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BBC HD: What Works Best?

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 16:15 UK time, Wednesday, 24 September 2008

logo_bbc_hd.pngThanks for all your comments to date - I do read them and mentally log them even where I don't respond directly to them in my posts.

I want to deal, though, with some of the comments about the channel content, and also to share with you some of the issues we face in making decisions for the channel.

BBC HD aims to broadcast in HD the best of programming available from the BBC.

Clearly, "best" is quite a subjective term. It could mean the content which works "best" in HD. When we make decisions about where to make HD investments, that is one of our considerations, and part of the reason why the first programming to deliver in HD has been our sport, costume dramas and natural history.

But it's not always possible to predict whether a programme or series will work well in this way - sometimes we can find a strong visual awareness in unexpected places, and sometimes programmes which we expect to look good in HD don't.

But our promise to look to the "best of the BBC" needs also to reflect the programmes that you (and others) in our audience tell us you really like - either because you watch them in large numbers, or because you tell us in other ways that you think they represent really valuable programming.

And the range of programmes there is much broader - we know that it extends to entertainment shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Jonathan Ross, sport, comedy, documentaries, music and also some daytime programmes.


I believe firmly that the BBC has a responsibility to consider programmes from across the full range of content and channels which we broadcast, and that we should continually experiment with forms of programming which are not available elsewhere in HD.

They may not look as pristine as those programmes for which HD is a more instinctive format, but they add to the range of HD content available to viewers who have invested in HD connections, and they help to ensure that on BBC HD, as on all other BBC channels, we are able to offer programmes which suit as wide a range of tastes as possible.

Even though we've been making programmes in HD for some time now, we still have a great deal to learn about the best ways to work with what remains an emerging technology.

A number of you have commented on the picture quality on Jonathan Ross. You're right - the show doesn't look as good at the moment in HD as we would like it to. That's not because - as mwbennett suggests, we're doing it on the cheap, or because light entertainment or studio shows as a whole have a lower quality threshold.

But the conversion of studio TC4 to HD is very recent, and we took a decision that we wanted to bring you the whole series of Jonathan Ross, rather than sorting all technical issues in advance of starting broadcast.

There are still elements affecting picture quality along the broadcast chain that we are working on (and some of these don't just relate to Jonathan Ross). I hope that, as we address them, the picture quality will improve across the channel.

Having said that we want to make sure that the best of the BBC's content is available to you in HD, however that's defined, I have to tell Dazza124 that, unfortunately, Merlin will not be on BBC HD.

Sometimes, for a whole variety of reasons, the production team decides that it doesn't want to use the format. Those of us on BBC HD felt that Merlin was a show that we should aim to deliver in high definition, but in the end it was shot in Super 16.

Derek500 asks for the "official" reason for not showing the Strictly Come Dancing results show in HD. I wasn't aware of an "unofficial" reason, but there is no particular issue in discussing why it won't be available on the channel this year.

A lot of work was done to try to ensure that the results show as well as the main show could be made in HD. But the nature of the results show, with lots of small camera filming and a fast turnaround, meant that we were unable to guarantee that the show could be delivered with the requisite proportions of HD content.

I had to take a decision about whether to pursue discussions and invest money which then couldn't be used for other programmes in a show which had a high chance of not actually delivering in HD. Reluctantly, I took the view that we should lose the programme from the HD schedule. It's not a decision I'm particularly pleased about, but in the circumstances it seemed to be the best one to make.

I am discovering that life at BBC HD is full of this kind of tricky dilemma - to a large extent, it is because the channel and technology are so interwoven into the other things that the BBC does, and the life of the rest of the channel portfolio.

This is particularly true when it comes to scheduling the channel. We want to bring you the best content available, and we recognise that most of the time you would like to see it in HD at the same time that it is being broadcast in SD.

But sometimes BBC One and BBC Two both have something made in HD on at the same time, and sometimes the rights we have to broadcast the content mean that our flexibilty is very restricted.

We have at least two instances coming up. Silent Witness is on at the same time as the first episode of Heroes, which we can only play at the same time as one of the other channels broadcasting it because of the rights we can afford to buy on it.


