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- 1 BBC Children's
BBC Children's is the name for the BBC department responsible for running the BBC's public service children's services in the UK. Its primary base is in BBC North. The department is overseen by Alice Webb who was appointed the Director of BBC Children's in 2005.
The department is responsible for running the digital television channels CBBC and CBeebies which are cross-platform brands (see multi-platform television) delivering content on a variety of digital platforms. On 25 September 2015 a new digital strategy was unveiled for the department which resulted in the launch of a kids version of the BBC iplayer and an increasing focus on digital content.
The BBC has produced and broadcast television 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, which debuted in 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. 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 usually 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.
From 1996 to 1999, CBBC programmes were shown on the channel Nickelodeon, as part of the CBBC on Nick programming 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.
In November 2014, it was revealed that CBBC content would be returning to BBC Two on Saturday mornings following a 29% year-by-year drop in shares of the active CBBC channel.
On 14 March 2016, CBBC rebranded with a new design, with the letters being coloured, inspired by the BBC Three rebrand in January 2016.
On 11 April 2016, CBBC extended its hours due to the closure of BBC Three in February. The new hours are from 7am to 9pm. CBBC also edited the weekday morning schedule with shows that are shown at 07.45 to 08.15 are repeated again early afternoon at 14.30 to 15.00.
BBC Children's is 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.
Overall strategic responsibility for all of the BBC's services for children rests with the Director of Children's, Alice Webb (Since 2015) 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 introduction of BBC1's daytime schedule in October 1986 consisted of a routine whereby BBC1 would broadcast a 30-minute block at around 10:30 usually including the 'main' pre-school show (Play School, then from 1988 Playbus/Playdays) and children's birthday cards, with BBC2 showing a 15-minute programme or programmes at 13:20, 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.
By September 2001, for the final phase as 'Children's BBC' ahead of the CBBC/CBeebies relaunch, the arrangement was that the CBBC Breakfast Show would air older children's shows from 07:00 to 08:10, followed by a block of younger kids' programmes from 08:10 to 10:50, often linked by one of the Breakfast Show presenters; a single preschooler show would air around 1300, also on BBC Two, then the afternoon block on BBC One would begin at 15:25 with 25 minutes of shows for the under-sevens, presented mostly in voiceover, followed from 15:50 by the older kids' shows, linked in-vision. Following the move of The Weakest Link from BBC Two to BBC One, CBBC on BBC One was shifted to run 15:15-17:15 rather than 15:25-17:35 as before.
From February 2002, the morning block consisted of 60 minutes of CBeebies-branded content from 06:00, followed by ninety minutes of CBBC from 07:00, then further CBeebies content from 08:30; in the afternoon on BBC One there was a block of CBeebies content from 1515 followed by CBBC content for the remainder of the afternoon slot. Following the removal of BBC Schools' content from daytime BBC Two (into the BBC Learning Zone), the time allocated to CBeebies on BBC Two was extended.
The CBBC brand was used for the broadcast of children's programmes on BBC One on weekday afternoons and on BBC Two mornings until these strands were phased out in 2012 and 2013 respectively, 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 at afternoons on weekends, unless the channel was covering other events. This ended when BBC HD closed on 26 March 2013, but CBBC HD launched on 10 December 2013.
BBC Children's now produces a wide range of programme types and broadcasts them under two brand names. BBC programming aimed at under six year old children is broadcast on the CBeebies channel while programming for children aged 7 and over is broadcast on the digital CBBC Channel. Both channels include drama, entertainment, and factual programmes. In addition CBBC has its own dedicated news service. These two brands are therefore often seen as offering a similar mix of formats to the wider BBC, albeit tailored to suit young audiences.
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 programmes include All Over The Place, Class Dismissed, The Next Step, Newsround, Hacker Time, Horrible Histories, Shaun the Sheep and the hit The Dumping Ground.
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 containing 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).
In 2015, the CBBC Office set received a new futuristic look and this time receiving much darker colours and tones, they scrapped the light and dark greens colours and now it replaces them with purple and dark grey colours. Also a new 'up next' screen is placed behind the presenter so viewers know what programme is coming up next. A new post chute has also been installed in the new set where viewers send post to get read out live on air, and a new desk much larger from the previous one with multi-coloured blocks on the face of the desk.
