Timeline of the BBC

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This is a timeline of the history of the British Broadcasting Corporation (and its predecessor, the British Broadcasting Company).


  • 1923
    • 8 January – First outside broadcast, the British National Opera Company's production of The Magic Flute from Covent Garden.
    • 18 January – The UK Postmaster General grants the BBC a licence to broadcast.
    • 13 February – First broadcast from Cardiff (station 5WA).
    • 6 March – First broadcast from Glasgow (station 5SC).
    • 6 June – Edgar Wallace makes a report on The Derby, thus becoming the first British radio sports reporter.
    • 28 September – First publication of the Radio Times listings magazine (price 2d).
    • 10 October – First broadcast from Aberdeen (station 2BD).
    • 17 October – First broadcast from Bournemouth (station 6BM).
    • 16 November – First broadcast from Sheffield (relay station 2FL).
  • 1926
    • 4 May – The General strike begins. The BBC broadcasts five news bulletins a day as no newspapers or Radio Times are published.
  • 1928
    • 2 January – The first edition of The Daily Service is broadcast. It was originally called A Short Religious Service but was renamed The Daily Service in July.
  • 1929
    • 20 August – First transmissions of John Logie Baird's experimental 30-line television system.


  • 1931
    • 2 June – First live television outside broadcast with transmission of the Epsom Derby.[6]
  • 1932
    • 15 March – The first radio broadcast is made from Broadcasting House.
    • 15 May – Broadcasting House, the BBC's headquarters and home to its main radio studios, is officially opened.
    • 22 August – The first, experimental television broadcast is made from Broadcasting House.
    • 19 December – The Empire Service (precursor of the World Service) launches, broadcasting on shortwave from Daventry's Borough Hill.
    • 25 December – King George V becomes the first monarch to deliver a Christmas Day message by radio, on the Empire Service.
  • 1933
    • No events.
  • 1935
    • No events.
  • 1936
    • 2 November – The BBC opens the world's first regular high-definition television service, from Alexandra Palace.
  • 1938
    • 3 January – The BBC begins broadcasting its first foreign-language radio service, in Arabic.
    • 30 April – The BBC broadcasts television coverage of the FA Cup for the first time.
    • 27 September – Start of the European Service on radio, broadcasting in French, German and Italian. Portuguese and Spanish are added before the start of the Second World War.
  • 1939
    • Creation of BBC Monitoring
    • 1 September – The BBC Television Service is suspended, about 20 minutes after the conclusion of a Mickey Mouse cartoon (Mickey's Gala Premiere), owing to the imminent outbreak of the Second World War and amid fears that the VHF transmissions would act as perfect guidance beams for enemy bombers attempting to locate central London. Additionally, the service's technicians and engineers will be needed for such war efforts as the development of radar. On radio, the National and Regional Programmes are combined to form a single Home Service.
    • The First World Radio Broadcast, October 17, 1939. On October 17, 1939, the most sensational live radio broadcast ever attempted by the BBC hit the airwaves. It took place at the RAF Hendon base in North London, in front of a specially invited audience of RAF personnel. The whole show was relayed worldwide across the airwaves, the first time a live show had ever been broadcast around the globe. The bill starred Adelaide Hall, Mantovani and His Orchestra, The Western Brothers, and Harry Roy and his Band.[8]


  • 1940
    • 7 January – Start of the BBC Forces Programme on radio, precursor of the post-war Light Programme.
    • 11 May – The BBC starts a news service in Hindi.
  • 1943
    • No events.
  • 1945
    • 29 July – Regional radio programming resumes on the Home Service (on the same medium-wave frequencies as used pre-war by the Regional Programme), while on the same day a new Light Programme begins, using the long-wave frequency of the pre-war National Programme.
    • 9 October – The first edition of Today in Parliament is broadcast.[10]
  • 1946
    • 7 June – BBC Television broadcasts (405 lines) resume after the war including the coverages of cricket and Wimbledon Tennis. One of the first programmes shown is the Mickey Mouse cartoon from 1939.
    • 29 September – The Third Programme starts broadcasting on radio.
  • 1949
    • "Briefe ohne Unterschrift" begins broadcast (1949 – 1974) Austin Harrison reads and comments letters by East Germans.[12][13]
    • 17 December – For the first time television extends beyond London when the Sutton Coldfield transmitter starts broadcasting, providing television reception across the Midlands.


BBC logo between 1958 and 1963
  • 1950
    • 21 May – Lime Grove television studios open.
    • 27 August – First live television from the European continent, using BBC outside broadcast equipment.
  • 1951
    • 1 January – First broadcast of The Archers, now the world's longest-running soap opera.
    • 12 October – Television extends to the north of England following the switching on of the Holme Moss transmitting station.
  • 1953
    • 1 May – Television becomes available in Northern Ireland for the first time although initially from a temporary transmitter, brought into service in time for the Queen's Coronation. A permanent mast at Divis is brought into service in 1955.
    • 2 June – The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey is televised by the BBC and watched live by an estimated audience of 20 million people in the United Kingdom.
    • 11 November – The first edition of Panorama is presented by Daily Mail reporter Pat Murphy. Panorama is the world's longest-running current affairs programme and retains a peak-time slot to this day.
    • Watch With Mother, the iconic pre-schoolers strand, debuts. It was replaced with the see saw branding in 1975.
  • 1954
    • 11 January – The very first in-vision weather forecast is broadcast, presented by George Cowling. Previously, weather forecasts had been read by an off-screen announcer with a weather map filling the entire screen.
    • 5 July – BBC newsreader Richard Baker reads the first televised BBC News bulletin.
    • 30 December – The first BBC Sports Personality of the Year award takes place.
  • 1955
    • 2 May – The BBC begins broadcasting its radio service on VHF (FM), using the Wrotham transmitter.
    • September – Kenneth Kendall becomes the BBC's first in-vision newsreader, followed by Richard Baker and Robert Dougall.
    • 10 October – Alexandra Palace begins test transmissions of a 405-line colour television service.