And we also have a clash between the last episode of the BBC Two series The Tudors (which I hope you have been enjoying) and the first episode of BBC One's Little Britain USA - both also acquisitions.

In both cases, we'll aim to broadcast both programmes on the channel - but obviously, only one can go out at the time that it is being shown in SD, and the other slots we have available may be less suited to the content and your lives.

We have heated debates within the team about what the best option is, and I suspect that, whichever programme we choose to prioritise, some of you will feel we've made the right decision and others the wrong one.

I'm interested as ever to know what you think - but also want you to know that even if you don't like the outcomes we get to, the decisions don't get taken lightly.

Danielle Nagler is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.


  • Comment number 1.

    Re: Silent Witness vs. Heroes: Surely Silent Witness is a BBC production so rights issues aren't as much of a problem... in which case why is this the show scheduled on HD instead of Heroes, especially with the second episode following straight after and in HD? Given the amount of money the BBC paid for the series, surely it makes sense to show Silent Witness at another time and simulcast Heroes, especially with the storyline following on in the space of 20 minutes, there's then 7 days to show Silent Witness in HD before its own story arc continues.

    The Tudors vs. Little Britain USA: Again, surely this is also a non-dilemma. The Tudors has a serial element, Little Britain are standalone episodes that can be shown whenever (ignoring the rights etc.) and do not need to be shown in order. Again it seems obvious to show The Tudors simulcast on HD?

    I know there are further issues but from an outsider's viewpoint it seems fairly obvious what decisions I'd make about both clashes.

  • Comment number 2.

    Indeed, we have the interesting situation that Silent Witness episode 1 on WEds, followed by Heroes episode 2. With Heroes episode 1 on Sunday...

    For people like me who want to watch both Heroes and Silent Witness, all in HD, it presents a bit of a scheduling nightmare. The only option seems to be to watch Heroes on BBC2 in SD (ugh -- I try and avoid SD channels as much as possible these days, my TV is almost permanently tuned to BBC HD), turn over for episode 2 in HD, and then watch ep 1 in HD on Sunday. Silent Witness has an HD repeat on Saturday. It's ok for me now, as I've recently sold my soul to Murdoch so can use SkyHD to reorder the shows into a sensible order, all in HD, while trying to avoid any discussion at work of either. However, for those who are using Freesat (and have no PVR option) the situation is less than ideal.

    Surely the best option would have been to simulcast Heroes with the BBC2 transmissions, and delay Silent Witness to 2145. (Although, I can see that the viewer demographics for the two shows would suggest the current schedule -- Silent Witness being likely to skew to an older audience who want an earlier bedtime :))


    Confused of Nottingham

    PS. Keep up the good work, as I said before BBC HD is the channel that gets the vast majority of my viewing these days and while it has the current mix of shows I can't see that changing.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Surely Silent Witness is a BBC production so rights issues aren't as much of a problem..."

    Nearly as much. Scripts, music, acting performances, format etc etc etc all make rights issues for BBC productions just as complicated as acquired shows.

  • Comment number 4.


    You seem to have misunderstood my post


    - I did not say you were doing Jonathon Ross "on the cheap", I said I could understand you doing studio-based programmes in HD as it would be easier and cheaper to control the environment.
    That is not a criticism!

    Let's have more "Britain from Above" type programmes though :)

  • Comment number 5.


    Very good of you to post back so quickly on here - us AV enthusiasts appreciate it.

    I for one will say I'm happy with the choice of programmes on BBC HD. It can't be easy, and I recognise resources are tight at the moment, but hopefully international productions will help fund more.

    I do think its the correct decision to go quickly to air with Johnathon Ross in HD.

    I suspected the results show for Strictly used SD hand held cameras, hence that decision so its good to know why - people must be puzzled on that one. You may have to persuade them to upgrade though, you can get decent HD handhelds I'd hope - for a price.

    The most interesting and positive thing for me in your latest blog is this quote "There are still elements affecting picture quality along the broadcast chain that we are working on"
    Do you mean compression and transmission?

    I hope this improvement will address what I am seeing across a wide range of programmes - especially more recently in August/Sept - which is a lack of HD sharpness, lots of noise in detailed moving pictures and blocking mpeg artefacts at times. This is on studio and non-studio programmes.

