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Happy Birthday BBC HD

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 10:00 UK time, Sunday, 7 December 2008

I want to invite you to join me in raising a virtual glass - filled with whatever you fancy - to mark the first birthday of BBC HD.

Although I'm sure that some of you will have been with us since the trial days of the BBC's HD broadcasts, back in 2006, the channel formally launched on 7th December last year, weeks after it was given approval by the BBC Trust. In the last 12 months the HD family, of you the audience, and the programmes we have to offer you, has grown enormously and I feel very privileged to have become part of it all back in July.

As ever there have been teething pains - disappearing sound, and on occasions pictures, lip synch, picture quality and DOGs - but with 5 times the resolution comes, in some cases, 5 times the complexity and a whole new technology chain with which to become familiar. Although channels undoubtedly grow up faster than people - and in many cases their life expectancy may be less - BBC HD is still only a toddler and there's a fair amount of maturing to do. I hope that over the next year we will be able to offer more stable delivery and a richer mix of programming on the channel so that whatever your personal passions there is always something that you can find to engage with. ("two champagne glasses" image from quinn.anya on flickr)

This space has been a really important place to share thinking over the last year thanks to you, and your contributions to it.

I hope that we'll grow further over the next year, but I believe that we're open enough to bring those who want to join us into this conversation, and I promise that those of us who work on BBC HD have no intention of getting either too grand or too busy to continue this conversation with you.

Do stay with us - and invite your friends as they gradually get HD connected into both this blog, and the BBC HD channel.

All the best

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision


  • Comment number 1.

    Yes, happy birthday BBC HD. But as those at the Beeb raise there glass, do you think there might be a chance they could lower the number of repeats?

    Primetime at weekends should not be overrun with repeats of Torchwood etc. which we have all seen many times already.

  • Comment number 2.

    Thank you so much for caring, Danielle! Your predecessor didn't seem as engaged with HD as you are. Excellent job.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, Happy Birthday !

    I am sure most of us are happy to have a `quality` HD channel doing what the BBC does best - quality programmes.

    Like many others I feel there are things that need to change but hopefully that will come with time.

    If I was to have a `wish list` for year 2 it would be ; DOG - get rid, Repeats - less of, Scheduling - give us at least simulcast of programmes & no more waiting for the HD broadcast days or weeks after airing on SD channel. Last of all please Santa bring me F1 in HD next season !

    Cheers BBC HD !!!

  • Comment number 4.

    HappyBirthday BBC HD

    Spookily my big TV is just over 1 year old as well.

    It's a 42in Toshiba and I never would have bought a TV of this size for SD TV only.

    Please keep up the drive for even higher HD picture quality as I intend to save up for an even bigger TV ;-)

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 5.

    Happy Birthday BBC HD: The Gold Standard.

    Thanks for your efforts on reducing the impact of the HD DOG. I still do not agree with the reasons given for having anything disturbing the High Quality Pictures!

    Please do not underestimate the value of 5.1 sound production. It adds a valued dimension to the HD experience!

    I am not convinced that 16Mbps is sufficient bandwidth for HD with the current compression technology. How about a blind trial back to the rate used during the HD Trials.

    I welcome you and your teams contributions to these blogs.

  • Comment number 6.

    How long before HD appears on the iplayer?

    Good luck!

  • Comment number 7.

    Actually I don't mind the repeats it lets me catch up.

    Its very good at times - Wallander is a case in point.

    Keep working on the picture quality

  • Comment number 8.

    i don't think anyone has a problem with repeats of new shows, it's the constant repeats of Robin Hood, Planet Earth and Torchwood that grate.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have been very disappointed with the BBC HD service. I seem to remember the BBC talking about nearly all programs being in HD by 2010. This seems to be unlikley now.

    The first issue is that a high proportion of the programs are repeats. Night after night I look at the scheduals to find repeat after repeat.

    The second problem is having to continuously check to see if an SD program is available on HD. There should be a BBC One HD channel which would also provide better upscaled SD.

