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General Help

Looking for help? Do you want to find out:

  • Why you can't see the clips, or how you can register for video access?
  • How to find films, television programmes, actors, videos, DVDs or stills?
  • How to deal with error messages, non-playing clips or other technical issues?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BFI Screenonline?

BFI Screenonline is an online encyclopaedia of British film and television featuring hundreds of hours of film and television clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive, and several hours of recorded interviews with film and TV personalities. These clips are supplemented by rich and authoritative contextual material by expert writers, specially commissioned for BFI Screenonline alongside thousands of stills, posters and press books. The site also features the BFI Screenonline Education Zone, a free resource to help all subject teachers make the most out of moving image in the classroom.

BFI Screenonline is the single most extensive publicly available resource devoted to British film and television, and is entirely free. Users in registered UK schools, colleges, universities and libraries (see Registration help) can access the entire site, including the moving image materials; users in other locations can see everything but the film and TV clips and recorded audio interviews. The project has been developed by the BFI and funded by a £1.2 million grant from the New Opportunities Fund. You can find out more about the BFI and its activities at

Who is BFI Screenonline for?

The site is primarily aimed at:

  • teachers and students in primary, secondary and further education,
  • lecturers and students in colleges and universities, and
  • lifelong learners in libraries,

but we welcome anyone interested in the history of British film and television.

Users in UK Schools, colleges, universities and libraries can access the moving image materials once the institution has been registered (see Registration help). People using the site from home, work or in public internet access centres can access all of the material except for the moving image and audio content. See below for a list of places where you can view BFI Screenonline titles and video clips outside of schools and colleges.

Who can access the video and audio clips?

The only locations eligible to register for (free) access to BFI Screenonline audio and video material on their premises are UK schools, public libraries, colleges and universities. See Registration help for more information on how to register your institution. We regret that we cannot offer access to users outside the UK, educational or otherwise.

How can I see the BFI Screenonline clips or titles if I'm not at a UK school or college?

Everyone should be able to see the clips from their local UK library. If your local library doesn't have access please either:

  • Ask your librarian to email us at: or via the feedback form for more information or
  • Register your library yourself by submitting a request via the feedback form, while sitting at a library terminal. Our system will automatically record the Library's IP address; it would be helpful if you could type 'Library IP address' in the 'Comments' section. We will inform you once you should have access, as long as you provide an email address.

BFI National Library
BFI Screenonline clips can also be viewed at the BFI National Library, based in central London, UK.

BFI Mediatheque
You can also view titles from the BFI National Archive (including much - but not all - of the content of the BFI Screenonline website) for free at the BFI Mediatheques at the BFI Southbank in London, and at public locations in Derby, Cambridge, Wrexham and Newcastle. The Mediatheques feature short films, feature-length films and television programmes such as 'Play for Today' to view in their entirety - even if they are featured only in clip form on BFI Screenonline.

BFI Creative Archive
You can also view and download (free) video material from the BFI National Archive video at the BFI Creative Archive website.

BFI Screenonline / BT Archive Interactives
The BFI Screenonline's BT-sponsored Archive Interactives (featuring film clips) are also available to all, and can be viewed anywhere in the world.

Research viewings
If you wish to view a film or television programme for research purposes, you might like to contact our Research Viewing Service. They will be able to let you know whether the BFI holds a copy of the film in our archive. If we do, it could be made available to view as part of our Research Viewings service. Please note that we would not be able to make you a copy of the title for you.

Viewing BFI Screenonline titles on DVD or video
Please see locating films/TV on DVD.