  • 1957
    • 16 February - Six-Five Special first Rock and Roll programme first broadcast (16/2/57 - 27/12/58)
    • The first broadcast of Test Match Special takes place, providing listeners with ball-by-ball cricket commentary for the first time.
    • 24 April – The Sky at Night, a monthly astronomy programme presented by Sir Patrick Moore, is first broadcast.
    • 24 September– The first programmes for schools are broadcast.
    • September – The first broadcasts of regional news bulletins took place.
    • 30 September – Launch of Network Three, a strand of adult-education broadcasts transmitted on the frequencies of the Third Programme in the early part of weekday evenings.
    • 25 December – First TV broadcast of the Queen's Christmas Day message.
  • 1958
    • The BBC introduces a new 3 box system logo. The logo featured slanted lettering within upright boxes.
    • 14 April — The newly magnetic videotape machine Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus or VERA for short, was given a live demonstration on-air in Panorama where Richard Dimbleby seated by a clock, talked for a couple of minutes about the new method of vision recording with an instant playback, and then the tape was wound back and replayed. The picture was slightly watery, but reasonably watchable, and instant playback was something completely new.[14]
    • 5 May – First experimental transmissions of a 625-line television service.
    • 10 October – First broadcast of the United Kingdom's multi-sport television show Grandstand.
    • 16 October – First broadcast of the United Kingdom's longest-running children's television show Blue Peter.


BBC logo between 1962 and 1972
  • 1961
    • No events.
  • 1962
    • 4 January – Popular sitcom Steptoe and Son begins.
    • 27 June – The Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting publishes its report into the future of UK broadcasting. Long its recommendations are the introduction of colour television licenses, that Britain's third national television channel should be awarded to the BBC and that the BBC should extend its activities to the creation of local radio stations in order to prevent the introduction of commercial radio.
    • 28 August – Experimental stereo radio broadcasts begin.
    • The BBC runs a series of closed circuit experiments in local radio from a variety of locations across England.[15]
  • 1963
    • The BBC Logo had to improve to slant the boxes with the lettering.
    • 30 September – A globe is used as the BBC Television Service's logo for the first time.
    • 23 November – First broadcast of the world's longest-running science fiction television programme, Doctor Who.
  • 1964
    • 1 January – First broadcast of Top of the Pops pop and rock music television show.
    • 20 April – BBC2 starts broadcasting (on 625 lines). The existing BBC Television Service is renamed BBC1.
    • 22 August – First broadcast of top flight football television show Match of the Day.
  • 1965
    • 22 March – Launch of the daytime BBC Music Programme on the frequencies of Network Three / the Third Programme.
    • 1 May – The General Overseas Service is renamed the BBC World Service.
    • 10 October – A new service for Asian immigrants begins broadcasting. The programming consists of a weekly television and radio programme broadcast on Sunday mornings.[16]
  • 1966
    • 5 April – The Money Programme - the BBC's first regular programme devoted to business and finance - debuts on BBC2.[17]
    • 17 April – The first regular stereo radio transmissions begin, from the Wrotham transmitter.
    • A government White Paper paves the way for the launch of a small number (eight) of two-year experimental BBC Local Radio stations.[18]
  • 1967
    • 25 June – The first worldwide live satellite programme, Our World, featuring the Pop band, the Beatles, is televised.
    • 1 July – Regular colour TV transmissions (625 lines) begin on BBC2, starting with the Wimbledon tennis championships.
    • 30 September – BBC Radio 1 is launched, as a response to the threat from pirate radio station broadcasts of popular music. At the same time, the Light Programme, the third network (Network Three / the Third Programme), and the Home Service are renamed Radios 2, 3 and 4 respectively.
    • 23 October – Service Information is broadcast for the first time.
    • 8 November – The BBC launches its first local radio station when BBC Radio Leicester launches.
    • 15 November – BBC Radio Sheffield launches.
    • 22 November – BBC Radio Merseyside launches.
    • 2 December – BBC2 becomes the first television channel in Britain to broadcast in colour.


BBC logo between 1970 and 1992
  • 1972
    • 4 April – The first edition of Newsround is broadcast.
    • 25 August – When the government restricted the BBC to twenty local radio stations, the corporation responds by closing BBC Radio Durham. Its resources are transferred to Carlisle where BBC Radio Carlisle, now BBC Radio Cumbria, was formed.
    • 2 October – Following a recent law change, BBC1 and ITV are allowed to begin broadcasting a full afternoon schedule with both broadcasters now broadcasting non-stop from lunchtime. BBC1's afternoon schedule launches with the first edition of a new lunchtime magazine programme Pebble Mill at One.
    • 4 November – Radios 2 and 4 begin broadcasting in stereo in South East England. Stereo was rolled out to the rest of the country over subsequent years.[19]
  • 1973
    • 4 January – The pilot episode of Last of the Summer Wine airs. The regular series, which begins on 12 November, becomes the longest-running sitcom in the world, running for 37 years.
    • 2 April – BBC2 broadcasts the first programme produced by the BBC's Community Programme Unit. It had been commissioned the previous year to help members of the public create programmes to be broadcast nationally.
    • 24 August – BBC2 broadcasts a trade test colour film for the final time, having done so during daytime closedowns to provide colour broadcasting in these intervals for use by television shops and engineers (the 'trade') to adjust their television sets.
    • 10 September – Newsbeat bulletins air on BBC Radio 1 for the first time.
    • 24 November – BBC Radio Carlisle launches.
    • 17 December - The British government imposes early close downs of all three television channels in the UK from 17 December 1973 in order to save electricity during the Three Day Week crisis. The early close downs forced BBC1 and BBC2 to end their broadcasting day at 10:30 pm. The restrictions were lifted temporarily on Christmas Eve to allow the public to enjoy festive programming. The restrictions recommenced on Monday 7 January 1974. The restrictions ended on 8 February 1974.
  • 1974
    • 7 January – A two-minute mid-afternoon regional news summary is broadcast on BBC1 for the first time. It is transmitted immediately before the start of the afternoon's children's programmes.
    • 1 April – BBC Radio Teesside is renamed BBC Radio Cleveland.
    • 23 September – Teletext service Ceefax goes live.
    • December – The BBC1 Mirror globe changes colour from blue on black to yellow on blue.
  • 1975
    • 1 January – BBC Radio Ulster is launched.
    • 4 January - Due to cutbacks at the BBC, BBC Radio 2's broadcasting hours are cut back, with the station now starting their day at 6:00 am instead of 5:00 am, and their broadcasting day concluding at around 12:33 am instead of 2:02 am. Later in the autumn of 1975, BBC Radio 2 would end their day slightly earlier at around 12:10 am, except on Saturdays and Sundays when the station would continue until around 12:33 am. These cutbacks would remain until 1978, however at Christmas 1975, 1976 and 1977 BBC Radio 2 hours were extended over the festive season.
    • 6 January – Due to these cutbacks, BBC1 stops broadcasting programmes on weekday early afternoons. Consequently, apart from schools programmes and live sport, the channel now shows a trade test transmission between 2 pm and the start of children's programmes, and when not broadcasting actual programmes, BBC2 begins fully closing down on weekdays between 11:30 am and 4 pm.
  • 1976
    • September – The credits of each programme produced by the BBC reveals the copyrighted years in roman numerals for the first time.
  • 1978
    • The BBC organises its first Young Musician of the Year competition.
    • 24 May – Nationwide airs the famous Skateboarding duck report.
    • 23 November –
      • All BBC national radio stations change their medium or long wave transmission wavelength as part of a plan for BBC AM broadcasting in order to improve national AM reception, and to conform with the Geneva Frequency Plan of 1975.[21] Radio 1's transmission wavelength is moved from 247m (1214 kHz) to 275 & 285m (1053 & 1089 kHz) medium wave.[22] Radio 2's wavelength is moved from 1500m (200 kHz) long wave to 433 & 330m (693 & 909 kHz) medium wave. Radio 3 is moved from 464m (647 kHz) to 247m (1215 kHz) medium wave. Radio 4 is moved from various medium wavelengths to 1500m (200 kHz) long wave.
      • The shipping forecast transfers from BBC Radio 2 to BBC Radio 4 so that the forecast can continue to be broadcast on long wave.
      • The Radio 4 UK Theme is used for the first time to coincide with the network becoming a fully national service for the first time and to underline this the station officially becomes known as Radio 4 UK, a title that remains until mid 1984.
    • November – Due to Radio 4's transfer from medium wave to long wave, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Wales launch as full-time stations on Radio 4's former Scottish and Welsh medium wave opt-out wavelengths of 370m (810 kHz) and 340m (882 kHz) respectively, albeit initially with very limited broadcast hours due to very limited coverage of BBC Radio 4 on FM in both countries.
    • 21–22 December – The BBC is crippled by its most famous 24-hour strike, which leads to record viewing figures for ITV. BBC1 and BBC2 television are off the air on 21 and 22 December. On 22 December the unions called out their radio colleagues on strike, meaning BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 were "collapsed" into one emergency "All Network Service" from 4:00 pm until the end of their broadcasting day at 2:05 am. The strike was settled by 10:00 pm on 22 December with a pay increased awarded to BBC staff. BBC Television and Radio stations resumed normal broadcasting on 23 December.
  • 1979
    • 27 January – BBC Radio 2 closes down for the last time.
    • 1 March – BBC2 unveils its computer generated ident, the first computer-generated ident in the world. The second such ident is unveiled by US broadcaster NBC.
    • 27 August – The murder of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA sets a record audience of 26 million for a news bulletin. Strike action at ITN led to the record viewing figures.
    • 11 September – BBC Radio Foyle launches as an opt-out station from BBC Radio Ulster.
    • 25 September – The first edition of Question Time is broadcast.


  • 1980
    • 28 January – Newsnight is launched.
    • February – BBC Radio Deeside is launched as an opt-out service from BBC Radio Wales.
    • March – The very first in-vision Ceefax transmissions are broadcast. Three 30-minute transmissions are aired at various points during weekday daytime downtime.
    • Summer – Due to the continued expansion of BBC Local Radio, regional opt-out programming on BBC Radio 4 ends, apart from in the south west as this is now the only part of England still without any BBC local station.
    • 8 September – Watchdog is launched as a weekly slot on BBC1's news magazine programme Nationwide.
    • 11 September – BBC Radio Norfolk launches.
    • September – Regional peaktime continuity on BBC1 ends and with it the weeknight closedown regional news bulletin.
    • 11 November – BBC Radio Lincolnshire launches.
    • 21 November – The charity appeal Children in Need is launched.
  • 1984
    • The BBC conducts five trials of citywide community stations in Greater Manchester. Each trial lasts for a few weeks and was on air for a few hours each day, opting out of BBC Radio Manchester. The experiment has not been repeated.
    • 27 July – The final edition of Sixty Minutes is broadcast.
    • 3 September – First broadcast of the Six O'Clock News on BBC1. The programme continues to this day.
    • 5 October – The last ever teatime Open University programme is broadcast on BBC2. However Open University programmes continue to be shown on BBC2 on weekday lunchtimes on an ad-hoc basis until 1988.
    • 8 October – BBC2 launches a full afternoon service, consisting of repeats of Dallas and old feature films.
    • 18 November – The BBC launches its first Sunday lunchtime political interview show, called This Week, Next Week. It is replaced in 1988 by On the Record.
    • December – BBC1 stops broadcasting a late night news summary.
  • 1985
    • 3 January – The last day of transmission using the 405 lines system.
    • 7 January – The BBC ends its experiment with afternoon broadcasting and from this date afternoon Pages from Ceefax is shown on BBC1 between the end of lunchtime programmes and the start of children's programmes, and on BBC2 Ceefax pages are shown continuously between 9 am and 5:25 pm apart from when Daytime on Two is in season and when sporting events are being shown.
    • 23 January – Television coverage of proceedings in the House of Lords begins.
    • 18 February – BBC1 is given a major relaunch, along with the introduction of a new ident, the COW (Computer Originated World). Also, computerised weather maps were used for the first time for all weather forecasts – prior to this date computerised maps had only been used during Breakfast Time.
    • 19 February – EastEnders premieres on BBC1.