    The third is that some HD versions of programs are put out at different times from the SD version making life even more difficult to find out if it is in HD.

    The fourth is some programs are made in HD but broadcast in HD. A recent example was Steven Frys America series which is now available on Blu-ray but not transmitted in HD. I think that this would constitute a misuse of licence payers money. The primary resposibility is for the BBC to provide programs not make money out of blu-ray sales.

    The fifth is the lack of sport in HD. Sky seems to be able to produce live sport in HD most of the time. The BBC rarely provides sport in HD even when an HD feed is already available. Most of the premiership matches are recorded in HD but Match of the Day is still in SD. I am amaised that there is even a discusion about F1 being in HD.

    Sixth is the lack of surroud sound. Too many programs are being output in stereo. Again Sky transmitts nearly all its football in 5.1.

    Seventh is transmitting some of Strictly come dancing in HD and half is SD. This is the most stupid decision I have seen so far.
    Actually I don't watch it any more because of the way Seargent was treated.

    Eighth is Little Dorit being pulled from HD because of a change in schedule on BBC 1. There is absolutly no logical reason for doing that.

    End of rant!.

    The real challenge for BBC HD seems to be the viewing figures. The most popular program on BBC is Strictly Come Dancing. BBC HD with 51,000 viewers and BBC 1 with 10,700,000 viewers. Considering there must be a million households capable of receiving HD why are the figures so disproportionatly low. I can only think that people are either not aware that the HD version is available or they cannot be bothered to change channel. Of cource the lack of an HD version on Sunday adds to the confusion. I think having a BBC 1 HD channel could considerably increase the HD viewing figures.

  • Comment number 10.

    Babies normally have their name tags removed when they leave hospital. There's no reason I can see for a one year old to still be wearing one!

    Remove the DOG and I'll be a very happy camper. Happy Birthday, BBC-HD.

  • Comment number 11.

    Happy Birthday (although BBC HD is really more than two years old). I still maintain all the other points I've posted about the channel. It was very nice to see a film on BBC HD the other night - The Merchant of Venice - and a good one too. There are one or two films on at Christmas I will watch - Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Finding Neverland.

    With respect to the BARB figures discrepency for strictly, I believe this just shows that you need more of the excellent trailers that have been on recently. On the other hand someone else might argue that the time should be utilized by something else as people clearly aren't interested?

    I think really what the channel needs is the promise made earlier this year - full 9hrs by April 2009. Once you have the hours you just need to keep up on the marketing side and get more and more made in HD.

  • Comment number 12.

    Happy birthday BBC-HD!

    For all the disappointed viewers, take a look into other countrys. Here in germany we have to wait until 2010 to watch our public broadcasters in high definition. The private engagement has been canceled one year ago and the most popular pay tv provider offers only two HD-channels.

  • Comment number 13.

    Happy Birthday BBC HD -

    Shame to celebrate by leaving the 'BBC HD Preview' DOG on-screen all this evening!

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks jordanrowland

    Just got in from the school carol service and had to do a bit of un-festive shouting

    Should be back to normal very soon


  • Comment number 15.

    Just enjoyed the latest episode of Survivors on BBC HD - it is getting better.

    I pity the 'BBC HD Preview' logo was on screen for most of it. :-(

    Perhaps the technical staff had a 'party' to go too. ;-)

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 16.

    Shouting worked and it's gone! Will investigate tomorrow


  • Comment number 17.

    Danielle - Just a big thank you for your efforts for the short time you have been with the channel, not least by reducing or removing the impact of the horrible DOG.

    A repeat of the memorable Nigel Kennedy PROM would not go amiss as it was ruined in HD by a Peak White DOG along with other programmes for that evening.

    The programmes over Christmas look good so keep up the good work in 2009.


  • Comment number 18.

    Happy Birthday!

    Things were going so well - the first three episodes of Survivors were DOG-free, but last night the DOG was back!

