History of the BBC
Created on June 14, 2022
Everything in this genially are quotes from these sources:The BBC Story. 24 May 2022, www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/timelines/. Accessed 14 June 2022. ; Timeline. 24 May 2022, www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/bbc-100/timeline/. Accessed 14 June 2022.
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"The Radio Times"
British Broadcasting Corporation
"The Week in Westminster"
18th Oct. 1922
British Broadcasting Company formed
"The start of the BBC"
John Reith (1889-1971), first General Manager of the BBC
Big Ben time signals inaugurated: "The pips" - "The time signal is heard for the first time." (BBC, Timeline)
"The six electronically generated "pips" to indicate the precise time on BBC radio are invented by the Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson and the Director-General of the BBC, John Reith. The six short tones mark the hour every hour and today the Greenwich Time Signal is heard on BBC Radio 4 and other BBC networks.Time signals using the same principle exist in other countries. " (BBC, Timeline)
"The transmitter is the world's first AM (long wave) transmitting station. It is known as 5XX, and is positioned on Borough Hill near Daventry, Northamptonshire, to cover the maximum land area. It brings the total audience within listening distance to 94% of the population and makes the idea of a nationwide radio service a reality" (BBC, Timeline)
"The BBC's first major news story"
For nine days UK industry is at a standstill as a result of the General Strike. Many newspapers stop printing, so there are few means of communication, but the BBC remains fully operational. Churchill lobbies Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to commandeer the broadcaster. John Reith, the BBC’s first Director-General, stands firm and refuses to hand over control to government, stating that the BBC’s impartiality will be permanently damaged if he does so. (BBC, Timeline)
"BBC Dance Orchestra"
"The first performance goes live[!] Band leader Jack Payne initially makes a name for himself on the commercial dance circuit, broadcasting from the Hotel Cecil in London with his band The Cecilians. Payne transforms his 10-piece group into the BBC's official dance band and moves into the studio at Savoy Hill, the BBC’s first radio centre. Payne's regular radio performances makes his signature tune, "Say it with Music", a major hit of the 1920s." (BBC Timeline)
"The Week in Westminster"
"A round-up aimed at women, with Hilda Matheson.
The Week in Westminster (still broadcast on BBC Radio 4), at first features only female MPs. It is designed to inform newly enfranchised women about the workings of Parliament, following the extension of the vote to all adult women aged 21 and over in 1928. The idea was the brainchild of Hilda Matheson and was first known as The Week in Parliament." (BBC, Timeline)
"Type A microphone"
1936 & 1937
"First female radio announcer"
"American Half Hour"
1938 & 1939
1938: "BBC Arabic"
"The first television play"
"The Man with the Flower in his mouth"
-The first television play-
"This is the first play broadcast in the UK on the low-definition 30-line television system. It is a joint BBC-Baird production using BBC production and talent effort, with the Baird company providing the studio. The play is Pirandello’s The Man with the Flower in his Mouth, and is shown live using a fixed black and white camera. A chequerboard device used between shots is the only way to maintain picture stability on viewers sets at home, as they are apt to lose ‘synch’. The final 30-line television programme produced by BBC-Baird is broadcast on 11 September 1935. Archive footage, courtesy: Don McLean. (BBC, Timeline)
"Recording radio programmes for the first time"
"Designed by Louis Blattner, a German-born studio owner based in the UK, this is the first device capable of recording sound on tape in use at the BBC. The device uses 6mm steel tape good enough for voice but not music. Spools are large and editing is done by soldering the tape. The high speed at which the machine runs - a frightening 1.52 m/s - means a break in the tape can result in razor-edged steel flying around the studio." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The BBC's first purpose built radio centre"-
"The BBC outgrows its studios at Savoy Hill and has to find a new home. Instead of converting another existing building, the BBC commissions a purpose-built centre. At the time it is one of only two in Europe. Leading modernist designers are employed and the resulting building is a mixture of functionalist architecture with art deco additions." (BBC, Timeline)
"The first female radio announcer"
-"Sheila Borrett presents her first programme"-
"Sheila Borrett presents her first programme. Sheila Borrett is employed by the BBC after a much publicised campaign to recruit a woman announcer. She is successful because of her low-pitched voice. After three months she is removed from the position after the BBC receives thousands of complaints from listeners who are uncomfortable with hearing a woman announcer." (BBC, Timeline)
"Type A microphone"
-"The microphone that revolutionises broadcasting"-
"Commercially available microphones are expensive in the 1930s, so the BBC works with the Marconi company to develop its own model. The Type A, developed and refined over the years, becomes the classic BBC microphone, as seen in numerous period dramas and films." (BBC, Timeline)
"American Half Hour"
-"Alistair Cooke is heard for the first time"-
Alistair Cooke begins a lifetime of broadcasts about the United States, with his first BBC programme. The Radio Times says: "Mr Cooke will introduce us to the everyday America, about which we seldom hear." The first programme features the American Ambassador, the Hon. Robert W. Bingham. (BBC, Timeline)
1936: "BBC Television”
-"The world’s first regularly scheduled TV service"-
"The BBC is the first broadcaster in the world to provide a regular "high definition" television service. Programmes we expect to see today such as drama, sport, outside broadcasts and cartoons all feature. Topping the bill on the opening night is Buck and Bubbles, an African-American double-act. The outbreak of war in 1939 brings programmes to a sudden halt." (BBC, Timeline)
1937: "First TV outside Broadcast"
-"The Coronation of King George VI"-
"After only six months of regular TV broadcasts, the BBC takes its live cameras on location to their first major outdoor event. The transmission is a surprising success and few technical problems are experienced. Recording technology does not exist at the time, so these images are filmed from a television screen at the home of an employee of the Marconi Company." (BBC, Timeline)
1938: "BBC Arabic"
-The BBC's first foreign language radio service-
"Announcer Ahmad Kamal Sourour Effendi is recruited from Egyptian radio as the voice of the BBC’s first service to be heard in Arabic. His appointment makes the service popular overnight, as Effendi is one of the most loved presenters in the Arab world." (BBC, Timeline)
1939: "Douglas Byng"
-"First female impersonator on the BBC"-