    The issue is apparent to me on complex moving pictures like the Olympics (look at the preview), programmes with light and smoke like Coldplay, Johnathon Ross's music acts, Jules Holland's Later.

    Dramas like Tudors, Robin Hood and Mutual Friends suffer from a lack of true HD sharpness and are too soft a picture to me (especially Mutual Friends).

    I am watching on a latest Panasonic plasma TV.

    Programmes that look good to me are Cookery programmes like Delia and Antiques Roadshow and Last of the Summer Wine. All these tend to have quite still pictures and don't have a lot of movement.

    I'd be interested in more of a technical insight into what improvements you are making.

    I appreciate there will always be quality variability with HD productions but I hope that you can improve the picture soon across the board.


  • Comment number 6.

    This maybe a stupid question which has already been answered, but why don't the BBC do what alot of channels in America do, which is rather than having a seperate independant HD channel (or even alongside it), but simply play HD programmes on the standard BBC channels like BBC1.

    This way if someone has a HD TV, that certain programme plays on BBC1 in HD, and if someone has a SD TV, then it just plays at lower quality.

    Is there technical contraints doing it this way such as compression or not enough spare bandwidth capacity?

  • Comment number 7.

    Sport was mentioned as being particularly suitable for HD.

    When Formula 1 returns to the BBC next year will it be broadcast in HD?

    It's rather ironic that it's broadcast in SD at the moment when it's available elsewhere in HD and the programme's sponsor refers to HD in the (already very annoying) ad breaks.

  • Comment number 8.

    Could you summarize the headline decisions or choices you have made since you last blogged.

    1) Strictly Come Dancing not to be in HD


  • Comment number 9.

    Danielle Nagler: Thanks for the update and I for one really appreciate the direct communication about this.

    I was just wondering if you could give an ETA on the subtitles on BBC HD?

  • Comment number 10.

    as you mention its such a shame that merlin wasn't shown in HD as it would have looked great.
    I read somewhere that the reasoning behind this was to do broadcasting the special effects .how true this is im not sure.
    With strictly come dancing the results show at least it means theres something to look forward too when HD handheld's are more readily available.
    On my last note I too am a great fan of hereos and am extremely disappointed that we arn't going to see the first episodes in HD.
    Like many others surely silent witness could be re scheduled.

    Keep up the good work and the feedback.

  • Comment number 11.

    Thank you Danielle for the background to 'decision headaches' as it were.

    I agree with others about there being some 'quality' issues with some HD programmes as against others - even of the same type. ie. 'Britain from Above' mostly looked very good whereas 'Amazon' hasn't looked special picture wise at all - except maybe the rafting scenes looked better than they would in SD.

    As for Merlin - and using Super 16 - hasn't that got the resolution to be 'scanned' to HD standards?

    Also since you have addmitted that the best picture quality is not always achieved at the moment - why not put the bit-rate back up to 18Mbs+ until the HD coding etc. is better optimised. Cheers daveac

  • Comment number 12.

    First at all, many thanks for this great HD-program. I know that I'm not the primary target here in germany but while the german broadcasters need a little more time to for the HD introduction I like to look to your great live events, especially the Glastonbury Festival, Later with Jools Holland or the Euro2008.

    I also like Jonathan Ross, and I was also a little bit disappeared about the PQ after the huge announcement of the HD start of Jonathan Ross.

    Perhaps you will know, I make bitrate measurements of many european satellite-channels (SD and HD) including the british channels at 28.x °E. The bitrate is just one of some parameters that are responsible for the picture quality. But it's the only one you can measure at the end of the production/transmission chain. The other parameters are the encoder quality and the source material quality.

    I know we could drift to a very technical discussion, but for me and some other posters before it would be interesting to know in detail what you mean with:

    'There are still elements affecting picture quality along the broadcast chain that we are working on (and some of these don't just relate to Jonathan Ross). '

    Best regards from Bonn/Germany

  • Comment number 13.

  • Comment number 14.

    Theres a simple way to resolve a majority of the quality issues of all the shows. INCREASE THE BIT RATE. Its simple. Shows such as Jools Holland used to look amazing then the BBC dropped the Bit rate and now they look very poor.