    Oh well.

    Feel like I'm wasting my breath.

  • Comment number 19.

    I see Sky News are coving Obama's inauguration in HD on Sky Arts. So come on BBC. Lets see it on BBCHD. It can't cost that much for a HD feed and all the US networks will be covering it in HD.

  • Comment number 20.


    you're kidding right? why would anyone not from the US want to watch the inauguration of a US President on tv, let alone on the HD channel?

    i know we all want more HD content, but seriously, airing that would be taking things too far. i'd rather watch repeats of Robin Hood.

    it was overkill enough on the Beeb during the election. just because Obama fits the left-wing, politically-correct, all-inclusive, multi-culti, liberal views of the Beeb it's no reason to treat him any differently to Bush, and we didn't need to watch him being inaugurated.

    by all means have news and politics, but not US stuff. get Question Time, This Week, Newsnight etc. or more drama, sci-fi, light entertainment.

    anything but Obama.

  • Comment number 21.


    This is a blog about HD. No matter what your views are, the event will be on all UK media outlets.

    I've seen a few US news clips in HD from the internet and they do look so much better than watching standards converted 4x3 pictures.

  • Comment number 22.

    so what, we should want to see this purely because it's HD? if Sky want to show it on their never-watched Arts channel then that's up to them, but Auntie Beeb should steer clear. give us a choice of what to watch.

    by all means argue for more HD content; i'll back you all the way. but not all programmes are worthy of HD treatment, and until we have multiple HD channels, the BBC should focus on those shows which deserve it.

    and your point about 'all UK media outlets' covering this [non]-'event'; sure the papers'll have a few pages about it, but those of us not interested can skip those pages. if it's on the 6 o'clock or 10 o'clock news, well, at least it'll only be for a couple of minutes... and the only radio i listen to is Terry Wogan & Ken Bruce so i won't have to hear about it on the radio either.

    but we only have 1 BBC HD channel and whilst we still only have it for limited hours, it should focus on entertainment, drama and documentaries.

  • Comment number 23.

    After 12 months you should surely be able to replace the never ending previews with some decent content?

    Please try and improve the 1080i output to 1080p so that it can compete with the superior picture and sound quality of Blu Ray.

    And please get rid of the DOG as I don’t like screen clutter and will keep switching to other channels.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks to everyone at BBC HD and for the new year.


    I aggree with entertainment. Many panel shows could be shown in HD as they use a minimal number of camera positions.
    And flagship shows such as Top Gear should be broadcast in HD.

    Documentaries and drama have to be produced in HD because the television market dictates that HD copies should be made.

    The BBC just needs to make sure it has the rights to show them on BBC HD.
    Stephen Fry in America has not been shown despite a Blu-Ray edition being avaliable.
    And Merlin will no doubt be shown in HD in the US.

    Sports should be the real focus though.

    As I said in my previous post

    -Formula One.
    -The 2010 Winter Olympics - It is only just over a year away now.
    -Daytime coverage of the Skiing world cup which Eurosport HD currently broadcasts but the BBC hold joint rights to broadcast.
    That will provide a great deal of weekend HD Sport coverage.
    -Match of the Day and football focus.
    -Championship League Football. 10 games from next season.
    -1 Leg of the Carling cup final, both games.
    -The Carling Cup Final from 2010.
    -Autumn Internationals for the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Rugby teams and highlights of the England team.
    -EDF Energy Cup and the Magners League rights that the BBC own.
    -Challenge Cup and the Super League Show highlights show.
    -Football League Highlights - Championship,League 1,2 and Carling Cup games. From next season.
    -The Grand national.
    -The Open.
    -PGA Championship, the World Match Play Championship, the British Masters and the Scottish Open.
    -And highlights of the Ryder Cup.
    -The London based NFL game.
    -Moto GP.
    -Highlights of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20.
    -World Snooker Championships.
    -Masters Snooker, the UK Championship and the Grand Prix.
    -BDO World Darts Championships
    -The Australian and French Open Tennis finals and where any British player is involved.
    -Tennis- British Davis Cup teams matches, Queen's Club Championships and Masters Tennis from the Albert Hall.
    -Football - SPL highlights and Scottish FA Cup highlights.
    -And any friendly or qualifying football games or highlights from the home nations that the BBC own.