"Douglas Byng describes himself as the first female impersonator on television. After just two editions of a series called By Way of a Change, Byng lands his own TV slot - a variety programme of seven acts per show backed by the BBC Television Orchestra. Byng never retires and appears on numerous BBC Radio and Television programmes over the years. In 1977 at the age of 90 he appears as one of Parkinson’s guests to look back at his life." (BBC, Timeline)
"Last night of the proms"
"V for Victory"
"De Gaulles Broadcast to France"
"De Gaulles Broadcast to France"
-"Vital programmes beamed into occupied France"-
"At 22.00 on 18 June 1940, General Charles de Gaulle broadcasts to Nazi occupied France and rallies the French Resistance to him in London. With Petain's government about to sign an armistice with Germany, de Gaulle refuses to accept that the fight for his country is over. Churchill recognises de Gaulle as "the leader of all free Frenchmen, wherever they may be" and makes many more broadcasts to France." (BBC, Timeline)
"V for victory"
-"The wartime interval signal that goes viral"-
Winston Churchill’s famous two-fingered "V for Victory" sign begins life at the BBC. Victor de Lavelaye, BBC Belgian Service programme organiser, sees the letter v as a unifying symbol for both the Flemish and French speakers in his Nazi-occupied homeland. V stands for vrijheid (freedom) in Flemish, and victoire (victory) in French. In a BBC broadcast he encourages his compatriots to show their defiance to the Nazis by painting the letter v wherever they can. (BBC, Timeline)
-"The first black female BBC producer"
"Una Marson, originally from Jamaica, is an experienced journalist by the time she starts working at the BBC in 1939. Her first role is as an assistant at the Alexandra Palace television studios, but she joins the BBC full-time in March 1941 as a Programme Assistant in the "Empire Programmes" department. Her interest in poetry helps her to develop Caribbean Voices, a weekly feature within the Calling the West Indies series." (BBC, Timeline)
1942: "Desert Island Discs"
-"Roy Plomley dreams up a winning formula"-
"The first edition of the programme is recorded two days before it is broadcast with comedian Vic Oliver in the bomb-damaged Maida Vale Studios in west London.The success of the programme owes much to its simple format, which allows for sometimes revealing interviews. However, early programmes are heavily scripted and the familiar conversational style only develops after the war." (BBC, Timeline)
1943: "Raid on Berlin"
-An epic broadcast during a raid over enemy territory-
In September 1943, BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan-Thomas boards a Lancaster bomber with his recording engineer Reg Pidsley to capture what becomes an historically important wartime broadcast. The transmission reveals to the world the true horror of a night-time raid over Nazi Germany. (BBC, Timeline)
-"The landings are broadcast on 6 June"-
"The first official announcement of the Normandy beach landings are broadcast on the BBC. Announcer John Snagge reads the news of the invasion. However German radio announces the allied invasion before the BBC does, and some listeners complain that the BBC’s in-the-field coverage is harrowing and particularly distressing to the relatives of the men involved." (BBC, Timeline)
"The Man Who Went to War"
-"Breakthrough drama about racially segregated America"-
"During World War Two, BBC producers frequently collaborate with broadcasters in the United Sates. The Man Who Went to War, a "ballad opera" broadcast to some 9 million listeners on the BBC’s Home Service, is one of the most ambitious of these projects, conceived by the great poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes. The play tackles issues that are impossible to raise in the racially segregated United States and portrays a family struggling to survive the London Blitz." (BBC, Timeline)
"King George VI speaks to the nation"
"Anticipation rises as the day before the end of hostilities an announcement is broadcast stating that 8 May will be Victory in Europe Day, and that the King will speak at 09.00. National celebrations are well under way as Broadcasting House is floodlit that evening for the first time since 1937." (BBC, Timeline)
-"A dedicated space on radio for women, by women"-
"Woman's Hour is the first specialist radio programme for women on the BBC. From early on, the programme is not afraid to tackle difficult issues and politics and women’s citizenship features prominently. In 1947 BBC managers are panicking at the prospect of presenter Olive Shapley discussing the menopause on the programme." (BBC, Timeline)
"Last Night of the Proms"
-"Sir Malcolm Sergeant conducts at the first television Proms"-
"Sir Malcolm Sargent, Chief Conductor at the Proms (1948-67) is excited at the prospect at televising the Proms for the first time. His biographer, Richard Aldous, suggests that producers "often struggled to find interesting shots to fill out a full concert programme" and there are also concerns about making performers into "stars". But Sir Malcolm embraces the medium, introducing more spectacle for viewers at home." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Viewers watch on tiny sets, but the BBC breaks new ground"-
Held in Wembley, the BBC televises the games for the first time. An unprecedented outside broadcast operation takes place, starting with the opening ceremony on 29 July. The BBC provides broadcast facilities for 61 nations so the games can be seen and heard around the world. The first Olympics since the end of World War Two prove a great success, with athletes such as Fanny Blankers-Koen capturing the public imagination. (BBC, Timeline)
1949: "Weather forecast"
- "Weather forecasts on television"-
"Launched just before World War Two then abandoned, regular weather forecasts on television are revived in July 1949. They consist of charts, with a disembodied voice reading the weather bulletin. Although this is a step toward the modern forecasts we know today, even bigger changes come on the 11 January 1954, when a Met officer is also seen in-vision along with an on-screen map, as seen in this clip from 1956." (BBC,Timeline)
"For Deaf Children"
"News and Newsreel"
"Juke Box Jury"
1951: "The General Election"
"1950: The Archers"
-"Ambridge lets listeners in to hear about village life for the first time"-
"The Archers is the world's longest running continuous radio drama and is set in and around the fictitious rural village of Ambridge. The serial is first broadcast as a trial programme on the Midlands Home Service to promote good agricultural practice. The experiment ends on 2 June 1950 and the programme is then broadcast across the UK, becoming a national institution." (BBC, Timeline)
"1951: The General Election"
-"Truly comprehensive analysis and results for the first time"-
"BBC Television provides live coverage of the General Election to the audience at home and to huge crowds in Trafalgar Square on a massive video screen showing a live results programme as the vote comes in. The event is the second time the General Election is broadcast on television, but is a more polished affair than the previous election results programme the year before, with more outside broadcasts and correspondents meeting real voters." (BBC, Timeline)