    Come on Danielle get ya finger out and see the relevent people who are in charge of upping Bit Rate. The channel at the moment is a total shambles.

    BIT RATE INCREASE = Lots of problems resolved.

  • Comment number 15.

    You know, in situations like this Heroes/Silent Witness Clash, I think as a Heroes fan I would prefer to be able to watch Episodes 1 and 2 in HD an hour later than on BBC2/Three to keep them in the correct order.
    Why can't the schedule show episode 1 at 9pm and episode 2 straight after? It seems ridiculous to show them out of order on BBC HD.

  • Comment number 16.

    I wondered what the "requisite proportions of HD content" is. Is this a specific percentage of HD footage?

    Even the Saturday night Strictly Come Dancing has a lot of SD footage from the practices and rehearsals, yet that is broadcast in HD.

    In fact there's probably more SD footage in the Saturday show, yet it's the Sunday show that's broadcast in SD. Strange.

    Last year when I complained to the BBC about this, I was told that "HD is a trial service and not all programmes will be broadcast in this manner. When the service becomes a live service, the Sunday results show will be in HD".

    And if the Sunday show really can't be broadcast in HD, can you at least get the series links to work correctly. So, link Saturday SD programme to the Sunday HD programme, and visa versa. Otherwise, as happened to us this week, viewers miss the Sunday show because the series link only links to the next week's Saturday show.

  • Comment number 17.

    It is very interesting to hear the competing reasons for why some shows are or are not made or, if acquired, broadcast in HD. Although I have enjoyed some of the BBC produced/commissioned HD shows, as I am not keen on sport, music, Strictly Come Dancing or Jonathan Ross's chat show, my interest focuses on the drama and comedy programming. For commercial reasons, I think it makes sense for most of the BBC's future commissions/productions to be made in HD as I think this is a growing market.

    Selfishly, however, I would like to see more US drama acquisitions in HD as well as SD. It was/is great to see Damages and The Tudors in HD, but I think Medium would also benefit.

    And Heroes is definitely better in HD. I agree with earlier commenters that it is most important that sequential stories be consistently broadcast, but in Heroes case, I hope that at least the Sunday re-broadcast will provide the first episode of Series 3 in HD.

    I don't consider this to be an either/or question of which is more important, Heroes or Silent Witness, but that both should allow viewers to enjoy an HD broadcast. Each possibly appeals to a different demographic group (although I watch both).

    But this means that attention to the scheduling of second showings is crucial. And I expect that the contract for Silent Witness will probably means far more opportunities for additional showings than that of Heroes.

    Let me finish by saying that I am enjoying the way BBCHD is developing and I'm looking forward to the future.

  • Comment number 18.

    Maybe I'm just making this too simple, but you have a slot to broadcast an episode of Heroes on BBC HD at 10PM on Wednesday 1st. This is an hour after BBC 2 shows epsiode 1.

    Why not just show Episode 1 at 10PM on both BBC 3 and BBC HD?

    Then you can use the next 2 slots on each channel (friday 3rd for BBC 3, sunday 5th for BBC HD) to broadcast Episode 2 (BBC2 could broadcast a repeat of Episode 1 in it's sunday slot).

    This means that when the next BBC 2 screening hits on Wednesday 8th, BBC HD and BBC 3 will be an episode ahead when they broadcast an hour after BBC 2 on Wednesday 8th.

    Not perfect, but then again we have to put up with that annoying DOG on screen with every BBC HD programme so we don't really get everything we want do we?

    Which reminds me, are we going to hear about getting rid of that obtrusive DOG soon Danielle? You have had a large number of people on the HD blog alone wanting rid of it and you said that it would be looked into. But in this post it wasn't mentioned at all.

  • Comment number 19.


    Can I draw your attention to my post in this thread as it also concerns the discussion here:

    Post no: 79


    I posted rather late after your intial blog date not realising it was archived, so think its possible you may have missed it.


  • Comment number 20.

    "Sometimes, for a whole variety of reasons, the production team decides that it doesn't want to use the format. Those of us on BBC HD felt that Merlin was a show that we should aim to deliver in high definition, but in the end it was shot in Super 16."

