Millbank is an area of central London in the City of Westminster. Millbank is located by south of Westminster. Millbank is known as the location of major government offices, Burberry headquarters, the Millbank Tower and prominent art institutions such as Tate Britain and the Chelsea College of Art and Design; the area derives its name from a watermill owned by Westminster Abbey that once stood at a site close to present day College Green. Norden's survey, taken during the reign of Elizabeth I in 1573, records the existence of such a mill although much of the area that comprises Millbank today, was referred to by Samuel Pepys and others as Tothill Fields. Described as a place of plague pits and a "low, marshy locality" suitable for shooting snipe in the nearby "bogs and quagmires". After Cromwell's victory at the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, some 4,000 defeated Royalists were imprisoned at Tothill Fields prior to being sold as slaves to merchants trading with Africa and the West Indies.
Facilities at the prison camp on the marshy ground were so poor that 1,200 prisoners were recorded as having died in the primitive conditions. Prior to the development of Millbank Prison in 1816, the area was sparsely covered with residential houses, but did feature a distillery by the river owned by a Mr. Hodge and numerous small almshouses and pest houses for the poor, criminally inclined and sick. Baltic Wharf, a site just to the north of Vauxhall Bridge, was for much of the 19th century the location of a Henry Castle & Son, a ship breaking and timber merchant. Numerous wooden ships of the line of the Royal Navy were dismantled at this location, their ornate figureheads displayed on the gates and perimeter of the yard walls. Millbank's general appearance today dates from the 1930s, when the area was extensively rebuilt to repair damage caused by the 1928 Thames flood disaster, following the collapse of a 25-metre-long section of the Thames Embankment. Millbank shares the name of the main road along the north bank of the River Thames, extending northwards from Vauxhall Bridge to Abingdon Street, just south from Parliament Square.
There are parliamentary offices situated across this road, notably No.7, built as the headquarters of British American Tobacco. The road was created as part of the Thames Embankment in the mid 19th century and lies above a large interceptor sewer; the former Royal Army Medical College, situated at Millbank, is the site where the vaccine for typhoid was first developed, in the late 19th century, was where the world's first modern prison was established. The listed site has since been renovated as a purpose built arts college for the Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2005; the Tate Britain art gallery is directly opposite near the end of Vauxhall Bridge, providing a distinct arts presence in the area. The headquarters of the British chemicals giant ICI was located at Imperial Chemical House on Millbank before it relocated to Manchester Square situated in London; the headquarters for the Northern Ireland Office, MI5 and Thames House are nearby. On 18 December 1973, the Provisional Irish Republican Army exploded a bomb on Thorney Street at 8:50am.
The bomb resulted in over 50 people injured, including two seriously. Millbank Studios reside in the area as an independent broadcast company, owned by ITV; the studio is situated opposite the Houses of Parliament. The BBC Parliament broadcasting channel is situated nearby. No.4 is the location used by broadcasters for producing coverage of the Westminster area, including the BBC, Sky News and ITV. RTÉ News and Current Affairs have their London bureau at the same location. Neighbouring College Green is used as a setting for interviewing politicians outdoors. Millbank Estate is a large but regarded Grade II-listed red-brick housing estate that gives the area behind Tate Britain a distinct character; the estate was built between 1897 and 1902, the bricks being recycled from Millbank Prison, which had closed in 1890. The 17 buildings, comprising one of London's earliest social housing schemes, are named after distinguished painters such as Turner, Millais, etc; the estate has 562 flats, all managed on behalf of Westminster City Council by MEMO, the largest tenant management organisation in Westminster.
The estate's management board is elected annually from the resident population. Half of the estate's flats are private leaseholds, the other half are rented from Westminster City Council; the estate's buildings are maintained by a regular works program. In 1914-16 architects John W. Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton designed and built 4 Millbank, a six-story Neoclassical office building for the Offices of the Crown Agents for the Colonies; this structure has since been converted into multi-let office building with a central, glass-roofed atrium. Hide Tower is a 20-storey building of 162 flats with an extensive garden, a mini-golf facility and a community hall; when built it was the tallest all residential building in Europe. A quarter of the accommodation is rented; the name was derived from an old English land measure. Millbank Tower is a large, modernistic office complex between the River Thames, Millbank Estate and Tate Britain Gallery, it has a public garden. Before the 1997 General Election, the Labour Party acquired two floors of the building as its headquarters.