In 2016, the CBBC Office became the CBBC HQ along with the rebrand. The HQ is mostly orange and blue. The picture frames were bare at the start of the new look. Hacker was seen wearing a bow tie on the first day of the new look.
|Name||Year||Notable TV programs|
|Basil Brush||1963–2010||The Basil Brush Show & Basil's Swap Shop|
|Gordon the Gopher||1985–1993, 2006, 2015||The Broom Cupboard, Going Live! & It Started With Swap Shop|
|Edd the Duck||1988–1994, 2015||The Broom Cupboard|
|Ratz||1993–1994||Live & Kicking|
|Mr. Sage & Mr. Onion The Leprechauns||1993–2001||Live & Kicking|
|Otis the Aardvark||1994–1999, 2015||CBBC Studio & Saturday Aardvark|
|Emlyn the Gremlyn||1999–2002, 2015||CBBC Studio|
|Nev the Bear||2002–2010, 2012, 2015||Smile, Bear Behaving Badly & Hacker Time|
|Oucho T. Cactus||2007–2010, 2015||CBBC Office, Ed and Oucho's Excellent Inventions & Transmission Impossible with Ed and Oucho|
|Hacker T. Dog||2009–present||CBBC Office/HQ, Hacker Time & Scoop|
|Dodge T. Dog||2010–present||CBBC Office/HQ & Hacker Time|
|Bl1nk Bot 3||2016–present||CBBC HQ|
Logos and idents
CBBC Extra was a free interactive television service from CBBC provided by BBC Red Button which was located in most modern day remote controls. It was accessible from the CBBC Channel by pressing red and then selecting CBBC Extra. It could also be accessed from any other BBC channel by pressing red and going to page number 570. The service differed across digital platforms, for example digital satellite (i.e.: Sky) viewers could access a video loop, however its availability on digital terrestrial (Freeview) was dependent upon BBC Red Button not showing other interactive services, such as major sports events coverage. This was dropped from the Red Button service in April 2016.
CBBC/CBeebies UK VHS releases
Numerous CBBC/CBeebies programmes have been released on VHS.
|VHS Title||Cat. No.
|BBC Children's Favourites||BBCV 9000||BBCV 4011||5 October 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 9004||BBCV 4111||2 November 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|
In 1985, Marks & Spencer 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).
From 2 November 1992 to 6 October 1997, numerous CBBC preschool programmes of the 1980s & 1990s which is now on behalf of CBeebies have been released on compilation videos by the BBC.
|VHS Title||Release Date||Episodes|
|4 Fun Favourites (BBCV 4883)||2 November 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)||1 November 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)||19 September 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)||7 November 1994||Noddy and Father Christmas, Pingu: Skiing, Barney's Christmas Surprise, Pingu: Sledging, The Little Polar Bear: Snowstorm, Fireman Sam: Snow Business.|
|The Greatest BBC Children's Video Ever (BBCV 5653)||4 September 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, The Animals Of Farthing Wood: The Adventures Of Fox|
|Children's Sensational Summer Fun (BBCV 5858)||3 June 1996||Fireman Sam: Deep Trouble For Sam, William'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!: Classroom Distractions|
|BBC Children In Need - Party for Pudsey (BBCV 6351)||6 October 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.|
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, now replaced with comment threads below videos, games and articles. 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 Sam & Mark's Big Friday Wind-Up, Horrible Histories, Stacey Dooley's Show Me What You're Made Of, Shaun the Sheep, Blue Peter, Newsround, Danger Mouse, The Dumping Ground, Wolfblood, Dick & Dom and Hank Zipzer. It also gives kids the chance to view the CBBC iPlayer to replay CBBC programmes for up to 29 days.
- "BBC - Alice Webb named as Director, BBC Children's - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
- "BBC - Alice Webb: Our Big Digital Plan For Children - BBC Children's Vision for the Future - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
- 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" (PDF). 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.
- "Children's BBC Returning to BBC TWO". UK Ratings. 17 November 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- "Joe Godwin, Director, Children's". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "Revamped Blue Peter moves north". BBC News. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "BBC - Alice Webb named as Director, BBC Children's - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
- 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.
- "CBBC links - 10th September 2001 ", YouTube
- "BBC News – Children's shows to leave BBC One". BBC News Online. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- "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.