    • March – The charity appeal Comic Relief is launched.
    • 23 April – BBC Radio Shropshire launches.
    • May – The consortium which has been planning to launch satellite television in the UK, of which the BBC is part, collapses on costs grounds.[28]
    • 24 June – BBC Radio Bedfordshire launches.
    • 13 July – Live Aid is broadcast to the world on BBC1 and BBC Radio 1, the first broadcast of its kind.
    • 2 September – A regional news bulletin following the Nine O'Clock News is launched.
    • 9 September – The weekday afternoon block of children's programming is rebranded as Children's BBC, and for the first time the children's block has dedicated idents and an in-vision presenter. Previously children's programming had been introduced by BBC1's team of regular duty announcers.
    • 1 October – BBC Radio nan Gàidheal launches.
  • 1986
    • 30 March – BBC2 receives a new look with the word TWO.
    • 1 April – All commercial activities of the BBC are now handled by BBC Enterprises Ltd.
    • 24 October – The final edition of News After Noon is broadcast.
    • 27 October – BBC1 starts a full daytime television service. Among the new programmes is a new lunchtime news bulletin – the One O'Clock News. The programme continues to this day. Before today, excluding sport and special events coverage, BBC1 had closed down at times during weekday daytime, broadcasting trade test transmissions and, from May 1983, Pages from Ceefax. BBC2 also expands its programming hours, providing a full afternoon service but it wasn't until the end of the decade that BBC2 was on air all day every day.
    • 5 November – BBC Essex launches.
    • 8 December – Six weeks after launching its daytime service, BBC TV starts broadcasting hourly news summaries. Morning bulletins are shown on BBC1 and early afternoon summaries (at 2 pm, 3 pm and 3:50 pm) are shown on BBC2. Each bulletin is followed by a weather forecast.
    • 28 December – After more than 20 years, BBC radio's national programme for the Asian community, Apna Hi Ghar Samajhiye (Make Yourself at Home), and broadcast on Sunday morning on BBC Radio 4, ends.
  • 1987
    • The BBC World Service launches BBC 648 from the Orfordness transmitting station. The service provides a tailor-made service for northern Europe featuring some French and German programming programmes interwoven with the main output in English.[29]
    • 28 April – BBC television programming in Hindi and Urdu ends after more than 20 years.[30][31] Three months later, on 25 July, a new English language programme for the Asian community launches.[32]
    • 22 June – The BBC's lunchtime children's programme moves from BBC1 to BBC2. It is shown slightly earlier, at 1:20 pm.
    • 31 October – BBC Radio 1 starts broadcasting on VHF in London.[33]
  • 1988
    • 11 April – BBC Somerset Sound launches as an opt-out station from BBC Radio Bristol.
    • 9 May – The BBC launches a youth strand on BBC2 called DEF II.[34]** 1 September –
      • BBC External Services is renamed the World Service.
      • Radio 1 starts regular broadcasts on VHF/FM in Scotland, northern England, the Midlands, and south Wales, Avon and Somerset. [35] FM coverage is rolled out across the rest of the UK in stages over the next few years.
    • 20 September – The Radio Data System (RDS) launches, allowing car radios to automatically retune, display station identifiers and switch to local travel news.
    • 3 October – BBC Radio Gloucestershire launches.
    • 7 October – BBC Radio London stops broadcasting and is replaced on 25 October by BBC GLR.
    • 30 October –
    • Autumn – The BBC takes its first tentative steps into later closedowns – previously weekday programmes ended no later than 12:15 am and weekend broadcasting had finished by 1:30 am.
    • Regular late evening weeknight programming starts to appear on BBC Local Radio. The programming tends to be regional rather than local with the same programme networked on several local stations. Consequently, stations are now starting to provide local/regional programming on weeknights until midnight. Previously stations had ended local programming by mid-evening, handing over to BBC Radio 2 until the following morning.
  • 1989
    • 14 February – BBC Hereford and Worcester launches.
    • 4 March – BBC Wiltshire Sound launches.
    • 1 April – The BBC launches BBC TV Europe, a subscription-based pan-European television station. [36]
    • May – The BBC Night Network is launched on the BBC's six local radio stations in Yorkshire and north east England. The service broadcasts seven nights a week from 6:05 pm (6 pm at the weekend) until 12midnight. Two years later the service is expanded to include the BBC's four stations in the north west.
    • 19 June – For the first time, BBC2 broadcasts during the morning when not showing Daytime on 2. Programmes begin at 10 am, as opposed to lunchtime.
    • 29 September – The final edition of Breakfast Time is broadcast.
    • 2 October – The first edition of BBC Breakfast News is broadcast.
    • 21 November – Television coverage of proceedings in the House of Commons begins.


BBC logo between 1986 and 1997
  • 1990
    • 17 January – BBC CWR launches.
    • 25 March – At 7 pm BBC Radio 2 becomes available on FM 24/7 for the first time after the final ever ‘borrow’ of its FM frequencies by BBC Radio 1.
    • 12 April – BBC Radio Suffolk launches.
    • 27 August – BBC Radio 5 begins broadcasting on BBC Radio 2's MW frequencies. BBC Radio's sports coverage transfers to the new station from Radio 2 and educational and children's programmes transfer from Radio 4 FM. Consequently, BBC Radio 2 becomes the first national BBC station to broadcast exclusively on FM and the full BBC Radio 4 schedule becomes available on FM for the first time.
    • 5 September – The new BBC building at White City opens.
  • 1991
    • 7 January – The BBC East Midlands region is created and the first edition of East Midlands Today is broadcast.
    • 16 January – Radio 4 News FM starts Gulf War broadcasts on BBC Radio 4 FM frequencies.
    • 16 February – BBC1 and BBC2 receive new idents generated from laserdisc, BBC1 with a '1' encased in a swirling globe, and BBC2 with eleven idents based around the numeral '2'.
    • 2 March – Radio 4 News FM closes and BBC Radio 4 returns to FM.
    • 11 March – The BBC launches its first global television station – BBC World Service Television. In Europe it replaces BBC TV Europe.
    • March – After nearly eight years on air, BBC Radio Gwent closes.
