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BBC HD: Autumn Schedule

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 16:06 UK time, Monday, 7 September 2009

Hello Everyone

There has been a communications lull from me over the summer - although I know that a number of you have been engaging vigorously with Andy Quested's entries about our new encoders, and debating picture quality.

Unfortunately I've not spent the last six weeks with my feet up in hot and sunny places where BBC HD doesn't penetrate - unless a week in Devon experiencing analogue/digital swtichover at first hand in a rented cottage counts. I have been working on a range of issues relating to the future of HD and the BBC.

They don't address entirely the points that many of you regularly raise with me around your desire to see all the BBC channels, and certainly all the programmes you regularly watch, in HD. But the demand for more HD from the BBC has been heard and understood, and this Autumn will see a wider debate within the BBC around the pace at which we can grow our offer to you.

When I started as Head of BBC HD a year ago, I was concerned at what I perceived as the gap between the BBC HD promise - the best content from the BBC - and the reality. I also felt that the channel broadcast was limited and unpredictable.

Those concerns haven't entirely gone away - and as contributors to this blog you frequently remind me of them too. But looking at the Autumn schedule I do feel that we are moving in the right direction and I would hope that you agree.

lunchmonkeys.jpgReturning to the channel at weekends are Strictly Come Dancing (this time, with the results), and Antiques Roadshow. There are channel debuts for Hole in the Wall, Countryfile, Waterloo Road and political satire The Thick of It. There's a range of new comedy, from BBC Two's Home Time, and series two of Beautiful People, to BBC Three's Lunch Monkeys (pictured) and How Not to Live Your Life, as well as the channel's new horror title Harper's Island.

You'll find the majority of big BBC programmes for the Autumn on the channel, including Life, the Electric Proms, Lost Land of the Volcano, Emma, and The Art of Russia. As well as the Doctor Who specials, we'll be showing the animation series Dreamland, and the next Sarah Jane Adventures, and younger viewers may also appreciate the arrival of Shaun the Sheep and new Justin Fletcher (aka Mr Tumble) series, Gigglebiz, which is a bit like Little Britain for under 6s.

I do try to ensure that we look across everything the BBC is doing, to bring you some pieces that can benefit from HD but might otherwise get overlooked. My personal recommendations for viewing in the next few weeks both fall into this category. Land Girls is a great light drama which looks fabulous, with rich colours and landscapes, and which is running through the week starting 7th September every day at 7.15pm on BBC HD, with a repeat run which will be simulcast with BBC One on successive Sundays at 6.15pm.

Crash is a production for BBC One Wales which can currently only be seen across the UK on BBC HD (and of course BBC iPlayer). It begins on the 9th September (09/09/09) appropriately enough for a drama about junior doctors and the issues they face as they move from the classroom to real live medical situations. The writing is really fresh, the young cast do a good job, and the story moves fast to a dramatic conclusion in episode one - subsequent episodes are lighter, and funnier, and each offers a separate story although there are some running threads.

Finally, please don't feel your thoughts/ pleas/ paeans of praise for Top Gear have disappeared into the ether, or into my recycling bin. I really value your contributions to our thinking, and hope to be able to update you very soon. But I also want to work through this Autumn to make it easier to get information about what is on BBC HD when so that I can tackle the frustrations you air around missing programmes in HD or not knowing what is available.

I'd value insights from you about how you decide what you are going to watch and where you get information about schedules (not just for BBC HD) from.

Thank you as ever for the part that you are playing in developing BBC HD.

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision

Editor's note: Comments about BBC HD picture quality will be considered off-topic for this post. If you wish to continue to comment on HD picture quality, please do so here. (NR)


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  • Comment number 1.

    Excellent selection, when are we to get definative news about the Freeview HD rollout so that those of us who cannot get Satellite or Cable can be prepared?

  • Comment number 2.

    Looks good, Danielle, finger's crossed BBC HD can regularly beat the 0.4% "best ever" viewing figure by Xmas.

    BTW you could have got a dish kit from Maplin's for your holiday (not on expenses, obviously) to work with your Freesat HD box.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Danielle, I'm v new to this site and haven't read the past blogs too carefully. I would like you to explain to me why all BBC channels and broadcasts are not in HD?! After all, the BBC belongs to the public and advances in technology be it colour, 525 lines, NICAM etc have always been passed on straight away, all be it with a small charge.

    Even if you upscale to 1080i the excisting non hd content as SKYone has been doing for many years, we would have a far superior picture. As you know for some time, most poeple have been sold an HD ready tv which is more than capable of handling 1080i content. Who knows, you could even introduce us to 2K4K.

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for the update.

    Will the Championship football matches this Autumn be broadcast in HD like the first Championship game was?

    Is there any news from Andy as to when the manufacturer will solve the issue?

    How will BBC HD cope during the Winter Olympics? Because of time time difference it means BBC HD will have 2 weeks of evening programming taken up?
    Or will it launch a second HD channel to deal with this issue?

    @ tonycornwall
    For now the BBC only wants to broadcast HD content rather than follow the path of Channel 4.

    At some point this policy will change but it raises new issues. Since BBC1 and 2 have regional and national varaints it raises more issues.

    It seems more likely the BBC will launch BBC HD 2 when more HD content launches before waiting for costs to fall enough before every BBC1 and BBC2 region and nation has its own HD channel.

    @ ChrisCornwall - Freeview HD will take up until 2012 to rollout.

  • Comment number 6.

    Furthermore the BBC website for The Thick Of It says it is no longer updating?
    Is there any news on when it will be broadcast?

    Perhaps a good idea would be along with programme names to supply dates of the broadcast so people that read the blog can share such information.

    Johnathon Creek should also be added to the list of shows that should be made in HD. Most other BBC Drama programmes are now.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would like to know, when will BBC HD programmes be available on Blu-ray at their correct, original frame rates, instead of being converted to 24p or 60i?

    I would also like to know, as the BBC is one of the founding members of the EBU, does the BBC play any part in EBU discussions about what EBU productions to release on Blu-ray, and when. And if the BBC doesn't have any part in discussions about what EBU productions get released on Blu-ray or when, could the BBC please pass the message on to the EBU that we would like them to release their productions onto Blu-ray (eg. Eurovision - one of the BBC HD's biggest watched programmes).

    Could you also give us an idea how much cost is involved in releasing a BBC TV programme onto Blu-ray eg. using 1 to 3 50GB discs, and/or about how many people would need to buy a particular BBC Blu-ray title for it to be profitable?

    And if the EBU (who the BBC is a founding member of) don't want to release their biggest productions on Blu-ray, is there any chance that the BBC themselves could (eg. through BBC Worldwide or 2Entertain)?

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for the update Danielle. Good news on the more programmes front.

    Any chance of BBCHD covering Elton John's concert with Ray Cooper from The Albert Hall on the 22nd September?

    Cant believe you didnt take you HD box and dish down to Devon or would that have been too much like a Bus Man's Holiday??

    Just watched Land Girls a good start, looks promising.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am really looking forward to Strictly Come Dancing and the results as well thanks for that. However, I was still wondering whether Merlin will be on BBC HD when it is aired. I really hope it is as it is a valuable programme

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Danielle,

    There were rumours earlier this year that the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi to be produced in high definition by FOM (Formula One Management) see http://www.digitalproductionme.com/article-1031-live_targets_worlds_first_f1_hd_broadcast/ and http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2009/06/05/f1-may-get-first-hd-show-at-abu-dhabi/

    Do you know any more on this - are there definite plans for FOM to do this? If so, will BBC be picking up the HD feed to show on the BBC HD channel?

    Kind regards.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Danielle,

    Thank you for the update.

    Great to hear many more programmes will be coming to BBC HD. For me personally, the only one in the current list of additions that will interest me will be Lost land of the Volcano, but its great to hear more on the way.

    I agree with Andrew Knight, I too would like to see more football on BBC HD and more sport generally although personally I'd like to see some more interesting and unusual sports covered eg. surfing, base jumping etc. rather than items such as snooker, tennis or darts.

    Personally, more top films in HD would be a welcome addition also as would Seaside Rescue which I feel is ideally suited to HD.

    As for how I get my programme info, mostly from searching through the epg manually as there isn't currently a tv magazine specifically for Freesat (surprising when there are 0.5 million users). The nearest I've found is Satellite weekly but personally I find the Freesat channel listing limited and mixed in far too much with the Sky / Virgin stuff to make it an easy read. The again can't blame the magazine as it never claims to be for Freesat.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.


    You might want to take a look at Digiguide ( http://www.digiguide.com )

    It does all the other packages, I'd be surprised if it doesn't do Freesat.