    Once the BBC has covered those rights it can also look at other sports to convert.

    And continue to show

    -All 6 Nations Rugby games.
    -The Superbowl final.
    -The US Masters.

    And in the future.

    The Commonwealth Games

    I know sport isn't the only thing the BBC has and there will be those in favour of investment elsewhere.

    But look at the BARB ratings.
    BBC HD for its current mixture of shows is pulling in a fraction of the audience that the shows reach on BBC1 and 2.
    And this is despite the number of HD homes being around 1.1 million.


    Bringing in sport not only will drive up the number of hours of BBC HD but it will drive up awareness of BBC HD and the rest of its programming.

    Since a great deal of it is already produced in HD its a case of just upgrading the studios and production and editing chain.

    Take football. It is all produced in HD at the premiership level so for MOTD its a case of editing the highlights in HD and changing the studio over to HD.
    The same goes for the 6 nations, it is all produced in HD yet the Autumn internationals aren't.

  • Comment number 25.

    Happy Birthday BBC HD and let's hope that you grow and grow!
    I am wondering if you are aware at BBC HD how much better the picture quality is when a program has been filmed in HD?
    I have just been watching a recording I made of Apperitions on my Freeview PVR and the picture quality was stunning, I really had to look twice!
    So if you filmed everything in HD, then its a win win situation for ALL of your viewers, because those who have HD can benefit obviously and so can the viewers who can't view HD.
    (Good argument for raising the budget! ;) )
    I would love to see everything being filmed and broadcast via HD. I realise that it is more costly to do so at this point in time, but as always I look to the BBC to lead and others will then follow. HD is the future.

  • Comment number 26.

    Danielle: I can not understand the scheduling problems that mean the results show of Strictly broadcast on BBC 1 could not be simulcast on BBC HD. Please explain why you could not use the slot on your channel!

  • Comment number 27.

    the 'official' line is that they can't do the results as there's "too much behind the scenes clips" on the results show and they are not in HD.

    this is of course, a total lie as there is and always has been equally as much (if not more) behind the scenes clips on the main show.

    the real reason is because Auntie cares more about BBC1 and want's people to tune in there so they can have big viewing figures to show off.

  • Comment number 28.

    One year old and about the same time it's taken and still not there, to get Subtitles on BBC freesat HD.
    I see that they are now available on ITV, so how come the mighty BBC can't do it??
    Still much to do in my view, such as.....

    Remove all DOGS
    Stop having trailer loops on the HD channel half of the day and show a programme for hevens sake!

    And yes FIX the HD subtitle problem Now!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear malcolmtvhd

    DVB subtitles are now working on Freesat.


  • Comment number 30.

    Andy - Is the BBC linking in BBCi to BBC HD so BBCi can be used and so users can switch to other channels?

    Perhaps satellite and cable users and in the future dtt users could recieve on onscreen press red option to open up BBCi to a link to BBCHD when programming is being shown in HD as well.

  • Comment number 31.

    Is there any specific reason why BBCHD around the world often shows more content than the UK version?

    Select each country to see the extra content.
    A great deal is repeated but its better than a promo loop.

  • Comment number 32.

    Saturday night, watching Survivors, and the DOG is back.
    Can we have some consistency please?

  • Comment number 33.

    DOG also on Lark Rise To Candleford, & earlier on the Ballet. What's going on???

  • Comment number 34.

    Brothers Grimm in HD - excellent quality, no DOG. Great stuff.

  • Comment number 35.

