The BBC, or British Broadcasting Company, is one of the oldest employers in the world. It’s been a part of the global landscape since the 1920s, and in that time, millions have watched and listened to its programmes from all over the world. In the modern age, the ‘Beeb’ has moved over to streaming services and has even retired channels to move entirely online.
The BBC’s radio service is also widely praised, with many of its channels getting a second lease of life thanks to the rise of digital radio in the past decade or so. While there are always discussions with regard to the TV licence, it seems that the BBC is still very much a force to be reckoned with.
In this file, we will be looking at some interesting facts about The BBC that you might just find illuminating. Let’s dive into its immense history and see if we can pluck out a few points of interest that might just turn your head! Whether you’re a viewer, a listener or otherwise, it’s hard to ignore the Beeb.
Globally, the BBC employs more people than any other broadcasting company. They employ 35,402 staff!
For over three decades, from the 1930s, MI5 scrutinised some applications from applicants wishing to join the BBC. The Government was keen to ensure the Beeb was not infiltrated by undesirable ‘influencers’.
Created in 1922 on October 18th, the BBC’s first broadcast was made just under a month later on November 14th!
On November 15th, 1922, broadcasts were also made from two other new BBC bases in Manchester and Birmingham.
The first General Manager of the BBC was John Reith. He took on the role in December 1922.
Reith’s legacy, still claimed to be upheld by the BBC today, was his motto ‘inform, educate and entertain’.
This is known in the business as the ‘Reithian Way’.
In 1923, the BBC blazed trails by being one of the first organisations to offer women equal pay as men.
However, this has fallen into dispute in recent years, with further changes reportedly afoot.
The BBC’s flagship charity telethon Children in Need has raised more than £1 billion since its inception in 1980.
Terry Wogan was perhaps the best-known presenters of the telethon. He hosted it for 35 years until his death!
Doctor Who remains one of the BBC’s flagship TV shows, and its original run lasted between 1963 and 1989. It was successfully revived in 2005 and is still running to this day.
The central character of Doctor Who, ‘The Doctor’, has been portrayed by many different people – as they are an alien that shapeshifts.
The ‘current’ Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, was the first woman to play the part of the character in over 50 years.
World War II saw women enter the workplaces where normally mostly men were employed. This also applied to the BBC. In 1941, the first female producer, Una Marson, was hired.
In 1944, Audrey Russell became the first female war correspondent for the BBC.
In 2008, it was recorded that 40% of the senior managers at the company were female. This was a huge contrast to the gender balance of the 1970s!
The first BBC DJ was appointed to play jazz music! Christopher Stone took the mantle in 1927.
The BBC has employed several household DJ names since, including Tony Blackburn, Sara Cox, and John Peel.
Sir David Attenborough, whose career as a Natural History Expert has taken him all over the world and continues to do so at the age of 94, is one of the most famous ‘exports’ of the BBC.
Attenborough worked as producer, director, narrator, and presenter for the BBC for 7 decades since 1952! He has since taken on further work at Netflix, too.
In February 2020, the BBC program ‘Newsnight’ won 10 awards from ten categories of the Royal Society of Television awards!
Oddly, the BBC has made sure to rehearse announcements of the Queen’s passing every year. The process is called ‘Operation London Bridge’ and will take place once news emerges of her majesty’s death.
The BBC remains a commercial-free service thanks to its annual licence fees. These fees have come under controversy over the years, with some people suggesting that commercials replace the annual payments.
The BBC has moved much of its programming into streaming and catchup through its iPlayer service. ‘Killing Eve’ is reportedly the most-watched iPlayer series at the time of writing, with 7 million views for the first episode alone!
Reportedly, around 96% of people watch or listen to BBC programming. That even includes 66% of British adults who listen to BBC radio.
The BBC showed the most-watched program on a single channel when it broadcast the wedding of Princess Anne in 1973. Approximately 27.60 million viewers tuned in!
In 1994, Torvill and Dean were seen by 23.95 million viewers of BBC when they won the Olympic Ice Championships.
During the 2020 pandemic, the number of children viewing BBC iPlayer increased dramatically. CBBC and CBeebies saw increases of 81% viewership – approximately 38 billion demands on an average week during the period from April to June 2020!
BBC’s Top Gear once generated annual revenue of approximately $225 million worldwide!
As the oldest national broadcaster in the world, the BBC is also affectionately known as ‘Auntie’ or ‘the Beeb’!
The BBC really is a fair age – it’s due to turn 100 in 2022.
The broadcaster has come a long way in terms of its permissible humour. For many years, it was bound by a ‘Green Book’, which advised comics and stars on what they could and couldn’t say or make jokes about.
This meant that they couldn’t make fun of Biblical characters, make references to ‘immorality’, or even ladies’ underwear. Censorship was in place to do some good – but it also restricted a lot!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about The BBC that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!