    I too would like to know if you are pursuing F1 in HD. As many of the in car shots are very obviously being captured in HD by FOM it can't be long before they have the whole feed available as HD?

  • Comment number 14.

    Hmmm, I see the continued trend of documentaries getting made in HD such as Lost land of the Volcano - probably the only thing that interests me directly. This is probably good for the channel as they are future proof (like some of the better ones made recently like Earth the power of the Planet and South Pacific that have padded out the emptier summer schedules). I thought The Frankincense Trail has been a good series and there have been a few little good documentaries here and there.

    I would say that as the next year is hopefully going to see a lot of new viewers with launch/bulking up of HD platforms, BBC HD could really do better on its communication and marketing of the channel.

  • Comment number 15.

    The last thing we need is yet more marketing hype from this channel.

    They have £2.5 M to run this channel in total. Most of that seems to go on fancy trailers for BBC 1 about BBC HD.

    I know where I would be spending that money. Quality before marketing in my opinion.

  • Comment number 16.


    Could you please comment on what are the roles and responsibilities of a Channel Controller like yourself? As I understand it , your role is mostly to do with scheduling and marketing. I am coming to this conclusion because that's what you tend to post on.

    Am I right?

  • Comment number 17.

    I disagree. Although the intractable production problems of say Doctor Who, Top Gear and F1 are never resolved (for various reasons) the channel has a number of high profile shows that get very poor viewing figures. Despite significant growth on various HD platforms in the last year viewing figures are still poor, infact at one bit they even seemed to be going into reverse. Between now and the end of the football world cup 2010 you'd expect significant growth and brand new viewers. Marketing is most definitely needed. Of course you could argue that viewing figures are low because the whole concept of BBC HD as a spillover channel is a deeply flawed one, but you still need marketing. It should be hammered home at every opportunity for shows such as Jonathan Ross and Strictly that are simulcast that they are also on in HD. The HD viewership must go up for these sorts of shows otherwise the channel will be in trouble.

    One thing I was wondering about actually was films. It was nice the odd film on BBC HD over the summer, but they mostly seemed to be repeats whereas other films that were on say BBC1 were not on. I'm assuming you bought some kind of batch rights for just a few films?

  • Comment number 18.

    The Trust's licence to the BBC HD channel specifically says Sports and films (together I assume) cannot make up more than 20% so you've no chance.

    Of course there could be another reason for the HD channel viewing being low that you don't mention I'd suggest but unfortunately we're not allowed to discuss it on this blog. Clue - the second word is **** quality.

  • Comment number 19.

    In my (apparently limited) opinion, the future of HD lies, in part, with Freeview. But also, in part, in the programming.

    You seem to be setting an OK balance in what is shown in HD. Not everyone's favourites, to be sure, but also not too many of what will put other people off. To me, personally, knowing that BBCHD is another channel where programming can be shunted aside for sport is not a huge incentive to get an HD receiver to attach to my TV. On the other hand, with Doctor Who and Sarah Jane joining Torchwood on HD, I start to swing the other way.

    But a simple, technical, reason will always be availability. Not everybody can get a satellite dish put up. Not everybody can, or wants to, go with what's basically the country's only cable provider. (And who make it very difficult to find information on a TV-only package). But a Freeview box can work with existing aerials and work when you move house. A very big incentive. That and it doesn't require putting up a dish and/or signing up to a 12-month minimum contract with ane arly-termination fee. And trust me, these factors really matter if you're renting.

    Adding to the HD programming library is going to get more and more people interested in BBCHD, that's for certain. But the barrier for entry has to come down, or people will just think it as another optional extra. And that also goes for if SD content was upscaled.
    But as the amount and variety of HD content increases, and the entry barier decreases, it will all tip into increased viewing figures eventually.

    Besides, as more and more stuff comes out on Blu-ray then it just becomes a matter of waiting out for the home release.

    And on that last note, I would like to thank the BBC for putting out Torchwood:CoE all across one week earlier in the summer, and then having the Blu-ray out the very next week.
    I was able to see some of what BBCHD has to offer with nothing more than the equipment that I already own. And for that I am genuinely grateful.

  • Comment number 20.

    #17: ropies
    "Despite significant growth on various HD platforms in the last year viewing figures are still poor, infact at one bit they even seemed to be going into reverse. Between now and the end of the football world cup 2010 you'd expect significant growth and brand new viewers. Marketing is most definitely needed."


    They could improve this considerably by ensuring that the voiceover continuity presenters announce "this programme is also available on the BBC HD channel" when there is a simulcast. Some do, some don't. It's a frustrating inconsistency.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree. Sometimes it seems like some there are trying to keep the HD channel secret!
    I like the look of the new shows. It does seem though, sadly, that Merlin 2 will be SD only. Unless they are keeping this secret too! After all the protests last year about lack of HD for the first series, it looks like our pleas have been ignored again.

  • Comment number 22.

    @TiggsPanther, No disrespect intended but you obviously don't know about Freesat / Freeview at all.

    Freeview is boxed in by the fact that the government has sold off all of the analogue bandwidth. That means that there is simply no more bandwidth available for Freeview to expand into. In order to fit HD channels onto Freeview they're having to reduce the bandwidth of existing transmissions by increasing the level of compression (potential quality issues) and will also have to remove a couple of existing SD channels to make room. Freeview openly talk about this here:

    "New technology and a reorganisation of the way channels are allocated on digital terrestrial television platform will free up space for four Freeview HDTV services."


    Whilst in the short term this may allow limited HD on Freeview at limited quality, in the long term there is no room for any expansion and so Freeview is essentially entirely limited to the 4HD channels it will get in the 1st place and the existing allocation of SD channels it currently has.

    There might be some room to manoeuvre if in the future compression codecs improve significantly therefore allowing content to be compressed further. However, in the absence of that, Freeview is entirely stuck with the content it will have after the addition of those 4HD channels.

    Freesat on the other hand has potentially unlimited bandwidth. The sticking point at the moment is the availability of space on the tight footprint transponders on Astra 2D which are unfortunately clogged up with some channels belonging to other providers that don't require the tight footprint and it is the failure of these in moving off 2D that's restricting Freesat space at the moment. Once these issues are sorted or if programme makers agree to allow Freesat to broadcast FTA on the non tight footprint transponders, then Freesat unlike Freeview will have huge amounts of bandwidth at its disposal which means Freesat will have the potential to carry many more HD channels, channels at above HD when that develops in the future (see Super Hi Vision - already testing in Japan and 16 x the size of Full HD : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Hi-Vision%29 and more SD channels at better quality generally.

    What is Freeview going to do when resolutions above HD come along - their only option will be to increase compression, drop channels or not carry them at all

    The only sad thing in this is that the BBC Trust and BBC HD have so far failed to promote or use Freesat in this way but instead continue to market it as an alternative to Freeview at Freeview quality instead of a quality platform in its own right and using the bandwidth to offer more choice of HD and SD channels at better quality for those who decide they are prepared to put dishes up.

    On your point about technical availability, the very reason Freesat exists is because an estimated 25% of the country will never be able to receive a Freeview signal in any event, either at all or with any degree of acceptable quality as it was found after Freeview's conception that digital terrestrial broadcasting doesn't hold up as well to line of sight interference such as trees and doesn't handle large transmission distances as well as had previously been thought.

    The whole idea therefore that you can simply take your Freeview receiver and aerial with you when you move house and get Freeview simply doesn't hold up because it simply depends on exactly where you move to and even within Freeview reception areas, depending on the signal strength in your area, you may need a different type of aerial in either CAI Category 1,2,or 3.

    Finally, you talk about subscriptions and contracts. You are clearly confused here as Freesat is FREE SAT. BBC Freesat receivers (as opposed to Sky Freesat which I believe require the purchase of a yearly Sky Freesat card), are entirely free.

    With BBC Freesat there's no contract, no subscription, no card needed, no notice - you simply buy the receiver, put up a dish and from then on you have the service without any costs or commitments other than the ordinary BBC licence fee.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ mwbennett

    I too would like to know if you are pursuing F1 in HD. As many of the in car shots are very obviously being captured in HD by FOM it can't be long before they have the whole feed available as HD?

    This article suggests that the Abu Dhabi organisers are looking to be the first race to be broadcast in HD..


    However there are factual errors in the article itself (regarding RTL producing F1 coverage) so I would'nt hold your breath!

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the update Danielle. It's good to hear we're getting The Electric Proms in HD again this year... but still no Top Gear, Casualty, Holby City or (so it seems) Waking The Dead?

    As to how and where I get my listings, well it's only from the Sky EPG. Every day when I get home from work I look at the planner to see what's set to watch/record. If there are gaps (no shows before 9 for example) then I search through my Favourites for shows leading up to that time or during times when there is nothing I normally watch.