    • 1 April – The BBC becomes the statutory authority for issuing television licences, assuming the responsibility of licence fee collection and enforcement.
    • 15 April – The World Service Television News service is launched. Unlike World Service radio which is funded by direct grant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, WSTV is commercially funded and carries advertising, which means that it cannot be broadcast in the UK.
    • 1 May – BBC Radio 1 begins 24-hour transmission, but only on FM – Radio 1's MW transmitters still close down overnight, between 12 midnight and 6 am.
    • 31 July – The BBC's Lime Grove Studios close.
    • 31 August – BBC television starts officially broadcasting in stereo using the NICAM system. (Some transmitters had been broadcasting in stereo since 1986, but these were classified as tests.)
    • 16 September – The main BBC Radio 4 service moves from long wave to FM as FM coverage has now been extended to cover almost all of the UK – Radio 4 didn't become available on FM in much of Scotland and Wales until the start of the 1990s. Opt-outs are transferred from FM to long wave.
    • 14 October – World Service TV launches its Asian service.
    • 14 November – BBC Radio Surrey launches.
  • 1996
    • March – BBC Dorset FM closes and is replaced by a rebroadcast of BBC Radio Solent with localised news bulletins.
    • 9 April – BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Berkshire merge to form BBC Thames Valley FM.
    • 21 April – Arabic Television closes down when the Saudi backer pulls out following a row over coverage of the execution of a princess accused of adultery.
    • June – Radio 1 starts live streaming on the internet.[41]
    • 7 June – The BBC is restructured by the Director-General, John Birt. In the new structure BBC Broadcast will commission programmes, and BBC Production will make them.
    • 13 October – BBC Television'a long standing coverage of Formula One ends following ITV's acquisition of the rights from 1997 onwards (Formula One returns to the BBC in 2009). This is one of several high profile sports rights that the BBC loses at around this time. These include losing the rights to the FA Cup and England football internationals to ITV and England rugby union internationals to Sky.
    • 4 November – The Asian Network expands into a full-time station when it increases the number of hours on air from 80 hours a week to 126 hours a week (18 hours a day). The station, which broadcasts on the MW frequencies of BBC Radio Leicester and BBC WM, is renamed BBC Asian Network. Consequently, Radios Leicester and WM become FM only stations.
    • 29 December – What was billed as the last ever episode of Only Fools and Horses before the new millennium is watched by 24.35 million viewers, the largest ever TV audience for a sitcom.
    • During 1996, www.bbc.co.uk becomes the home of the Corporation's online activities.
  • 1997
    • The BBC broadcasts the much praised "Perfect Day" corporate advertisement, featuring 27 artists singing lines of Lou Reed's original. The song later becomes a fund-raising single for Children in Need.
    • 28 February – The BBC sells its transmitters and transmission services to Castle Transmission Services for £244 million, to help fund its plans for the digital age.
    • March – The BBC and Flextech agree on a deal to provide several BBC-branded channels – BBC Showcase, for entertainment; BBC Horizon, for documentaries; BBC Style, for lifestyle; BBC Learning, for schools, and BBC Arena, for the arts – plus three other channels: BBC Catch-Up, for repeats of popular programmes within days of their original transmission, a dedicated BBC Sport channel and a TV version of Radio 1.[42]
    • 6 September – The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales is broadcast on BBC Radio & Television and aired to over 200 countries worldwide. Nearly 3 billion viewers and listeners watch the ceremonies. In the US, BBC's coverage is aired on A&E and CSPAN Cable Networks. David Dimbleby hosts the coverage with Tom Fleming narrating the service inside Westminster Abbey.
    • 4 October – Current corporate identity adopted. At a reported cost of £5m the new logo was introduced due to the increase in digital services, as it is designed to be more visible at small size it is better suited for use in websites and on screen "DOGs." On Screen Identities changed, with BBC One adopting the Balloon Idents, and BBC Two retaining their 2's used from 1991, with new legend.
    • 4 November – BBC News Online, a web-based news service, launches.
    • 8 November – BBC One closes down for the very last time as from the following day, BBC News 24 broadcasts during the channel's overnight hours.
    • 9 November – BBC News 24, the Corporation's UK television news service, launches at 17.30.
    • December – BBC Online is officially launched.
  • 1998
    • 25 January – Sunday Grandstand becomes a year-round programme. Previously it had only broadcast between May and September.[43]
    • August – The BBC's domestic TV channels become available on Sky Digital's satellite service. An unintended consequence of this is that people in the rest of Europe can now watch BBC One and Two, using viewing cards from the UK, as the signal is encrypted for rights reasons. This applies even within the UK: people in England can now watch BBC channels from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and vice versa.
    • 23 September –
      • The BBC launches BBC Choice, its first new TV channel since 1964, available only on digital TV services.
      • Following its purchase of the cable-only Parliamentary Channel, the BBC launches BBC Parliament on digital satellite and analogue cable with an audio feed of the channel on DAB.[44]
    • 15 November – Public launch of digital terrestrial TV in the UK.
    • BBC Radio 5 Live replaces the BBC World Service as BBC Local Radio's overnight downtime filler.
  • 1999
    • BBC 648, which provided French and German language content for northern Europe from the Orfordness transmitting station, ends with the closure of the BBC's German service.[45] – the French for Europe service had closed in 1995.[46] Consequently, all programming from this transmitter was in English only.
    • 10 May – BBC network news relaunched with new music, titles and a red and ivory set. This design was used for the 25 October relaunch of News 24, enhancing cross-channel promotion of the service.
    • 20 May – The BBC's digital teletext service starts.
    • 1 June – BBC Knowledge starts broadcasting on digital services.
    • 20 June – The BBC broadcasts live cricket for the final time when it shows live coverage of the 1999 Cricket World Cup Final, bringing to an end of sixty years of continuous cricket coverage on the BBC. The terrestrial rights transfer to Channel 4.[47]
    • 5 July – Steve Wright in the Afternoon returns on BBC Radio 2 six years after programme's final broadcast on BBC Radio 1.


