BBC Big Screen

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Exchange Square in Manchester during a BBC Big Screen showing of a FIFA World Cup football game.

The BBC Big Screens are 25-square-metre (270 sq ft) LED screens with sound systems situated in prominent locations in city centres in the United Kingdom. The project setting up these screens involved the BBC, LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games), and local councils. The premise on which the screens are operated is as a platform for all, to provide local information, and to allow filmmakers and other visual artists a platform on which to display their work.[1]

There are 21 Big Screens in cities across the UK.[1] Between 2002 and 2013 the BBC operated these screens, but the BBC department to manage the screens centrally closed in 2013 following funding cuts.[2] Since 2013, some of the screens have been decommissioned, and some have been transferred to local authority ownership, where they continue to operate.



Big Screen Belfast is in Donegall Square in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, and was installed in May 2011, the first Big Screen in Northern Ireland.[3]

In 2013 ownership of the screen transferred to Belfast City Council, but it was put up for auction in 2017 due to council funding cuts.[4]


The Big Screen was temporarily installed adjacent to the Birmingham Town Hall during its refurbishment.[5]

The Big Screen in Birmingham was removed from Chamberlain Square on 19 September 2007 after the renovation of the Town Hall was completed. It was then erected in Victoria Square in November 2007.[6] Some controversy has existed over the screen in terms of the number of objections to the renewal of its planning permission.[7][8] Three years after it was due to be switched back on it had finally been fully activated. However, funding was cut by the BBC and the Big Screen was switched off on 10 December 2012, Birmingham City Council have yet to remove the screen due to budget cuts themselves.[9]


Big Screen Bradford is situated in Centenary Square, at the heart of Bradford City Centre. Adjacent to City Hall and the new urban park development.[10]


We The Curious Big Screen is a public screen based in Millennium Square, Bristol on the We The Curious building (formerly At-Bristol). The Big Screen was installed by the London Organising Committee for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for the London 2012 Olympics (LOCOG). At the end of 2012, the Screen was gifted to Bristol City Council, who then gifted it to We The Curious.

The Big Screen is now a free community resource that provides the people of Bristol with free film screenings, public information, and content, as well as providing local groups and charity organisations the opportunity to showcase their work and message.[11]


Big Screen Cardiff is located at the Hayes.[12]


Big Screen Coventry is situated at the Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place. [13] In 2018 it was revealed that the screen is no longer operational but has not been removed.[14]


Big Screen Derby was installed in 2007. The screen was a partnership between the BBC, Derby City Council, the University of Derby and LOCOG and was located in the Market Place next to the Assembly Rooms.[15] In early September 2013, the screen was removed by Derby City Council in a cost-cutting exercise, although its return in some form has not been ruled out.[16]


Big Screen Derry was one of the most recent screens to be launched, and the second in Northern Ireland. It was installed in Waterloo Place in November 2011, and was a focal point during both the 2012 Olympics and also Derry's City of Culture celebrations in 2013.[17]

In 2017, Derry City Council suggested that it may be removed as the "location has not proved a success".[18]


The Dover Big Screen was in Market Square, next to the museum and library.[19] In September 2013, Dover District Council voted to remove it, due to maintenance costs, a lack of available parts and the BBC's decision to no longer provide content or technical support.[20]


Big Screen Edinburgh was located in Festival Square, across the road from the cultural trio of Usher Hall, Lyceum and Traverse Theatres. The screen was decommissioned by The City of Edinburgh Council in March 2015.[21]


Big Screen Leeds, launched in late 2005, can be found in Millennium Square.[22]


Big Screen Leicester was unveiled in January 2010 and is located in Humberstone Gate.[23]


Big Screen Manchester was the first Big Screen within the pilot project to be launched in May 2003. The BBC had already explored screens in relation to events such as Proms in the Park, the 2002 World Cup and the Manchester Commonwealth Games. For the Queen's Golden Jubilee ten temporary screens were installed in major cities around the UK. Due to their success, Manchester became the first permanent screen and from this the project has grown. Big Screen Manchester is housed in Exchange Square, a busy public area regenerated after the IRA bomb in 1996. A new Big Screen was installed Spring 2010, replacing the 7-year-old original.[24]


Big Screen Middlesbrough is located in Centre Square.[25]


Big Screen Norwich is situated on Chapelfield Plain which is in the heart of Norwich City Centre.[26]


Big Screen Plymouth is located in Armada Way on the Piazza.[27]


