Review of the Year: 2002 

15 December 2002 tbs.pm/1050

The Transdiffusion team take a look at the past year in broadcasting.

Five alive

October saw Channel 5 join the club of stations rebranding. The station, now renamed ‘five’, took the opportunity to try and distance itself from its cheap and cheerful past. One casualty of the revamp was the station’s onscreen logo, which was finally – and popularly – laid to rest.

Global warning

A sad farewell to the BBC’s globe symbol – in use from the early 60s and seen plain, mirrored, semi-transparent, ‘dream-like’ and as a hot air balloon.

It was replaced by ‘inclusive’ and ‘friendly’ idents featuring various people dancing – but no one had considered that BBC-1, (suddenly formerly) the national instrument of television broadcasting, would ever have to report on a major event.

And then the Queen Mother died, aged 101. The channel was reduced to a faintly ridiculous still of ballet dancers for a day – not even a respectful clock was available.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

Despite being 101, Her Majesty managed to take broadcasters by surprise by dying.

Much criticism was heard in the papers that Peter Sissons – as duty newsreader – was wearing a ‘disrespectful’ tie. Needless to say, the Palace wasn’t bothered, and neither were the people. The storm blew over as soon as the Daily Mail – and the idiots who believe anything it ever publishes – got bored with it.

BBC goes digital

It was a busy year for the BBC’s digital services. BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, 6music, 1xtra and BBC7 all launched, and the Asian Network was extended nationwide on digital. After much hassle and delays, BBC Three was also finally given the go-ahead and will launch next year.

FA:LL

After ten years, Channel 4 laid the Big Breakfast to rest due to flagging ratings. Its replacement, RI:SE, was spectacular in its success at loosing even more viewers, and since its launch in May, has found it hard to find its place.

But the Big Breakfast wasn’t quite out of the news. In November 2002, the Big Breakfast house was ravaged by fire. Towards the end of the year, RI:SE decided to fight back by sacking half its presenters and announcing it would in future be broadcasting from the top of a shopping mall instead of the cosy surroundings of the Sky News Centre in Isleworth.

Newsround extra

Thirty years of Newsround was celebrated in style as John Craven returned for the day. The special edition also included John revisiting one of his very first stories. With the launch of the CBBC Channel, Newsround expanded to include short bulletins throughout the day.

Digital on, off, on

ONdigital, latterly ITV Digital, succumbed to a poor business model and suddenly vanished from the airwaves, leaving just the free-to-air channels. And so it was that in May that we said goodbye to three and a half years of pay-TV on digital Terrestrial.

With amazing chutzpah, ITV then proceeded to bid for the frequencies they had just given up. Needless to say, they lost. By October, a replacement service backed by the BBC, Freeview, was licensed for DTT and launched. The service features more than 30 Free-To-Air TV and radio channels for just the price of a digital adapter.

ITV Digital’s receivers announced plans to claim forty pounds or the old boxes back – gambling that most would send in the money, as they have neither the warehouse space or the means to reclaim the almost worthless boxes.

Best advice: If they ask you to choose, send back your box, cost them a fortune and serve them right.

Liquid News keeps flowing

Liquid News host Christopher Price died in late April. After working on Five Live and BBC News 24, Christopher helped create the News 24 programme Zero-30 which moved to BBC Choice as Liquid News.

The programme continued with guest hosts until the autumn when it relaunched as a 6-day a week programme with a new team of four presenters.

A Commonwealth Games Diary

Andrew Corcoran at the Manchester games:

I only volunteered on a whim around 12 months before the games. I thought, being a Mancunian and this event being the biggest the city had put on, I had to be involved. I was floored when I got a phone call asking me to accept a place on a victory ceremony team as medal bearer. At the first meeting, I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t in the “Golden Eagles” – the team stationed at the stadium for the athletics – but in fact my team got to do so much more: squash, hockey, badminton, cycling, triathlon, as well as a night at the athletics.

