The Changing Face of the BBC
Weâ€™ve analysed 80 years of BBC TV schedules to build up a picture of its evolution. Has kidsâ€™ TV died? Is drama in crisis? Are â€˜lifestyleâ€™ shows taking over? Find out inside.
View byHours broadcast per year Percentage
The rise of Auntie Beeb
Since launching a single channel in 1936, the BBCâ€™s TV output has grown immensely. New channels and a longer broadcasting day have all combined to push it beyond 45,000 hours per year.
- The rise of Auntie Beeb Since launching a single channel in 1936, the BBCâ€™s TV output has grown immensely. New channels and a longer broadcasting day have all combined to push it beyond 45,000 hours per year.
- The rise of Auntie Beeb Early growth was abruptly halted by World War 2, amid concerns the broadcasts would act as a beacon for the enemy. TV owners had to wait until June 1946 for programmes to resume.
- Are you sitting comfortably? Childrenâ€™s programming grew steadily through the â€™50s, â€™60s, and â€™70s, along the way introducing Muffin the Mule, Blue Peter, Play School, Jackanory, and Grange Hill.
- Are you sitting comfortably? After a dip in the mid-â€™80s, growth resumed, but in 2013 virtually all childrenâ€™s programmes abruptly vanished from the two main channels. The end of an era.
- Are you sitting comfortably? But this was the completion of a digital transition. New channels, including two dedicated to children, had already boosted output by around 9,000 hours per year.
- Making a crisis out of drama Drama boomed at the BBC, home to countless iconic series such as Doctor Who, Z-Cars, The Singing Detective, Edge of Darkness, Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards, Casualty, and EastEnders.
- Making a crisis out of drama But since 2009, drama output has almost halved. Is this a worrying decline, or just a sign of focusing on quality over quantity?
- Dumbing down? The rise in â€˜lifestyleâ€™ programmes can be attributed to shows like Flog It!, Escape to the Country, and The One Show, and regularly leads to accusations of going â€˜downmarketâ€™.
- Dumbing down? However, â€˜lifestyleâ€™ output is still only a third of the size of the BBCâ€™s factual broadcasting, which includes prized programmes such as Sir David Attenboroughâ€™s documentaries.
- The last picture show It seems that thereâ€™s no longer any room for films on BBC One. From a peak of over 1,200 hours in 1998, that category has plummeted to just 490 hours per year.
- Breaking: more news News is the BBCâ€™s biggest category, taking up 40% of its TV output. This is largely driven by the News and Parliament channels.
- Breaking: more news Itâ€™s not just about those dedicated outlets though - when looking at BBC One alone, news still dominates due to huge growth during the â€™80s and early â€™90s.
- 80 years and beyond So far this millennium, the BBCâ€™s broadcast output has been fairly stable. But with the rise of iPlayer, and BBC Three going online-only, what will happen over the coming years?
Exit the tour to explore the categories and channels and delve into the data yourself (you can then restart the guided tour later)