BBC One closedown curiosities from the past

In the days before BBC News 24/BBC News Channel, BBC One closed down overnight. The BBC One announcer would bid us goodnight over the channel clock, before putting up the BBC One globe symbol and playing the National Anthem, and then fading to black. Thirty seconds later, there’d be ten minutes of black and tone, before the signal to the transmitters was pulled. And that was the BBC One closedown procedure for many years.

However, a recent YouTube upload from 1985 shows senior BBC announcer Richard Straker deviating ever-so-slightly from the long-standing end-of-day routine. The general convention was for the announcer to say their piece – then, when the second hand on the clock hit, 57, 12, 27 or 42 seconds, the announcer would cue the National Anthem, before mixing to/cutting up the globe symbol a few seconds later, bang on the quarter minute. Granted, some announcers cued the National Anthem at different points but the aforementioned format was generally adhered to. In this 1985 clip, Richard cuts up the BBC One symbol at exactly 12.59am – but a few seconds before he had completed his verbal link. The alternative would’ve been to finish up his announcement and leave a number of seconds of silence before cueing the National Anthem.

VIDEO: BBC One closedown. TX DATE/TIME: 14th April 1985, 12.57am. SUPPLIED BY: YouTube Channel – Neil Miles. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

From a number of closedowns that I’ve viewed from this era – where Richard has been behind the microphone – he had a tendency to try and avoid lengthy periods of silence. Even though the sequence of events here wasn’t to the letter of the BBC pres law at the time, Richard’s laid back, warm style made it all look perfectly fine and acceptable.

A relatively minor point, yes, but of interest to some pres enthusiasts I’m sure.

Some comments from our Twitter feed:

What’s not to love? Richard’s voice was full of warmth.

I’d love to hear him on BBC4.

Duncan Newmarch, BBC announcer

Re the cut to the globe, he’d just be trying to avoid cutting to or from the clock when it wasn’t at a ‘neat’ spot. Maybe also under the cosh from Management for a speedy closedown for reasons of night shift pay?

Charles Nove, presenter and former BBC announcer

And winding the clock on to 2001 now – not strictly a BBC One closedown, but a night-time handover to BBC News 24. Something slightly unusual for that era popped up in another recent YouTube upload. In the days before BBC rolling news had an on-screen ticker, BBC News 24 turned its normally static lower-third into an impromptu ticker, to welcome BBC One viewers.

Even back then, BBC News 24 generally made no reference to BBC One viewers coming on board. In the early years of the rolling news service, occasional verbal acknowledgements to BBC One viewers weren’t unusual. But this is the first time I’ve seen an on-screen message. I can only assume this was perhaps a one-off or a short-lived thing.

VIDEO: BBC One handover to BBC News 24. TX DATE: 27th March 2001. SUPPLIED BY: YouTube Channel – Neil Miles. COPYRIGHT: BBC.



PICTURED: BBC One 1985 clock (recreation). SUPPLIED BY: created using facilities at COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Posted by The Clean Feed Team

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