    It would be useful if in the programme title or description you could say if it's a repeat as I have come across a few instances where I have settled down to watch a show only to find I have already seen it.

    Also, would there be any chance of Medium getting an HD outing any time soon? I know the BBC seem to hate this show with a passion (I mean, why else would it get shunted round the schedules and channels at random and dropped half way through a series with no explanation then suddenly reappear with no advertising whatsoever months later in the early hours of the morning?), but it's a great show and I'd love to see it in HD. (Yes, I know it's on alleged HD on Sci-fi HD but have to seen it? It's both letterboxed and pillared either side giving it a postage stamp appearance on the screen)

  • Comment number 25.

    Hello Danielle, can you tell us why it is sometimes so difficult to find out that a programme will be available to watch in HD?
    I set Stephen Fry's Last Chance to see to record on Sunday night, on BBC2. As it was the type of programme that I thought the BBC would make in HD, I checked in the Synopsis, there was no note that it was also available in HD, so I checked the BBCHD channel for Sunday night and it was not listed.
    I read your post yesterday, also no mention of this programme.
    Today I read Stephen Fry's twitter, and he mentions it is being shown in HD tonight.
    I understand with the limitations of the HD channel that all programmes cannot be simulcast, but it would be helpful if the synopsis could say something like'to be broadcast in High Definition on BBCHD Tuesday at 8pm' At least it may mean that more of us get to watch the better version.
    It sometimes feels like a real achievement to have actually tracked down and watched a HD Broadcast.

  • Comment number 26.

    "...Gigglebiz, which is a bit like Little Britain for under 6s."

    And there was me thinking Little Britain already was for under 6s.

  • Comment number 27.

    I echo the comments from Idris_ about finding out whether programmes will be in HD, Last Chance... being a good example. I get my schedule information from Radio Times (which is quite good at pointing out when there are non-simulcast HD broadcasts but missed Last Chance...) and the Sky EPG. I'd also like info on whether a programme is to be broadcast in 5.1. It would be useful if the BBC HD web pages carried schedule information beyond a week ahead - Radio Times (which I get on a Tuesday) goes up to the following Friday so the information must be available at least that far ahead.

    Voiceover info on BBC1/2 promoting HD broadcasts should be standard, including non-simulcasts (but please please no voiceovers during the credits).

    BTW Harper's Island is great, and I'm looking forward to Lost Land of the Volcano.

  • Comment number 28.

    I rely on Radio Times for HD listings and am very disappointed by their poor efforts.
    They do not list HD as a main channel (each day's content is lost in a block about 70mm x 50mm). Mainly just programme times and names.
    Hardly surprising that lots of HD programmes get missed.
    If HD was listed more prominently it might encourage more people to view it.

  • Comment number 29.

    I see The Week We Went To War is on BBC HD a week after its airing on BBC1.

    Even worse, Future Of Food is on BBC HD 4 weeks following its BBC2 airing.

    And what did BBC HD broadcast when FoF was on BBC2 on 17th August?, a REPEAT of The Victorians.

    Something has got to be done as this is likely to get worse as more programs are made in HD. Perhaps the solution is to delay the SD broadcast until a HD simulcast slot is available?

  • Comment number 30.

    What a crock. Are you saying I can watch trash television like "Hole In the Wall" in HD, but not Top Gear or F1 Motorsport (or even MotoGP)?

    Is my licence fee just being wasted so we can see Dale Winton's tanned wrinkles in glorious HD?

  • Comment number 31.

    @smithap66 , @TiggsPanther , @ Idris_ and @sipasblog

    Next year things are going to get even worse for programming. Between February the 12th and Febuary the 28th BBC HD will carry non-stop coverage of The Winter Olympics.

    Because Vancouver is 8 hours behind it means coverage of events will start around 4pm (8am Vancouver) and carry on all day so well past midnight in the UK.

    The BBC will need to launch a second HD channel in order to broadcast the 6 Nations Rugby matches as well as broadcast regular programming.

    @digitalscoobiedoo post 18

    20% of what? Standard BBC HD broadcasting hours from the afternoon till 1am or all broadcast hours?

    If its 20% of standard broadcast hours then F1 and other sports could be shown without going anywhere near the 20% rule as nearly every race is outside of current BBC HD broadcasting hours.

  • Comment number 32.

    #20 digital_elysium. I meant about continuity announcements when I said marketing and communication. I'm glad other people are mentioning it.

    For my tv listings I use DigiGuide and a cheaper non-radio times tv guide. For shorter term I use the EPG. The tv guide has it's own 2"x1.5" section tucked away next to minor freeview channels for BBC HD. The tv guide does list simulcast programmes (all of the terrestrial versions of HD channels) and a mixture of non-simulcast ones. It lists them as (HD) at the bottom of the description. Unfortunately mistakes are common e.g. Land Girls is listed as a new series. On the first day (it's not simulcast it's delayed by a couple of hours) no HD marker. On the second day (HD) marker appears. Errors on digiguide are rare but I more use it to find out whether stuff on other HD channels is actually in HD.

    For whoever asked about Medium, I believe another channel not mentioned has first dibs on it in HD.

    I'm not sure how much lobbying power controllers or viewers have over tv guide magazines standardising/reducing errors. Things have improved as they didn't do this at all about a year ago.

    #18 digitalscoobiedoo. You've ignored what I've written, I've asked why current films actually shown are mostly repeats e.g. Pirates of the Carribean, Wonder Boys etc, not asking for new films. In anycase F1, Olympics etc are allowed to be shown outside broadcast hours for exceptional events, but you'll know that as you'll have read the license - see Andrew Knights post.

  • Comment number 33.

    32. At 5:09pm on 08 Sep 2009, ropies wrote:
    ... For whoever asked about Medium, I believe another channel not mentioned has first dibs on it in HD.

    That was me. Any chance you might enlighten me as to which channel you're talking about?

  • Comment number 34.

    #33. I don't believe in promoting commercial interests blatantly on someone else's blog which should infact be neutral, which is why I was not immediately helpful.

    A very famous rival channel were reported to have bought exclusive rights to seasons 5 and 6 recently (they starting airing in recent days). It seems uncertain what this means, but it might mean no more medium ever soon on the BBC or just repeats of seasons 1-4 until date XXXX. It is believed this channel has the primary HD rights (it has a HD channel launching soon) and that the other channel that you mentioned which doesn't actually show medium on its HD channel in HD has secondary rights (I don't know, I don't actually watch the show, I've just seen the press reports and going on listings). So it seems highly unlikely that Medium HD would be on BBC HD any time soon. Which is a shame, as I think BBC HD needs as many high profile shows as it can get.

    On the topic of rights I was quite impressed that Becoming Jane managed to make its way onto iPlayer in HD after being on BBC HD. Great stuff for those that miss out.

  • Comment number 35.

    Its Living TV that has Medium in HD. It doesn't need to be a big secret, the BBC aren't ringfenced from the rest of the TV work.

    In fact the more Danielle realises she is up against Sky HD on a paultry BBC HD budget the better. I suspect she does given the opening tone of the blog around changes in strategy afoot.

    BBC sort of ruined Medium anyway by late night, random sort of scheduling .

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 Sorry, that should have read tv world not work if the moderator wants to correct it.

  • Comment number 37.


    Welcome back, thanks for posting. Nice to hear about the Autumn scheduling, however, I'd also love to hear some response from you re: all my previous unanswered questions (see many of my earlier posts - I won't repeat them all here, just some of the headings, PQ, top films, TG, F1, autumn internationals, etc.). Feel free to email me, you have my address.

    #30, echo the sentiments, Danielle please give us the best of the BBC (and your post bag must tell you what most people think that is) and not the worst (e.g. IMHO anything with Dale Winton, or Graham Norton).

    If you're going to sort out the TV listings, then please start with the newspapers' weekend TV guide supplements. They should all include BBC HD as standard, and they don't (there's loads of Sky rubbish though). I used to enjoy working out my forthcoming week's viewing based on the critics reviews of the (SD) progs in these guides. Now that I have access to HD, I'd prefer to give any HD progs 1st preference but you can't tell what's going to be on BBC HD from these newspaper guides, so I've now had to look elsewhere to prepare my week's viewing. (Incidentally, I really look forward to the day when I can choose my viewing according to what I want to watch, and not whether or not you choose to broadcast it in HD).

    My next method for checking programmes is the e-version of the Radio Times, although I had to add BBC HD to my "personal stations" in that, and also need to scroll down to the bottom of the listings to see your channel. If RT's still run by the Beeb, then your HD channel should be right at the top! The good thing about the RT guide, though, is that it has a star rating that is pretty accurate, if something gets 5* it's well worth watching, if it's only 3* then, experience has shown, it's best to give it a miss.

