Last updated: 2nd February 2020.
BBC staff went on strike from midnight on Monday 23rd May 2005 for 24 hours. They were protesting at plans to cut 3,780 jobs and privatise parts of the Corporation.
The unions said the cuts were the most damaging in BBC history. The Corporation said it regretted the decision to take industrial action. The strike posed the most serious threat to the BBC’s programme schedule across all TV and radio networks in over a decade.
On this page, we reproduce notes from live coverage of the strike carried on The TV Room, with an emphasis on the disruption to national and regional news output on the TV networks.
22nd May 2005, 11.30pm: the ITV News Channel airs a report on the impending BBC strike. News presenter: Andrea Catherwood. Reporter: Phil Reay-Smith.
23rd May 2005, 12am: BBC News 24 joins forces with BBC World. BBC World news output from the previous hour is broadcast, presented by Adrian Finighan. A ‘Recorded’ caption is displayed, top left of screen.
BBC One Northern Ireland, BBC Two Scotland and BBC Two Northern Ireland run with their respective schedules, as normal (BBC One Scotland, BBC One Wales and BBC Two Wales follow the network schedule, as planned).
BBC Two Scotland junction plays out as normal. Announcer: Unknown.
23rd May 2005, 12.29am: BBC News 24 pre-recorded news from the previous hour continues.
BBC Three and BBC Four appear unaffected by the strike.
23rd May 2005, 12.30am: BBC Two Northern Ireland runs a long, network-branded Morris ident with a simple “This is BBC Two” local voiceover from Michael Selby. Programming continues as scheduled, with an edition of Have I Got News for You?
23rd May 2005, 12.33am: BBC News 24 and BBC World show an edition of Click.
23rd May 2005, 12.50am: BBC One Scotland and BBC One Wales take the network feed for the 12.50am and 12.55am junctions into Weatherview and BBC News 24 respectively. The network junctions are stable.
Network BBC One hands over to BBC News 24 at around 12.57am. The network announcer is Delroy Haynes.
23rd May 2005, 1am: non-union staff and managers produce a live news service for BBC News 24. The news is presented by Akhtar Khan. The programme gets off to a slightly shaky start, with a technical glitch during the opening headlines.
23rd May 2005, 1.02am: BBC Two Northern Ireland hands over to BBC News 24, with a network-branded BBC Two ident (as normal) and local voiceover (Michael Selby). The entire local junction is live.
23rd May 2005, 1.15am: the BBC One Northern Ireland junctions into Weatherview (1.10am) and BBC News 24 (1.15am) are unaffected by the strike action; locally branded trails and idents are broadcast, accompanied by a live voiceover from Aaron Alexander.
23rd May 2005, 1.30am: BBC Two network close passes off without incident, bar a slight hint of tone going in to Pages from Ceefax. The duty announcer: Matthew Jackson. We’ve left in a snippet of BART with the Ceefax pages.
23rd May 2005, 1.40am: BBC Two Scotland rejoins BBC Two network immediately its final programme finishes, crashing in to Pages from Ceefax.
23rd May 2005, 2am: the Learning Zone goes out as planned on BBC Two. Includes pre-recorded continuity announcements, from Halyna Kozak.
23rd May 2005, 2am – 6am: BBC News 24 continues with a live half-hour news programme at the top of the hour (simulcast with BBC World) until 5.00am when The World Today went on air, including business news.
23rd May 2005, 6am: a Breakfast-branded programme, presented by Akhtar Khan is broadcast on BBC One and BBC News 24. The programme is based in the main BBC News 24 studio. BBC World broadcasts a recording of an earlier bulletin.
The Breakfast programme reports on the BBC strike:
23rd May 2005, 6.30am: World Business Report is broadcast on BBC One/BBC News 24.
23rd May 2005, 7am: another half hour of live news on BBC One/BBC News 24, followed at 7.30am by Talking Movies.
BBC Two, CBBC and CBeebies appear unaffected by the strike.
23rd May 2005, 8am: another half hour of live news on BBC One/BBC News 24.