BBC logo used since October 1997
  • 2000
    • 14 February – BBC Thames Valley FM closes and BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Berkshire relaunch as separate stations although Radio Berkshire operates as an opt-out service of Radio Oxford.
    • 25 March – BBC GLR closes and is relaunched as BBC London Live 94.9.
    • 20 May – Due to the loss of many major sports rights in recent years, the BBC does not broadcast this week's edition of GrandstandITV was showing the FA Cup Final.[48] Apart from when Christmas Day fell on a Saturday or a major national event taking place, this had been the first time that Grandstand had not been broadcast on a Saturday afternoon since the programme's inception in 1958.
    • 15 September – Final edition of Breakfast News on BBC One and BBC News 24, the last conventional news broadcast in the morning.
    • 2 October – The first edition of BBC Breakfast is broadcast, the new morning show on BBC One and News 24 from 6:00–9:30. (9:00 on BBC News 24).
    • 13 October – Final edition of the BBC Nine O'Clock News on BBC One.
    • 16 October – The BBC Ten O'Clock News launches on BBC One amid controversy, having been moved from 9 pm to cash in on the axing of ITN's News at Ten the previous year.
    • 16 October – Oxfordshire, once part of the South East, becomes part of South Today.
  • 2001
    • 3 March – A bomb explodes outside Television Centre. The blast was later attributed to dissident Irish Republican terrorists and it is suggested the BBC Panorama programme which named individuals as participants in the Omagh bomb was the motive.
    • 3 September – As part of a major reorganisation of the BBC's south east region, Kent and Sussex get their own news programme, South East Today, replacing Newsroom South East.
    • 1 October – BBC London News is launched as a London-only news programme.
    • October – BBC Three Counties Radio launches opt-out programming for the county of Buckinghamshire.
    • 5 November – BBC 2W is launched, broadcasting on digital services in Wales on weekday evenings.
    • 19 November – Last showing of the then-current BBC Two idents. These set of idents would have ended in 1997 with BBC One's ident change but due to popularity the 1991 idents continued only with a new BBC logo and some newer ident sets. The new idents were Ivory 2's, interacting in a yellow world, with Purple box logo, the first BBC Channel to have one.
  • 2002
  • 2003
    • 9 February – BBC Three is launched at 19:00 in a simulcast with BBC Two. It replaces BBC Choice.
    • 8 December – BBC News 24 is relaunched with a new set and titles, as well as a new Breaking News sting. Networked news on BBC One and Two remains with the same titles though the set was redesigned in a similar style to that of the new News 24.
  • 2004
    • 28 January – Publication of the Hutton Inquiry, and subsequent resignation of the Chairman Gavyn Davies.
    • 30 January – Resignation of the Director General, Greg Dyke. Mark Byford takes over as acting Director General.
    • 16 February – Network news titles are relaunched in the style of BBC News 24, introduced two months earlier.
    • 17 May – Appointment of Michael Grade as new Chairman.
    • 21 May – Appointment of Mark Thompson as new Director General.
    • 1 October – BBC Technology, incorporating the BBC's Broadcast Engineering division, is sold to Siemens AG Business Services for approximately £200m, and a £2bn, 10-year outsourcing contract.
  • 2005
    • 20 March – Mark Thompson announces staff of 27,000 to be cut by 3,780.
    • 26 March – Doctor Who returns to the air, sixteen years after the last full series was broadcast.
    • 23 May – Over one third of staff join strike in response to job cuts, dropping programmes.
    • 1 August – BBC Broadcast, formerly Broadcasting & Presentation and responsible for the playout and branding of all BBC Channels, is sold to Creative Broadcast Services, owned by the Macquarie Capital Alliance Group and Macquarie Bank. It is renamed Red Bee Media on 31 October.
    • 3 November – BBC Coventry & Warwickshire returns as a stand-alone station.
    • December – The Czech and Polish sections of the BBC World Service cease to exist. Eight other sections are to follow soon.
  • 2006
    • 3 April – BBC GMR changes its name back to BBC Radio Manchester.
    • 23 April – The "Radio 4 UK Theme" is used for the final time. It is replaced by a news bulletin.
    • 27 May – The BBC's first scheduled HDTV broadcast on BBC HD
    • 14 August – The One Show is first broadcast on BBC One, initially as a four-week trial. It is seen as a modern-day version of highly popular series Nationwide with the programme resulting in popular journalism returning to BBC One's early evening schedule. The programme returned on a permanent basis the following July.
    • 1 September – BBC Entertainment replaces BBC Prime in global markets.
    • 7 October – BBC One rebrands from the Rhythm and Movement idents to the current "Circle" Idents, which acts as a link to the classic globe icon used for almost 40 years and as a symbol of unity.
    • 13 November – BBC Parliament broadcasts in full screen format for the first time on the Freeview service, having previously only been available in quarter screen format.[50] The BBC eventually found the bandwidth to make the channel full-screen after receiving "thousands of angry and perplexed e-mails and letters",[51] not to mention questions asked by MPs in the Houses of Parliament itself
    • 28 November – Resignation of Chairman Michael Grade, to join ITV.
    • 16 December – After more than 35 years, BBC Two airs the final Open University course-related television broadcast. With Open University course content now available through media such as podcasts and DVDs it is deemed no longer necessary for the programmes to be aired on television. However, the Open University continues to make programming for a broader audience, with series including Coast and Child of Our Time.[52][53]
    • 31 December – The BBC's then-current Royal Charter and Agreement expires.
  • 2007
    • 22 January – BBC News 24 is relaunched with new titles and new Astons.
    • 28 January – The final edition of Grandstand is broadcast.
    • 18 February – BBC Two rebrands from the yellow 2's, to the Window on the World 2's.
    • July – BBC Knowledge launched as a global channel by BBC Worldwide.
    • 11 August – BBC Radio Cleveland is rebranded as BBC Tees due to its broadcasting area no longer being associated with the name Cleveland.
    • 3 September – CBBC identity relaunched, with its third marketing campaign since the launch of the CBBC Channel.
    • 20 October – BBC Switch, a teenage block of shows is launched to cater for the under-served 12- to 16-year-olds, launches.