The £1 million annual rent, however
BBC Television is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The corporation has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a royal charter since 1927, it produced television programmes from its own studios since 1932, although the start of its regular service of television broadcasts is dated to 2 November 1936. The BBC's domestic television channels have no commercial advertising and collectively they account for more than 30% of all UK viewing; the services are funded by a television licence. As a result of the 2016 Licence Fee settlement, the BBC Television division was split, with in-house television production being separated into a new division called BBC Studios and the remaining parts of television being renamed as BBC Content; the BBC operates several television networks, television stations, related programming services in the United Kingdom. As well as being a broadcaster, the corporation produces a large number of its own programmes in-house and thereby ranks as one of the world's largest television production companies.
John Logie Baird set up the Baird Television Development Company in 1926. Baird used his electromechanical system with a vertically-scanned image of 30 lines, just enough resolution for a close-up of one person, a bandwidth low enough to use existing radio transmitters; the simultaneous transmission of sound and pictures was achieved on 30 March 1930, by using the BBC's new twin transmitter at Brookmans Park. By late 1930, thirty minutes of morning programmes were broadcast from Monday to Friday, thirty minutes at midnight on Tuesdays and Fridays after BBC radio went off the air. Baird's broadcasts via the BBC continued until June 1932; the BBC began its own regular television programming from the basement of Broadcasting House, London, on 22 August 1932. The studio moved to larger quarters in 16 Portland Place, London, in February 1934, continued broadcasting the 30-line images, carried by telephone line to the medium wave transmitter at Brookmans Park, until 11 September 1935, by which time advances in all-electronic television systems made the electromechanical broadcasts obsolete.
After a series of test transmissions and special broadcasts that began in August 1936, the BBC Television Service launched on 2 November 1936 from a converted wing of Alexandra Palace in London. "Ally Pally" housed two studios, various scenery stores, make-up areas, dressing rooms and the transmitter itself, which broadcast on the VHF band. BBC television used two systems on alternate weeks: the 240-line Baird intermediate film system and the 405-line Marconi-EMI system; the use of both formats made the BBC's service the world's first regular high-definition television service. The first programme broadcast – and thus the first on a dedicated TV channel – was "Opening of the BBC Television Service" at 15:00; the first major outside broadcast was the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937. The two systems were to run on a trial basis for six months. However, the Baird system, which used a mechanical camera for filmed programming and Farnsworth image dissector cameras for live programming, proved too cumbersome and visually inferior, ended with closedown on Saturday 13 February 1937.
The station's range was a 40 kilometres radius of the Alexandra Palace transmitter—in practice, transmissions could be picked up a good deal further away, on one occasion in 1938 were picked up by engineers at RCA in New York, who were experimenting with a British television set. The service was reaching an estimated 25,000–40,000 homes before the outbreak of World War II which caused the service to be suspended in September 1939. On 1 September 1939, two days before Britain declared war on Germany, the station was taken off air with little warning. Many of the television service's technical staff and engineers would be needed for the war effort, in particular on the radar programme; the last programme transmitted was a Mickey Mouse cartoon, Mickey's Gala Premier, followed by test transmissions. According to figures from Britain's Radio Manufacturers Association, 18,999 television sets had been manufactured from 1936 to September 1939, when production was halted by the war. BBC Television returned on 7 June 1946 at 15:00.
Jasmine Bligh, one of the original announcers, made the first announcement, saying,'Good afternoon everybody. How are you? Do you remember me, Jasmine Bligh?'. The Mickey Mouse cartoon of 1939 was repeated twenty minutes later. Alexandra Palace was the home base of the channel until the early 1950s when the majority of production moved into the newly acquired Lime Grove Studios. Postwar broadcast coverage was extended to Birmingham in 1949 with the opening of the Sutton Coldfield transmitting station, by the mid-1950s most of the country was covered, transmitting a 405-line interlaced image on VHF; when the ITV was launched in 1955, the BBC Television Service showed popular programming, including comedies, documentaries, game shows, soap operas, covering a wide range
A despatch box is one of several types of boxes used in government business. Despatch boxes include both those sometimes known as red boxes or ministerial boxes, which are used by the Sovereign and her ministers in the British government to securely transport sensitive documents, boxes used in the lower houses of the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia; the term was used as early as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, referring to a box used to carry an important message for the Queen. The red boxes, which are now an iconic symbol of the United Kingdom government, are of uniform design, constructed of slow-grown pine and covered with red-stained leather; each box takes three days to finish. They are produced by Wickwar & Co as they have been for over a century, when the current form of the box first took shape. Despatch boxes of a different design and made of wood are used as lecterns from which frontbench members of Parliament delivered speeches to their parliamentary chamber, they were used for members to carry bills and other documents into the chamber.
The Australian House of Representatives and the British House of Commons each keep a pair of ornate wooden despatch boxes with one box on the Government side and one on the Opposition side of the table that divides the opposing frontbenches. Whereas backbenchers in both Parliaments deliver addresses to the chamber while standing at their seat, frontbenchers deliver their addresses from their side's despatch box. By tradition, the modern despatch boxes contain the religious texts used for swearing in new members of the respective chamber. There are two variant spellings in current English; the most famous red box still in existence was made for William Ewart Gladstone by Wickwar & Co for his first budget in 1853. Gladstone served as Chancellor of the Exchequer on four separate occasions and held the post for longer than anyone in the UK's history, his red box has subsequently been used by 51 Chancellors for over 150 years, although it now resides in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall, it was still used by George Osborne as as 2010.
Gladstone used the red despatch box for his first budget speech in 1853. 1868, a tumultuous year for British politics in general, saw Disraeli take the post of Prime minister in February, only to lose it again to Gladstone in December after another election. The budget of the spring of 1868 was infamous for Chancellor George Ward-Hunt opening his dispatch box to find that he had left his speech at home. Red despatch boxes are today issued to every government minister in the UK government, each personalised with the title of both the owner and recipient. For example the Budget box is labelled as belonging to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. According to the Government, "Ministers are permitted to use ordinary lockable briefcases to transport information, classified'Confidential' or below. For information with a higher security level they are required to use dispatch boxes, which offer a higher level of security, which are red." Due to the importance of the boxes to government ministers, many become attached to them as a reminder of their time in office.
Some have bought them from their former departments – after paying to have the bespoke security feature removed. Others have, as is their right, gone to the secretive manufacturer of red boxes, Barrow & Gale or Wickwar & Co, to have a new box specially made. Red boxes are the ones delivered to the British sovereign every day by government departments, via the Page of the Presence; the Queen's role as head of state means that she needs to keep abreast of what is happening in Parliament and the governments of all the other Commonwealth countries, as well as current events from around the world. Documents to which the monarch must give her signature and Royal Assent are delivered to her in red despatch boxes, which the Queen addresses daily. There is an annual custom of the Chancellor of the Exchequer holding up a red box to the press in Downing Street to symbolise the new budget of the UK government; this modern financial meaning of the word budget, first attested in 1733, comes from the notion of a treasury minister keeping his fiscal plans in a wallet, leather pouch or budget, from Middle French bougette.
Gladstone's box was used by every Chancellor until 2011, with the exceptions of James Callaghan and Gordon Brown, who had new ones commissioned in 1965 and 1997 respectively. Gladstone's budget box was used by Alistair Darling and by George Osborne in June 2010, it was subsequently retired due to its fragility, will be displayed in the Cabinet War Rooms. The red box has become a recognised symbol of the UK government and of the Chancellor and Budget in particular; the annual presentation of a red box by the Chancellor of the Exchequer symbolises their new budget plans and, rather than containing the new budget, contains their speech or other notes. The tradition is continued to resolve of the government, they are displayed to the press in Downing Street in a symbolic gesture and the red boxes are used to signify the importance of the documents they carry, as confirmed by the government itself. The boxes are still today made of British leather and employ a bespoke leather print, applied after curing and staining.
Each is embossed in gold print with the royal cypher of the reigning monarch, the title of the own
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees, it employs over 20,950 staff in total. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time and fixed-contract staff are included; the BBC is established under a Royal Charter and operates under its Agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture and Sport. Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee, charged to all British households and organisations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts and iPlayer catch-up; the fee is set by the British Government, agreed by Parliament, used to fund the BBC's radio, TV, online services covering the nations and regions of the UK. Since 1 April 2014, it has funded the BBC World Service, which broadcasts in 28 languages and provides comprehensive TV, online services in Arabic and Persian.
Around a quarter of BBC revenues come from its commercial arm BBC Studios Ltd, which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and distributes the BBC's international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, from BBC.com, provided by BBC Global News Ltd. From its inception, through the Second World War, to the 21st century, the BBC has played a prominent role in British culture, it is known colloquially as "The Beeb", "Auntie", or a combination of both. Britain's first live public broadcast from the Marconi factory in Chelmsford took place in June 1920, it was sponsored by the Daily Mail's Lord Northcliffe and featured the famous Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The Melba broadcast caught the people's imagination and marked a turning point in the British public's attitude to radio. However, this public enthusiasm was not shared in official circles where such broadcasts were held to interfere with important military and civil communications. By late 1920, pressure from these quarters and uneasiness among the staff of the licensing authority, the General Post Office, was sufficient to lead to a ban on further Chelmsford broadcasts.
But by 1922, the GPO had received nearly 100 broadcast licence requests and moved to rescind its ban in the wake of a petition by 63 wireless societies with over 3,000 members. Anxious to avoid the same chaotic expansion experienced in the United States, the GPO proposed that it would issue a single broadcasting licence to a company jointly owned by a consortium of leading wireless receiver manufactures, to be known as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd. John Reith, a Scottish Calvinist, was appointed its General Manager in December 1922 a few weeks after the company made its first official broadcast; the company was to be financed by a royalty on the sale of BBC wireless receiving sets from approved domestic manufacturers. To this day, the BBC aims to follow the Reithian directive to "inform and entertain"; the financial arrangements soon proved inadequate. Set sales were disappointing as amateurs made their own receivers and listeners bought rival unlicensed sets. By mid-1923, discussions between the GPO and the BBC had become deadlocked and the Postmaster-General commissioned a review of broadcasting by the Sykes Committee.
The Committee recommended a short term reorganisation of licence fees with improved enforcement in order to address the BBC's immediate financial distress, an increased share of the licence revenue split between it and the GPO. This was to be followed by a simple 10 shillings licence fee with no royalty once the wireless manufactures protection expired; the BBC's broadcasting monopoly was made explicit for the duration of its current broadcast licence, as was the prohibition on advertising. The BBC was banned from presenting news bulletins before 19.00 and was required to source all news from external wire services. Mid-1925 found the future of broadcasting under further consideration, this time by the Crawford committee. By now, the BBC, under Reith's leadership, had forged a consensus favouring a continuation of the unified broadcasting service, but more money was still required to finance rapid expansion. Wireless manufacturers were anxious to exit the loss making consortium with Reith keen that the BBC be seen as a public service rather than a commercial enterprise.
The recommendations of the Crawford Committee were published in March the following year and were still under consideration by the GPO when the 1926 general strike broke out in May. The strike temporarily interrupted newspaper production, with restrictions on news bulletins waived, the BBC became the primary source of news for the duration of the crisis; the crisis placed the BBC in a delicate position. On one hand Reith was acutely aware that the Government might exercise its right to commandeer the BBC at any time as a mouthpiece of the Government if the BBC were to step out of line, but on the other he was anxious to maintain public trust by appearing to be acting independently; the Government was divided on how to handle the BBC but ended up trusting Reith, whose opposition to the strike mirrored the PM's own. Thus the BBC was granted sufficient leeway to pursue the Government's objectives in a manner of its own choosing; the resulting coverage of both striker and government viewpoints impressed millions of listeners who were unaware that the PM had broadcast to the nation from Reith's home, using one of Reith's sound bites inserted at the last moment
This Week (2003 TV programme)
This Week is a British current affairs and politics TV programme, screened on Thursday evenings on BBC One. It is hosted by former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, with a panel of two commentators, one each from the right and left of the political spectrum; the show was introduced on 16 January 2003, along with The Daily Politics, after a major review of BBC political programmes. It replaced the nightly Despatch Box, for which Andrew Neil had been the sole presenter in its years, which, in turn, had been a replacement for The Midnight Hour. Following Neil's decision to stop being the presenter from July 2019, the BBC decided to not continue with This Week. With a more light-hearted tone than most political programming, This Week prides itself on being "punchy, satirical", it is committed to being one of the only current affairs shows on television with an absence of "party spin" from its regular guests, despite their party affiliations. This was aided in the show's early years by the fact that Michael Portillo, the regular Conservative commentator on the show, left the House of Commons in 2005, while the Labour Party commentator until 2010 was Diane Abbott, for many years a backbench Labour MP noted for rebelling against her own party.
The two were thereafter ostensibly an "odd couple" coming from different sides of the political spectrum. During her unsuccessful campaign in 2010 to lead the Labour Party and her subsequent tenure as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Abbott began making only occasional appearances, her ability to speak without constraint becoming noticeable, her place was taken by another Labour MP, in rotation each week, always a backbencher, most Alan Johnson. After returning to the backbenches in 2013, Abbott appeared on a fortnightly basis, alternating with Johnson. Since her appointment as Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in September 2015, she has appeared, the tradition of Labour MPs alternating in the spot has continued. Since 2013, Neil's golden retriever Miss Molly has frequently appeared on the show walking in front of the camera during shots or choosing to sleep next to guests. Miss Molly's first appearance was coupled with an increase in This Week's ratings. Shown directly following Question Time, This Week presents itself as a more laid-back companion to its predecessor, with episodes opening with a summary of the week's main events in the form of a parody of a popular television series.
At the beginning of each episode, Neil asks the two regular commentators for their "Moment of the Week" contributing his own "moment". The standard format consists with a guest contributor featuring in each; the first features a journalist or commentator who presents their "Take of the Week" in a short film before appearing in the studio to discuss their perspective further. The second segment is a light-hearted "Round-up of the Week" in and around Parliament presented by Mark Mardell, who left the show on becoming the BBC's Europe Editor in 2005; the "Round-up" segment is presented by a rotation of writers and broadcasters. This is followed by a discussion between the hosts of the issues raised; the third main segment, "Spotlight" focuses more on cultural topics and features a final guest. For many years, there was also a quiz at the end of the show, in which Neil took pleasure in demonstrating the commentators' ignorance of a range of topics, though this feature no longer appears. Though a political discussion programme, This Week has achieved notoriety for its humorous approach to current affairs.
For example, during the 2005 General Election, the show's title sequence spoofed the re-released version of "Is This the Way to Amarillo" and its video featuring comedian Peter Kay. In 2011, following the announcement that the techno band Underworld were to perform at the opening ceremony for the London Summer Olympics, the show's ending credits featured Neil and his guests raving to the band's music; the clip subsequently went viral on YouTube, helping to increase the show's unconventional popularity amongst younger audiences. In 2006, the programme won the Hansard Society Award for Opening Up Politics, awarded at the Channel 4 Political Awards ceremony. During the general election campaign of 2010, This Week was broadcast on Monday nights in addition to its usual Thursday night slot, with contributors including Sarah Teather, Lynne Featherstone, Caroline Flint and James Purnell and the late Charles Kennedy. In keeping with its comic style, This Week has nicknames; these include assertions that the show's viewers watch the show drinking Blue Nun, David Cameron watches the show in bed wearing his pyjamas, that the cast go to a nightclub after filming is completed—Annabel's in Berkeley Square or Lou Lou's in Mayfair—with Charles Clarke providing the guests a minicab service when he is not appearing on the show.
