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About the Timeline of British Film

About the BFI Screenonline Timelines

The (long-awaited) BFI Screenonline Timelines of British Film and Television give you an at-a-glance view of the key events in the history of the moving image in Britain.

Because there are a great many of these, we've given you the option to decide what kind of events you want to look at, using the six categories on the right of the timeline. Select which categories to display by checking or unchecking the appropriate box. You can check as many or as few items as you like, although it's not possible to uncheck all six categories, as this would leave no items at all!

The Timeline of British Film is coming soon - very soon.

We'd be very interested to hear your comments on the Timelines - errors or ommissions, ideas for improving functionality, or just compliments... Just follow the 'Content and Feedback' link near the top of this page, and be sure to mention 'Timeline' in your message.

About the Event Categories

The events on the timeline are split into the following catergories:

  • Regulation & Censorship

    Including regulatory bodies (e.g. British Board of Film Censors, Independent Television Commission), film and television standards debates.

  • Films / Programmes

    Notable works, awards etc.

  • Government intervention

    Including legislation, parliamentary debate, reports, papers and policies.

  • Industry & Technology

    Including studios, broadcasters and production companies, and technological developments (e.g. sound, colour processes, satellite).

  • People

    Including births and deaths, Academy and other awards, appointments and resignations etc.

  • Historical Context (grey background)

    Key historical events (e.g. war, politics).

Using the Screenonline Timelines

When you first view the timeline it will display all the events in chronological order. The righthand column contains additional tools that may be useful for finding specific information or navigating around the timeline.

The following section explains these tools.

Browsing through the timelines

If the current timeline has too many events to fit on a single page you will see 'Forward' and 'Back' buttons at the top and bottom of the page.

Clicking on the 'Forward' button will move you to the next page of the timeline, showing the events from the years immediatley after those on the current page. The 'Back' button displays the previous page.

If there are no events before or after the current page the relevant buttons will not be visible.

Jumping to a specific year

You can use the option in the righthand column to jump to a specific year on the timeline. Simply choose the year you'd like from the drop down list and hit 'Go'

If there are no events for your chosen year, the timeline will jump to the next available year.

Switching between the timelines

It's easy to switch from one timeline to the other. All you need to do is click on 'Switch to film/television timeline' in the righthand column.

If you're currently on the film timeline this will take you to the television timeline and vice versa.

All your settings are preserved as you move from one timeline to the other, so making comparisons between film and television events is very straight forward.

Searching the timelines

If you're interested in finding a specific event or person in the timeline you can use the search box on the right to enter the term you're interested in.

The timeline will then only show events that match your search.

For instance if you want to find events in the life of Dennis Potter you would enter “Dennis Potter” into the search box and hit 'Search'. This would show all the events from his birth to his death with major releases and landmark events in between.

A more specific search such as “The Singing Detective” will give fewer results, but clicking on 'clear search' at the top of the page will turn on all other events and show the event in context.

Choosing event categories to display

By default the timeline shows all the event types but it is possible to choose the categories you'd like to display.

At any time you can see which categories are visible by looking at the event categories section in the righthand column. Any event type with a tick is being displayed.

To adjust which catergories are visible, tick or untick the categories and then hit the 'Update' button.