-The UK's only home-grown video recorder, created by the BBC-
"Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus - V.E.R.A., is billed as the first video tape recorder developed by the BBC. The machine is demonstrated in an on-air test during Panorama in 1958, hailing it as a "first". However, the technically superior Ampex machine from America, commercially available from 1956, is already in use on ITV programmes from May 1957, and the VERA project is dropped." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The broadcast that changed the way we watch television"-
"The Coronation is seen live and boosts the sale of sets in the UK. Over 20 million people across Europe watch the event, with many people clustered around tiny TV sets. Richard Dimbleby, the Coronation commentator, declares: “So today the Queen will ascend the steps of her throne... in the sight today of a great multitude of people.” (BBC, Timeline)
"Watch with Mother"
-"The safe world of 50s children's television"-
"Watch With Mother is not a programme in its own right, but a sequence of much-loved TV shows such as The Flowerpot Men, The Woodentops, and Rag Tag and Bobtail. Andy Pandy is the first programme to be featured in the slot. It starts out as an experiment, but proves so popular it is repeated continuously until 1968. It is also revived in digital form in 2002." (BBC, Timeline)
"News and Newsreel"
-"The first daily news programme is launched on BBC TV"-
"The first live TV news programmes keep the newsreader out of vision, with only still images and maps. Longer news reports are broadcast in cinema style newsreels. Newsreaders such as Richard Baker and John Snagge are already household names from radio, and become established BBC faces when they regularly appear before the cameras by 1955." (BBC, Timeline)
"For Deaf Children"
-"The BBC’s first television programme for deaf children"-
"Tony Hart introduces a monthly magazine programme for deaf children, which is the pioneering work of Ursula Eason, the Assistant Head of BBC Children's Programmes. The show is revamped by director Patrick Dowling as Vision On, seen on BBC One until 1976, which is designed to reflect the greater integration of deaf and hearing children by the mid-1960s." (BBC, Timeline)
-"A new word enters the English language"-
"Drawing inspiration from the Sanremo Festival, the vision of a pan-European music competition is born. The first contest comes from Switzerland, with the BBC providing massive technical support, but it misses the deadline to enter a song in year one. However the BBC does contribute the name of the contest in 1956, coined by George Campey, a former BBC publicist." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Informing the nation for over 65 years"-
"The first edition of Today is broadcast on the Home Service, today’s BBC Radio 4. What is now the flagship news and current affairs programme begins life as a breakfast-time magazine, presented in two 20-minute segments by Alan Skempton. The first show includes items called "Briefing a Pilot at London Airport" and "The Sale of Napoleon's Letters", plus reviews of the latest gramophone records." (BBC, Timeline)
"Juke Boy Jury"
-"The panel game that launched many pop music careers"-
"Host David Jacobs plays a selection of 7" singles on a large juke box to a panel of four celebrities. Slowly the camera moves over the faces of the panellists and the audience so the viewer can gauge their reaction. The panellists then give their opinion of the discs and vote them a hit or a miss. Each week a mystery performer is revealed after the panel votes on his or her disc, to the joy or embarrassment of the panel." (BBC, Timeline)
"The Morecambe and Wise Show"
1961: "Songs of Praise"
"Top of the Pops"
1967: "Colour Television"
"BBC Television Centre"
"BBC Televison Centre"
-"The BBC's first dedicated centre for television production"-
"Although ABC in Australia and Granada Television in Manchester are the first to open purpose-built television complexes, BBC Television Centre is the first of its kind to be conceived. It is described as the Hollywood of the television industry and its opening is marked by a special variety programme, broadcast from studio TC3. It is presented by David Nixon and features Arthur Askey and Richard Hearne." (BBC, Timeline)
"Focus on Africa"
-"A must-listen across Africa"-
"The top-rated news programme becomes a listening fixture across Africa, but initially it is only broadcast sporadically with few reporters on the ground. The programme is launched when de-colonisation has made only modest progress, yet the fight is building for liberation. It takes the imagination of Ugandan Israel Wamala to get the programme transferred to a regular slot on the BBC African Service to reflect the fast-paced change on the continent." (BBC, Timeline)
1961: "Songs of Praise"
-"The longest running religious television programme in the world"-
"The first edition of Songs of Praise comes from the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Cardiff, with guest soloist Heather Harper. The programme showcases the best of congregational hymn singing up and down the land. Although church attendance declines over the life of the programme, Songs of Praise continues to pack out churches and venues with enthusiastic congregations." (BBC, Timeline)
1962: "That was the Week that was"
-"Satire that broke down barriers, in the spirit of the 1960s"-
"The live late-night series takes aim at the establishment in a way that has never been seen on the BBC before. Each week TW3 mixes songs with sketches and cartoons in a free-wheeling format overseen by David Frost. The incredible team of writers are helped by the fact that the programmes coincide with the Profumo scandal, which delivers a large audience. The show’s producers are not afraid to highlight the murkier areas of political life." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The adventures in time and space begin"
"The first episode of Doctor Who airs on 23 November and the cover of the Radio Times that week announces it as "a new Saturday-afternoon television series of adventures in time and space". Viewers hear the iconic theme tune for the first time, realised by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The mysterious opening title sequence is created, in part, by pointing an electronic TV camera at its own image which generates a swirling visual "howl around" effect. In 2017 Jodie Whittaker takes on the role of the 13th doctor, the first woman to do so." (BBC, Timeline)
"Top of the Pops"
-"The BBC meets the demand for more pop music on TV"-
"Top of the Pops is originally broadcast from a converted church in Manchester, with an initial six show run. It soon becomes a fixture in the TV schedule and is considered a rite of passage for the thousands of stars passing through. The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, and the Dave Clark Five are some of the early performers." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The UK’s first black children’s television presenter"-