    Elsewhere on the internet, I actually use your own listings guide: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/ however, it's very frustrating that if you click on one of the programmes in that guide it doesn't actually tell you whether it's going to be in 5.1, or even very much in the way of detailed info about the programme. All I get is a brief resume, and the stupid iPlayer thing that always says "this content doesn't seem to be working. Try again later", although it never works later.

    Oh, and someone earlier commented that your HD channel viewing ratings were going down not up. All I can say to that is, what can you expect if the transmission quality isn't as good as it might be, and if you don't give people what they regularly ask for, how can you then expect othewise, or blame them, if they just turn over or off. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 38.

    I would have imagined 'Film 2009 with Jonathan Ross' would be simple to produce in HD, or is getting trailers and film footage in HD before theatrical release a difficulty?

    I plan out my weeks viewing using the Radio Times magazine, and often tvguide.co.uk

  • Comment number 39.

    I really dont see the point of BBC HD covering the Winter Olympics when its running on such low bandwith. A waste really.

    Snooker would be good in HD and would be pretty easy for the encoders. Not many camers required either so surely not that expensive?? Also id imagine could be some money making for BBc as well as im sure the HD feed could be sold to Snooker mad countries such as China???

  • Comment number 40.

    I must admit Wednesday I would object to snooker appearing on BBC HD given that its only 1 channel:

    1. I can't really see where the benefits of HD are going to show as its mostly a close up of a table - so what are we going to see a bit more dust on the baize?

    2. The sheer length of the matches and coverage means that for anyone who doesn't like snooker, BBC HD is totally off limits for the whole of a tournament. I don't think that's fair for the numerous non snooker persons out there.

    If the BBC had 2 HD channels, then my view would be different but I think its unfair to monopolize the only HD channel all day every day for weeks with snooker matches, or even for an entire evening for that matter.

    Same with Darts for the same reasons - little benefit to HD and too much potential to take over the only HD channel for long periods to detriment of non sport lovers.

    Personally, I feel BBC HD is more suited to short sports that do benefit from HD detail and sharpness such as Football / Rugby matches, F1 or selected matches at Wimbledon where the sport only occupies the channel for a couple of hours. That way there's still plenty of programming time for those who don't like a particular sport.

    As I said elsewhere I'd also like to see the BBC expand into a few minority action sports with joint youth / adult appeal as the BBC's remit is to provide programming for every demographic group and yet there's no programming for young adults. There's CBBC, CBeebies for kids and normal BBC for adults but nothing in between.

    An easy way to address this would be to show some occasional adrenaline fuelled sports such as a surfing films eg Billabong Odyssey: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator], base jumping documentaries, wing suit flying, US Reno Style Air Racing (as opposed to Red Bull Air Racing which is rather tame in comparison)think Red Bull Air on steroids - racing overland at low level with 8 or more planes on the course at the SAME time and jostling for position in the corners in mid air!!! More like airborne formula 1 than Red Bull Racing with the added danger that any contact = a high speed air crash as some of these races include speeds round the oval courses at over 515 mph http://www.airrace.org/indexJS.php%21%21

    As all of these sports, Air Race Apart will tend to be on film, they would only occupy a couple of hours of a slot thereby preventing the overload of sport for non sport fans if carefully scheduled well apart between ordinary programming.

    The BBC has already touched on this slightly in the past with Storm Chasing which seemed to go down quite well. The fact that these sought of sports have both adult and youth appeal, equally prevents the channels from being filled up with zany youth programmes that upset the majority and only appeal to the youth.

    Certainly I can see more appeal than the Art of Russia - I mean just who's commissioning these programmes? Has the BBC ever stopped and done a survey to find out just what percentage of the population are art lovers - I'm guessing probably less than 1%.

    BBC programming has become very boring and dry. Countryfile is another prime example, a natural history programme made up of uninteresting monologue. Compare that to Brian Cox's programme on the solar system a while back (a dry subject if ever there was one) and its like night and day. Brian Cox kept it interesting, Countryfile simply monologues wekk in and week out.

    Its no wonder I hardly ever find anything to watch on the BBC channels. Thank god for the good natural history programmes and odd football match / film.

  • Comment number 41.

    Any news when new BBC drama/comedy Big Top is due to begin and be aired on BBC HD I understood it was originally due to begin on Saturday nights in september but have not seen any mentioned of it yet.

    I think we all now know that the BBC do not have access to a HD feed for F1 but it appears that FOM are gearing up to release a HD feed for broadcasters in 2010 so I do hope that the BBC will not let us down and will atke the feed when available

  • Comment number 42.

    @ wednesday83 The BBC has to cover The Olympics. Timing issues mean BBC HD will be tied up for most of Febuary so either all programming will have to go off or a second channel will have to be launched.

    BBC HD would be a laughing stock if Eurosport HD ending up with more comprehensive coverage of The Olympics before it becomes the next host broadcaster.

    Besides as a promotional tool Sport is the biggest thing BBC HD has going for it next year.

    Next year it is feasible BBC HD will show.
    The Winter Olympics. The World Cup. The Commonwealth games.

    Formula One.
    3 out of the 4 Tennis grand slams on BBC HD. Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.
    6 Nations.
    Carling Cup final and one 1 semi final, both matches.
    Championship football games.
    The Autumn Rugby Internationals.
    Open Golf and other major golf events the BBC has the right to.

    Most extreme sports exclusive TV rights for will probably be on the aptly named Extreme Sports channel or on Rush HD.

    The BBC has featured base jumping before on High Altitude, it was interesting but there is no way a feature on base jumping could be stretched from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Even High Altitude itself only lasts 30 minutes.

    High Altitude is another show that deserves to be broadcast in HD though.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ Andrew, I've seen the Extreme Channel myself so I am aware they have rights to many sports. However, many sports are available on Blu Ray as films so should be show able by simply paying a royalty film payment rather than having a commitment to the rights for an entire sport. There are a lot of surfing films out there (albeit a limited number on HD although I believe the Billabong Odyssey is one as it was at cinemas, the fictional "Blue Crush" is another - it was actually shown on ITV HD not long ago, I'm sure there are many more. I did once see a 1 hour programme on base jumping - I think it was on BBC a long time ago. However, I'm sure there are HD films of it out there. I'm sure the same can be said of other extreme sports. In fact the only thing you might struggle to find on Blu Ray is the Reno Air Racing but I'm not aware that Extreme cover this anyway so maybe a chance for the BBC to look into getting the rights? Its far more dangerous and exciting than F1.

  • Comment number 44.

    @Alsone - Perhaps one day when the BBC has coverted all of its main channels to HD there will be some room for niche extreme programming. Though for now Rush HD and Extreme sports would argue they cater to the market.

    The shows wouldn't add that many viewers which it seems is why the question being posed is how to people know what is on BBC HD.

    The natural way to increase BBC HD viewing is to make it worth watching the channel throughout the year.

    You can promote the channel all you want but if it doesn't appeal to viewers then they won't watch.
    Last year the BBC went from the Olympics in August to the 6 nations in Febuary with no sport.

    For a Sport orientated viewer that is a disaster.

    There is also the issue of programming failing to be broadcast at the same time which means even those with HD don't know what is on when.

    The solution is a second channel so programmes can go out at the same time and also better promotion when the programme begins to broadcast that the programme is avaliable in HD so viewers can switch over.

    It's clear a second channel is needed as in a couple of months BBC HD will have non-stop coverage of sport in the form of The Olympics throughout Febuary causing massive programming issues.

    BBC HD needs some sort of trailer made as well that shows all the programming it broadcasts. But it also needs to let viewers know it will be coming to freeview HD soon so they don't give the impression HD won't ever launch via terrestrial.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi Danielle, I wonder if it could become policy to show HD versions of a programme at the same time as the standard definition version is shown on one of the other BBC channels? I know this does often happen but I got frustrated recently when 'Last Chance to See' was shown first on Sunday but that episode was not shown in HD until Tuesday. This meant that I had to tell my friends and work colleagues to 'talk about something else' when they wanted to talk about this programme.

    Also, is there anything you can do to ensure the HD channel programme listings appear in major newspapers and publications?

  • Comment number 46.


    It would only happen if a second channel is launched.
    The Winter Olympics next year there won't be room for other programming during that period so a second channel should come along sooner or later so programming can be shown at the same time.

    National listings would be a good idea.

  • Comment number 47.

    @ Moderators, I understand the need to have rules but can someone please tell me how a link to a film's web site (an unclassified surfing at that - ie one suitable for all ages) breaks the house rules?