23rd May 2005, 8.30am: BBC One and BBC News 24 show Hardtalk Extra.
23rd May 2005, 9am: Akhtar Khan returns with fifteen minutes of news for BBC One; BBC One then resumes its normal schedule (although news summaries are replaced with weather updates). News continues on BBC News 24, with recorded programmes being shown during the second half of each hour.
23rd May 2005, 12pm: BBC Two’s The Daily Politics is cancelled and replaced with The Flying Garden. Announcer: Manju Malhi.
23rd May 2005, 12.30pm: Working Lunch is cancelled on BBC Two; The Egg: A Wildlife Guide is played out instead. Announcer: Manju Malhi.
The BBC One live broadcast from the Chelsea Flower Show is replaced by a recorded programme about the Chelsea event.
The ITV Lunchtime News carries a report on the strike:
23rd May 2005, 1pm: BBC One and BBC News 24 join forces for a thirty-minute edition of the BBC News at One, broadcast from the News 24 studio and presented by Susan Osman. The programme features a number of live OB interviews as well as a live interview with Washington correspondent, Matt Frei. It also seems as though fresh report packages are being broadcast.
BBC World broadcasts a recorded news programme.
Here’s the start and end of the 1pm programme (2 separate clips). The first clip also includes a report on the latest regarding the BBC strike.
23rd May 2005, 1.30pm: no regional news programmes go out on BBC One – a replacement programme is broadcast. Here’s the BBC One Northern Ireland apology for the lack of local news. The announcer is Roy Willighan.
23rd May 2005, 1.45pm: the planned BBC One schedule resumes with Neighbours (five minutes behind schedule).
23rd May 2005, 2pm: BBC News 24 and BBC World air a joint bulletin, presented by Susan Osman.
23rd May 2005, 6pm: BBC News 24 and BBC One again join forces for the BBC News at Six. The programme is presented by Stephen Cole. Lower-thirds are missing for around the first ten minutes of the programme.
Here’s a clip of the start and end of the 6pm programme: it includes a report on the latest situation regarding the BBC strike, and a snippet of the local news from BBC Northern Ireland (presenter: Rose Neill). And yes, the local news was cued late – difficult to say why, but perhaps a cue from the London director was not forthcoming?
23rd May 2005, 6.25pm: five-minute regional news programmes are broadcast on BBC One. It’s not clear if all regions provided a local news update – but Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales certainly did.
23rd May 2005, 6.30pm: an episode of My Family replaces the scheduled regional news magazines on BBC One.
23rd May 2005, 6.58pm: BBC News 24 plays out its headline bed animation and soundtrack in place of programme trails. This is followed by an almost complete sixty-second countdown sequence.
23rd May 2005, 10pm: BBC News 24 and BBC One simulcast of the BBC News at Ten, presented by Stephen Cole.
Here’s a clip of the start and end of the 10pm programme, as shown on BBC One Northern Ireland (announcer: Gavin Healey), including the latest on the BBC strike. The video also includes the start of the local news in Northern Ireland (presenter: Rose Neill).
23rd May 2005, 10.25pm: five-minute regional news bulletins on BBC One.
23rd May 2005, 10.30pm: the planned edition of Newsnight on BBC Two is cancelled.
BBC One Northern Ireland continuity was unaffected by the strike action; non-union staff stepped in at midnight to keep services on the air. Junctions from midnight on Monday featured local branding and announcers. BBC Two Northern Ireland was manned until it handed over to the Learning Zone at 2am; however, BBC Two network junctions were being broadcast in the morning and afternoon on Monday.
There was virtually no local continuity from BBC Scotland for the duration of the strike period. BBC Two Scotland was broadcasting its own schedule when the strike kicked in at midnight; when the programme going out at midnight finished at 1.40am, the screen faded to black and we crashed back to network and Pages from Ceefax.
BBC One Wales continuity stopped at midnight on Monday; we had network junctions until BBC One joined BBC News 24 at 12.55am. BBC One Wales continuity returned later in the morning but was patchy, with some junctions being missed and network being taken instead.
PICTURED: BBC One programme slide. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC.