|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2011)|
|Launched||1 January 1960
(as Children's Television)
9 September 1985
(as Children's BBC)
4 October 1997
|Closed||21 December 2012
(BBC One block)
4 January 2013
(BBC Two block)
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom (UK)|
|Formerly called||Children's Television (1960-1985)
Children's BBC (1985–1997)
CBBC (a contraction of the original name Children's BBC) is one of two brand names used for the BBC's children's television strands (the other being CBeebies). Today, CBBC is joined by two dedicated digital channels, launched in 2002 and using the same brands and presentation and the programme strands it is a department of the BBC North Group division.
CBBC is the name given to the digital channel for children aged 6–12, and also the brand used for CBBC programming and CBeebies is the digital channel for children aged under 6, and also aired its own strand on BBC One until 21 December 2012 and on BBC Two until 4 January 2013. In 2006, as part of the BBCs Creative Futures strategic review, the CBBC brand was redefined as being for children aged 6–12. A new brand for teenagers, BBC Switch, was launched in 2007 and ended in 2010, though this did not have a dedicated channel and was not part of the BBC Children's division.
CBBC currently broadcasts as a 12-hour-a-day digital channel (the CBBC Channel) available on most UK digital platforms from 7 am to 7 pm. The brand was also used for the broadcast of children's programmes on BBC One (weekday afternoons) until these strands were phased out at the end of 2012 and on BBC Two (weekday & weekend mornings) until these strands were also phased out at the start of 2013, as part of the BBC's "Delivering Quality First" cost-cutting initiative. CBBC programmes were also broadcast in high definition alongside other BBC content on BBC HD, generally from 3:30 pm to 7 pm on weekends, unless the channel was covering other events. BBC-produced children's programming, in native languages of Scotland and Wales, also airs on BBC Alba and S4C respectively. CBBC HD launched on 10 December 2013.
The BBC has produced and broadcast programmes for children since the 1930s. The first children-specific strand on BBC television was For the Children, first broadcast on what was then the single 'BBC Television Service' on Saturday 24 April 1937; it was only ten minutes long. It lasted for two years before being taken off air when the service closed due to the Second World War in September 1939.
Following the war, For the Children recommenced on Sunday 7 July 1946, with a twenty minute slot every Sunday afternoon and the addition of programmes for pre-school children under the banner For The Very Young., and over the years they became an established feature of the early afternoons on the BBC's main channel BBC One.
In 1952, the "For the Children" / "For the Very Young" branding was dropped; older children's programmes (such as Blue Peter 1958) would now be introduced by regular announcers whilst younger children's programming was broadcast under the Watch with Mother banner. The 1964 launch of BBC Two allowed additional room for children's programming with an edition of Play School technically being the first official programme to air on BBC Two due to a power cut blacking out most of the previous night's programming. On 1 October 1980, Watch with Mother was replaced by See-Saw, which was moved to BBC2 in 1987.
Meanwhile, weekday afternoon children's programmes on BBC One were introduced by the usual off-screen continuity announcer, though often specially-designed menus and captions would be used.
On 9 September 1985, this long-standing block of children's programming was rebranded as Children's BBC, and for the first time the children's block had dedicated idents and an in-vision presenter. Previously the BBC had broadcast children's programming using BBC1's team of regular duty announcers. The launch presenter for this block, and thus the first Children's BBC presenter of the current format, was Phillip Schofield.
During the 1990s, Children's BBC began to be referred to informally on-air as 'CBBC' (this occurred at around the same time that ITV's rival service "Children's ITV" began to be referred to as CITV in a similar manner). The official billing name of Children's BBC remained in place, however, until the BBC's network-wide branding refresh of October 1997, when the official on-air branding changed to CBBC. (CITV officially adopted their short name in their own branding refresh the following year).
Further changes to the schedule were rolled out during the 1990s and 2000s, including the introduction in the late 1980s of Sunday morning programmes on BBC Two, initially only during the Open University's winter break and then subsequently year-round; the introduction of a regular weekday morning 'breakfast show' format, also on BBC Two; the relocation of the daytime pre-school slot to BBC Two, later returning to BBC One at the start of the afternoon block.
The launch of digital channel BBC Choice in 1998 saw the channel broadcasting children's programming in a Saturday afternoon slot which was subsequently replaced by the daily 6 am – 7 pm service CBBC on Choice, which aired archive pre-school programming and was itself the precursor of the current CBBC Channel and CBeebies services.
In 2005, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, was questioned in the House of Commons as to whether a public service broadcaster should really be broadcasting "lavatorial" humour. Ms Jowell responded that it was the Government's job to develop a charter for the BBC; and then the BBC's job to determine standards of taste, decency and appropriateness.
