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The Doctor Comes To BBC HD

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009


I know that for some who read this programmes are a second order issue, compared to the DOG and our broadcast bitrate.

But I hope my instincts are right that for many of you the content that we are able to bring you in HD is what determines whether you want to watch the channel.

I can confirm that yes, the Dr Who Special broadcasting over Easter weekend will be the first appearance of the HD Doctor, and he will be a regular guest on BBC HD (alongside the existing Doctors). You can also catch the Dr Who Prom again on Saturday, and there's a chance to see Finding Nemo in HD quality.

This summer alongside the drama of Wimbledon, we'll also have tennis from Queens' Club (well, just before the lawn tennis event actually) and we'll have the next series of Dragons' Den in HD providing ample opportunity to see the sweat and tears of the entrepreneurs in detail never before possible. The coming weeks will also see a brand new series of children's show Kerwhizz, acclaimed daytime drama Missing, and more of the new series of Robin Hood, together with some fresh Saturday night entertainment shows.

I know there will always be a host of frustrations around what is not made in HD and therefore shown on the channel - frustrations which I regularly share - but we are working across the BBC to bring you the brightest and the best of the television we're responsible for, and to create a channel which combines familiar programmes with those which can most effectively showcase the qualities that only HD brings to the screen.

Do watch, and I hope enjoy.

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good news with those shows. Is there a rough date for HD on iPlayer, particularly, can we expect that to at least go in to Labs in time for Doctor Who?

  • Comment number 2.

    I love BBC HD but I wonder how it'll expand now more and more shows are being recorded in HD? It seems a lot of the more prominent shows in HD are broadcast at the same time on other BBC channels (Eg Robin Hood, Jonathan Ross, presumably Doctor Who etc etc) and so it seems to me that ITV's model is perhaps more suitable for the transitional period when some, but not all, content on each channel is available in HD.

    ITV's model is simple - there is no specific HD channel but when content is being shown that is also available in HD a notification appears and you can press the red button to watch the better quality version.

    While this model is (in my opinion) better, I do think there is still a place for the BBC HD channel in providing repeats of previously broadcast HD content, in much the same way as it does presently in amongst all the new items.

    All that said, I'm greatly looking forward to watching Doctor Who, the Prom and Finding Nemo over the Easter weekend!

  • Comment number 3.

    People are very bothered about content. On my reckoning the three biggest asks in HD are Doctor Who, Top Gear and F1 (btw I also happen to watch all three so I'm going to agree with that). So that's one out of three and hopefully something will be sorted out at the tail end of 2009 for Formula 1. So if Doctor Who continues to be shot in HD after the specials I'm very happy.

    Dragon's Den, interesting choice, it's a bit more high profile as a programme than some of the other new additions. I think it's a shame about the Snooker World Championship though. On Sports I do worry that the BBC will get into a bit of a routine of doing the same sports every year - Rugby, Wimbledon, Masters Golf, any World Cup or Olympics that comes along as I believe the record shows this from 2006 onwards.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks to all those at BBC HD, more programming is always valued.

    Is there any news of what is being planned for the Autumn and Winter schedule?

    There are long running shows like Top Gear,Have I got news for you and QI that would be very popular.

    There will be live Championship football on the BBC from the new football season. As well as Autumn International Rugby games. Then will also be live snooker and darts.
    And it's possible that the final F1 race will be broadcast in HD, it is possible that the Japan Grand Prix will aslo be broadcast in HD as well.
    If possible Match of the Day could also be shown in HD seeing as the games are already fimed in HD.

    The BBC is now looking into new comedy shows including a new version of dead ringers, there is also the return of shooting stars.

    It would be great if the BBC coverage of various opera and ballet performances could be shown in HD, Sky Arts is known to show its content in HD.

    This would be all welcome on top of the various new drama and natural history shows which are being made seeing as they are now made in HD for the international market as well. More Horizon would also be welcome.

    It would be good as well if the BBC could shown HD versions of films it also broadcasts over various BBC channels, especially at the weekend.

    Also is anything going to be done over the scheduling issues that meant Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer was shown 2 weeks after it was shown on BBC1 , this will have reduced its number of viewers seeing as they will have already have likely seen it 2 weeks ago.
    With the BBC aiming to have the majority of content in HD by 2010 at the current rate it would be better to switch to BBC1 HD,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies and simulcast shows so viewers can watch the HD version at the same time.

    If each HD channel became jointly your responsibility and that of the controller of those channels it would encourage them to get more content in HD rather than have large periods of trailers because of the current policy of upscaling.