    The only house rule I can that it could possibly be interpreted as contravening is "Advertise products or services for profit or gain".

    However, I wasn't doing that. I provided a link to a cinema film's site as an example of the type of film the BBC could show on BBC HD. I did not in any way promote the film or encourage people to purchase it. So where exactly is the rule contravention?

  • Comment number 48.

    My response to the Olympics was because the BBC HD channel would not do the olympics justice with the current bit rates. Leave sports such as olympics to Eurosport HD who have nice ammounts of bandwith to produce lovely puctures.

    As for Snooker, HD certainly enhances the game dramatically. Having seen some HD snooker on Eurosport HD its awful having to watch blocky SD snooker. Also it wouldnt be too demanding on such a poorly run channel. It would look great, not cost too much to produce and look good on low bandwith like the beeb use.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48, your snooker points are all probably true but I'm afraid I'm with Alsone and his #40. I remember the days, years ago, when the brilliant comedy Seinfeld used to be on BBC2 with totally random scheduling. It was bad enough just trying to track it down each week, but when it would disappear for weeks at a time because of some snooker championship I was always completely incensed. I don't know the figures who actually watch it, and I'm sure it really appeals to you and many others, but I do reckon it must be a minority sport in anyones books. And one that seems to go on forever to those who loathe it. So I'd vote against it for now.

  • Comment number 50.

    On the topic of scheduling it is very disappointing the story in circulation about Mad Men. Not Danielle's fault, but the fault of a fellow controller, you've been royally done over on that one.

    #49. I find it ironic that Paul Geaton would mention BBC2 in the 90s, as that is and will be what happens on BBC HD whether the snooker joins the channel or not. Many a programme got ruined by Tennis and Golf on BBC2. As BBC HD is basically a spill over channel but at the same time goes on about "best of" it will suffer the same fate unless additional channels are launched. Andrew Knight is quite wrong just to highlight the winter olympics, all of the things he lists will conspire in 2010 to play havock with the "normal" BBC HD programmes on a regular basis, it will be much worse than just a couple of weeks - or events will have to be withdrawn/witheld from being in high definition.

    I'm afraid I disagree with Alsone too on the sports. BBC HD does the same sports year after year and never seems to change. People might not like it but one could argue the latter stages of the finals of the world snooker championships are more the best of BBC than some of the sports already on Andrew Knight's list.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Ropies, spill the beans on Mad Men please. I've been holding my breath for it to start again ever since the new season began last month in the USA. I think it's a great programme with a clever script, fantastic pictures and sound and I asked Danielle several times when it's going to be aired on the HD channel, without response. Do you know that it's not going to be? If that's the case, then I'd be as gutted as I used to be in the 90s about Seinfeld's frequent disappearances.

  • Comment number 52.

    There is an article in the Guardian from 7th September with quotes from a BBC spokesperson from BBC4 going into more detail but mentioning "we decided to hold it until the new year". Infact quite topical for this blog in terms of schedules.

  • Comment number 53.

    In the year since I have been with the channel I think we have reached an all time low in the context of the relationship between the channel and a vocal part of its audience. Complaints are just not being responded or listened to. The wall of silence and denial on the issue that cannot be mentioned here is deafening.

    Danielle - Surely the best approach is to reach some sort of compromise like you did with the DOG debate on your blog? This was a settlement that I strongly supported and thought was a win-win for all. Silence and denial is just leading to widespread anger and speculation amongst a segment of the viewers, and its the segment that I'd argue who are most passionate about the BBC and its future in HD.

    Surely it is time to say we are addressing the issue, we are looking at options, and we will review the position with an open mind?

  • Comment number 54.

    digitalscoobiedoo - I was going to remove your comment as you are again off topic. However instead I will say this:

    1. Everyone else on this thread has abided by the rules in place for it. You should do so as well.

    2. It is not true that complaints have not been answered or there is "silence" and "denial". The response to complaints has been posted on the PQ thread and Andy has left a comment there.

    3. We are expecting a post from Andy in the next few days. So be patient.

    I will remove any more of your comments on PQ on this thread or anything else you post on it which breaks the house rules.

  • Comment number 55.


    Nick, it's good to see a reply like that, but please when will Freeview viewers be getting the HD service? The rollout schedule on a Transmitter by transmitter basis should be ready for publication by now, if not why isn't it? There are so many unofficial sources that confuse the viewer. I'd hope to see the rollout schedule for each of the 1100+ transmitters officially published before the HD preparation retune at the end of this month.

  • Comment number 56.

    Chris there is no schedule to my knowledge but then again the platform isn't ready anyway despite the proposed roll out.

    There are currently few Freeview HD receivers in the shops that I've seen - you will need an entirely new box to receive Freeview HD and from discussions I've had on another forum with a receiver rep, they aren't going to be cheap because of the tuner and decoder cost - you're looking probably at Freesat HD receiver prices ie the £120-150 mark rather than the £20 for current Freeview receivers.

    Given all the talk of recent PQ, be aware that SD channels on Freeview are going to receive much greater compression to make way for the Freeview HD channels. I don't want to get off topic here, suffice to say there may be a penalty for the addition of HD given the bandwidth squeeze.

    Thirdly, as you've probably seen from all of the debate on here, the amount of quality programming on BBC HD makes it of very limited appeal anyway. Its closed until 4pm. From around 4pm-6pm its childrens CBBC programmes. From 6-1am there's 7 hours of adult programming and then it closes. Of the adult programmes on BBC HD, most are the drivel not the quality BBC programming.

    There are some very good occasional natural history programmes and the odd film and the football match.

    Beyond that your condemned to minority interest programmes and daytime re-runs such as Doctors, Flog It, Land Girls, The Frankincense Trail, Hotel Babylon, Off the Hook, Lunch Monkeys, Later with Jools Holland, The Incredible Human Journey. If you thought I just plucked those out of the air, that's tonight's schedule!!! Not a single programme I'd watch. My tv will be on Zone Reality, ch4 and ch5 tonight for definite!!!! In fact anywhere but BBC HD.

  • Comment number 57.


    These events will pretty much knock a large amount of BBC HD programming off air.

    Winter Olympics - Febuary 12th - 28th - Because of the time difference it means the entire current broadcast hours of BBC HD from early afternoon to early morning will be taken up.

    World Cup - 11th June - 11th July - The non-stop group stages and evening highlights and the later stages with evening highlights will mean BBC HD to grind to a halt as it won't be possible to schedule regular weekly programming at the same time.
    The highlights show will also cut right through BBC HD in the evening even after the live games have finished.

    Commonwealth games - 3rd October-14th October 2010 -It depends what times the commonwealth games finish in the evening but they will take over until the early evening and then there will be a highlights show again cutting right through the evening on a daily basis disrupting weekly programming for 2 weeks.

    Your right as well as more and more often there is a HD clash where BBC1,2,3 or 4 are both showing a HD programme.

    The BBC will need a second HD channel before The Winter Olympics starts.

    Danielle. Will programmes like QI,Have I Got News For You and Question of Sport appear on BBC HD now that Shooting Stars has?

  • Comment number 58.

    #57, Andrew's comments are worrying if true. Perhaps in Danielle's next Blog she would like to tell us if there are any plans in place for a 2nd HD channel on Freesat next year, when all this sport is going to be shown. I'll love it but I'm sure there's going to be a backlash from non-sports fans.

    At #56 Alsone makes the very good point that despite Danielle's cheery Autumn Schedule Blog there still isn't that much to choose from for the more discerning viewer on the HD channel. Mad men, High Altitude and Top Gear (and a little more BBC4 fare) can't come too soon for me - although clearly I'm going to have to be very patient.

    On the subject of patience, Nick, #54 you're the boss but I would just like to comment that IMHO I think that Scoobie has, like the rest of us, been pretty patient all things considered. Perhaps that's why you took such a sensible approach and showed him some leniency. You've now clearly laid down the ground rules and so I wouldn't dream of mentioning that subject deemed to be better dealt with by Andy, rather than the Head of BBC HD.

    I'm pleased to note though that, in her very first paragraph above, Danielle has kindly given a link to page 2 of the appropriate area so that anyone stumbling on her Blog, say from Google, who wishes to join that vigorous debate can easily find it, where it might otherwise be considered to be tucked away in an obscure technical corner of these Blogs (excellent though that corner is, Andy).

  • Comment number 59.

    I would just like to point out Danielle you have yet to apologise for the shambles the channel is in at the moment. You should not have to be asked for an apology. As head of BBC HD you should take it on yourself to apologise for the recent P***URE Q**LITY issues and B*NDWITH RE*UCTIONS.

