. According to David, Elvis had complete trust in the doctors that prescribed him sleeping tablets, amphetamines and barbiturates, an attitude that David ascribes to his poor background.

LBC/IRN Audio Archive logo

Life with Elvis, LBC/IRN Audio Archive, 1987.


Elvis died on August 16th 1977 at Graceland, the Memphis mansion he purchased in 1957. His death caused widespread shock and grief – see footage of fans paying their respects outside Graceland on the day after his death:

Elvis Presley Dies

Elvis Presley Dies, ITN News, 1977.

Almost forty years after his death, his appeal endures. Graceland was opened to the public in 1982 and annual visitor numbers are in the region of 600,000. Several single reissues achieved high positions in the UK and US charts in 2004 and 2005, following the dance remix of A Little Less Conversation that was used in a Nike advertising campaign in 2002.

His death also spawned a raft of Elvis tribute artists and impersonators. A 2011 Telegraph article has video footage of a contest, held on Elvis’ birthday, to find Japan’s best Elvis impersonator!

Elvis impersonator

Elvis Impersonator, PYMCA, 2003.

Birthday celebrations are planned in Tupelo (as reported by The Washington Times), Los Angeles, Graceland in Memphis and by lots of Elvis fan clubs around the globe.

If you can’t join in and feel the need of some Elvis action, let us leave you with this fun report on how it’s thought that Elvis’s ancestors came from Aberdeenshire in Scotland:

Elvis Presley Ancestors from Scotland

Elvis Presley Ancestors from Scotland, ITN News, 2004.

Further Resources:


 January 8, 2015  Posted by at 10:41 am JISC MediaHub, JISC MediaHub Highlights No Responses »
Nov 262014


A View of the Brandenburg Gate through barbed wire of the first Berlin Wall c.1961 Roving Report: The Gilded Cage 19-06-1963

A View of the Brandenburg Gate through barbed wire of the first Berlin Wall c.1961
Roving Report: The Gilded Cage 19-06-1963

Twenty five years ago one of the most extraordinary barriers ever constructed was torn down by the people it was designed to oppress. The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to prevent East Germans reaching West Berlin, but to understand why it was put up in the first place we have to reach back to events following the end of WWII.

In May 1945 much of the great city of Berlin lay in ruins following intense bombardment by the Allies as they closed in to destroy Hitler and the power of the Third Reich. The image below shows children playing in the bombed out city. This deceptively jolly newsclip gives a flavour of conditions at the time.

The British Army relocates 50,000 children to the Western Sector of Berlin Looking after the children of Berlin: Gaumont British News 08-11-1945

The British Army relocates 50,000 children to the Western Sector of Berlin
Looking after the children of Berlin: Gaumont British News 08-11-1945

In line with the Potsdam Agreement the city was divided into sectors; one for each of the four Allies (Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the USA). Over the next two years tensions grew as the Soviets showed little inclination to rebuild their part of the city. The Allies, however, wished for a thriving new German economy to help Europe recover from the huge cost of the war. In addition Berlin was located in the heart of East Germany, one hundred miles behind the Iron Curtain, in the midst of the Eastern Bloc which was inveterately opposed to Capitalism.

The Soviets disrupt train travel of  Allied forces and civilians to West Berlin: The Berlin Crisis: Gaumont British News:  08-04-1948

The Soviets disrupt train travel of Allied forces and civilians to West Berlin:
The Berlin Crisis: Gaumont British News: 08-04-1948

By April 1948 the Soviets had begun to make life difficult for those in West Berlin. This clip from Gaumont British News shows how they disrupted rail traffic for those travelling to the Western Sector across East Germany. Soon a blockade was in place preventing the delivery of food and other materials. The attempts of the Soviets to starve out the West Berliners were foiled by the Allied Forces who ensured regular air deliveries of essential supplies. Click on the image below to see a newsclip showing how this was done. The Cold War had now begun in earnest.

Allied Forces break the Soviet Blockade by flying in food supplies Food Planes Fly to Berlin: Gaumont British News: 05-07-1948

Allied Forces break the Soviet Blockade by flying in food supplies
Food Planes Fly to Berlin: Gaumont British News: 05-07-1948

Over a year later the blockade was lifted, but this was only the beginning of problems that grew from the troubled relationship between the Soviets and the Allies. The East Germans themselves were experiencing many difficulties living in a Communist state with a poor economy and a crumbling infrastructure. This dramatic 1953 newsclip tells how riots broke out in protest at government threats to reduce wages; they were quickly and cruelly repressed.