    Danielle, why does the BBC let the production team dictate the format the progamming is shot in? Surely the best way for the BBC to ensure getting HD content would be to simply issue an edict that ALL BBC programs are to be shot in HD and that the BBC will only in future buy in oustide programs if shot in high quality HD. This would have the effect of forcing everyone both internal and external to change to the format and push the change along.

    Given that HD is easily downscaled to SD, providing SD content shouldn't be a problem and it is often said that downscaled SD looks better and more detailed than native SD anyway, so everyones a winner.

    I take your point that some programs might have unexpected results from HD at the moment whilst producers aclimatise to the format, but I'm sure most would accept that for a short term now as teething problems if content went over to entirely HD (except where the schedule made the broadcasting of HD physically impossible).

  • Comment number 21.

    Danielle: Thanks for the post.

    Reminder: We are waiting for a response from you as head of BBC HD on the DOG removal study you instigated and why you can not revert to the higher bit-rate used in the HD trial.

  • Comment number 22.

    Interesting dilemmas that were bound to arise from cherry-picking shows from across the array of channels.

    Personally, and I admit rather selfishly, I am happy with which ever result as I record most of my favoured programs to watch at a later date (oh the joy of shift work!!). I guess my only request would be the opposite of many comments: instead of "oh not more repeats" I want more!

    My dilemma comes when I wish to record more than 2 programs at once and having additional airings of the shows you can repeat at times when there is little else on (ie in the wee small hours) would help enormously!

  • Comment number 23.

    I am mystified re the decision on Heroes. It's only because I've come here that I've found out. I've already series linked it on Sky but didn't know that episode 2 aired first - which I wouldn't have found out until I started to watch it. I agree totally that Silent Witness relies far less on synchronising episodes - have the BBC HD team actually watched Heroes and realised how the format works? This decision is only made even worse when you actually watch some of the HD preview shows which illustrates that the BBC consider this to be one of the flagship shows!

    I rarely watch BBC HD as I find it a nightmare trying to work out when any of the programmes I like to watch is on. Anything I find interesting seems to never be on at the sametime as the SD channel. There is also a lot of rubbish that you put on the HD channel, and I question how many people who are interested in HD want to watch endless repeats of costume dramas, gardners world or the antiques roadshow. When there are some programmes for younger generations (i.e. the under 50's) they seem to be de-prioritised like Heroes has been (and it can't be seen as anything other than de-prioritising when you have put another show ahead of it).

    I am with the other people who are shocked by the decision to not put Merlin in HD. Why spend so much of the license fee advertising this programme (it seemed before every film I have seen in the cinema - and I go to the cinema a lot) and then not do it in HD?

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the blog. It is a shame about Merlin but at least a fight may have been put up for it. It was interesting to see Horizon on BBC HD. I found this surprising as I have watched it for years but as well as some aspects (lengthy interviews face to face) that may not be too technically challenging it has some special effects in it something that various programmes have had the debate about cost of CGI. According to the schedule checker I used Horizon was on BBC2 once but it was only repeated on BBC HD. Is this some devious use to try and up viewer numbers on BBC HD or just poor use? I like Horizon but it's probably going to wind up other people up getting a fairly good repeat slot (10pm) on a not so popular programme.

    The adverts on BBC News and BBC 2 for BBC HD are pretty good. I hope they keep up. There are a lot of people out there starting to ask about HD and it is needed. If you look on forums there are so many new people asking questions about new tvs and the next question is how much HD can I get on such and such a platform and what's this HDMI thing etc. You'll get the viewer number s on BBC HD going up, the message just needs to keep going out.

    Sorry to be a bore to others but like daveac and linowsat I would like to bring up a couple of technical matters. A lot of blogs recently have been a fanfare about the new iPlayer using H.264 at last and a few other things like ultra high definition. Although it might not be your remit I am guessing that using this there might finally be some scope for putting HD on iPlayer (on various platforms) and wondered when this was happening?

    The other thing is bitrates. As I've just written above there are technical efforts going on in other areas so I wondered why the BBC was still using considerably inferior codecs to say a rival organisation that has tandberg codecs that perform much better. I think newer codecs are desperately needed for various reasons. Until this happens you'll get people like me saying we need the bitrate upping again (both could happen but I don't think this very likely).

