A new Ariel for a new era

The first Ariel front page, from June 1936 The first Ariel front page, from June 1936

There can be little doubt that Ariel is one of the best known brands in corporate publishing.

Since its inception, almost 80 years ago, Ariel has reported on BBC news and life at this great institution, celebrating the corporation's successes, reflecting on its failures and musing on the changes of an ever-evolving industry.

Ariel has seen the leadership of, among others, Lord Reith, Sir Frederick Ogilvie, Sir Hugh Greene, John Birt, Greg Dyke and Mark Thompson.

It has seen competition in our industry and marketplace grow, the arrival of colour and a phenomenon called the internet.

There are still a few people who believe that the publication is actually called 'Aerial', which, I suppose, is a reasonable mistake to make.

However, most people probably know that the origin of the name Ariel, is Shakespearean.

Over the front entrance of Broadcasting House, rests the statues of Prospero and Ariel, from The Great Bard's romantic drama, The Tempest.

The statues, designed by the sculptor and stonecutter Eric Gill, were installed there in 1933.

In The Tempest, Ariel is a spirit released by its master, Prospero, as executor of his magical schemes.

Ariel, as the spirit of the air, was felt to be an appropriate symbol for the new mystery of broadcasting. And, even though we are removing the statue from the new branding, that spirit remains unchanged.

For 75 years, Ariel was printed weekly before, in 2011, becoming an online-only publication.

The latest change sees Ariel becoming a true internal channel for the first time in its long history, available only to BBC employees via Gateway. Not printed, not given to the public but, by us, and exclusively for us. That's pretty special.

It is an internal channel, written by BBC people, for BBC people.

What will come through loud and clear are employee voices. Much of the content will be written directly by employees.

It will not it shirk from its responsibility to disseminate tough or unwelcome messages - you would expect nothing less. But we will celebrate the good things about life at the BBC - after all, it's a national institution we are looking after and we know just how lucky we are.

The aspiration is for Ariel to be far more interactive than the somewhat static version of old, with opportunities to comment on stories or submit photographs, and it will make far better use of audio and video than it has in the past.

Ariel is for BBC people - so make use of it. If you have something you want to say, let us know about it.

If you, or a colleague, have done something you are proud of, use Ariel to share it across the corporation.

The world has changed unrecognisably since the first edition of Ariel in June 1936 but the brand remains, with its fundamental remit, to convey messages, news, perspective and context on what matters most to us, the people of the BBC. That's the same as it ever was.

If you are a BBC employee, you can now find Ariel on New Gateway via this link.

If you are a retired BBC employee and need to access Prospero, please follow this link.


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