"Star of 60s cult film A Taste of Honey, Paul Danquah is signed to newly launched BBC Two as presenter of the ground-breaking Play School, designed for pre-school children. He goes down in history as the first black presenter of a children's programme. The painter Francis Bacon lives with Paul and his partner Peter Pollock in their south London flat in the early 60s, moving to Tangiers until Paul's death in 2015." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Raymond Baxter becomes synonymous with TV science"-
"As the technological revolution of the 1960s quickens, the BBC launches a weekly TV magazine programme to keep viewers up-to-date. The first Tomorrow's World is eclectic and includes new advances in kidney dialysis machines, the innovations of the Dutch flood defence system, and the latest from the Mariner 4 space probe!" (BBC, Timeline)
-"World Cup victory for England is televised"-
"The 1966 World Cup final, probably the biggest event in British sporting history, is broadcast live on 30 July. The BBC and ITV combine resources to ensure the whole competition is covered in detail, and the final attracts the largest ever British television audience, as 32.3 million viewers watch England versus West Germany." (BBC, Timeline)
1967: "Colour Television"
-"BBC Two is the first colour channel in Europe"
"Although unpublished programmes in colour can be watched on BBC Two as early as 1966, a full colour service is not launched until coverage of the 1967 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships begins. Colour is extended to BBC One and ITV by 1969 and by 1976, the colour network is complete, when the Channel Islands join the system." (BBC, Timeline)
1967: "BBC Radio Leicester"
-"The first BBC local radio station is launched"
"The station begins with the first local radio jingle, which is a version of the Posthorn Gallop followed by speeches from the Postmaster General and the Lord Mayor of Leicester. Then comes Radio Leicester's first-ever news bulletin. Meanwhile outside the station building, staff are met by a protest from members of the Free Radio Association, bemoaning the loss of the pirate stations!" (BBC, Timeline)
"The Morecamb and Wise Show"
-"Eric and Ernie, the start of a legend"-
"The comedy duo return to the BBC after fourteen years away and enjoy a wave of publicity, featuring on the front cover of the Radio Times. The new series is also one of the first comedy television shows in the UK to be made in colour. Eric and Ernie become the nation’s most popular double act and the series becomes unmissable television, culminating in the 1977 Christmas special, which is watched by 28 million viewers. This remains the most watched comedy programme in British television history." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The first man on the moon is seen live on the BBC"
"Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first two Americans to set foot on the moon are seen in the first all-night continuous coverage of any live event in the UK. The BBC and ITV share very limited satellite facilities to get the first historic images from the moon surface to viewers on earth. The broadcast is hailed a huge success with an estimated 22 million UK viewers tuning in" (BBC, Timeline)
"Delia Smith's Cooking Course"
"The Open University"
"Does He Take Sugar"
"Life on Earth"
"First same-sex kiss on British television"
"Edward (Ian McKellen) and Gaveston (James Laurenson) kiss in this production by the Prospect Theatre Company, re-worked for the BBC and recorded at the Piccadilly Theatre, London. Broadcast the following year, the programme makes Edward and Gaveston’s embrace the first same-sex kiss on British television. The moment outrages some viewers, but launches McKellen as a household name." (BBC, Timeline)
"Play for Today"
-"A launchpad for UK writers including Mike Leigh and Dennis Potter"-
"A new season of television dramas under the Play for Today banner launches as a harder hitting rebrand of the former Wednesday Play. Although the new season moves to a Thursday night, the change doesn’t lessen the public’s huge appetite for single dramas on the BBC. Introducing the new season in the Radio Times, Dennis Potter states that "television is the true national theatre". By 1974, Play for Today is producing memorable and legendary work such as Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party." (BBC, Timeline)
"The Open University"
-"A unique distance learning collaboration is launched"-
"The BBC and The Open University join forces to create a long-standing partnership which transforms access to university education. The combination of early morning and late night broadcasts, with written materials, becomes an international model for distance learning. In the 2020s the Open University continues with a huge variety of courses, and resources online." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The special news service for young people"-
"After an eleven year gap in broadcasting news to young people, John Craven's Newsround goes live on BBC One. Its predecessor, Children's Newsreel, comes to be seen as old fashioned, so in 1972 resources are found for a dedicated live news programme for children. Money is tight and the first show goes on air with only a handful of staff and two typewriters." (BBC, Timeline)
1973: "That's life"
-"Consumer items and funny sketches, That’s Life!"-
"Created by John Lloyd and presented by Esther Rantzen, That's Life builds on the success of consumer programme Braden's Week. There is initial criticism of the show's mixture of the serious and the humorous but the programme proves popular and runs until 1994. Humorous interludes of press cuttings, rude vegetables and songs are provided by Cyril Fletcher and Victoria Wood amongst others." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The first teletext service in the world"-
"CEEFAX is developed from 1972 by BBC engineers who exploit the unused capacity of the 625-line television signal to send text information. Words and basic images can be displayed. The service receives a boost once gaps in the television schedule begin to be filled with a selection of pages from CEEFAX, accompanied by music. Eventually it has 22 million weekly users." (BBC, Timeline)
"Pobol y Cwm"
-"The BBC's longest-running television soap"-
"The action of Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley), centres around the residents of Cwmderi - a fictional Welsh speaking rural community. Marriage, divorce, bullying and natural disaster all feature over the years. The local pub - the Deri Arms is still at the heart of the community, despite being burnt down on one occasion! Now broadcast on S4C, the fast moving storylines are often a challenge for cast and crew as the soap is seen three nights a week." (BBC, Timeline)
-"'I know nothing!'"-
"At first, Fawlty Towers receives some less than enthusiastic reviews, however the strength of the writing and casting ensures the series becomes a great success. The ensemble cast includes John Cleese as Basil, Prunella Scales as Basil's wife Sybil and Andrew Sachs as waiter Manuel. Connie Booth provides an important element of calm as Polly the chambermaid." (BBC, Timeline)
1976: "I Claudius"
-"The iconic adaptation from the novel by Robert Graves"-