East Germans riot against demands for increased productivity  Riots In Berlin: Gaumont British News: 22-06-1953

East German workers riot against demands for increased productivity
Riots In Berlin: Gaumont British News: 22-06-1953

Throughout the 1950s the contrast between the economies of West and East Germany became increasingly pronounced. West Berlin was a thriving place to live with high wages and a good standard of living; despite being completely surrounded by the Iron Curtain. Those in East Berlin had little chance to improve their lives and faced restricted personal freedoms, so it was not surprising that by 1957 a million had crossed the border to the West through West Berlin.

Willy Brandt, the charismatic Mayor of West Berlin talks about hopes for the future Berlin Today: Roving Report   20-11-1957

Willy Brandt, the charismatic Mayor of West Berlin, talks about hopes for the future
Berlin Today: Roving Report 20-11-1957

As the years went by the situation became more extreme. East Germans left for West Berlin in their droves to live in transit camps and seek a better life. This interesting Roving Report (Berlin Today) was made on location in 1957 and documents how the people in both sectors were dealing with their problems. As one West Berliner put it : “If we’d spent the last ten years worrying we’d have gone mad by now”.

Map showing the postion of Berlin within Soviet occupied East Germany Roving Report: How Many Germanies? 13-05-1959

Map showing the postion of Berlin within Soviet occupied East Germany
Roving Report: How Many Germanies? 13-05-1959

Another Roving Report made in 1959 asks the question, ‘How Many Germanies?’. Prompted by the forthcoming Geneva Conference, the programme looks at what Germans want now. Students talk about how they can’t really remember when Germany was one country anymore and they would rather keep the status quo than risk any armed conflict arising from the reunification initiative then being promoted by Britain and the USA. The Geneva Conference did not succeed in its aims and by the summer of 1961 a crisis point was reached.

The Divided City

The Divided City: Roving Report: 07-06-1961

Click on the image above to watch the Roving Report documentary ‘The Divided City‘ which examines living conditions and political attitudes in East and West Berlin in June 1961. The documentary shows the huge divide in lifestyle between the East and West Germans. How could the thriving capitalist sector of West Berlin continue to exist within a Marxist-Leninist East Germany? It was an anomaly the Soviets wished to erase and by the 13th August the turning point had come. On that day 50,000 East German troops constructed the first barbed wire wall around West Berlin within a few hours.

Allied Troops face East German forces at Checkpoint Charlie as the first Berlin Wall goes up Roving Reports: The Gilded Cage  19-06-1963

Allied Troops face East German forces at Checkpoint Charlie as the first Berlin Wall goes up on 13-08-1961
Roving Reports: The Gilded Cage 19-06-1963

The original wall was eventually reinforced by a second one of brick and concrete which extended around the entire perimeter of the Western sector. The sole aim of the Berlin Wall was to stop East Germans reaching West Berlin and from there defecting to the West.

Crisis In Berlin 1

East German guards putting up a section of the first wire wall Roving Report: Crisis in Berlin: 23-08-1961

Click on the image above to watch another excellent Roving Report (Crisis in Berlin) which was broadcast on 23-08-1961. You will hear the reaction of West Berliners; many of whom criticised Britain, France and the USA for taking no actions over the Wall. The mayor, Willy Brandt, wrote to President Kennedy declaring:

Berlin expects more than words…

So why did the West not act more assertively ?  It was thought the Soviets would not go to all the trouble of building the Wall if they had serious plans to take over West Berlin, which had been a persistent fear for over a decade. Nevertheless the situation was balanced on a knife’s edge and it was recognised that any movement of aggression by one side could spark off another great conflict, which was to be avoided at all costs.

Hugh Gaitskell talks about the how the West should react to the Berlin Wall: ITV News: 12-09-1961

Hugh Gaitskell talks about the how the West should react to the Berlin Wall:
ITV News: 12-09-1961

Click on the image above to hear Hugh Gaitskell, the leader of the Labour Party, discuss the fears and dangers the newly constructed Wall now posed. In a further interview  on 6th Jan 1962 Hugh Gaitskell  declared the Berlin Wall was “an appalling advertisement for Communism”.

If I were a communist propagandist I would regard this as about the biggest embarrassment I had to face…..