    • 1 December – BBC HD channel is officially launched after around eighteen months of trial broadcasts.
    • 3 December - BBC Somerset Sound is rebranded as BBC Somerset and becomes available on FM for the first time.[54]
    • 25 December – BBC iPlayer, an online service for watching previously aired shows, is launched.


  • 2010
    • 19 February – EastEnders celebrates 25 years with a special live edition, where the murderer of Archie Mitchell is revealed. Over 16 million viewers tuned in to find Stacey Slater to be the killer.
    • 30 July – BBC Two broadcasts its final Working Lunch.
    • 3 November – BBC One HD; a high-definition simulcast of a national version of BBC One is launched across all digital platforms.
    • 18 December – BBC Switch is switched off.
    • After 44 years, the final edition of The Money Programme is broadcast on BBC Two.
  • 2012
    • 7 March – Brighton moves from South region, to South-East region, after the Meridian digital switch-over.
    • May – BBC Somerset launches as a full-time station.
    • 12 July – The BBC World Service relocates to Broadcasting House after 70 years at Bush House.
    • 27 July-12 August – The 2012 Summer Olympics take place and with the exception of news programming BBC One is devoted entirely to live coverage of the Games and BBC Radio 5 Live operates a temporary station – 5 Live Olympics Extra – to provide additional coverage of the Games.
    • 17 August – BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Nottingham stop broadcasting regular programmes on medium wave. It's part of a five-week trial to find out if listeners will miss or complain about the lack of AM services.[55] At the end of the trial, the BBC decides that BBC Radio Nottingham's MW transmitter and Radio Kent's relay at Rusthall near Tunbridge Wells, will remain off-air.
    • 17 September – George Entwistle is appointed as Director-General.
    • 3 October – Broadcast of Exposure:The Other Side of Jimmy Saville which uncovered allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile.
    • 23 October –
      • The BBC's teletext service Ceefax is switched off following all regions switching to digital broadcasting. The very last Pages from Ceefax transmission had taken place two days earlier.
      • BBC One Northern Ireland commences broadcasting in HD.
    • 10 November – George Entwhistle resigns as Director-General, to be replaced temporarily by Tim Davie. Entwistle's 54-day tenure as Director-General is the shortest in the Corporation's history.
    • 14 November – 90th anniversary broadcast at 17:33.
    • 22 November – Tony Hall is announced as the new Director-General, taking the post in March 2013.
    • 21 December – CBBC and CBeebies both air on BBC One for the last time.
    • At the end of 2012 the BBC loses the rights to show horse racing. This brings to an end a relationship between the BBC and televised horse racing which dates back to the 1950s.
  • 2014
    • The BBC broadcasts the much praised "God Only Knows" corporate advertisement, featuring 21 artists singing lines of The Beach Boys' original. The song also became a fund-raising single and an advertisement for BBC Music for the first time since "Perfect Day" in 1997 for Children In Need.
    • 6 March – The BBC announce that BBC Three will become internet-only from February 2016, in an effort to save £90m. Their plans were approved on 26 November 2015
    • 30 August – Rona Fairhead becomes the first woman to be appointed as Chair of the BBC Trust.
  • 2015
    • 6 October – After 27 years, the name BBC Radio London returns to the airwaves following a name change from BBC London 94.9.
  • 2016
    • 16 February – BBC Three closes as a linear channel and becomes an over-the-top Internet television service although all of the long-form programmes commissioned for BBC Three are to be shown at a later date on BBC One.
    • 19 February – BBC Radio Bristol stops broadcasting on MW following the sale of the land on which the transmitter was located, to developers.
    • 31 March – BBC Three fully closes down on all digital television platforms – it had carried promotional information regarding the BBC Three internet service since 16 February.
    • 11 April – CBBC extends its broadcast hours from 7 pm to 9 pm, using capacity which had previously been used by BBC Three.
  • 2017
    • 2 April – The BBC Trust is closed at the expiry of the 2007 Royal Charter, which had a 10-year lifespan. The Trust is replaced by the BBC Board.
  • 2018
    • 15 January – The MW transmissions of BBC Radios Sussex, Surrey, Humberside, Wiltshire, Nottingham, Kent and Lincolnshire end and MW coverage for BBC Devon, Lancashire and Essex is reduced. Altogether a total of 13 MW transmitters are switched off.[57][58][59]
    • 28 January – After nearly 78 years on air, The Sunday Hour is broadcast on BBC Radio 2 for the final time.[60]
    • 8 May – Another long running BBC Radio 2 programme ends when, ahead of schedule changes, The Organist Entertains is broadcast for the final time after 49 years on air.[61]
    • 24 October – The FM frequency of BBC Radio 3 at more than 30 relay transmitters in Wales is reallocated to BBC Radio Wales. Consequently, the reach of Radio Wales on FM increases from 79% to 91% but Radio 3's FM availability in Wales falls to 92%.[62]
    • 1 November – BBC Sounds is launched.
    • 29 November – HD versions of BBC Two Wales and BBC Two Northern Ireland start broadcasting.[63]
  • 2019
    • 17 February – Ahead of the launch of BBC Scotland, BBC Two Scotland closes.
    • 19 February – Virgin Media becomes the first platform to stop broadcasting some BBC channels in standard definition when it removes the standard definition feeds of BBC Four, BBC News, CBBC and CBeebies.[64]
    • 24 February – BBC Scotland launches. It broadcasts between 7:00 p.m. and midnight and includes an hour-long 9:00 p.m. newscast called The Nine.[65][66] Between noon and 7:00 p.m., the channel simulcasts BBC Two but with BBC Scotland continuity, thereby accommodating the daytime sport and politics programming opt-outs which had been displaced following the closure of BBC Two Scotland.[67]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ BBC Transmitter Development, Clive McCarthy
  2. ^ Tomalin, Norman. Daventry Calling the World (PDF). Caedmon of Whitby. ISBN 0-905355-46-6.
  3. ^ GGM 40: Highbury stages first live broadcast | News Archive | News Archived 17 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Arsenal.com (2 August 2007). Retrieved on 10 May 2012.
  4. ^ "The Man with the Flower in his Mouth". BBC. 9 October 2017.
