In 2005 The Arts and Humanities Research Council granted the British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC) funding to establish a three-year research project which would create An International Database of Shakespeare on Film, Television and Radio (www.bufvc.ac.uk/Shakespeare). It would employ two full-time researchers and a target was set of 4,000 titles describing films, television programmes and radio broadcasts with Shakespeare-related content. An important proviso was that archival holdings and current distribution and retail information would be cited and updated so that scholars, researchers and students would know where to go to look and to listen. The Database can be searched at no cost and with no registration formalities.
Had the BUFVC bid for money to create a database, for example, of media materials on Jane Austen, Harold Pinter or any one of Shakespeare's contemporaries it may not have been so successful. The name Shakespeare and his association with nation, culture, the national curriculum and civilisation itself has become stronger in post-colonial times. In recent years critical research into Shakespeare and popular culture, particularly by Richard Burt in his edited work Shakespeares After Shakespeare, has examined how Shakespeare is both canonized and rejected in the media – how, for example, Shakespeare, and what his work signifies, is used in advertising, popular song, television variety sketches and porn films. Believing Shakespeare the signifier to be as relevant as Shakespeare the author, the Database had to capture and reflect as many of these appropriations as it could.