I, Claudius airs as an ambitious 12-part series, adapted by Jack Pullman from two novels by Robert Graves. The story of decadent imperial Roman life proves a critical and ratings success and its mix of political intrigue sex and violence, helps turn Derek Jacobi into a star. The fine ensemble cast also features memorable turns from George Baker, Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart and John Hurt (as Caligula). (BBC, Timeline)
1976: "The Big Time"
-"A Devon farmer prepares a banquet and gets a hostile reaction"-
"The Big Time sees Esther Rantzen meet six amateurs who are given a chance to take part in a spectacular professional event. Farmer Gwen Troake plans the menu for a banquet at the Dorchester Hotel in London with celebrity television chef Fanny Cradock as judge. Fanny metes out harsh criticism of Gwen's "Coffee Crème" recipe. She is roundly criticised for the attack and never appears on a regular cookery series of her own again." (BBC, Timeline)
"Does He Take Sugar"
-"A lifeline for the disabled community"-
"The title refers to an excluding social situation, once widely experienced by the disabled community - when someone asks a carer of a disabled person if they want sugar in their tea, rather than directly asking the person who is being offered the drink. The programme passionately celebrates the lives of disabled people, tackles prejudice and practical issues, whilst presenters Corbet Woodall, Jill Lumb and Marilyn Alan forge close links with the disabled community." (BBC, Timeline)
"Delia Smith's Cookery Course"
-"The rigorous approach to practical cookery"-
"Delia Smith makes her BBC debut in 1972 in the cookery slot on Look East - the TV news programme for East Anglia. Determined to get some national coverage she makes the quick move to radio and becomes the regular cookery expert on Woman’s Hour in the same year. By the following year she gets her national television break with Family Fare (1973-5). But it’s her Cookery Course (three series 1978-1981), that makes her a household name. Her influence on British cookery - dubbed ‘the ‘Delia Effect’ - is immense, changing ingrained cooking habits and bad practice forever." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The school soap met with shock and praise in equal measure"
"Set in a London comprehensive school, the drama offers a realistic look at school life, different to the more traditional depictions seen in stories like Billy Bunter. The show soon moves to twice a week and gradually introduces more controversial story lines, touching on bullying and drug addiction. The long unfolding story of Zammo's battle with heroin is one of the best remembered in the series." (BBC, Timeline)
"Life on Earth"
-"The natural history series that launches a legend"-
"Life on Earth is written and presented by David Attenborough, in an ambitious attempt to provide an authored overview of the state of natural life on our planet. The series begins in the South American rainforest and finishes on the Great Barrier Reef. One memorable sequence sees Attenborough sitting with a group of gorillas, calmly conveying the similarities both species share. Many creatures are captured on film for the first time and the series wins many awards." (BBC, Timeline)
"Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery"
1989: "Televising the House of Commons"
"The Children in Need"
"Children in need"
-"The annual charity appeal moves to TV"-
"Christmas Day 1927 sees the very first BBC radio appeal for children raising more than £1,300. It becomes a regular fixture on radio until 1979. A year later it transfers to TV in spectacular fashion with a series of short segments linking a whole evening’s programming. Terry Wogan, Sue Cook and Esther Rantzen front the new show, and an impressive £1 million is raised in the first evening." (BBC, Timeline)
-"A global audience of 750 million tune in to the event of the decade"-
"In the UK, 28.4 million watch on BBC and ITV. Television coverage of the 11.00 ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral begins at 07.45 with Angela Rippon and Peter Woods, while simultaneous coverage on BBC Two provides live subtitles for hearing impaired viewers and Terry Wogan covers the day for Radio 2. In 2011 BBC coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton attracts 70% of the audience." (BBC, Timeline)
-"A fixture for the deaf community across the UK"-
See Hear originally runs for 20 weekly programmes and is specifically designed for people with hearing problems. More than 40 years on, the programme is still on air. At the beginning, subtitles and sign language are new innovations for television. Presenters Maggie Woolley and Martin Colville soon become household names. Special editions focus on technology and education for the deaf community, as well as discussions and chat shows. (BBC, Timeline)
"1982: Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery"
-"The programme that helped create a nation of curry lovers"-
"By the early 1980s food preferences in the UK have advanced beyond the basics of cuisine from around the British Isles and home cooks are looking to the east for inspiration. Madhur Jaffrey, a former actress, makes a major impact on the tastes of the nation when her eight-part Indian cookery course is first shown. She makes a major contribution to the UK becoming a nation of curry lovers." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The UK's first regular breakfast TV show"-
"Presenters Frank Bough and Selina Scott combine news and sport with keep fit segments from Diana Moran and cookery from Glynn Christian. The programme is an easy-going affair and comes as a surprise to its commercial rival TV-AM which launches a few weeks later. The BBC receives thousands of calls from well-wishers expressing how much they enjoy the first edition." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The programme that helped the police with nearly 5,000 crimes"-
"Each month Crimewatch UK appeals to the public for help with unsolved crimes, assisted by factual reconstructions. Police officers are on hand to field calls and the public is updated on any leads in a programme later the same evening. Most major crimes over the last 30 years feature, including the murder of Jill Dando, former presenter of the programme." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The first popular TV soap for 20 years on BBC One"-
"One of Britain's most successful television soap operas reaches number one in the ratings within eight months of its launch and consistently remains among the top five programmes thereafter. The episode on Christmas Day 1986 where Den Watts serves Angie with divorce papers gains a record audience of 30 million viewers." (BBC, Timeline)
-"A never-to-be-forgotten television event that links the world"-
"A multi-venue rock music concert is organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for Ethiopia famine relief. The BBC is at the heart of one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time, with an estimated 400 million viewers, across 60 countries, watching the live broadcast." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The A&E drama unafraid to confront difficult issues"-
"Casualty is set in the Accident and Emergency Department of Holby City Hospital, in a fictionalised Bristol. It is created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin who are inspired by the "comedy and heroics" of everyday life in the UK's National Health Service. The constant stream of patients provides the drama that makes it a peak time hit." (BBC, Timeline)
1987: "French Saunders"
-"Sketches and parodies, a fresh female take on comedy"-
"Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders get their own TV show after years performing on the alternative comedy scene. After only a few series they become mainstream stars and the sketches become increasingly elaborate, with spoofs of films proving very popular." (BBC, Timeline)
1988: "Talking Heads"
-"Alan Bennett makes monologues mainstream"-
"After decades of uninterrupted success in the fields of satire and writing for television, Alan Bennett breaks new dramatic ground with Talking Heads. The monologues transfer to theatres around the world and even the A-level syllabus in the UK. Each tale gives us privileged access to the innermost thoughts of an individual, who, although we only hear their side of the story, frequently reveals more about themselves than intended." (BBC,Timeline)
1989: "Televising the House of Commons"
-"Producer Suzanne Franks brings TV to the Commons"-
"First discussed in 1964, television cameras are finally allowed to broadcast live from the House of Commons. The Queen's Speech Debate is first to be shown, with Ian Gow the first MP to speak. Broadcasting comes to Parliament gradually, with regular radio broadcasts from the House of Commons starting in 1978 and television entering the House of Lords in 1985." (BBC, Timeline)
1991: "BBC World Service Television"
"The Murder of Jill Dando"
"Oranges are not the Only Fruit"
"Oranges are not the Only fruit"
-"The drama that explodes assumptions and wins a BAFTA"-
"This single TV play tells the story of Jess - an adopted child brought up in a strict Pentecostal family - who comes to realise she is a lesbian. Jess is played by Charlotte Coleman and Jess's fanatical mother by Geraldine McEwan, who wins a BAFTA for Best Actress. The programme also wins the BAFTA for Best Drama. Winterson says she wants to challenge "the virtues of the home, the power of the church and the supposed normality of heterosexuality"." (BBC, Timeline)
1991: "Comic Relief"
-"The first fundraising spin-off is launched"-
"Comic Relief is set up in 1985 and launched from a refugee camp in Sudan, bringing comedians together who want to use comedy and laughter to let people know about poverty in the UK and in Africa. The first spin-off to raise money for the cause comes in 1991 and is a comic - The Totally Stonking, Surprisingly Educational And Utterly Mindboggling Comic Relief Comic, which sells out in minutes, raising £40,000." (BBC, Timeline)
1992: "Truly, Madly, Deeply"
-"A profoundly moving portrayal of grief"-
"Written and directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman, the film has romance at its heart but also features a harrowing depiction of grief. The play is successful in the cinema and wins multiple Evening Standard awards. The Radio Times makes light of the plot; "Nina is a young woman unable to cope with the death of her lover Jamie. One day she misses him so much that he comes back!"" (BBC, Timeline)
1993: "Live and Kicking"
-"Saturday mornings will never be the same again"-
"Over three hours of children's TV entertainment are presented by Andi Peters, Emma Forbes and John Barrowman. The successor to Going Live! it offers continuity, with "Run the Risk" and the ever popular Trevor and Simon, but lots of new features too. Guests on the first programme are Michelle Gayle and Linford Christie, with music from Take That." (BBC, Timeline)
1994:" The Fast Show"
-"The name of the show says it all!"-
Twenty seven sketches in 30 minutes sets the tone in episode one of the series of sharp, quick-witted comedy shorts by creators Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse. Get the characters on, get them to say something funny, and get them off, is the winning formula. Johnny Depp loves the series so much he gets his own one-off slot in 2000. (BBC, Timeline)
-"Digital Audio Broadcasting promises crystal clear audio"-
"DAB is taken up more rapidly in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, and BBC Research and Development provide much of the technology and systems to make DAB happen. Interference free quality, additional programme information and new channels are some of the benefits." (BBC, Timeline)
"Pride and Prejudice"
-"The adaptation remembered by a generation"
"Produced in six parts, the iconic series is adapted by Andrew Davies who injects it with a sexiness that was only ever implied in the novel. It is such a phenomenal success that 100,000 video box sets are sold while it is still on air, while 10 million people watch the final episode on BBC One." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The home makeover show that runs for 17 series over eight years!"-
"This is the programme where couples swap houses with friends or neighbours to decorate one room in each other's homes. The original host is Carol Smillie with the hard graft undertaken by Cockney carpenter, "Handy" Andy Kane. The final programme in 2004 is filmed in Boscastle, where a trio of professional designers rescue homes devastated by the floods that year. In 2021 the show is revived by Channel 4." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The BBC goes online, inspired by Director-General John Birt"-
"The BBC has a presence on the internet from 1994, but Lord Birt, then the Director-General of the BBC, is quick to recognise its real potential for public service broadcasting. He seeks the advice of young people working in the Corporation about which way the BBC should turn in the fledgling online world. BBC Online is the result." (BBC, Timeline)
"Creators Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport introduce Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La and Po to an excited audience for the first time. The brightly coloured creatures with aerials on their heads are an immediate hit with the pre-school audience, but some educationalists are concerned with the Teletubbies' language, which is based on the first sounds children say, rather than real words." (BBC, Timeline)
"Goodness Gracious Me"
-"Classic sketches from Sanjeev and Meera"-
"The show begins life on radio, like so many successful television comedies. It is a classic sketch show in the tradition of comedies like Not the Nine O’clock News and The Fast Show, with a new and fresh British-Asian perspective. Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syall, with producer Anil Gupta, come up with the concept." (BBC, Timeline)
"The Murder of Jill Dando"
-"The tragic death of one of the UK's best loved personalities"-
"Known for her work on BBC One’s Crimewatch, Jill Dando is shot and killed on the doorstep of her home in the middle of the day. Her death remains one of Britain's most high-profile unsolved killings. Theories emerge, none yet substantiated, as to why Dando is targeted, including claims by a former colleague that she had evidence of a VIP paedophile ring, and that she was killed by a professional hitman." (BBC, Timeline)
"Launch of BBC Three"/"Strictly come Dancing"
"BBC iPlayer/ BBC Arabic, BBC Persian"
"MediaCityUK becomes operational"
"The Office/ "The River City"
"Doctor Who"/ "The One Show"
"2009: "Cerrie Burnell"
The 2000s/2010s +20s
-"Twenty eight hours of broadcasting sees in the new millenium"-
"2000 Today is created as part of the worldwide millennium celebrations. Billed as the “biggest ever live broadcast in TV history”, the mammoth all-night show is a mix of reports and entertainment from around the world. The programme begins with reporter John Simpson on the South Pacific island of Kiribati seeing the first sunrise of the new millennium. Gaby Roslin and Michael Palin are just two of the personalities fronting the show." (BBC, Timeline)
--> Second Digital Revolution
2003: "Launch of BBC Three"
-"BBC Three launches as a real TV alternative for younger people"-
"BBC Three launches with a two hour simulcast with BBC Two, featuring music show Re:covered and Johnny Vaughan Tonight. The channel aims to cater for 24-35 year olds, but its target audience gets younger over time. It produces some award winning programmes, but not without generating controversy along the way. Among the early headline grabbers are Snog, Marry, Avoid?, Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, and Don't Tell the Bride" (BBC, Timeline)
2004: "Strictly Come Dancing"
-"Bruce and Tess take ballroom dancing to a whole new level"-
"Key to the success of the show are the celebrities, the showbiz fun and glamour. There are eight contestants in the first series, with Natasha Kaplinsky the eventual winner. As the show grows in popularity, so does the number of contestants. The original line-up of judges are Len Goodman, Arlene Phillips, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli. "Strictly" is a phenomenal success and the format is replicated in over 50 countries." (BBC, Timeline)
2005: "Doctor Who"
-"The Doctor returns to our screens after 16 years"-
"Doctor Who’s return is a triumph. Over 10 million people watch Christopher Eccleston's debut as the Ninth Doctor, starting a run of programmes which is still going. The first episode - Rose - is written by Russell T Davies, who is responsible for the revival. He manages to refresh the Doctor while giving him a more contemporary feel, and introduces a new companion, played by Billie Piper. On the 16th July 2017 a woman is cast as the 13th Doctor." (BBC, Timeline)
2006: "The One Show"
-"Guests, celebs and stories from around the UK"-
"Initially fronted by Adrian Chiles and Nadia Sawalha, The One Show is intended to be a new take on old favourite Nationwide - the early evening magazine programme. It proves a success and the team is augmented by Hardeep Singh Kohli, looking at the funnier side of life. The show combines specialist factual films on anything from floods, to riots and referenda, with entertaining high profile guests from the world of film, TV and theatre." (BBC, Timeline)
2007: "BBC iPlayer"
-"A new way to catch up on your favourite TV"-
"Though the iPlayer is now a huge success, it takes years to deliver and has a tricky time getting approved by BBC managers. Ben Lavender wakes up with the idea of being able to access all the BBC's programmes on demand via the web and so begins his work planning the integrated Media Player (BBC iMP). It takes 84 internal presentations, a massive effort to clear copyright issues and a host of technical trials before it is successfully launched." (BBC; Timeline)
2008: "BBC Arabic, BBC Persian"
-"Two new channels serve a highly appreciative audience"-
"With dwindling numbers listening to shortwave radio, the BBC World Service radically shifts its focus to TV for the Arab and Persian world. BBC Arabic provides a solid news service, whilst BBC Persian focuses on youth and current affairs. Both services offer an international, not just Arab or Persian perspective on events and an objective approach to issues." (BBC; Timeline)
-"The presenter who becomes the BBC's first Disability Ambassador"-
"Children's author and actress Cerrie Burnell makes her debut TV appearance on CBeebies in the announcers chair. Cerrie’s right arm ends just below the elbow, and she is brought into the CBBC role with no special remit to represent the disabled community. A small number of parents contact the BBC to complain that her disability is frightening their young children. She is undeterred and goes on to become a champion of disability representation on the BBC." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The RTS award-winning sitcom with plenty of surprises"-
"Based on Miranda Hart's well received radio series Miranda Hart's Joke Shop, socially inept Miranda towers above her successful friends at 185cm tall. She always looks awkward and is sometimes mistaken for a man, which doesn't help with her perennial problem - dating. Penny (Patricia Hodge), Miranda's social climbing mother, piles on the pressure making Miranda's life even more impossible!" (BBC, Timeline)
2010: "The Great British Bake Off"
-"On your marks, get set, bake!"-
"The Great British Bake Off is the brainchild of producer Anna Beattie who wants to combine the television baking competitions she has seen in the United States, with the sensibility of an English fête. The original line-up consists of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, with Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc as presenters. In 2017 the show makes the controversial move to Channel 4." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Obsessed, determined, focussed - that's DCI John Luther"-
"Sometimes overwhelmed by the darkness of the crimes he investigates, Luther will stop at nothing to get a case solved, but work and home life blur as a relationship develops with psychopath and murderer Alice Morgan. Five series later, and there are still questions left unanswered. Lead actor, Idris Elba, describes making the series as personally "gruelling" and "tough", because it largely deals with murder." (BBC, Timeline)
"MediaCityUK becomes operational"
-"Young people are first to broadcast from Salford"-
"BBC News School Report (now Young Reporter) makes history as the first ever live television programme from MediaCityUK, the new BBC base shared with ITV in Salford. More than 100 schoolchildren from across the North West and Yorkshire work towards a live bulletin, which airs at 14.00 on BBC News. BBC Manchester, North West Tonight, Newsround and Radio 5 live also go live from the studios later that day." (BBC, Timeline)
"Mrs. Brown's Boys"
"Created by Brendan O'Carroll, the series is a unique collaboration between RTÉ and BBC Scotland. Agnes Brown is the loveable mother figure of a ramshackle household whose antics appear to have few limits. Mrs. Brown, who Brendan plays, is actually first seen on stage, in books, and on radio as early as the 1990s. Creator Brendan O’Carroll turns down a lucrative deal to sell the series to Russian TV, after he refuses to cut the role of Rory - who is gay." (BBC, Timeline)
-"The first all-digital Olympic Games"-
"The BBC provides live coverage of every London 2012 sport from every venue throughout each day of the Games. The complete digital package enables audiences to switch between 24 simultaneous live streams, allows users to rewind live coverage, offers relevant live data statistics and information seamlessly and in all delivers some 2,500 hours of coverage via the BBC Sport website." (BBC, Timeline)
