Preserving and Presenting the Region through Media

Submitting Institution

University of East Anglia

Unit of Assessment

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management 

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Sociology
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies

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Summary of the impact

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has worked with regional media organisations to facilitate and expand the collection, preservation, presentation and accessibility of film and television materials produced in East Anglia and held by the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA). Unit support and research links with EAFA are informed by research into the strong connections between media consumption, local identity and sense of place developed by Higson and Jancovich, and Mills and Snelson. The impact is evidenced by substantial increases in the use of EAFA materials by two key groups - Anglian residents and non-academic researchers from across the UK.

Underpinning research

The links between media production and consumption, place and identity, and the regional and the national have been key research interests within the unit since the mid-1990s, led by the pioneering work of Higson around identity, geography and British cinema (Higson 1995, 2006) and developed through specific appointment strategies, notably Jancovich and Mills. This research cluster demonstrates the pivotal nature of audio-visual texts in shaping concepts of attachment to place and social and cultural identity from the national through to the local - with the latter providing the unit's primary focus. Here, research has played an important role in informing strategic practice at the regional East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA), a repository of 12,000 hours of film and 30,000 hours of videotape material either filmed in or relating to the East Anglia region (including a significant proportion of material produced by regional commercial broadcaster Anglia Television).

Development of the unit's research focus around geography and media consumption was led by Jancovich and Mills. Arising out of The Place of the Audience: Cultural Geographies of Film Consumption (BFI 2003), Jancovich has continued to publish on local media audiences, cultural geography, and media consumption practices (Jancovich 2007, 2011). Mills' work on representations of different regional/national identities in British situation comedy (particularly `Welshness': Mills 2008) and the link between filmed location and place (Mills 2009) helped define the unit's interests towards television's role in creating regional and national identity.

Collectively, this work by Higson, Jancovich and Mills demonstrates how important the visual representation of place and people can be in mediating and sustaining local identities. That focus on geography and local media, and the unit's continued relationship with EAFA, underpinned a successful application for a large AHRC Resources Enhancement Grant (2006-08, value £412,910), which significantly enhanced access to EAFA archive material through extensive preservation, digitisation, cataloguing and public engagement activities. This development of EAFA as a research and public resource, informed by unit research, is a key pathway to impact.

The combination of EAFA materials made accessible by this grant (particularly the Anglia Television collection) has given new emphasis to unit's research on the role that archival materials and organisations play in affirming and re-performing identities from the local through to the national and beyond. Given the stress that local councils and public service organisations place on maintaining local identity (particularly in rural communities), the unit continues to develop this research strand through new foci on community cinema (Rimmer, Aveyard) and local cinema exhibition (Snelson), projects that intersect with the archival resources of EAFA and other community partners, such as Village Screen and Norfolk at the Pictures.


The research was undertaken by:

Professor Andrew Higson (Senior Lecturer, UEA, 1995-2009)

Professor Mark Jancovich (Senior Lecturer, UEA, 2004-present)

Dr Brett Mills (Lecturer, UEA, 2005-10; Senior Lecturer, UEA, 2010-present)

Dr Tim Snelson (Lecturer, UEA, 2007-present)

References to the research


1. Higson, Andrew (1995) Waving The Flag: Constructing a National Cinema in Britain, Oxford University Press, (paperback edition 1997).


2. Higson, Andrew (2006), `A green and pleasant land: rural spaces and British cinema' in Catherine Fowler and Gillian Hetfield (eds.), Representing the Rural: Space, Place and Identity in Films About the Land. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, pp. 240-55.

3. Jancovich, Mark (2007), `"Cinema Comes to Life at the Cornerhouse, Nottingham": "American" Exhibition, Local Politics and Global Culture in the Reception of the Urban Entertainment Center.' In Maltby and Stokes (eds.), Going to the Movies: Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema. Exeter: Exeter University Press, pp. 383-93.

4. Jancovich, Mark (2011) 'Time, Scheduling and Cinemagoing', Media International Australia, 139, May 2011, pp. 88-95.

5. Mills, Brett (2008), `My House was on Torchwood! Media, Place and Identity.' International Journal of Cultural Studies, 11 (4), pp. 379-99.


6. Mills, Brett (2009), `Welsh/From Wales: Representations of the Welsh in Contemporary Television Sitcom,' Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal 6, p. 47-60.


Unit esteem and expertise are indicated by £412,910 `Anglia Television at the East Anglian Film Archive: A Catalogue of the Collection, 1959-2000' AHRC Resource Enhancement award (September 2006 - December 2008) awarded to UEA for the EAFA expansion project. This bid was stringently peer-reviewed before the award was made, and an end-of-grant report was submitted and reviewed by the AHRC.

The presence of key peer-reviewed journals such as Media International Australia and the International Journal of Cultural Studies is also a strong indication of quality.

