Celebrating 50 years of BBC2

National Media Museum blog

BBC2 was scheduled to open on 20 April 1964, but a massive power failure in West London meant that the opening night was essentially cancelled. BBC2 opened the following morning, 21 April, with an episode of Play School. This blog explores objects in the National Television Collection which are relevant to these two days.

National Media Museum objects from the launch of BBC2

Following the Pilkington report, which expressed disappointment with the commercial programming on ITV, the UK’s third television channel, BBC2 was to be relatively high-brow. Dennis Potter declared in his Daily Herald column, ‘BBC2 offers us, for the first time, a genuinely planned alternative instead of a haphazard chase up the ratings table.’ BBC2 was also to be the first channel in the UK to broadcast using the new higher-resolution television standard of 625 lines, which was eventually adopted by BBC1 and ITV.

Graphic celebrating the launch of BBC2. Launch mascots were known as Hullabaloo and Custard. Graphic celebrating the launch…

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