    Lark Rise To Candleford ruined by DOG! Superimposing BBCHD on someone's head whilst they're delivering some emotional dialogue really doesn't enhance my enjoyment of drama programmes - I thought it was supposed to have gone? Wouldn't it be simpler to just get rid of the thing for all programmes? You're losing the goodwill of people who were thanking you for making some progress.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'd like to complain about The Santa Clause being pulled from BBC HD to be replaced by some kind of kids programme. Finding Nemo was also replaced the other day by Bruce Almighty. Whilst the first may have been a mistake by my tv guide, this latter one was showing much less than 24hrs away on two schedulers. I expect it was some kind of rights balls up by the Beeb but I'm not really too amused. If the same thing happens with Santa Clause 2 tomorrow I'll be putting in a complaint to Ofcom. A genuine shame.

  • Comment number 37.

    Danielle: Please consider broadcasting next years Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performing their traditional New Year's Day concert on your HD channel in 5.1 surround sound.

    I believe this is an EBU showcase that BBC HD could do justice to.


  • Comment number 38.

    Hi - I am watching the repeat of the Proms, today, in 5.1 Surround sound but at the start the sound was all wrong. The presenter's voices were coming out, very muffled, from the rear speakers and there was nothing from the centre speaker at all. Now the music is on it seems to be alright but there was definitely something wrong before.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Danielle - Thanks for blogging - Is there any reason why episode 2 of "Three Men in More Than One Boat" is being shown on BBC HD (simulcast with BBC2) - but episode One is not scheduled to be shown on BBC HD at all?

  • Comment number 40.

    Danielle- Is there any reason why Question time and The Big questions both produced by Mentorn Oxford and filmed by Arqiva in HD are not shown on the BBC HD channel as this seems a very strange decision to have two high rating programmes that are shown only on the BBC filmed and produced in HD yet they are not on BBC HD even if not shown live it would give a new side to the channel covering politics and religion on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 41.

    "Is there any reason why episode 2 of "Three Men in More Than One Boat" is being shown on BBC HD (simulcast with BBC2) - but episode One is not scheduled to be shown on BBC HD at all?"

    You need Digiguide if you're a BBC HD viewer!!

    Episode 1 is on Monday 12th at 9pm and episode 2, Tuesday 13th at 10pm.

    Crazy but true.

    BTW why is the DOG back on dramas, e.g Lark Rise?

  • Comment number 42.

    Sorry, episode two is Wednesday 14th at 10pm.

  • Comment number 43.

    sipasblog - Danielle tells me that she spotted this herself over Xmas and is investigating.

    Hopefully she will blog about it.

  • Comment number 44.

    The DOG was also on last night's "The Diary of Anne Frank."

  • Comment number 45.

    Happy Birthday BBC HD

    A Christmas Present from the HD Channel!

    The Queens DOG!

    I thought broadcasting The Queen's speech WITH a DOG was a disgrace. The idea the BBC should wish to place commercial branding on The Queen's broadcast is extremely disrespectful to Her Majesty and patronising to viewers.

    Come-on BBC - Ditch The DOG!

    BTW Sky Anytime had a perfect HD version of The Queen's speech without any branding.

    Well Done Sky!

  • Comment number 46.

    Why is the excellent Nicholas Crane's Britannia programme episode 1, shown only yesterday evening, being repeated tonight? There's precious few hours of BBC HD anyway so it's disappointing not to be offered something new.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't want to seem too negative but, further to my last, tonight we've been offered 2 episodes of "After you've gone" back-to-back, during the peak viewing time. I'm afraid to say it has to be the worst sitcom I've ever watched and certainly doesn't live-up to your "best of the BBC" promise. The canned laughter accompanying the unfunny jokes was infuriating. As an excuse for the limited BBC HD output, I've read elsewhere that the BBC does not yet have the HD resources to make enough programmes to fill a full schedule. Why on earth you chose to use some of them making this show is beyond me. On Sunday evening I think, you had a reasonably good movie on. Please can we have some more thought put into the evening scheduling and at least a few more good HD, 5.1, films.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

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


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