Big Screen Portsmouth is in Guildhall Square, beside the Civic Offices and Portsmouth Guildhall.[28] It is currently operated as a partnership between Portsmouth City Council and University of Portsmouth.[29]


Big Screen Swansea is located in Castle Square, in the heart of the city centre.[30]


Big Screen Swindon is sited within the town's main shopping centre at Wharf Green. The screen was bought for Swindon Borough Council by the New Swindon Company as part of a project to redevelop the Wharf Green area in 2008.[31]

Waltham Forest[edit]

Waltham Forest is an outer London borough situated north east of the city. The Big Screen is located in Walthamstow Town Square, installed in time for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.[32]


Woolwich, in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, received its Big Screen installation in General Gordon Square in 2009.[33] The Big Screen was temporarily switched off during the redesign of General Gordon Place, 2010–2011.[34]

Previous locations[edit]


Big Screen Hull was launched at the turning on of the city's Christmas lights in November 2004.[35] The screen's erection was surrounded by controversy when it emerged that local councillor Colin Inglis had authorised the purchase of the screen without the matter reaching a council committee.[36] When the five-year contract between Hull City Council, Philips and the BBC ended in 2009, the screen was dismantled and moved into storage.[37]


Big Screen Liverpool was situated in Clayton Square, in the heart of Liverpool's retail quarter.[38] In May 2015 it was announced that the screen was due to be removed due to unrepairable faults.[39]


  1. ^ a b "BBC Big Screens Website". BBC. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  2. ^ "BBC and the Big Screens". BBC. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Belfast City Council. Belfast City Hall. Live Site Big screen". 17 June 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  4. ^ McStravick, Sheena (14 February 2017). "Fancy owning Belfast's Big Screen? Here's how..." belfastlive. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  5. ^ "icBirmingham - Plug is pulled on big screen". 25 May 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Birmingham - Entertainment - Birmingham's Big Screen is on the move". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  7. ^ "icBirmingham - Chamberlain Square big screen 'an eyesore'". 5 April 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  8. ^ "No permission but big screen remains - West Midlands News - News - Birmingham Post". 9 May 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Big screen switch-off but now council can't afford to take it down". Birmingham Post. 25 May 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Big Screens - Bradford". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  11. ^ "History". WE THE CURIOUS BIG SCREEN. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  12. ^ "BBC - Big Screen in Cardiff for major events and local talent". BBC News. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  13. ^ "BBC - Live Site comes to Millennium Place in Coventry". BBC News. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  14. ^ Sandford, Elis (10 July 2018). "Revealed: Cost of Cov's big TV screen which no longer works". coventrytelegraph. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  15. ^ "BBC - What's on the Derby Big Screen?". BBC News. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Derby Telegraph - City's big screen being taken down to save £30,000". Derby Telegraph. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC Big Screens – Derry". BBC. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  18. ^ Now, Derry. "BREAKING: Council set to sell off Derry's 'big screen' from Waterloo Place after seven years". Derry Now. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  19. ^ "Big Screens - Dover". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  20. ^ "Cabinet Minutes, Dover Live Site Big Screen" (PDF). Dover District Council. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Giant TV turned off for good at Festival Square". Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Big Screens - Leeds". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  23. ^ "Leicester City Council - Leicester's Big Screen". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  24. ^ "Big Screens - Manchester". BBC. 15 February 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  25. ^ "Middlesbrough Council : What's on the Big Screen & in Centre Square". Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-30.
  26. ^ "Big Screens - Norwich". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  27. ^ "Big Screen celebrates Olympics". BBC Online. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  28. ^ "The BBC Big Screen in Portsmouth". BBC News. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  29. ^ "Big Screen Portsmouth". Big Screen Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  30. ^ "Keep up with the latest events at Swansea's Big Screen". BBC News. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  31. ^ "InSwindon:Big Screen". Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  32. ^ "BBC Big Screens – Waltham Forest". BBC Online. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  33. ^ "The Woolwich Big Screen". Greenwich London Borough Council. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  34. ^ "Woolwich Squares". Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  35. ^ "BBC Humber: Hull Big Screen Archive (October–December 2004)". BBC Online. 18 November 2004. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  36. ^ "Hull's big screen to be switched off for good". This is Hull and East Riding. 27 November 2009. Archived from the original on 26 November 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  37. ^ "Big Screen switches off". BBC News. 20 August 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  38. ^ "Big Screens - Liverpool". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  39. ^ "Liverpool's Big Screen to be removed". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 5 May 2015.

External links[edit]