It is frequently sarcastically said that the show has a budget of zero, has few or no regular viewers. While giving out the Twitter and Facebook handles for the show, Neil insists that no comments posted by viewers will be read; every episode begins with the words "Evenin' all" and ends with "That's your lot for this week". The middle section is introduced with "Now, it's late. Following Diane Abbott's departure from the show, Neil would joke that her leadership bid and appointment a
Michael Dobbs, Baron Dobbs is a British Conservative politician and best-selling author, most notably for his House of Cards trilogy. Michael Dobbs was born on 14 November 1948 in Cheshunt, the son of nurseryman Eric and Eileen Dobbs, he was educated at Hertford Grammar School, Cheshunt Grammar School, Christ Church, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford in 1971 with a degree in PPE, Dobbs moved to the United States, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford and graduated in 1977 with an M. A. M. A. L. D. and Ph. D. in nuclear defence studies. His doctoral thesis was published as SALT: Dragon Hunting in a Multinuclear World. In 2007, Dobbs gave the Alumni Salutation at Fletcher. Dobbs' studies at The Fletcher School were funded by a job as feature writer for the Boston Globe, where he worked as an editorial assistant and political feature writer from 1971 to 1975. After getting his PhD in 1977, Dobbs returned to England and began working in London for the Conservative Party.
From 1977 to 1979, he was an advisor to Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Opposition. From 1979 to 1981, he was a Conservative MP speechwriter. From 1981 to 1986, he served as a Government Special Advisor. From 1986 to 1987, he was the Conservative Party Chief of Staff. In 1984, he survived the Brighton bombing at the Conservative Party Conference. Considered a masterful political operator, he was called "Westminster's baby-faced hit man", by The Guardian in 1987. From 1994 to 1995, he served in the John Major government as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. On 18 December 2010, Dobbs was made a life peer, as Baron Dobbs, of Wylye, in the County of Wiltshire, was introduced in the House of Lords on 20 December, he sits as a Conservative Peer. Lord Dobbs is an Executive Board Member of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese. In August 2014, Lord Dobbs was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
Dobbs supported a'Leave' vote in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016. From 1983 to 1986, Dobbs worked at Saatchi as Deputy Advertising Chairman. From 1987 to 1988, he was Director of Worldwide Corporate Communications. From 1988 to 1991, he was Deputy Chairman. From 1991 to 1998, Dobbs was a columnist for The Mail on Sunday newspaper. From 1998 to 2001, he hosted the current affairs programme Despatch Box on BBC Two. Michael Dobbs' writing career began in 1989 with the publication of House of Cards, the first in what would become a trilogy of political thrillers with Francis Urquhart as the central character. In 1990 House of Cards was turned into a television miniseries which received 14 BAFTA nominations and two BAFTA wins and was voted the 84th Best British Show in History. Netflix made a US version based upon its BBC adaptation, his fourth novel, Winston's War, was shortlisted for the Channel 4 Political Book of the Year Award, his Harry Jones novels, A Sentimental Traitor and A Ghost at the Door, for the Paddy Power Political Book of the Year awards in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
His novels are published in the United States. Anthony Howard of The Times said "Dobbs is following in a respectable tradition. Shakespeare, Walter Scott Tolstoy, all used historical events as the framework for their writings. And, unlike some of their distinguished works, Dobbs's novel is, in fact, astonishingly accurate". Dobbs has been a judge of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and lectures at dozens of literary and fundraising events each year, he is an executive producer of the American television series House of Cards. Dobbs, now a part-time writer, divides his time between Wiltshire, he has two stepsons with his second wife, Rachel. Dobbs has raised money for his neighbour, paralysed as a result of a rugby injury, he walked from his home town in Wylye to his old school Richard Hale. He completed this on the 27 March 2015. Michael Dobbs is a distant relative of the US non-fiction author with the same name; the two are sometimes confused. Francis Urquhart Novels House of Cards To Play the King The Final Cut Tom Goodfellowe Novels Goodfellowe MP The Buddha of Brewer Street Whispers of Betrayal Winston Churchill Novels Winston's War Never Surrender Churchill's Hour Churchill's Triumph Harry Jones Thrillers The Lords' Day The Edge of Madness The Reluctant Hero Old Enemies A Sentimental Traitor A Ghost at the Door Non-series novels Wall Games Last Man to Die The Touch of Innocents First Lady Official website Fantasticfiction.co.uk Blog.washingtonpost.com
BBC Two is the second flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tends to broadcast more "highbrow" programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio channels, it is funded by the television licence, is therefore free of commercial advertising, it is a comparatively well-funded public-service network attaining a much higher audience share than most public-service networks worldwide. Styled BBC2, it was the third British television station to be launched, from 1 July 1967, Europe's first television channel to broadcast in colour, it was envisaged as a home for less mainstream and more ambitious programming, while this tendency has continued to date, most special-interest programmes of a kind broadcast on BBC Two, for example the BBC Proms, now tend to appear on BBC Four instead. British television at the time of BBC2's launch consisted of two channels: the BBC Television Service and the ITV network made up of smaller regional companies.