That athletics night will stick in my memory forever. Most people I know said they saw me during the BBC One coverage on the Tuesday. I was the guy who stepped up to offer Chris Rawlinson his gold medal, and I was also there to provide the medal that the Countess of Wessex put around the neck of the 200m gold medal winner. The atmosphere in the stadium during the ceremonies was awesome – the big screens gave us a glimpse of how the world was watching, and the memory of standing on the field during England’s victory anthem of “Land of Hope and Glory” still gives me goosebumps.

So many memories from that fortnight… I was honoured to feel part of the sporting world and its associated media for that brief period. Here’s to Melbourne 2006!

All New

This year, besides the various BBC services, we welcomed several new commercial TV stations.

In no particular order: Fox News, UK Style+, Simply Home, attheraces, Shop 24/7, Setanta Sport, Avago, Nicktoons TV, Simply Nature, UK Gold +1, Sky Travel Extra, Chart Show TV, TV5 Europe, CNX, Reality TV, UK History, Living TV +1, The Music Factory, The Hits, Simply Asian, Simply Nostalgia, Sky One Mix, Asia TV, North American Sports Network and E! Entertainment Television.

All singing, all dancing

The concept of a corporate ITV look was revived yet again. Third time lucky, perhaps? Out went the Carlton star and the Granada group’s rotating hearts; in came well-known ITV faces posing, prancing, dancing and hula-hooping before a half-completed blue and yellow backdrop.

Out also went most of the announcers, their jobs replaced by a continuity team operating from London. The Granada group’s announcers threw a party and said their goodbyes on screen. LWT marked the occasion with a triad of special presentation events. Carlton yawned and went out without so much as a whimper. The small-fry not (yet) in the Carlton/Granada embrace adopted the new look, but retained their identities.

Goodbye and thanks for all the idents

The big ITV rebrand saw some interesting events in the early hours of the morning as LWT started its final day with a number of firsts. At just before 5:30am, viewers saw a specially created ITV start-up which, for the first time ever, was in widescreen, stereo and digital.

Other firsts for the day included the very first widescreen ITV station clock and a specially made widescreen version of LWT’s river ident. Sadly as well as being firsts, these could quite possibly be lasts as well.

Necrolog

A fond farewell this year to:

  • Spike Milligan – Comedian (The Goons)
  • Barry Took – Comedy writer and broadcaster (Round the Horne)
  • Pattie Coldwell – Television and radio presenter (Granada Reports)
  • Jack Barton – TV producer (ATV’s Crossroads)
  • Barbara Lott – Actor/comedian (Sorry)
  • Peter Ralph Eyre Tanner – Film editor (The Avengers)
  • The Hon Colin MacArthur Clark – Broadcaster and son of Lord (Sir Kenneth) Clark
  • Jack Williams – Television producer
  • Zeph Gladstone – Actor (Vera Downend in ATV’s Crossroads)
  • Edgar Scherick – Producer (Peyton Place)
  • Alice Necker – Film director who started as a secretary at DuMont TV
  • Peter Martin – Broadcaster and Journalist (Weekend World)
  • Christopher Parsons – Head of the BBC Natural History Unit
  • Alfred Levitt – TV writer (The Brady Bunch), blacklisted by McCarthy
  • Bert Granet – Writer/producer (The Twilight Zone)
  • Peter Cairns – Editor, Television Network Productions at the BBC
  • Wilfred Greatorex – ATV scriptwriter
  • Phyllis Calvert – Actress (Kate)
  • Michael Elphick – Actor (Boon)
  • Norman Jolley – Writer (Space Patrol)
  • Peter Hunt – Director (The Persuaders)
  • Charles Simon – Actor (The Dales)
  • Ruth Cracknell – Australian actress (Mother and Son)
  • Austen Kark – Managing Director, External Broadcasting at the BBC
  • Del Sharbutt – Radio and TV announcer for CBS
  • Henry J. Kasperowicz – Developed DuMont compatible colour TV system
  • John Robinson Pierce – Head of the team that invented the transistor
  • Kenneth Wolstenholme – They think it’s all over…

Compiled by Andrew Bowden, Russ J Graham, Stephen Hopkins, Ian Beumont and Andrew Corcoran