"Bitesize home learning"
"The Green Planet"
"Many new series"
"English League Football"
The 2000s/2010s +20s
"New Broadcasting House"
"New Broadcasting House"
-"The Queen opens the new broadcasting headquarters"-
"Her Majesty The Queen officially opens the BBC's new London HQ at Broadcasting House with a live broadcast. Presenters James Naughtie and Sian Williams join her live on air with the then Director-General of the BBC, Tony Hall. She gives a short address to declare the BBC's new home open, and says "I hope this new building will serve you well for the future and I am delighted to declare it open today"." (BBC, Timeline)
"The 100 Women Debate"
-"What it means to be a woman in the 21st Century"-
"Throughout October 2013 special reports, programmes, discussions and online features take a fresh look at the lives of women around the world. Featuring on BBC World Service radio and BBC World News television, a mix of women trailblazers explore what it means to be female in the 21st century. Speakers from all walks of life come together alongside women whose voices are usually silenced, for a major live programme hosted by the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil and Rupa Jha." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones make metal detecting funny"-
"Join the Danebury Metal Detecting Club for a life of discovery, digging up the Essex countryside. Always on the brink of finding the next Staffordshire Hoard but never quite getting there, Andy and Lance are convinced they have found the remains of a Saxon ship in the first episode, little knowing that something rather more grisly lies not far away. The series wins the sitcom category in the 2018 Rose d’Or awards, beating competition from nearly 500 other programmes internationally." (BBC, Timeline)
-"All the romance and drama of the original"-
"Poldark returns to the BBC in a new adaptation, starring Aiden Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson as Ross and Demelza. To the delight of fans of the original series, there is also a part for Robin Ellis as Judge Hayter. The new series remains true to the original, set in 18th Century Cornwall, based on the novels of Winston Graham." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Car sharing never was so funny!"-
"Supermarket manager John and promotions rep Kayleigh use their firm's car-sharing scheme to get to work. They are avid fans of Forever FM, a fictional station complete with cheesy ads and schmaltzy tunes. It is the perfect backdrop to fantasise about their lives and rehearse their wildest dreams. The last episode of season 2 causes uproar amongst fans who are frustrated with an inconclusive dream sequence and sombre ending." (BBC, Timeline)
-"Emmy award winning, and simply off-the-wall-comedy"
"Phoebe Waller-Bridge adapts her 2013 one-woman stand up show for TV about Fleabag - a young woman with much spirit but who's a bit angry with life! From disasterous one-night stands to running her own cafe, London life is both chaotic and comic in equal measure." (BBC, Timeline)
2017: "Gay Britannia"
-"Star names, such as Ben Whishaw, launch a landmark season"
"Fifty years after sex between men is partially decriminalised in the UK, BBC Two Channel Controller Patrick Holland announces a major season of television programmes which will offer "a powerful examination of how far we have come - whilst also exploring how much further we have to travel". The shows includes a new drama, Against The Law, with Daniel Mays as Peter Wildeblood (convicted "of homosexuality" in the 1950s), to the first screen drama from best-selling British novelist Patrick Gale, Man In An Orange Shirt." (BBC, Timeline)
2018: "Killing Eve"
-"Seductive... and surprising"-
"Intelligence officer Eve Polastri is obsessed by female assassins - and how they kill. After a bungled investigation Polastri is fired from MI5, but is soon recruited by a secretive section of MI6 and is assigned to chase an international assassin calling herself Villanelle. The two get close and rest is history." (BBC, Timeline)
2019: "RuPaul's Drag Race UK"
-"The search is on for the United Kingdom's next drag superstar"-
"RuPaul is the outspoken judge, coach and host of the show which puts the UK's drag queens through their paces. Modelling on the catwalk and lip-synch battles are just some of the challenges the queens must face to get to the top. Slowly the contestants are whittled down to just three, who must fight for the coveted crown. The show throws off unsubstantiated claims that the final outcome is rigged, with RuPaul knowing who will win before each season starts." (BBC, Timeline)
2019: "Years and Years"
-"For 15 years the Lyons family navigate a highly volatile world"-
"Britain slowly turns into a dictatorship and the lives of a typical Manchester family converge on one extraordinary night in 2019. Buffeted by politics, new technology and relentless change, the Lyons family show every sign of cracking up - will they survive?" (BBC, Timeline)
"Bitesize home learning"
-"One of the biggest education offers in the BBC's history"-
"In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BBC powers up support for young people's education at home, amid concerns that large numbers of children have no access to remote learning platforms. BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily are launched, along with Our School and Celebrity Supply Teacher - all on the CBBC channel, helping youngsters stay ahead." (BBC, Timeline)
"I May Destroy You"
-""The perfect show for an anxious world" - New York Times"-
"Arabella is a novelist and Twitter celebrity, famed for her debut book, the Chronicles of a Fed-Up Millennial. She's facing the deadline for her second novel, but it's a struggle. To break the impasse, Arabella embarks on a night out on the town, but the next day she can remember nothing - and that's where the drama begins." (BBC, Timeline)
"English league football"
-"Finally - the league is back!"-
"Live top-tier English league football returns to the BBC for the first time since 1988. The first match is in July, when 5.7m tune in for the Southampton-Manchester City game. The match sets a new viewing record for the Premier League in the UK. Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, summer 2021 sees a huge summer of sport with the return of Wimbledon; the men’s European Championships; the new domestic cricket competition The Hundred; and the Olympics in Tokyo - all covered on the BBC." (BBC, Timeline)
"The Green Planet"
-"Stunning photography and surprising stories"-
"Following the UK’s hosting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference - COP26 in 2021, the BBC puts the survival of the environment up front in a landmark five-part series for 2022 - The Green Planet. It follows David Attenborough as he travels from the rainforests of the tropics to the wilderness of the frozen north, to explore the ways in which plants cope in very different and sometimes extreme environments. The series is launched at the COP26 conference itself by David Attenborough, with Game of Thrones star and environmental activist Maisie Williams." (BBC, Timeline)