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The ADAPT project examined How Television Used to be Made using an innovative Hands on History method. It was funded a grant of €1,680,121 from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (agreement No 323626).

Professionals were filmed using restored old equipment from early in their careers. 

They rediscovered forgotten skills and working methods. They demonstrated how the equipment worked and what its affordances were.

This opened out new research opportunities in production studies:

  • illuminating the creative process through which ideas become programmes
  • understanding how the affordances of technology intersected with the demands of broadcasting institutions
  • explaining the constraints that lie behind the archival TV heritage from the analogue era
  • exploring the changing working cultures of TV professionals in the UK  

These issues are examined in the many publications from the project.

The hands on history method more widely is explored in the book Hands on Media History: A new methodology in the humanities and social sciences eds. Nick Hall, John Ellis (Routledge, 2020)

The ADAPT project website has extensive video footage from the project as well as much primary material including interviews.

Over 160 videos from the project are available through the European digital library Europeana, on the project’s YouTube channel and can be downloaded under a Creative Commons licence from Figshare.

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