|1994||People around the UK|
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“Whatever the recordings are, they have a dignity which I think has to do with the fact that the contributor has chosen to turn the camera on, to volunteer an image or opinion. In the observational films which had come to be virtually synonymous with documentary on British TV, the subjects become objects captured by the camera. Video Nation contributors are the subjects of their own recordings.”
Mandy Rose, Co-Producer, in VERTIGO Magazine (1994)
In 1993, the BBC’s Community Programme’s Unit established a project to bring recordings of everyday life around the UK to the television screen. Video Nation fused the methods of the unit’s award-winning Video Diaries series with the inspiration of the Mass Observation Project of the 1930s to reflect life in 1990s Britain through first-person recordings. Fifty diverse people were recruited each year and given a camcorder, training, and a brief to record life as and when they chose. Those recordings were edited with their approval for broadcast. In 1994, two-minute Video Nation Shorts began to appear on BBC2, just before the nightly news magazine show, Newsnight. These two-minute slices of life, self-portraits, and polemics–by turns moving, funny, surprising—engaged a wide audience and were the best known output from the project. Over 1200 Shorts appeared on BBC2 in a regular nightly slot between 1994 and the cancellation of the BBC 2 project in 2000. The Video Nation project then migrated online, with a website launched in 2002 to which members of the public contribute short videos around themes.