The BBC in the…
1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1970s 1980s 1990s

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London and it is the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, 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 Culture, Media and Sport. Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee which is charged to all British households, companies, 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, and used to fund the BBC’s radio, TV, and online services covering the nations and regions of the UK.

Around a quarter of BBC revenues come from its commercial arm BBC Studios Ltd (formerly BBC Worldwide), which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and also distributes the BBC’s international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, and from, provided by BBC Global News Ltd.

From its inception, through the Second World War (where its broadcasts helped to unite the nation), to the 21st century, the BBC has played a prominent role in British culture. It has also been known as “The Beeb”, and “Auntie”.


  • March 26: BBC Television televises the Grand National for the first time.
  • June 19: Nan Winton becomes the BBC’s first national female newsreader.
  • June 29: BBC Television Centre opens.
  • October 8: The BBC Television Service is renamed as BBC TV.


  • January 4: Popular sitcom Steptoe and Son begins.
  • June 27: The Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting publishes its report into the future of UK broadcasting. Among 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.
  • August 28: Experimental stereo radio broadcasts begin.


  • The BBC Logo had to improve to slant the boxes with the lettering.
  • September 30: A globe is used as the BBC TV logo for the first time.
  • November 23: First broadcast of the world’s longest-running science fiction television programme, Doctor Who.


  • January 1: First broadcast of pop and rock music television show Top of the Pops.
    20 AprilBBC 2 starts broadcasting (on 625 lines). The existing BBC TV service is renamed BBC 1.
  • August 22: First broadcast of top flight football television show Match of the Day.


  • March 22: Launch of the daytime BBC Music Programme on the frequencies of Network Three / the Third Programme.
  • May 1: The General Overseas Service is renamed the BBC World Service.


  • April 17: The first regular stereo radio transmissions begin, from the Wrotham transmitter.


  • June 25: The first worldwide live satellite programme, Our World, featuring the Pop band, the Beatles, is televised.
  • July 1: Regular colour TV transmissions (625 lines) begin on BBC 2, starting with the Wimbledon tennis championships.
  • September 30: 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.
  • October 23: Service Information is broadcast for the first time.
  • November 8: BBC Local Radio starts. The first station is BBC Radio Leicester, followed later that month by BBC Radio Sheffield and BBC Radio Merseyside.
  • December 2: BBC 2 becomes the first television channel in Britain to broadcast in colour.


  • January 31: BBC Radio Nottingham launches.
  • February 14: BBC Radio Brighton launches.
  • March 14: BBC Radio Stoke launches.
  • March 25: BBC regional television from Leeds began and the first edition of Look North is broadcast. Previously, the Yorkshire area had been part of a wider North region based in Manchester.
  • July 31: First episode of Dad’s Army is broadcast and BBC Radio Durham launches.


  • July 10: The BBC publishes a report called “Broadcasting in the Seventies” proposing the reorganisation of programmes on the national networks and replacing regional broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 with BBC Local Radio.
  • September 9: The first edition of Nationwide is broadcast.
  • September 19-20: BBC News relocates from Alexandra Palace in North London to BBC Television Centre in West London.
  • November 15: BBC 1 starts broadcasting in colour (simultaneous with rival ITV). First appearance of the Mirror Globe, coloured blue on black.

BBC Timeline courtesy of Wikipedia

The BBC in the…
1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1970s 1980s 1990s