  • Comment number 25.

    I am hoping that this is a sign that you are rearranging the scheduling of Heroes in HD, but I'm not quite sure just yet.

    According to Radiotimes.com on Wednesday October 1st BBC HD is showing Episode 2 of Heroes Season 3 at 10PM. And then on Sunday the 5th of October in the slot that was occupied by Episode 1, it is now occupied by... Episode 2. Again.

    Hopefully this is the first step towards you making the October 1st screening Episode 1 on BBC HD as would seem sensible.

    The main reason I am hoping for this is that at 11:55PM on October 5th on BBC2, you are apparently showing... Episode 1. Again.

    So BBC 2 viewers get Episode 1 twice in 5 days and BBC HD viewers currently never see it at all!

    Any comment Danielle?

  • Comment number 26.

    Thanks Danielle for explaining the Heroes/Silent Witness clash. Although, really, I don't think it's very satisfactory. Surely, if you know in advance that these things will happen, why can't the people who run the schedules work together and maybe not put two popular shows on at the same time?

    I personally like both Silent Witness and Heroes. I also like Who Do You Think You Are? but I see you all managed to get around that by just shifting the day to Monday. Surely it's not beyond the Beeb's powers to do the same with either SW or Heroes?

    After reading your past blogs I gather people have been asking about their other favourite shows and when they will appear in HD. So, I'm going to do the same. Are there any plans to show Casualty and Holby City in HD?

  • Comment number 27.

    Agree with #25

    Please explain why Heros episode 1 will not be shown on HD. Exactly how much is this saving your BBC HD channel?

  • Comment number 28.

    Sky HD Planner currently shows 05Oct08 as Heros episode 1!

    What is going on. It is my understanding that BBC provide listing information to Sky!

  • Comment number 29.

    Raising the bitrate ist always possible, or the answer. BBC doesn't control the Astra satellite used, there are more channels now, using up available bandwidth. The answer is to change the codec to a more efficient one, which allows a lower bitrate to look just as good. Other channels have done this, the BBC is lagging behind with its out of date codecs.

    What really bugs me about BBC HD is the lack of programming. Why not upscale like Channel 4 does? Their upscalers are of great quality, and sometimes its not easy to see the difference between real HD and upscales. The BBC should do this for its flagship non native HD programmes.

    I dont accept the cost excuse used when defending the decision not to film for HD. Many US shows are HD when its clear some of the sets are not that great, sci-fi shows in particular. It doesnt ruin the show, its something you expect and ignore. US networks seem to have adjusted the way they film to compensate, surely this isnt beyond the BBC is it?

    I think the choice not to use HD will bite the BBC later. Non HD programmes from the late 90s look terrible on large HD sets now. TVs are only going to get larger. Dr Who, Merlin etc will look like dinosaurs in 5 years time, restricting the repeat value.

    I simply dont believe that a small US cable channel can afford HD in a flagship show when the BBC cannot, especially when BBC shows get sold internationally. HD can only increase the value of these shows.

  • Comment number 30.

    Rovex33, BBC HD could up the bitrate, what you have written is not quite correct. BBC HD is on tpx 50 on 2D with a couple of BBC 1 SD variants wasting space. That said everything else you have written is right, it would be great if the BBC could move out of the stone age and use something like tandberg. The other point about codecs is that sky are putting upto 3 HD channels on a transponder whereas it is one per transponder for the Beeb. If this was rectified you could get additional HD channels on that transponder or even a rejigging of space to bring ITV HD onto 2D. Channel 4's upscalers are a bit mad at times, can't see why the beeb can't do it really. They'll need to for simulcast channels eventually. Great post though Rovex33.

  • Comment number 31.

    I hope that series on other channels will make it to BBC HD this winter too; in particular, I note that the second series of Spiral has been announced in the BBC4 Autumn/Winter press pack, and the trailers on the french site indicate that it was in HD.

    It would be great to see Spiral on BBC HD as well as on BBC4.

  • Comment number 32.

    Will Stephen Fry in America be shown on BBC HD?

    It is released on BlueRay DVD so I guess it was produced in HD for the American market.

    I note radiotimes.com has the slot to be announced for BBC1 and HD at 21:00.

