The BBC has launched a test version of an online searchable catalogue of its TV and radio programme broadcasts.
The Genome Project is based on scans of Radio Times magazine listings published between 1923 and 2009. Searches bring up a synopsis, a cast list and an edit button.
It is designed to help the BBC identify programmes missing from its recorded archive and try to find copies of them.
A total of 4,423,654 programmes are included, from 4,469 issues.
The scheme was given its name because the corporation likens each of its programmes to “tiny pieces of BBC DNA” that will form a “data spine” once reassembled.
A search tool allows the public to search through old issues of the Radio Times’ listings
Most of the BBC’s early output was not recorded, and later many shows were destroyed or wiped over.
The hope is that the project will lead to programmes being recovered if the public realises they have audio or video recordings of their own.
Specific shows can be searched for, alternatively visitors can browse the issue archive by year, providing a way to see old Radio Times covers.
The archivists said they expected searches for old Doctor Who episodes to prove particularly popular.
“Genome is the closest we currently have to a comprehensive broadcast history of the BBC,” said Hilary Bishop, editor of archive development at the BBC.
“It is highly likely that somewhere out there, in lofts, sheds and basements across the world, many of these ‘missing’ programmes will have been recorded and kept by generations of TV and radio fans.
“So, we’re hoping to use Genome as a way of bringing copies of those lost programmes back in to the BBC archives too.”
The next step is to cross reference the Genome Project with the corporation’s other records.