  5. ^ BBC Yearbook 1931, p. 26
  6. ^ "BBC's first television outside broadcast" (PDF). Prospero.
  7. ^ "Happened on this day – 16 September". BBC Sport. 16 September 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  8. ^ Band Wagon, Vol. 1, No. 1, 14 October 1939, page 3 - Harry Roy’s World Broadcast (report): https://nationaljazzarchive.org.uk/explore/journals/band-wagon/vol1-no1-14-october-1939/1259789?q=adelaide%20hall World Broadcast]
  9. ^ Midgley, Neil (29 January 2012). "Desert Island Discs: Britain's longest-running radio show". The Telegraph. London.
  10. ^ "Today in Parliament at 70: Britain's 'longest-running soap opera'". BBC News.
  11. ^ a b c Shagawat, Robert. "Television recording – The origins and earliest surviving live TV broadcast recordings". Early Electronic Television. Early Television Museum. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  12. ^ BBC Four - London Calling: Cold War Letters. BBC. 2019.
  13. ^ Schädlich, Susanne 1965- (2017). "Briefe ohne Unterschrift" : wie eine BBC-Sendung die DDR herausforderte (1. Auflage ed.). München. ISBN 978-3-8135-0749-2. OCLC 982125900.
  14. ^ BBC Genome Project - BBC Television 14th April 1958
  15. ^ BBC Radio Durham documentary about BBC local radio
  16. ^ "Immigrants feel at home with BBC". BBC On This Day. 4 October 1965. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  17. ^ "The Money Programme – BBC Two England – 5 April 1966 – BBC Genome". BBC. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  18. ^ BBC Radio Durham documentary about BBC local radio
  19. ^ Brown, Ron "Steam radio comes up to date", New Scientist 2 November 1972, p. 264
  20. ^ BBC Genome Project BBC2 listings 19 October 1977
  21. ^ "History of Radio Transmission in the UK" (PDF). Frequency Finder.
  22. ^ "Radio 1 History – Transmitters". Radio Rewind. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  23. ^ BBC Genome Project – BBC2 listings 17 May 1981
  24. ^ The Times, Friday, 5 March 1982; pg. 15; Joint UK satellite set up By Bill johnstone Electronics Correspondent.
  25. ^ – BBC Genome Project - BBC1 listings 20 June 1982
  26. ^ BBC Genome Project – BBC1 listings 21 March 1983
  27. ^ BBC Genome Project – BBC2 listings 7 January 1984
  28. ^ The Times, Saturday, 15 June 1985; pg. 3; British satellite TV project collapses By Bill Johnstone Technology Correspondent.
  29. ^ [1] Kim Andrew Elliott, 13 February 2011.
  30. ^ "BBC One London – 26 April 1987 – BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  31. ^ "BBC Two England – 28 April 1987 – BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  32. ^ "BBC Two England - 25 July 1987 - BBC Genome". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  33. ^ The quality and the width – Radio – Transdiffusion Broadcasting System Archived 22 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine. Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved on 10 May 2012.
  34. ^ "BBC Two England – 9 May 1988". BBC Genome. Genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2004.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ Transponder News TeleSat News, 21 July 1996
  37. ^ "BBC Engineering Press Release" (PDF). 27 November 1991.
  38. ^ "AM/FM Online Edition #17: November 1993".
  39. ^ "BBC Two England – 23 May 1994". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  40. ^ Williams, Rhys (28 September 1995). "BBC switches on CD-quality radio". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  41. ^ "BBC Internet Services – History". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  42. ^ Willcock, John (4 March 1997). "Flextech to inject £20m into BBC deal". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  43. ^ BBC Genome Project - BBC Two listings 25 January 1998
  44. ^ "BBC Parliament • September 1998 – October 2002". Thetvroom.com. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  45. ^ [2] BBC's German Service goes off air, BBC News, 27 March 1999.
  46. ^ [3] 75 years BBC World Service – A History.
  47. ^ "Channel 4 wins rights to home Tests". BBC News. BBC. 16 October 1998.
  48. ^ Mcleod, Maurice (17 May 2000). "Sport-free BBC shelves Grandstand on Cup final day". The Independent. London. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  49. ^ "Regional current affairs move to BBC ONE – Inside Out launches on 9 September". BBC Press Office. 30 August 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  50. ^ "BBC Parliament goes full screen". BBC News. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  51. ^ "BBC NEWS – The Editors". Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  52. ^ "End of a cultural era - but OU on TV evolution continues". www3.open.ac.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  53. ^ "BBC Learning Zone: Open University/General Interest". BBC Genome. BBC. 16 December 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  54. ^ BBC Somerset goes FM, 2007-11-20
  55. ^ BBC local radio starts switching off AM
  56. ^ "Mark Forrest to host BBC networked show". Radio Today. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  57. ^ Clifton, Keiran, 'About the BBC', 2017-08-10
  58. ^ "BBC Starts MW Switch-off". a516digital.com. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  59. ^ BBC confirms local radio MW switch-offs
  60. ^ BBC Press Release: A new look for Sunday mornings on Radio 2
  61. ^ "BBC Radio 2 schedule 8 May 2018". BBC Radio 2.
  62. ^ Major FM boost for BBC Radio Wales
  63. ^ BBC confirms arrangements for new HD channels
  64. ^ Virgin Media to move BBC HD channels to prime EPG slots
  65. ^ "BBC to launch Scottish TV channel with hour-long news programme". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  66. ^ February 2019 date for new BBC Scotland television channel
  67. ^ "BBC faces strict quotas to ensure it delivers on promises on Scottish content on new channel". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  68. ^ BBC Radio to close more MW transmitters
  69. ^ Frequency Finder - FM and AM updates
  70. ^ "BBC Wales goes live from new Cardiff HQ". BBC News. 15 July 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  71. ^ "BBC - First radio broadcast from BBC Wales's new headquarters - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  72. ^ "Tim Davie: BBC executive named director general". BBC News. 5 June 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  73. ^ "TV news last and firsts for BBC in Cardiff". BBC News. 28 September 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.

External links[edit]