  • Comment number 33.

    Is there anyway you can show a repeat of the Eurovision Song Contest in HD? I didnt have HD when it was shown live and would love to see it.

    If not, will you be showing next years Eurovision in HD?

  • Comment number 34.

    BBC HD really needs something more than just the preview when its off air. The HD Preview is quite monotonous after a while.

    I remember back to the 1980s when Channel 4 was still in its own infancy. They used their off air time during school holidays to show a service called Landscape and a google brought up their website. It would appear they are launching a HD service and are looking for interested broadcasters.

    Well if anyone remembers the King Emperor Penguins, in tune to Pachelbel's Canon or the canal boat across the viaduct will know exactly what I mean.

    I think it would benefit BBC HD to have such a service - an alternative to Sky Arts "Aquarivision". The BBC could have access to some new new material in between the info preview sections maybe - or even schedule it in the same way Channel 4 did in the 80's - who knows?

    Reading their forum it appears they are looking for HD outlets to take the service and are asking for those who remember the SD service to contact their broadcasters.

    So come on Danielle and BBC HD - don't miss out on an opportunity to expand your programming and at the same time perhaps show something a little different that would help BBC HD stand out?

  • Comment number 35.

    At present, if you are deaf the only way to watch hidef programs is with Sky. Virgin media and Freestat don't surport the teletext subtitles that are used on the BBC hd channel.
    The format agreed by the BBC for HD with freestat and virgin was DVB subtitles, but for some reason are still not present.

    I find it odd that this has been alowed to go on for so long, when 1 in 7 people in the uk have hearing problems, and are forced to go to Sky if they want better picture quality.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re. Merlin, having sold motion picture film for a major manufacturer, I know that Super 16 can make some great 'telecine' transfers to high definition video. The BBC knows this too.

    There might be something in the idea that the special effects were to blame. Perhaps these were only rendered at PAL resolution to save time and money? For me, they don't seem to sit right against the filmic background. But then, hey, it's chiefly a kid's program.

  • Comment number 37.

    A quick reply on Danielle's behalf

    Dear pd_watkins2000. Please have a look at my first blog about the start of the trial service.


    There is a section about Super16 film and the problems of physical grain size. We do look at new film stock and transfer processes regularly and we now allow 2-perf 35mm film to be used.

    Your are quite correct the TK transfers do look good but (at the moment) there is no chance of getting that quality to the home - maybe BluRay will be a possible interim solution.

  • Comment number 38.

    With regard to the SCD results show and the explanation that it exceeds the 25% of SD material allowed to qualify for inclusion on BBC HD. I would be interested to know just how much SD material made up last night Joanna Lumley Doc: Where Bond Began?

  • Comment number 39.

    re: Strictly Come Dancing results

    A lot of work was done to try to ensure that the results show as well as the main show could be made in HD. But the nature of the results show, with lots of small camera filming and a fast turnaround, meant that we were unable to guarantee that the show could be delivered with the requisite proportions of HD content.

    There is no more "small camera work" in the results show than the main show.

    The main show is broadcast "live", whereas the results show is recorded Saturday night and broadcast Sunday evening, so why "fast turnaround"?

  • Comment number 40.

    Re: Strictly Come Dancing Results Show.

    Hard to understand the thinking here, Danielle.

    TC1 is equipped with 10 HD cameras - OK not small hand held ones apparently. But a lot of money has been spent.

    The excuse given indicates you shoot on miniDV or DVCAM for the interview stuff - and can't afford to upgrade the cameras or post-production to HD. A Sony D1 HD camcorder is not all that expensive these days!

    The way it works currently you have around 24 hours to get the results show ready for TX. Not exactly a fast turnaround!

    After the end of series it seems nonsense to say this kit couldn't be used on other programmes. Is it going to be thrown in the bin? Perhaps this is to do with the bizarre break up of the BBC into Productions/ Facilities etc?