Both channels had existed in a state of competition since ITV's launch in 1955, both had aimed for a populist approach in response. The 1962 Pilkington Report on the future of broadcasting noticed this, that ITV lacked any serious programming, it therefore decided that Britain's third television station should be awarded to the BBC. Prior to its launch, the new BBC2 was promoted on the BBC Television Service: the soon to be renamed BBC1; the animated adverts featured the campaign mascots "Hullabaloo", a mother kangaroo, "Custard", her joey. Prior to, several years after, the channel's formal launch, the channel broadcast "Trade Test Transmissions", short films made externally by companies such as Shell and BP, which served to enable engineers to test reception, but became cult viewing; the channel was scheduled to begin at 19:20 on 20 April 1964, showing an evening of light entertainment, starting with the comedy show The Alberts, a performance from Soviet comedian Arkady Raikin, a production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, culminating with a fireworks display.
However, at around 18:45 a huge power failure, originating from a fire at Battersea Power Station, caused Television Centre, indeed much of west London, to lose all power. BBC1 was able to continue broadcasting via its facilities at Alexandra Palace, but all attempts to show the scheduled programmes on the new channel failed. Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday ITV franchise-holder, offered to transmit on the BBC's behalf, but their gesture was rejected. At 22:00 programming was postponed until the following morning; as the BBC's news centre at Alexandra Palace was unaffected, they did in fact broadcast brief bulletins on BBC2 that evening, beginning with an announcement by the newsreader Gerald Priestland at around 19:25. There was believed to be no recording made of this bulletin, but a videotape was discovered in early 2003. By 11:00 on 21 April, power had been restored to the studios and programming began, thus making Play School the first programme to be shown on the channel; the launch schedule, postponed from the night before, was successfully shown that evening, albeit with minor changes.
In reference to the power cut, the transmission opened with a shot of a lit candle, sarcastically blown out by presenter Denis Tuohy. To establish the new channel's identity and draw viewers to it, the BBC decided that a promoted, lavish series would be essential in its earliest days; the production chosen was The Forsyte Saga, a no-expense-spared adaptation of the novels by John Galsworthy, featuring well-established actors Kenneth More and Eric Porter. Critically for the future of the fledgling channel, the BBC's gamble was hugely successful, with an average of six million viewers tuning in per episode: a feat made more prominent by the fact that only 9 million were able to receive the channel at the time. Unlike BBC1 and ITV, BBC2 was broadcast only on the 625 line UHF system, so was not available to viewers still using sets on the 405-line VHF system; this created a market for dual standard receivers. Set manufacturers ramped up production of UHF sets in anticipation of a large market demand for the new BBC2, but the market did not materialise.
The early technical problems, which included being unable to transmit US-recorded videotapes due to a lack of system conversion from the US NTSC system, were resolved by a committee headed by James Redmond. On 1 July 1967, during the Wimbledon Championships, BBC2 became the first channel in Europe to begin regular broadcasts in colour, using the PAL system; the thirteen part series Civilisation was created as a celebration of two millennia of western art and culture to showpiece the new colour technology. BBC1 and ITV joined BBC2 on 625-line UHF band, but continued to simulcast on 405-line VHF until 1985. BBC1 and ITV introduced PAL colour on UHF on 15 November 1969, although they both had broadcast some programmes in colour "unofficially" since September 1969. In 1979, the station adopted the first computer-generated channel identification in Britain, with its use of the double striped, orange'2' logo; the ident, created in house by BBC engineers, lasted until March 1986 and heralded the start of computer-generated logos.
As the switch to digital-only terrestrial transmission progressed, BBC Two was the first analogue TV channel to be replaced with the BBC multiplex, at first four two weeks ahead of the other four channels. This was required for those relay transmitters that had no current Freeview service giving vie