The Night of the Disastrous BBC2 Launch

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On the 20th April 1964 the BBC was looking forward to an historic event. Its second television channel, BBC2, was due to launch that evening at 7.20pm, joining its sister BBC1 and potentially offering a challenge to ITV.

It was more than a new channel; this was the first time the UHF Band and the 625 line standard would be used in the UK, resulting in a requirement for new tv sets and aerials to receive the service. At the launch only the main London transmitter at Crystal Palace was radiating BBC2 and there were not many viewers in its transmission area able to receive the programmes. Nevertheless, there was considerable excitement as the time of the channel's birth grew closer. A major power outage across London affecting Television Centre caused major disruption to programmes and led to a premature closedown.

There are a number of website links (which can be accessed from this page) regarding the events on that night affecting the channel's launch, but this article has a broader scope, asking how the BBC reacted to the power failure, and also its affect on the main national channel BBC1.

BBC2 launch.jpg

--Oldcommsboy (talk)

Further Information

BBC Two's 50th Anniversary
Hywel Williams' Webpage
BBC Cult Classic TV webpage
The first BBC2 transmitter opening dates - mb21 Tx Gallery