  • Comment number 60.

    Just to point out as well that I also respect Nicks stance on not posting about picture quality on here. Its stupid to think that THE HEAD OF BBC HD would talk about the decline in quality on the channel she runs. I also think its better to post complaints about awful quality on a post thats out of the way and not at the top.

    Also, @ "56" you are spot on regarding the channels output currently.

    What I would say to Danielle is, instead of going for shows such as countryfile, should the channel not be showing popular shows such as Eastenders, Top gear, Casualty and so on???

  • Comment number 61.

    @ paul_geaton

    It's pretty clear that BBC HD won't be able to schedule regular programming during at least The Winter Olympics and The World Cup and it will have a big impact during The Commonwealth games unless there is a second HD channel.

    It's the first time The Winter Olympics and The Commonwealth games are being shown and also the fist time The World Cup has been shown on a channel that now broadcasts regular programming.

    The idea the schedulers will stop The Winter Olympics or The World Cup or The Commonwealth games from being broadcast from 9pm would make the BBC and BBC HD look like a laughing stock.

    Afterall what's the point of promoting freeview HD, freesat HD or BBC HD via other means if some of the most important A-List events protected for national viewing are suddenly dropped from BBC HD because they forgot that these events are going to clash with scheduled programming on other BBC channels.


    Its been mentioned before Eastenders and Casualty need to change studios before they can switch to HD. These changes are going to happen.

    There is meant to be news on Top Gear in the future and on the current quality issues, which seems to be the issue that the supplier needs to deal with rather than anything the BBC did.

  • Comment number 62.

    The film effect on Watchdog was appalling.

    I tried to leave feedback on the Watchdog blogs only for it to be censored.

    Lose the effect, and separate Rouge Traders from Watchdog.

  • Comment number 63.

    To cut to the point I just wanted to say now that more and more viewers are beginning to receive the BBC HD channel in the UK due to the platforms on which it is aired. It is a good idea that top programmes should be aired on BBC HD when they are shown on BBC One, Two, Three or Four. The main programme that I wish to see on the channel because of its high popularity last year is Merlin. It is definitely a worthwhile HD programme and I am very surprised why it was not on BBC HD last year. I don't understand why Hole in the Wall has priority over top shows such as Merlin and Top Gear. This is highly unfair and is not what TV Licence payers want. This is highly appalling as the BBC has always quoted - 'BBC HD, THE BEST OF THE BBC' when in my eyes major popular programming like Merlin and Top Gear are questioned before they are aired on BBC HD but Hole in the Wall is given a free pass without any questions asked to licence payers. I am highly appalled at the content on BBC HD. It needs an urgent review by the trust. Danielle you claim that you are always improving the channel but I don’t understand your programme choice of HD content.

  • Comment number 64.

    Danielle, (Nick too,) permit me to also "cut to the chase" and to speak my mind without beating about the bush. Danielle, you and I have been at opposite ends of the HD channel for almost exactly a year now. After 12 months of observing what's going on from my side, may I be so bold as to surmise that you are a career woman, who has already made something of a name for yourself in the DG's office and has now been given the (poison chalice) position of running this HD channel to prove yourself for some top BBC position in the future.

    As I see it, you have two options now. You can either tow the party line, cutting quality/bandwidth/costs as you've probably been instructed to do, paring the channel to the bone and saving the corporation money. Or, you could make a stand and tell your bosses that enough is enough, that they've gone far enough and, in consideration of the future of BBC television, which must lie in delivery of quality HD, you just won't stand for their non-sensical policies any more. That's a difficult position to be in and I dont envy you.

    However, to me the only decent and honorable way ahead is for you to stand up to the BBC Trust, your bosses, or whomsoever, and to tell them exactly where they are going wrong with their current policies. An HD channel should be exactly what it says on the tin, High Definition, nothing more nothing less. It is the future, and the Trust should be advised to accept that, no matter what pre-conceived opinions they have. As Head of HD I'm sure it must be in your remit to give them such appropriate advice. If it's not popular with them, and I can't understand why it wouldn't be, then you need to tell them where, and why, they're going wrong.

    What they need to accept is that, if they don't soon adopt a policy of making all BBC channels available in HD (and I mean HD, not just SD+) then Sky is going to walk all over the BBC, which will then lose its licence fee, and will become just a 2nd rate player. It's obvious to me that Sky is laughing all the way to the bank at the moment. They shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

    You, Danielle, are in the ideal position to stop them now and, surely, the best way ahead for you is to stand up to the trust, and to get the BBC HD channel up to the highest possible quality, and to market it so that the majority of BBC viewers make it their default viewing platform. If you could have the channel's ratings go through the roof by getting the best, and most demanded, programs onto it, and accept nothing less than the highest possible audio visual quality from them, then surely your job will ne done.

    No matter what your remit at the moment, if you succeed in doing that then you will be considered to be a success and get the promotion that you are undoubtedly striving for. If that is accomplished before the olympics, and through 4 channels of dedicated (possibly + news, childrens and sport) HD broadcasting, then you really should feel hard done by if you aren't considered to be, if not the next BBC DG, then in the running for a subsequent position.

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.


    While a bandwidth boost is welcome the current problem seems to be something the producer of the enconder needs to sort out.

    While I don't watch Mad Men it would be welcome to broadcast the series on BBC HD ahead of BBC4.
    If the controller of BBC4 wishes to save the programme it shouldn't stop BBC HD from broadcasting it for viewers who wish to view it now.

  • Comment number 67.

    Further to my comments about scheduling above,I think he BBC need to take a long hard look at their programme commissioning (this affects HD and SD) as most of the current BBC programming the odd football match, nature programme and odd film apart, is absolute tripe.

    eg. As I mentioned previously, we used to have brilliant sit coms: Only Fools and Horses, Faulty Towers, Allo Allo, Black Adder, Coupling, The Britas Empire.

    Now we have 2 pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, The Lunch Monkey and other rather mediocre to non watcheable offerings.

    On the medical drama front you have Holby City (renamed Casualty) nothing more nothing less. Same plot every week more or less. Someone comes in having been run down, child burns themselves, someone dies on the OR Table, watch etc plasters being put on, docs / nurses have (tame) affair, internal politics and wrangling. All very slow paced and quite boring.

    How do the BBC refresh the genre? They come up with Holby City 1900 - an even more stuffy and boring Victorian version of the drama, come on!

    Compare this to House, on Ch5 now Sky with all the twists and turns.

    On the Action front we used to have (not necessarily all BBC) Miami Vice with expensive cars and boats, pretty girls, large gun battles, Magnum PI with the same + a helicopter, Hawaii 50, Baywatch (love it or hate it it was a big show).

    Now all we have are murder mystery type cop shows - old lady / bloke, investigates crime, spends 55 minutes waddling around between dark dingy houses slowly interviewing people's dogs and pigeons as eye potential witnesses, finally decides after a full 55 minutes of boring interviews who's done it, then at last you - 10 seconds of excitement (?) as the guy tries to escape by climbing out of the window with the entire police force already waiting below, programme end. I mean come on.

    None of the current shows hold a candle to the 80's series but when you look at other channels you have fast moving cop dramas such as CSI Miami, NCIS that are all fast moving and action packed with shoot outs, explosions, fast cars, girls, twists and turns in the plot.

    Seriously, what has happened to BBC programming? It appears at 1st glance we can't have scantily clad girls in case it offends feminists (not as anyone ever wears a bikini on a beach now is it?), we can't have fast cars in case in encourages or glamorises speeding, we can't expensive boats in case it looks like the BBC favours the upper classes, we can't have gun battles in case it glamorises guns, we can't have explosions in case its equals excessive violence.

    Just what has happened at the BBC?

    Look at the entire BBC content night after night and its nothing but very dull, slow paced and boring dramas, chat shows and mediocre comedies. Wildest Dreams and Pirates of the Caribbean apart, its hard to remember the last time I watched the BBC - it can be weeks!!

    The only decent innovative show to come to the BBC in the last year or two has been Heroes.

    Come on BBC, bring the good comedies and the exciting action programming back.

    For the last year or two it's as if the entire BBC programme commissioning /purchasing department has been handed over to train spotters!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Can we have a series about the BBC Television Centre itself in HD. You have the Studio Tours which are very popular. It must be a very exciting place to work and I think the public would love to follow the making of a programme like 'Strictly Come Dancing' or 'EastEnders'. The Architecture of the building itself is interesting and parts of it are now listed are they not? Lets have some cameras behind the cameras and see the hard work that goes into making these programmes. A definite Blu-ray buy for me that will record the Centres history especially with its future in doubt

  • Comment number 69.

    Picture quality is the essence of HD so how can picture quality possibly be off topic on an HD blog. Danielle is the head of BBC HD and so is ultimatly resposible for quality. There has been over 600 posts to the other blog but the BBC has failed to respond properly to any of the complaints. We have been told that Danielle was aware of cuts before she went on holiday but failed to warn us what was going to happen. The new encoders and associate bit rate cut are a total disaster and we still have no sort of applogy from the BBC.

    The most disturbing part of this story is the censorship the BBC is embarking on. Picture quality is not something that should just be discussed on a technical blog it is the essence of HD. There is no point in having HD unless it can deliver the quality.

    If the BBC is unable to deliver the quality expected they should abandon HD and stop waisting the licence payers money delivering an inferior product.

  • Comment number 70.

    Another very uninspiring schedule from what James Murdoch called the State Sponsered TV channel. No mention of sport or films as far as I can see. As for "Land Girls" I think you should have gone to specsavers. It looked very poor to me the closeup action was full of compression artifacts.

    The BBC has generally become a range of repeats channels. Looking through TV Choice the vast majority of programming are repeats.

  • Comment number 71.

    Hi Danielle

    Just seen a Promo for Srictly and no mention of it being on BBCHD.

    You might get better viewing figures if you advertised a bit more.

    Just a Thought.

    Still no word from Andy (what a surprise)

  • Comment number 72.

    Thanks for the apology for the bit rate decrease Danielle. The apology is very appreciated......

  • Comment number 73.

    ..... Sorry just realised there is no apology from Danielle.

    Anyone know any good jobs website??? I think someone should start looking for one.

  • Comment number 74.

    Anyone planning to respond to above concerns (i.e. Formula 1, Strictly and more?)

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 74, BBC HD dont tend to respond to questions.

  • Comment number 76.

    Who made the decision to reduce the bandwidth?

    Why was the previous bandwidth ruled as unsustainable?

    How much say does Andy Quested have or is his role mow to justify BBC Management decisions?

    Answers please from the Head of BBC HD. She needs to justify her actions and her poor stewardship of BBC HD.

  • Comment number 77.

    Just watched the Last Night of the Proms and from what I saw I hope it was the last.

    First the sound. Its good to see the BBC has finally found the switch for 5.1 surround but oh what a mess they made of it. The balance was up and down like a yoyo as though somebody could not restist playing around on the mixing desk. The sound also seem to cut out for very short periods as though some sort of limiter was firing off.

    Then there was the direction. Hundereds of shots of that ugly lamp from every conceivable direction. The shots were rarely in consert with the mucic. The violins were shown when the brass was in full flow etc. It looked as though the BBC used a trainee director without doing a camera rehearsal.

    The outside broadcasts were not in HD and the upscaling was terrible. It looked worse than a VHS video the noise level was sky high and the bandwidth looked more like a old 405 line recording. To make things worse they showed a clip of Chris De Burgh murdering a beatles song. Surely they could have picked somthing in tune.

    In part 1 the subtitles were in very poor SD. Surely the BBC could do the afford an HD subtitles machine.

    Then there was the continuity. At the end of part 1 we were greated with a caption saying that the concert would continue on BBC One. I wonder how many viewers switched over not realizing this was another misteak.

    On top of all that we had to put up with Clive Anderson pontificating his usuall trivia shouting over the applause.

    And so we come to picture quality. Well you guessed it was very difficult to tell it was meant to be in HD. Infact I turned over to Eurosport HD to see upscalled SD which was sharper than the what the BBC was delivering.

  • Comment number 78.

    In furtherance to post 71 (I don't watch the show) I went on the strictly come dancing website. There was a trailer on there, which I am assuming is getting used on tv. No mention of HD. This show will be one of the autumn flagships for BBC HD, not mentioning HD at all is really having a death wish for the channel (as might some of the other behaviours already mentioned on this thread). On the website there seemed to be no mention of HD at all or if it was there it was somewhere out of the way. It would be extremely easy to have the BBC HD logo next to the BBC One logo for a start.

    Danielle, as a channel controller you need to get onto whoever does the the website and trailers and tell them that they are literally ruining the viewing figures for your channel on one of its supposedly flagship programmes through their lax work. Not only should there be a mention of HD but it should be done so routinely that people start to get fed up of hearing it on voice overs and trailers.

  • Comment number 79.

    @Bill, I'm not from the BBC but I'll try and answer your question on bandwidth.

    I'm not sure who actually made the decision within the BBC to reduce bandwidth but I think the general consensus is that its unsustainable because of the current cost of transmission. Unfortunately, broadcasters have to pay for the bandwidth used as well as the use of the transponder and the BBC were recently refused an increase in licence fee and even more recently have been told they may have to "donate" some of the licence fee to struggling channels eg. ITV, CH4 to keep them afloat. All of this has left the BBC rather cash strapped and the obvious way of cutting the expenditure without cutting the programming is through bandwidth cuts. TBH some bandwidth cut should be possible without PQ loss by the use of more efficient encoders. Its long be known that LUXE HD uses only 4MB on their HD channel and yet has some of the very best HD quality wise on satellite, albeit there's very little fast movement on LUXE material. No one seems to know what encoders the BBC have purchased (outside of those in the BBC) and it seems that up to now no one has managed to make the cuts without a vast quality drop across most of the output. Occasional programmes have been very good, but many of us suspect these were either down to experiments on the encoder or improvements in post processing by BBC production teams reading the blog and deciding to try to improve things off their own back. Either way, there have been some improvements but unfortunately not across the board.

  • Comment number 80.

    @79 Alsone: A good answer!

    Things must be bad at BBC HD is they are being forced to cut ongoing transmission costs to meet budget cuts. Given how much the BBC has invested in HD, to introduce such degradation in picture quality and reduce 5.1 sound content is bad stewardship.

    Damaging the last link in the HD chain is a bad decision. I would accept less content to pay for bandwidth!

    The BBC needs to have adaptable bandwidth to cater for the needs of those HD programs that need higher bandwidth.

    If transmission cost cuts have been made to pay for the new encoders then this would have been acceptable during the trial, not when the service is live!

    I had hoped AndyQ would prevent such poor technical decisions being implemented!

  • Comment number 81.

    Danielle - Sorry if this is the wrong place, but you really must get someone competent to look after the technical side of your HD outside broadcasts.

    Throughout this Proms season, your HD broadcasts have been great only to be let down with the DD surround sound on the last night. Your team no doubt noticed the multiple sound glitches throughout both halves.

    The only thing that can be said is that the overall sound reliability was much better than previous years only to be spoilt at the last hurdle.

    Are there not any sanctions you can make on whoever provided the technical facilities like not paying them?

    Despite the above, you still have a great channel so keep up the good work.


  • Comment number 82.

    Re Post 67. above

    It's slightly off-topic but the comments re poor commissioning need a response...

    Since late March, at 1120 pm for three nights per week, a select band of us have been watching (or recording depending on shifts!) on BBC2 one of the most remarkable TV series to come out of the USA, The Wire. The epic richness of plot, the variety of themes covered, the language, the direction, etc etc broke so many moulds and the BBC acquisition team need a huge pat on the back for ensuring this did not end up on Ch4/5 or Sky and for being brave enough to show it, as the 'political incorrectness' at it's centre really marked it out as a non-BBC programme.

    As always - and as with the debate on HD P/Quality elsewhere - the issue will always be one of managing financial resources. The issue will no doubt become even more acute for the BBC if the recently announced move to permit product placement among commercial broadcasters gives them a bigger pot for programme acquisition and HD developments - according to the BBC News website this could put an extra GBP 100-150 mill. in ITV/Ch4/Ch5's pockets.

  • Comment number 83.

    Wildlife and nature shots looks fantastic on BBC HD with the extra detail and vivid colours.
    However, there was not nearly enough of this shown in Land of the Volcano. There was too much shown of the camp and the scientists etc. I would like to see longer shots, or more shots, of the wildlife.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm enjoying my newly aquired BBC Freesat but greatly disappointed at not being able to get Proms in the Park (Hyde Park that is) on the Red Button. Why, was this?

  • Comment number 85.

    re:79 @alson

    I don't think the reason for the drop in bitrate is purely financial. The cost of transmission on satellite is alot cheaper than terestrial and so in terms of the BBC overall costs satellite transponder costs are not significant. There is another real problem and that is space on the 2D satellite. The BBC uses 2D because its main beam roughly covers the UK only. Unfortunatly the BBC is very bad at planning ahead and so did not lease sufficiant transponder space when it became available. They did the same with DAB radio. They "forgot" to apply for a second multiplex and so missed the dead line for the application. So the BBC had to reduce the bit rates to squeeze the new stations onto one multiplex. That is why we now have the lowest quality digital radio system in the world. They are now doing the same with HD.