In 2009, a report published by the BBC Trust found that scheduling changes which took place in February 2008, where programming ended at 17:15, had led to a decrease in viewers. This was especially noticeable for Blue Peter and Newsround, two of CBBC's flagship programmes; Blue Peter is now recording its lowest viewing numbers since it started in 1958, and Newsround now receives fewer than 100,000 viewers compared to 225,000 in 2007. The changes were made following the BBC's loss of the rights to soap opera Neighbours, which had for many years been broadcast between the end of CBBC and the start of the 6 pm news; when the decision to move daytime editions of The Weakest Link from BBC Two to One to fill the gap, CBBC had to move to an earlier slot, as Weakest Link is longer than Neighbours was.
As part of the Delivering Quality First proposals submitted by the BBC in October 2011 and approved by the BBC Trust in May 2012, all children's programming on BBC One and Two would be moved permanently to the CBBC and CBeebies channels following the digital switchover. It was found that the majority of child viewers watched the programmes on these channels already and that only 7% of these children watched CBBC programmes on BBC One and Two only. Children's programming on BBC One ended on 21 December 2012 with the CBeebies' morning strand on BBC Two ending on 4 January 2013.
CBBC is operated by the BBC Children's division, part of BBC North. The division relocated to MediaCityUK in Salford Quays in May 2011, after being based in the East Tower of TV Centre in London since 1964. Management of the division, and broadcast and production of presentation links for CBBC and CBeebies is now based there. In September 2011 flagship magazine show Blue Peter began live broadcasts from its new home, with daily news programme Newsround joining it in November 2011.
The BBC Children's division also operates CBeebies. Overall strategic responsibility for all of the BBC's services for children rests with the Director of Children's, Joe Godwin (since late 2009), with commissioning decisions for the two channels being made by a Controller of each channel; Cheryl Taylor (since 2012) is Controller of CBBC, and Kay Benbow (since 2010) is Controller of CBeebies.
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The original scheduling from the mid/late 1980s consisted of a routine whereby BBC1 would broadcast a 25-minute block at around 10:00 usually including the 'main' pre-school show (Play School, then from 1988 Playbus/Playdays) and children's birthday cards, with BBC2 showing a 5-10 minute programme or programmes at around 13:00, before BBC1 ran the main afternoon block aimed at older children. Weekend programmes consisted chiefly of Saturday morning programmes on BBC1, such as Going Live!. Children's BBC would also broadcast on weekday mornings during school holidays on either BBC1 or 2, which was done under the But First This banner for a time.
This schedule altered little throughout the 1990s, with the introduction of Sunday morning programming and a full breakfast show being the only changes. The current general schedule for children's shows on BBC terrestrial TV is as follows:
- CBeebies content (under 4) from 1 December 2012 - 06:00 - 12:00 Saturday & Sunday, 06:00 - 10:00 on BBC Two, and from 06:00 - 11:30 on weekday mornings.
- CBBC content (ages 5–14) from 1 December 2012 - 15:05 - 17:15 on BBC One (weekdays) only until 20 December.
These schedules are subject to change, particularly around holiday times; the current holiday-time arrangement.
CBBC produces a wide range of programme types, including drama, news, entertainment, and factual programming. CBBC therefore is often seen as offering a similar mix of formats to the wider BBC, albeit tailored to suit a young audience. Byker Grove was one of the very few shows that was not aimed at young children, rather a more teenage/young adult audience as it dealt with some controversial themes.
The longest-running CBBC programme is the magazine show Blue Peter. Other notable current and former programmes include Grange Hill, Newsround, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Horrible Histories, and recent hit Tracy Beaker Returns.
From its launch in 1985 until 1994, Children's BBC was presented from the regular continuity announcer's booth in the BBC1 network control area, which had a fixed camera so that the presenter could appear in vision; as it remained an operational continuity booth, the presenter would partly direct their own links by way of vision and sound mixers built into the studio desk.
The booth became known as 'the Broom Cupboard' due to its small size (the term was first used to refer to a smaller temporary booth, but was later retroactively applied to the main booth). The plain booth wall behind the presenter would be livened up with elements of set dressing, VT monitors and pictures sent in by viewers. Occasionally, when Children's BBC was going out on BBC2 rather than BBC1 due to events coverage, the presenter would be located in the BBC2 continuity booth, which was not set dressed for Children's BBC, for transmission purposes.
There were two presentation studios - larger than the Broom Cupboards but smaller than full programme studios - known as Pres A and Pres B. It was not initially thought economically viable to use these for daily Children's BBC links, hence the use of the Broom Cupboard. However, by 1987 these studios were being used for the mid-morning 'birthday card' slots and weekend and holiday morning strands such as But First This. The main afternoon strand remained in the Broom Cupboard.