    Moving over to BBC1 HD,2,3/CBBC,4/CBeebies would also give freesat and other HD platforms a boost as other free services aren't developing as fast.

  • Comment number 5.

    You need to remove %3Cbr%20/%3Es from the URL link for the Formula One story,I'm not sure why the BBC site adds it.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think the BBC has done well with HD stuff on documentaries in 2009, natural history or not - Yellowstone, Nature's Great Events, some Horizon, Science and Islam, Darwin season stuff and a few others I can't quite remember.

    I can't disagree with Andrew Knight. I also hope Doctor Who in HD beats the viewers record in the BARB ratings.

  • Comment number 7.

    I often complain on this blog - but the switch to HD for Doctor Who is thrilling, and something I have nothing but praise for.

    As much as I'd like HD F1 - that's down to Bernie, not the BBC.

  • Comment number 8.

    Just to follow up from the first comment...

    Any schedule available for HD content on iPlayer? I know a lot of people who have been looking forward to HD access via iPlayer for some time. I no longer use our TV to watch BBC programs, as most of my viewing is done almost exclusively via the iPlayer.

    Being able to watch these shows in HD would be amazing.

  • Comment number 9.

    Excellent news that Doctor Who is now in HD.

    Make sure the trailers and the pre-show announcer mentions this fact, and I dare say you should end up with some decent viewing figures.

  • Comment number 10.

    Dr Who AND Dragons Den! Can't wait!

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like more forthcoming programme info in this Blog.Lets hope we have a weekly post from now on, keep it up.
    I agree with digital_elysium post 9. You need to make sure trailers mention BBC HD. Tonight trailers for both All the Small Things and Doctor Who failed to mention both were on The HD Channel. On a Positive note it did mention Doctor Who being in HD on the front of the Radio Times.

    BBC HD Quality is fantastic Yellowstone and Natures Great Events have been spellbinding. Looking forward to The Masters and keep working on the Open 2010 that would be Excellent.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm VERY pleased that Doctor Who is getting the HD treatment - but I must be fair and say that Dr Who on SD had a pretty good picture - something to do with the high quality camera lens used I believe.

    Anyway - thank you for this - I hope that it is made in 1080p although I realise it will be airred in 1080i

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 13.

    Forgot to mention

    I take it the logo will be removed during Doctor Who as is (your) plan with Drama on BBC HD

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 14.

    What influence do you have on listings in Radio Times?

    The information currently listed there for the HD channel is pitiful, providing no information at all about content of each HD programme.

    This listing should be an important aspect to the promotion of the HD channel.

    If the listings were more prominent and more detailed, people may take more interest and view more of the HD schedule...

  • Comment number 15.

    It is great that more programmes are being broadcast in HD. However, I don't understand why you are going to broadcast more childrens programmes on the HD channel as children do not appreciate the quality of BBC HD. Please can you put some worthwile programmes such as the Apprentice, Top Gear, Merlin, Strictly results, Eastenders, F1, Match of the Day.


  • Comment number 16.

    I think its excellent that we are getting Dr Who in HD.

    My biggest gripe is why in goodness can't the BBC (like ITV will by April) broadcast BBC1, 2, 3 and 4 in HD via our Sky+ HD boxes?

    We pay enough for the license, and we also pay our subscription to Sky for an HD receiver, yet you can't give us HD except for (albeit a good selection) your own choice of HD broadcasts for 9 hours.

    We all want HD if we have the equipment to receive it, but in the BBC's case, it is strictly on Freesat, which penalises others who actually PAY for something!

    What say you about that Auntie Beeb?

  • Comment number 17.

    Paul_Iddon - if this is true all ITV will be doing is giving Sky viewers access to ITV HD like freesat owners. It will only be selected programmes on just ITV1.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am really happy to hear that Dr Who is coming to BBC HD. Why is the HD content so limited? Surely films should be a weekly event and not just for special occasions like Christmas of Easter! I agree with High-999 you haven't even mention about Merlin, which in my opinion is far better quality than Robin Hood. If you want people to tune in to BBC HD you need to show people something of interest. Look at your viewing figures and choose accordingly!

  • Comment number 19.

    Danielle: You are over reacting about our DOG and Bit-rate requests. Please do not dismiss us and use your reaction to do this. I value the BBC HD service and what your team have achieved! One last attempt: Please keep in mind how much value added 5.1 sound provides to the HD experience.

  • Comment number 20.


    The content IS more important than the medium. However, the better the medium, the more the content can be shine through. In other words, the better the medium, the less intrusion of the medium is upon the content. Any more programmes created in HD can only be positive, however, is it the right kind of HD?

    There seems to be a current trend to create as much as possible in the 24/25 Progressive format to give a 'film look', or rather, as I call it; Inglorious Nechricolor. It seems to me that most decisions to make programmes in this format are made on either commercial grounds to make them saleable to the lucrative overseas market or creatively by producers '...because film is "the look" '(With all its inherent major flaws) rather than for the viewer's perception.

    Frame rate does affect the perception of the content. Generally speaking, the higher the rate, the more associated the viewer is into the experience (Trumball et. al). Thus, higher TEMPORAL definition is as important as the number of pixels. Therefore, surely the +required viewer's experience+ ought to drive how a programme is formatted rather than creative fads or commercial decisions.

    Examples of viewer 'feedback' on definition has been where a programme like 'Casualty' was attempted in 25P rather than 50i and viewers complained. 'Mock the Week' was made in 25P only to start with. 'Live at the Apollo' is a good example of an apparent Oxymoron. 25P made it look recorded, disassociated and with a 'distant' perception.

    In practice, there is no reason why programmes could be created in xxxp50 format and then scaled to xxxx24P for export.

    Personally I'd prefer to watch 720P72 so that the CONTENT could be seen more clearly (Snell & Wilcox et. al.) but I realise that ain't going to happen anytime soon.

    However, please keep ANY advancements coming! :-)

  • Comment number 21.

    The thing is though Danielle some viewers do care about picture quality and wont bother watching something if the quality is not there. Would you buy a loaf of bread if it looks mouldy????

    Watching the Golf in HD last night showed why the beeb need new encoders or an increase in bandwith on the current encoders. I know the beebs current stance is sod bandwith and picture quality, but quality really does matter to some people including me.

    Why not increase bandwith for sporting events???? I know it comes down to cash but at the end if the day if the quality is not there neither will the viewers.

    Glad to see doctor who in HD, but cannott believe the Snooker wont be covered in HD. Looks like many viewers will be watching the eurosport coverage for the upscaled pictures.

  • Comment number 22.

    Once I got FREESAT I looked forward to what would be next on BBC HD. Even the changes to the showcase preview loop were worth looking out for. The powerful BBC HD set-piece between each exert really let you know you were watching and listening (Dolby Digital is fantastic) to something special. Live shows, wildlife and other documentaries (remember the China and 80 Gardens series?)andlive usic slots were suburb. The shows even convinced my wife that HD was worth the outlay .... THE BEST OF BBC. BUT alas no more.......children’s programmes? Jonathan Ross? sitcoms? Kids are not interested in HD and what new dimensions to our viewing experience do Jonathan or sitcoms bring in HD? Sadly, I now watch HD rarely and when I do I am either irritated by a children’s programme being on (including in the show case loop) just when I want to wind-down from work, or unimpressed by the uninspiring content generally.
    Please BBC: you know how to wow us, so please find a way of doing it again. Otherwise my FREESAT Box will just collect dust.
    Highly Disappointing.

  • Comment number 23.

    I object to the rather smug attitude that the DOG and bitrate are not as significant as the programme. Of course the programme is what I am choosing to watch promarily but... I would not purchase a torn magazine, an opened box of cornflakes, a scratched CD, or stay in a movie theatre if there was an out of focus picture. I have paid for hi fidelity in audio and video reproduction. The DOG is unnecessary and the excuses for not getting rid of it are facile. the bitrate I accept is a limitation of broadcast medium but should not be reduced lightly. Remember I am a customer, paying for the service I receive. I do not accept shoddy workmanship or dismal service in the shop, why should the BBC be excempt.

  • Comment number 24.

    i'm with bigfan001; i used to have BBC HD on all the time, even on the preview loop as i was so amazed by he picture quality. however, i hardly watch nowadays. looking through my planner just now, with the exception of the new Doctor Who tonight, the only shows i have set to watch are Heroes and Later...

    do we really need 2 hours of kids programmes every day? i understand the argument for making all shows in HD for export and/or future proofing, but if as the BBC tell us, the channel is a showcase for the 'best of the BBC' then programmes aimed at toddlers clearly have no place on it.

    i part ways with bigfan001 when it comes to comedy and shows such as Jonothan Ross. there is definitely a place for them on BBC HD. i wouldn't want to see it be used purely for drama, documentaries and natural history/nature shows. we have BBC4 for that.

    but yeah, what i'm trying to say is we need more new shows and less repeats and kids shows.

    is the new series of Ashes to Ashes going to be in HD?

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't think Danielle is dismissing your views on encoders. But as she said in this post:

    "The comments on encoders do not go unnoticed - rest assured wednesday83 and others - there is work underway but unfortunately going first down the path to HD does inevitably mean that later entrants can buy later generations of equipment, and it would not be best use of your licence fees to replace kit before it had served its useful life."

  • Comment number 26.

    Thanks for Dr Who!

  • Comment number 27.


    get ya complaints in people about the poor servivce from BBC HD and the insults they thro at us regardibg bandwith and encoders.

    The Golf last night showed exactly that bandwith does matter (dont care what BBC HD staff tell us). Its time people made the bbc stand up and listen to teh people who pay their wages and pay for the service.

    Its time for the bandwith to be upped back to around 20 mbps second and fast until the new encoders arrive. The people in charge of BBC HD are ruining what could be a fantastic channel.

    And before Andy Quested tells us bandwith doesnt matter - take a look at the golf.

  • Comment number 28.

    I happened to be watching the Golf on BBC HD yesterday on a new HD tv (via Freesat) and it looked alright to me...

  • Comment number 29.


    The golf may have been converted from 60Hz. I am sure someone else can comment if this is so. If it was this will have an impact on the picture quality.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nick reposts this:

    "The comments on encoders do not go unnoticed - rest assured wednesday83 and others - there is work underway but unfortunately going first down the path to HD does inevitably mean that later entrants can buy later generations of equipment, and it would not be best use of your licence fees to replace kit before it had served its useful life."

    Surely if the excuse is old encoders are not good enough, then more correctly it should be "old encoders are not as efficient" ie. for the same bandwidth they show more artifacts than newer encoders. The answer is therefore to increase bandwidth to an acceptible level, that gives the pictures the same quality as the new encoders. There is one large artifact that can be removed at a stroke. The DOG.

    How can the BBC talk about content but relegate quality on an HD channel... makes all the work in R&D fairly futile.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ NickReynolds Have you done the tune up with the testcard and instructions from the blog by Andy?

    Can you find out if the hardware had some sort of firmware update?
    Or is the BBC testing bitrates in order to launch BBC HD 2?

    There has been some issue that has reduced the broadcast quality of the BBC HD channel, Doctor Who in HD and 5.1 was good and so was the golf and Heroes but there is some issue that perhaps was missed over the past few days that meant these broadcasts wern't great.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm really pleased that you're broadcasting tennis from Queens in HD this year, I expect it to be as every bit stunning as Wimbledon normally is.

    The BBC normally provide good coverage of the French Open, and as a HD feed is available (Eurosport take the WTA matches) is there any chance the BBC could do the same? Please??

  • Comment number 33.

    I know Danielle thinks that for some who read this programmes are a second order issue, compared to the DOG and broadcast bitrates, so I would just like to say how much I enjoy Gardeners' World on the BBC HD channel.

    Watching Toby Buckland planting up the new 'twilight garden' is a delight in High Definition. The vibrant colours and subtle shades all look so much better in HD and even the raindrops are a revelation in High Definition.

    Thank-you BBC!

  • Comment number 34.

    Three words: Ashes to Ashes. Not on HD. Strange, since I have both series of Life on Mars on blu-ray.

    There are a LOT of us who care far more about content given whatever is on the HD channel is a significant improvement on SD. Even upscaled programmes are far better. In my opinion, content continues to go downhill; kids programmes are being given greater priority; truly awful shows from BBC3 are being put on the HD channel; and as the channel's life goes on the more apparent the constant repeats of planet earth, robin hood etc become.

    With regard to wimbledon, I'm not sure anyone wants to see Sue Barker in HD. My problem with the golf was the awful commentary and studio work; this came worse throughought the 4 days, where by the end the comments were along the lines of "well, he's done the best of the europeans so we better give him an interview I suppose" - frequently the scores were given out wrong; shots were desequenced; there were minutes where we saw shots of plants rather than any golf. I know you can't always control the feed, but it was awful. And why, when there was a switch between BBC1 and BBC2, did BBCHD switch to 15 minutes of Kate Silberton kyacking.

    As ever, Sky is setting the example at every turn of how it should be done whilst the BBC can't keep up

  • Comment number 35.


    I agree with LeahC1981 about Ashes to Ashes. I've just watched it on BBC 1 and it seems to me that it's exactly the sort of content you should be putting on your HD channel.

    You say you share our frustrations at what has not been made in HD and therefore can't be shown on the channel. Well, I'm not as technically astute as some of the other commenters on these blogs, surely if this series was made on film (as it appears to have been) then it's high definition enough to qualify as an HD programme and should therefore be shown on the HD channel.