Details of the impact

The impact claimed here is based on three key related areas:

  • Preservation, conservation and presentation of regional cultural heritage, through cataloguing, digitisation and expansion of access to materials held by EAFA
  • Public engagement achieved through a significant increase in East Anglian residents' interaction with and imagining of the region's (newly preserved) audio-visual past, via increased access to EAFA materials through and a range of public events
  • The stimulation of new research and creative projects, bringing awareness of the collection (and region) to a wider and more diverse audience

The Process

The impact was facilitated by the AHRC Resource Enhancement grant, which enabled the unit's research around regional/local media and community to inform the preservation and accessibility of EAFA's materials, and encourage the development of new research, engagement and public initiatives.

Impacts and Benefits

Preservation and Conservation

The grant, designed to `unlock the research and knowledge transfer potential of its collections' (AHRC Final Report), allowed extensive cataloguing and preservation work at EAFA, particularly focused on the Anglia Television materials:

  • It represented the first rigorous attempt to catalogue EAFA's Anglia Television collection
  • As a result, the percentage of Anglia Television productions formally preserved (and accessible) at EAFA rose from 10% to 50%, and, through collaborative working with the researchers, archivists had a stronger understanding of how best to conserve and preserve that material
  • The project digitised 500 hours of film (1200 films): 230 hours of that material has been made available on the EAFA website

Audience Expansion

The expansion of EAFA's collection has been communicated and presented through a series of public events that links the newly accessible material with unit researchers' existing expertise in media consumption, geography and regional media:

  • A two-day academic-industry event, organised by the unit and Anglia Television - a public forum where unit researchers identified and explored newly opened EAFA collections. Held at a specialist film theatre (Cinema City, Norwich) and open to the general public, this event was attended by researchers, ex-Anglia personnel, and local residents. Public talks from Higson, Jancovich, Mills, and Snelson (and other unit colleagues, including Su Holmes) highlighted the importance of EAFA archival material to broader understandings of British regional television history and local identity
  • These public talks were complemented by five archive screenings, including a gala screening of two programmes from Anglia Television's opening night in 1959.
  • This research-led event was described as `exceptional and ground-breaking and has provided ideas for future development of the Anglia TV resource' (Martin Ayers (Screen East), quoted in AHRC Final Report, 2008)
  • The revamped EAFA website, featuring over 500 hours of material, has had 400,000 visits since 2012, over 263,000 of which have been unique - a significant means of extending engagement with the material
  • Over 100 community screenings of EAFA material (2010-11: `Archive Flicks in the Sticks'; 2012: Norwich HEART Digital Heritage Project), reaching over 30,000 people across the East Anglia region:
    • a wonderful reminder of local history here in Bury' (Lynda, Bury)
    • Congratulations on organising this tour and making films accessible to all' (Kate A, Bury)
    • Enjoyable and informative. Nice way to present archive film' (Liam R, Cambridge)
    • Thank you for keeping the Heritage alive. All that hard work restoring it paid off' (Anonymous, King's Lynn screening)
  • EAFA Week (June 2013): a series of archive screenings in Norwich, with introductions from unit researchers including Snelson's presentation on the history and heritage of Anglia Television's regional soap opera, Weaver's Green:
    • it gave me great insight into the work and restoration that is undertaken by EAFA'
    • The staff... who gave the lectures really seemed to care about the archive, and understood its potential applications for future generations.'

Collectively, these activities represent a significant expansion in engagement with EAFA's holdings since 2008: an estimated physical audience of over 30,000, and an online audience of over 250,000. This has occurred across a broad range of social and cultural settings, led by unit research into the evocative power of local/regional moving images.

Research and Creative Projects

EAFA now has a more significant reach than before, used by academic researchers (from the Universities of Glasgow, Leicester, Nottingham, Dundee and Essex), broadcast / production companies (BBC, ITV Anglia, ITV Leeds, Tiger Aspect, Postcode Films), regional history groups (Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service), and charities and public service organisations such as Norwich HEART, Community Music East and the Norfolk Records Office (which used the collection for `The Story of Norfolk's Parish Registers' exhibition).

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Conference programme for Anglia Television and the History of ITV: Programming, Regionalisation and the Television Economy (November 14-15 2008)
  2. EAFA report on Usage and Coverage of Films, produced and disseminated during AHRC grant (March 2013)
  3. Final report to the AHRC of "Anglia Television at the East Anglian Film Archive: A Catalogue of the Collection, 1959-2000" (March 2009) (AHRC Document Reference AH/D503655/1)
  4. List of EAFA usage, including screenings
  5. List of Researchers (academic and non-academic) using EAFA 2008-2013
  6. Copy of attendees' comments book from Digital Heritage Project (DHP)
  7. DHP presentation report for EU funder A Cross-Channel Mobile Cinema Tour - delivered in East Anglia by Norwich HEART and the University of East Anglia (22-31 May 2013)
  8. Project Website at

  9. DHP Evaluation Report: An Evaluation of the Heritage Economic & Regeneration Trust's Digital Heritage Project
  10. Report on EAFA Film Archive Week (8-13 July 2013)