In 1994, Pres A was refurbished and became the regular home for all Children's BBC presentation including the weekday afternoon block; the presenters no longer had to operate the broadcast equipment, although a broom cupboard-style area in the corner of Pres A contained its own mixer was used for the birthday slot and weekend mornings to save on crew, and the larger set allowed for more dynamic presentation, with more presenters, characters, features, games and guests. A new 3D version of the then logo of Children's BBC was commissioned to mark the move.
In 1997, Children's BBC moved again when 'Pres A' was decommissioned and CBBC moved to the purpose-built Studio TC9, adjacent to the Blue Peter garden at BBC Television Centre. The first broadcasts from Studio 9 were in June 1997; this was followed in October by the launch of the new-look CBBC branding. TC9 continued to be the regular home of CBBC broadcasts on BBC One and Two until 2005 and was also used to record CBBC On Choice links between 2000 and 2002.
In Autumn 2004, the studio arrangements for CBBC were changed again. The CBBC Channel moved from TC2 to TC9, with BBC One / Two links and the UK Top 40 show moving to TC10 located on the sixth floor of TV Centre. BBC One and Two links then moved back into TC9 alongside CBBC Channel in March 2006 as the number of studios available to CBBC was reduced.
In December 2006, there was a further reduction in CBBC facilities. A chroma key set was assembled in TC12, becoming the home of all CBBC links on BBC One, BBC Two and CBBC Channel until September 2007. There was also a reduction in the team of on air presenters. The last live CBBC links from TC9 were broadcast on Friday 1 December 2006; the studio was then mothballed but has since been brought back into use for individual programmes including TMi and SMart.
On 3 September 2007, the CSO studio was dropped in a relaunch which saw a small studio set built in TC12. As part of the relaunch, new logos, presenters and idents were introduced. The design of the new 'office' set has been compared to the original 'broom cupboard', though unlike the 'broom cupboard' the 'office' is not a functioning continuity suite. CBBC presentation originated from Studio HQ5 at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays for the first time on Monday 5 September 2011 as part of the relocation of the BBC's Children's department (incorporating both CBBC and CBeebies).
The current main presenter is Katie Thistleton with Ceallach Spellman and Shannon Flynn covering her if they're ill or away for any reason. Ben Shires and Amberley Lobo were hosting throughout the summer of 2014, alongside regular puppets Hacker T. Dog and Dodge T. Dog.
Logos and idents
CBBC Extra is a free interactive television service from CBBC provided by BBC Red Button. It is accessible from the CBBC Channel by pressing red and then selecting CBBC Extra. It can also be accessed from any other BBC channel by pressing red and going to page number 570. The service differs across digital platforms, for example digital satellite (i.e.: Sky) viewers can access a video loop. Its availability on digital terrestrial (Freeview) is dependent upon BBC Red Button not showing other interactive services, such as major sports events coverage.
CBBC UK VHS releases
Numerous CBBC programmes have been released on VHS by BBC Video. Video releases either contained numerous videos from one particular programme, or were a compilation tape of numerous episodes from lots of different programmes. A list of these compilation tapes is shown below.
'The Greatest BBC Children's Video Ever!'  [VHS]. This VHS marks the only appears of 'Nursery Rhyme Time', 'Hairy Jeremy' and 'The Animals of Farthing Wood'. This is also the very last Children's BBC video to have 'The Clangers' and 'Funnybones'. This is also the first Children's BBC video to included 'Spider!' and 'William's Wish Wellingtons' are seen together for Hibbert Ralph Entertainment. This VHS also marks the last time 'The Little Polar Bear' to be shown until 'Toybox 2'.