    I detect some cynicism in your introductory remarks to this particular Blog. Perhaps that cynicism would be justified if you backed your "instincts" by actually giving us what we want to watch on this channel. I know each of your viewers has their own particular opinion but if you get one of your staff to trawl through all the comments in these blogs then they would be able to tell you that there is an overwhelming consensus on what is good content for HD, and what is not. To date you're falling short of satisfactorily meeting the popular demand for that good HD content.

    For what it's worth, I myself want more entertaining and brilliant HD 5.1 Surround Sound shows like Madmen (and Ashes to Ashes - in those formats) and less of the childrens programmes (that are on when only grown-ups are watching), unfunny sitcoms and endless repeats.

    Anyway, thanks for those good things you have given us and please keep working on increasing the hours of HD too (which are still far too short).

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with paul_geaton and others, both here at over on Digital Spy when he says:
    "I detect some cynicism in your introductory remarks to this particular Blog".

    You, were rather unfair in your comments about people who take the time to contribute to your blog on the subject of bitrates and DOGs yet you have the temerity to refer to on-air channel idents as that "what defines BBC HD".

    If you don't want interested parties to talk about broadcast bitrates on a blog about High Definition television then may I respectivly suggest you don't mention 'idents'.

    For the record, the new idents are a great improvement. ;-)


  • Comment number 37.

    I think you are misinterpreting Danielle's choice of words.

    She's just trying to be neutral and add context.

  • Comment number 38.

    NickReynolds wrote:
    "I don't think Danielle is dismissing your views on encoders."
    "I happened to be watching the Golf on BBC HD yesterday on a new HD tv (via Freesat) and it looked alright to me..."
    "I think you are misinterpreting Danielle's choice of words."
    Danielle may not be dismissing peoples views on encoders, the picture you see on your telly be alright for you, and I may have misinterpreted the words Danielle chose to open this blog.

    Nevetheless there are lots of people with similar views both here, on other BBC blogs, and elsewhere who have reasonable expectations with regard to DOGs and bitrates.

    And it's not just the BBC who are critisied on this matter - see AndrueCs comment here about ITV1, resolution and bandwidth:

    The point is people who come to this blog have an interest in these matters, and some, (many actually), have a great expertise in this area, and so deserve better than both Danielle's opening 'choice of words' or your dismissive quips.

    Take people seriously or they may not bother to provide the BBC with, what I consider to be, valuable feedback.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi just wanted to know why there is a better progam schedule on BBC HD on the thor satellite 1 west. Is it because it is subcsription only.

  • Comment number 40.

    I would like to know why the Beeb will happily broadcast so much in HD on Freesat yet it would appear, are happy to leave Sky subscribers with almost nothing in comparison.

    The Beeb have regained the rights to the F1 for example, but without Freesat, us Sky users had to remain content without the HD experience, and the same with MOTD. Plus so many other programmes are in HD at prime time, yet the BBC HD still continues to give us only what THEY consider to be the best of BBC.

  • Comment number 41.

    Dear Paul_Iddon

    I'm not sure i understand your post. The Freesat and Sky HD signal are the same signal - only the epg and access services are different. F1 is not available in HD nor is MOTD. Perhaps I am miss reading your comment though


  • Comment number 42.


    If you read Paul_Iddon's other post, you'll realise that he thinks that Freesat viewers are currently getting ALL their BBC channels and programmes in HD (oh that we were!) and that Sky users are the only ones subject to the limited offerings of BBC HD.

  • Comment number 43.

    I may have mis-phrased it, but the HD from the BBC is very limited on Sky and far less than on Freesat, or so it seems to me.

  • Comment number 44.

    Dear Paul_Iddon

    The BBC HD Channel is identical on the Freesat and Sky platforms. The EPG and Red Button services are not exactly the same but that's more to do with the capability of the platform not the service


  • Comment number 45.

    Thanks Andy.

    So when is HD going to become available on Sky 101 (broadcasting the same prgramme schedule, but) with the HD content that is available being accessible? I mean in the way for instance, that Sky One is on Sky 106 and in HD on Sky 170 but with all that is HD on the 170 channel. The channels are broadcasting identical programmes apart from the transmission level.

  • Comment number 46.

    Dear Paul_Iddon

    At the moment the BBC HD Channel is the best of all other channels not a simulcast channel (e.g. Sky 1 and C4). There are no plans to change this in the immediate future but we are always looking at ways to increase the number of programmes made in HD


  • Comment number 47.

    Danielle Nagler wrote: "I know that for some who read this programmes are a second order issue, compared to the DOG and our broadcast bitrate".

    On the suject of content, where is The Chelsea Flower Show in the BBC HD schedule?


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