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    As usual Ms Nagler, like most of the Senior BBC Management, you are completely out of touch with your viewers. My example is Topgear.It is shot to look like a quality Motoring Magazine and deserves Awards for the Photography alone.HD would make more difference to this show than any other. I guess the fact that it doesn't meet the BBCs "PC" correctness Mantra, will keep it SD.
    I do not watch Mr Woss for his beautifull looks to be in HD. HD ads absolutely nothing to the show, so whoever made that choice is totally wrong.
    If you need the money, and concidering the BBC gets £3.7 Billion a year! Close BBC3.The biggest waste of space and money.The future is HD, not BBC3. If you cann't see that, your in the wrong job.

  • Comment number 45.

    #44. At 8:17pm on 22 Sep 2009, toycollectorbaz wrote:

    "As usual Ms Nagler, like most of the Senior BBC Management, you are completely out of touch with your viewers. My example is Topgear.It is shot to look like a quality Motoring Magazine and deserves Awards for the Photography alone.HD would make more difference to this show than any other. I guess the fact that it doesn't meet the BBCs "PC" correctness Mantra, will keep it SD."

    Before going off on an anti BBC 'rant' might I suggest that you check your facts and keep up to date?...

  • Comment number 46.

    re #45

    Not sure what happened to the URL there, lets try again;

    ...and keep up to date?...

  • Comment number 47.

    So, it took seven Hundred emails to get the show in HD. WHY??? Thats what i call listening.
    Anyone who has watched this series over Three years would have known TG should have been one of the the FIRST shows to go HD. I repeat. HD ads nothing to Jonathan Ross.You watch for the interviews, not the picture quality. Guess its another way of justifying his wage.As for my "rant" I still say the BBCs HD output is pathetic. I did a tour of TV Centre Three years ago.When i asked the guide about HD she said "We are going to leave it to Sky!!" Thank God the BBC Mangement didnt think that way at the birth of BBCTV back in the 1930s

  • Comment number 48.

    #47. At 12:37pm on 23 Sep 2009, toycollectorbaz wrote:

    "So, it took seven Hundred emails to get the show in HD. WHY??? Thats what i call listening."

    Out of how many viewers though...

    "As for my "rant" I still say the BBCs HD output is pathetic. I did a tour of TV Centre Three years ago..."

    ...and now you're an expert I suppose?

    There is more to HD than just what a few viewers want, or just pointing a HD camera at the set, Sky charge a premium for their HD content to pay for it, perhaps it's time for a HD TVL surcharge, just like their was - and still is - for Colour (compared to the B&W licence fee).

  • Comment number 49.

    I for one would not like to see a rush into just putting anything and everything out on the HD channel. It is still relatively early days and, for me at least, the fact that the HD channel is used for 'top drawer' and high profile content contributes to the 'showcase' nature of the channel. There ARE people out there that care about quality.

    I think the perceived 'exclusivity' of the channel is it's strength and goes a long way to promoting not only the content but the technical expertise of the BBC. Unfortunately, recent bitrate reductions and encoder changes that seem only financially motivated have already begun to erode this image.

    HD is maturing but sadly it seems that it is now being used as a tool FOR the marketing department, rather than the marketing department making the most of the 'BBC Showcase' angle. It seems that the end product has been compromised.

  • Comment number 50.

    > "So, it took seven Hundred emails to get the show in HD. WHY???"

    Well, I'd say it's because a "no-brainer" isn't always. It would have been easy enough to say "We think that Top Gear would be popular in High Definition" but with actual requests from viewers requesting it, it would then become a lot easier to justify any change in equipment and production that was needed.
    This way, they can show an actual level of interest. Not just base it on "Well, it's an obvious fit, right?" Especialy for a show that, as I understand, is not filmed in a regular studio and has many outside segments.

    > "I repeat. HD ads nothing to Jonathan Ross."

    Except that, as a guess taken from an earlier blog (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/bbc_hd_tv_update_jonathan_ross.html%29, it was probably a more simple matter of moving from one TVC studio to another.
    I'm no expert, but I would assume that it requires more investment (and justification) to move HD equipment to a new studio than to move a program to a different studio within the same(?) building.

    To me, it seems only logical to move shows in the same building to the HD-ready studio. As the equipment and experience is already there. Switching an external production to HD sounds like it would logically require more solid justification. So I'm glad that the BBC asked, and that they listened.

    I'm hoping this means the next series may come out on Blu-ray, but I guess that's a somewhat separate issue.


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