|VHS Title||Release Date||Episodes|
|BBC Children's Favourites (BBCV 4011)||1981||Ivor The Engine- a Home Fit for Birds, Bagpuss and the Ballet Shoe, Ivor the Engine meets Nell the Old Sheepdog, The Clangers and a Tablecloth, Ivor The Engine- A Strange Bubble Contraption, Ivor the Engine and the Foxes of Mrs Porty, The Clangers and the Seed|
|Beebtots (BBCV 4111)||1981||Ivor The Engine: Snowdrifts (part 1), Noggin the Nog and the Pie, Ivor The Engine: Snowdrifts (part 2), Bagpuss and the Small Soft Hamish, The Clangers and A Lonely Bag|
|4 Fun Favourites (BBCV 4883)||1992||Funnybones: Dinosaurs, Fireman Sam: Dily's Forgetful Day, Pingu Plays Fish Tennis, Noddy and the Pouring Rain|
|BBC Television Children's Favourites (BBCV 5118)||1993||Noddy and the Broken Bicycle, Pingu and Pinga at Home, Funnybones: The Pet Shop, Postman Pat's Finding Day, Spider: Just a Spider, Joshua Jones- Haywire, Tales of the Tooth Fairies: the Stolen Present, Fireman Sam: Bentley the Robot, Pingu Goes Fishing, Charlie Chalk - Arnold's Night Out.|
|BBC Children's Collection (WHS 5475)||1994||Little Polar Bear- Ice Floe, Pingu- Ice Hockey, Noddy and the Pouring Rain, Barney's TV Act, Postman Pat's Thirsty Day, Fireman Sam: Halloween|
|BBC Children's Christmas Cracker (BBCV 5399)||1995||Noddy and Father Christmas, Pingu- Skiing, Barney's Christmas Surprise, Pingu: Sledging, The Little Polar Bear in The Snow Storm, Fireman Sam: Snow Business|
|The Greatest BBC Children's Video Ever (BBCV 5653)||1995||Fireman Sam: Spot of Bother, Pingu's New Kite, Spider in the Bath, William the Conkeror, The Clangers: Fishing, Nursery Rhyme Time, Noddy and the Special Key, Funnybones: Bumps in the Night, Hairy Jeremy: Ice to See You, The Little Polar Bear: The Egg, Animals of Farthing Wood- Adventures of Fox.|
|Children's Sensational Summer Fun (BBCV 5858)||1996||Fireman Sam: Deep Trouble for Sam, Willam's Wish Wellingtons: Sweet William, Pingu at the Funfair, Monty Gets the Blame, Adventures of the Garden Fairies: a Garden in Summer, Noddy Cheers Up Big Ears, Oakie Doke and the Wishing Well, Spider's Classroom Distractions.|
|BBC Children In Need - Party for Pudsey (BBCV 6351)||1997||Postman Pat's Birthday, Fireman Sam: Halloween, Pingu's Birthday, Oakie Doke and the Party, Monty's Magic Trick, Noddy Cheers Up Big Ears, Dinobabies: Ebegeezer Scrimp.|
In 1985, Marks and Spencers released a compilation video (as part of the St Michael Video Library Range) called Cartoon Favourites as A BBC Video Presentation with five characters and six episodes that were Pigeon Street (Pigeon Post), Ivor the Engine (Time Off), The Family Ness (Angus and Elspeth Meet the Loch Ness Monster) Bagpuss (The Mouse Mill), Bertha (The Mouse in the Works) and The Family Ness (You'll Never Find a Nessie in the Zoo).
The CBBC website provides a wide range of activities for children aged 6–12, such as games, videos, puzzles, print and makes, including now defunct pre-moderated message boards. It also contains a TV guide and an area where kids can apply to be on a show. It provides content for all brands including The Sarah Jane Adventures, Horrible Histories, Stacey Dooley's Show Me What You're Made Of, Shaun the Sheep, Blue Peter, Newsround, Tracy Beaker, Sadie J, Young Dracula, Dick & Dom and Newsround. It also gives kids the chance to view the CBBC iPlayer to replay CBBC programmes for up to 29 days.
- "BBC News - Children's shows to leave BBC One". BBC News Online. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Parliament debate, question by Peter Luff MP
- "BBC 'must stop kids' TV decline'". BBC News Online. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Sabbagh, Dan (10 February 2009). "Blue Peter at 50-year low after being sidelined by The Weakest Link". London: The Times. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Shaw, Vicky (10 February 2009). "Changes hit BBC children's viewing figures". London: The Independent. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "Delivering Quality First Final Conclusions". BBC Trust. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- "Children's programming comes to an end on BBC One". BBC News (BBC). 21 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- "Joe Godwin, Director, Children's". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "Revamped Blue Peter moves north". BBC News. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- Kavanagh, Damian (16 March 2010). "Serious documentary for children on CBBC". BBC TV Blog. BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "Commissioning - CBeebies". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- BBC - CBeebies Grown-ups - Programme TV guide schedule
- "CBBC Autumn 2007". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
- "BBC announces rebrand and hours extension for CBBC". The TV Room Plus. 18 July 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
- "CBBC- CBBC extra". CBBC. 21 May 2007. Archived from the original on 22 February 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
- CBBC at BBC Online
- "And Now, For Younger Viewers..." A history of CBBC continuity from 1985 to 1994, from Off The Telly
- The Broom Cupboard.co.uk, a history of CBBC continuity from 1985 to 1992, with over 150 pictures
- BBC considers end of children's shows on BBC 1 (Guardian)