The British Broadcasting Corporation has just launched a website making its 16,016 sound effect samples available for free download. Under the RemArc license, “the sound effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational, or research purposes.”
Throughout the 1970s and into the early ’90s, the BBC released sound effect albums, such as 1976’s Out of This World. The record was divided into four themes of effects from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, featuring “Outer Space,” “Magic and Fantasy,” “Suspense and the Supernatural,” and “The Elements” as categories. Subsequent releases included sounds from the popular Doctor Who series and related science fiction effects compilations. Still, these are but a fraction of the effects and samples archived by the corporation over the years.
Each of the 16,000+ samples in the online archive has been provided in WAV format with a brief description and its duration noted. There’s also a handy search function provided to better locate any specific samples users may be after.
The BBC Sound Effects library is currently in its beta stage, but full access to free downloads from the entire collection is well underway. A brief look suggests there’s everything from animal sounds to gunshots, and crowd cheers to talking dolls. It also appears to cover most of the BBC’s lifespan, with sounds dating back to the 1920s. No doubt there is plenty to start combing through!