BBC PHOTO ARCHIVE | Rediscover, Reimagine

Welcome to the BBC’s Photo Sales website where you can explore BBC copyright images that are available to licence for editorial use in print and digital media globally.

 New Curated Collection


The BBC has pioneered the broadcasting of General Elections, first on radio and then on television. The general election results shows have evolved significantly over the years, reflecting changes in technology, presentation styles, and political landscapes.

On 23rd February 1950, the BBC aired its first general election results programme from Alexandra Palace, marking a new era in political broadcasting. Election results were hand painted by caption artists in the studio allowing viewers to see charts and maps for the first time.

In 1955 a hand operated Swing Indicator (‘Swingometer’) was seen for the first time and by 1966 the use of swingometers, pioneered by David Butler, became a hallmark of election coverage, helping to visually explain vote swings and trends.

New technology has also enhanced data and analysis. In 1955 a team of statisticians who studied the results as they came in made use of computing machines installed in Broadcasting House but the first computer driven election arrived in 1959 in the form of  The National Elliott 402F computer (nicknamed ‘Ella’ ) which was used for  the television results show broadcast from Lime Grove studios. Hewlettt-Packard Desk Top Calculators were used during the Election Results programme in 1970.

The introduction of overnight broadcasts in 1987 kept viewers engaged as results came in throughout the night and by 2019  Virtual Reality and interactive 3D maps reflected the BBC's adaptation to the digital age.


General Election : 1966
General Election Rehearsal : 2001
General Election : 1970

The Collection |  Discover a vast and unrivalled collection of images spanning the life of the corporation. Icons, British programmes, technology  and broadcasting milestones throughout the decades at your fingertips.

The Archive | More than 6 million images are held in the Photo Archive on formats ranging from glass plates, negatives, transparencies, and prints to digital files. We ensure that high resolution scanning of photographic material takes place to both protect the material and make it accessible.

The Team | Photographic material is curated by our experienced team of Archivists who are here to help with research or collaborate with you to find rich and surprising photos.

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