    The odd thing is thing is that the BBC is very fussy about the quality of the video which is acceptable for the HD channel. For instance they do not accept video in HDV format or super 16 film yet they now tansmit a quality which is well below either of these formats.

    The Last Night of the Proms was the worst "HD" production I have ever seen. Both sound and vision were very bad, the outside broadcasts were a very low quality SD and even the subtitles were not in HD.

    Danielle is the Head of BBC HD but we have not seen heared any explanation or appology of why the HD channel has been alowed to deteriated so much on her watch.

  • Comment number 86.

    2D was the satellite nobody wanted. It was seen as an eccentic spare there would never be any need of. The BBC cannot really be blamed for that in that strict space. That said after all who was it that cooked up the false story that 2D pretty much covers the UK...? ;-). The BBC has enough space for itself on astra 2D for itself for the forseeable future, all it needs to do is kick off those 2 bbc variants and go S2.

    #79 is mostly nonsense.

  • Comment number 87.

    Your entitled to your view Ropies but without official word from the BBC no one knows the actual reason.

    As for 2D, the problem in my opinion is the Sky channels that are encrypted but occupy the tight footprint space of 2D when it really isn't necessary for licensing purposes. Either the BBC, Astra and Sky need to sit down together and come to an agreement to move the encrypted channels off the tight footprint transponders or the government needs to step in and force Sky to move the channels off 2D on the possibly of an alleged restriction of competition? However, its done, it simply unacceptable in my opinion that a broadcaster can block the expansion of a rival (either accidentally or on purpose)through lack of space when there are other more suitable transponders available in the same longditude from which broadcasts could be made and from which a move would instantly solve all the availability problems for the rival.

  • Comment number 88.

    #86, Maybe #79 is mostly nonsense, and maybe not. At least it's an answer, and thanks for trying Alsone. It would be nice to get an official definitive one though, that would end all this speculation once and for all.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ Alsone
    The BBC rents transponder space rather than individual slots on a transponder.
    So by cutting the bandwidth there has been no financial saving by the BBC as it still rents the entire transponder.

    However, if Andy Q was to use better MPEG-2 enconders he could help BBC HD.

    Currently among the national broadcasters on 2D the number of channels in MPEG-2 varies on each transponder.

    Two Channel 4 transponders broadcast 9 channels.

    Three ITV transponders broadcast 7 channels.
    A fourth ITV transponder broadcasts 7 channels and one radio station.

    One BBC transponder fits 5 channels and two radio stations.
    Two BBC transponders broadcast 6 channels.
    One BBC transponder broadcasts 8 channels.

    The final transponder broadcasts just 2 MPEG-2 channels and BBC HD in MPEG-4.

    By using the lastest and most efficent MPEG-2 enconders the BBC could broadcast 7 channels on 3 transponders and 6 channels on a fourth.

    That would give the BBC HD channel an entire transponder which could allow it to be switched over to DVB-S2 which is much more efficent as well giving extra benefits.

    This would allow BBC HD to easily set up a second HD channel which it will need from next year as sporting events like The Winter Olympics, The World Cup and The Commonwealth games take up the entire broadcast hours of the BBC HD over several weeks of next year.
    As well as the growth of HD broadcasts which will mean there will be more programmes in the evening avaliable to be broadcast in HD than broadcast slots.

    The BBC could then save money by sub-leasing the 3rd and 4th HD slots with an agreement to take them back as the BBC needs to increase its HD broadcasts.
    By 2012 the BBC will need 4 HD channels just to cover all the Olympic events going on.

  • Comment number 90.

    Danielle, give Andrew Knight a job please; he seems to know what he's talking about and I'd really like you to have those 4 HD channels, not just in time for the Olympics but for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

    Also, normally I moan that there're too many repeats on your channel but I would really like to see/hear last night's Last Night of the Proms because, unfortunately, I was away for it. I know the coverage has got some stick but maybe if you showed a repeat you could ensure that before it's shown you've sorted out all those audio glitches, and even if you couldn't it would be worth watching, sound glitches and all, just to catch Alison Balsom's playing in "HD".

  • Comment number 91.

    One of the problems that the BBC have is regional variations. The BBC has 18 regional variations of BBC 1 alone. That would use up 5 transponders if they were to transmit BBC1 in HD. One solution to this would be to transmit BBC 1 HD as an interactive service which switched to the regional SD stream when a regional variation was to be transmitted.

  • Comment number 92.

    Danielle, the comedy on your channel hasn't inspired me so far. Hopefully things will change but the new comedy series you've mentioned will have to be a lot better than the ones you've shown so far if I'm to become a regular viewer.

    However, there's a brilliant comedy made recently by the BBC called Getting On (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/comedy/2009/07/peter-capaldi-on-directing-get.shtml%29. I've not laughed so much since the days of Dad's Army, Fawlty Towers and It Ain't Half Hot Mum (and in the brief 90s revival with I'm Alan Partridge, the Royle Family, The League of Gentlemen and The Office).

    What I'd like explained though, is why such a gem was not right at the top of your list for making for, and showing on, the HD channel. Instead it wasn't marketed, was tucked away on BBC4 without fanfare, and shuffled straight off our screens after only 3 episodes, and without any promises of more to come.

    IMHO, since I'm guessing it was only made in SD, those 3 episodes of Getting On should immediately be shown again peak-time on BBC 1 amid a blaze of publicity. Whilst at the same time you should commission a follow-on Series (or several), to be filmed in HD and then simulcast in your winter schedules on both BBC1 and BBC HD. If blu-ray discs followed, then the Box-set will undoubtedly become a must have Xmas present for every NHS worker, and that's an awful lot of sales!

  • Comment number 93.

    I dont think theres any need for more comedy on the channel as its the actual channel is one big laugh.

    Its run by the best comedians going and one look at the quality and my sides split.

    No apology yet Danielle. Either apologise or resign.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ Andrew, thanks for the reply, all very interesting.

    However, I can think of a better solution compression wise provided all Freesat boxes can decode MPEG4 or could after a firmware update if not, just switch the SD channels over to MPEG4. It might traditionally be a HD format but it can be used at any resolution. When I encode my own video at home in SD, I have created a preset for Sony Vegas Pro which I use to produce MPEG 4 for SD as well as HD (its not hard you just adjust the resolution down to SD size and then play with the bit rate). Point is though, MPEG4 is vastly more efficient than any version of MPEG 2 I know of, so this should in theory allow your plan to go ahead but with an even better quality to space ratio thus opening up more space for the BBC to either rent out or use to provide more channels / content.

  • Comment number 95.

    @Alsone What about the millions of other satellite recievers in the UK that only use MPEG-2?
    The BBC has the duty to broadcast to all of its viewers.

    The solution I suggest is something that can be implemented now to benefit both SD channels and BBC HD, and allow at least a second HD channel to get up and running for when The Winter Olympics,The World Cup and The Commonwealth games are broadcasting when they will take up nearly the entire BBC HD broadcasting hours making it difficult if not impossible to schedule regualur programming.

  • Comment number 96.

    wednesday83 - keep your comments civil please. Any more in this vein will be removed.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ Andrew, I'm not sure you read my post correctly, I did question if SD boxes could decode MPEG4 either natively or via a firmware update. If they can then obviously MPEG4 would be the way to go, if they can't or cannot be made to via an update then obviously we're stuck with MPEG2.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ Alsone
    Thanks for clarifying that. Exsisting boxes can't be updated to handle MPEG-4. It requires a different chipset to be present in the box.

    The MPEG-2 upgrade solution mentioned though is feasible and would then allow the current HD picture quality issues to be solved as well as allowing a second HD channel to be launched and leaving the option of a future third and forth HD channel to be launched.

  • Comment number 99.

    Are we drifting off topic here? This post is about the BBC HD Channel's autumn schedules...

  • Comment number 100.


    In a matter of months when the BBC covers The Winter Olympics its entire broadcasting hours will be taken over by HD coverage of The Olympic Games meaning BBC HD won't be able to broadcast regular programming for over 2 weeks.

    This will happen as well with The World Cup which will affect BBC HD for over a month and The Commonwealth games which will affect the channel as well.
    Not to mention the growth in HD programmes which will soon require a second HD channel as more evening programming becomes avaliable in HD than the current BBC HD channel can broadcast. Already major series on BBC1 and BBC2 have to be shown on different days on BBC HD because of schedule clashes.

    There is more on the subject of post 57.
    It would be great if you can raise this issue so a blog post can be made about what will happen in the near future.


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