Prosperous West Berliners visit one of their 18 theatres Roving Report: The Gilded Cage   19-06-1963

Prosperous West Berliners visit one of their 18 theatres
Roving Report: The Gilded Cage 19-06-1963

This 1963 Roving Report documentary likens life in West Berlin to being in a gilded cage. The difference in lifestyle between the two sectors was impossible to reconcile. The film is particularly interesting due to an interview with some British exchange students who also visited the Soviet sector. A few days later President Kennedy came to Berlin and made his famous speech ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ to demonstrate his continuing support for West Berliners.

A method used by East German spies for smuggling microfilm  Roving Report: The Spy Catchers 12-12-1963

A method used by East German spies for smuggling microfilm
Roving Report: The Spy Catchers 12-12-1963

At this time the Cold War was at its height. In West Germany alone it was estimated there were 16,000 communist spies, many of whom worked in the capital, Bonn. Another Roving Report (‘The Spycatchers’) looks at the extent to which the Civil Service had been infiltrated and contains a very interesting feature on the Spycatchers Museum which was a training ground for West German Intelligence. It’s no coincidence the James Bond franchise started in 1962 and John le Carre’s book ‘The Spy who came in from the Cold’ was first published in 1963.

The House of Checkpoint Charlie: A bubble car used in a successful escape attempt. Channel 4 Berlin Wall B'ground:  08-08-1986

The House of Checkpoint Charlie: A bubble car used in a successful escape attempt.
Channel 4 Berlin Wall B’ground: 08-08-1986

The Wall remained in force for over 28 years and became a symbol of great human suffering. Many East Germans continued to try and escape through or over the Wall; some were successful and others died in the attempt. Click on the image above to watch a fascinating clip about the House of Checkpoint Charlie which displays some of the methods used to escape to West Berlin.

A view of the notorious 'Death Strip' where many were gunned down as they tried to cross the Wall

A view of the notorious ‘Death Strip’ where many were gunned down as they tried to cross the Wall: Channel 4 News: Berlin Wall Opening: 1st Anniversary 08-11-1990

By the late 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev‘s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost were bringing about radical economic and social reform within the Soviet Union. He also ensured the Soviet Union no longer controlled the governments of other Eastern Bloc countries which resulted in the end of the Cold War. Along with many other Eastern Bloc states, East Germany experienced a peaceful revolution against Soviet Communism during 1989 which resulted in freedom of movement to the West. And so it was on 9th November 1989 the East Germans unexpectedly discovered they were allowed to cross the Berlin Wall……..

Ecstatic East Berliners start to tear holes in the Berlin Wall Channel 4 News: Programme as Broadcast  09-11-1989

Ecstatic East Berliners start to tear holes in the Berlin Wall
Channel 4 News: Programme as Broadcast 09-11-1989

This Channel 4 News programme shows the excitement and joy of the East Berliners as they struggled to understand the Wall was no longer a barrier to their freedom. Most young people under the age of 30 would never have crossed the Wall until this moment.

West Berliners pull down a section of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate: East/West Germany: The Berlin Wall : ITV News 11-11-1989

A couple of days later ITV’s News at Ten showed West and East Berliners celebrating together after 28 years of separation. There had not been scenes like this since the end of WWII in 1945. The work of reunifying East and West Germany began immediately and was achieved in less than a year; however many worried the process was too rapid, as this Channel 4 News clip demonstrates. It would be many more years before Germany felt like one people again and some would argue the scars are still healing.


Further Links:

The Berlin Wall Memorial

Berlin.de : The Berlin Wall (The City of Berlin’s official webportal)

Wikipedia: The Berlin Wall

BBC Radio 4:  Germany: Memories of a Nation  (major series)

Khan Academy: The Cold War

Guardposts and Gardens: Walking the Berlin Wall Trail

Berlin Wall app

Nov 202014

As the new academic year is well underway, we thought it would be a good time to remind you of the various ways that you can find help and support for using Jisc MediaHub.

There is a support section within the service, with PDF guides, a guided tour and a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).


YouTube channel

Jisc MediaHub also has a YouTube channel with some short videos on using the service. We have just published a new video, Explore Jisc MediaHub, with some examples of the Explore pages available in the service – have a look:

Watch on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1xlwzZg

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We run short webinars to introduce users to the service.

The next introductory webinar is on Wednesday 11 February 2015 – click here for more details and registration.

A recent webinar is available to view – watch on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1qzUWxl

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Help us improve our support

We’re trying to improve the support that we offer you. New help pages are in development, along with some more short videos.

It would be great to hear from you if you have any other ideas on support that would be useful. More videos, webinars, guides or anything else you can think of – just let us know and we’ll endeavour to provide it!

You can email us your suggestions at edina@ed.ac.uk, or leave a comment below.