Entertainment & Arts

In Pictures: 50 landmark BBC Two shows

BBC Two is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, 20 April, having been home to many landmark programmes over the decades.

THE 1960s

Play School
Children's show Play School was the first full programme to be broadcast on BBC Two, on 21 April 1964
The Likely Lads
The Likely Lads, starring Rodney Bewes (left) and James Bolam, was the first comedy on the channel
Tubby Hayes (saxophone) Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet), Allan Ganley (drums), Freddie Logan (bass) Terry Shannon (piano) and Steve Race (compere) on Jazz 625
Music programme Jazz 625 first aired in 1965, coinciding with a boom in the British jazz scene
Dudley Moore and Peter Cook on Not Only But Also
Dudley Moore and Peter Cook starred in Not Only But Also. Three series were made, beginning in 1966
West Ham v Sheffield United on Match of the Day in 1966
Match of the Day began life on BBC Two in August 1964. Liverpool v Arsenal was the first featured game
Call My Bluff
Wordy quiz show Call My Bluff began in 1965 before returning in 1996
The Forsyte Saga
The memorable Forsyte Saga won Susan Hampshire a best actress Emmy Award in 1970 (actress Nyree Dawn Porter is pictured here)
Percy Thrower on Gardener's World
Gardener's World was launched in 1969, with presenters including Percy Thrower. It is still going strong
Kenneth Clark fronted the epic documentary series Civilisation in 1969. The BBC is now bringing it back
Pot Black
BBC Two was the first channel in Europe to broadcast in colour, including snooker programme Pot Black

THE 1970s

Delia Smith's Family Fare
Chef Delia Smith began her TV career with Family Fare in 1973
Fawlty Towers
Just two series of seminal sitcom Fawlty Towers were made, with the 12 episodes airing in 1975 and '79
I, Claudius
I, Claudius, starring Derek Jacobi, came 12th in the BFI's list of the 100 best ever TV shows in 2000
Meat Loaf on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1978
The Old Grey Whistle Test ran from 1971 to '87, featuring performances by stars like Meat Loaf (pictured)
Pennies From Heaven
Dennis Potter's 1978 musical drama Pennies From Heaven established Bob Hoskins as a leading man
Not the Nine O'Clock News
Not the Nine O'Clock News introduced Griff Rhys Jones, Rowan Atkinson, Pamela Stephenson & Mel Smith
Alec Guinness in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Alec Guinness starred in the tense 1979 adaptation of John le Carre's spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Life On Earth
David Attenborough's groundbreaking natural history programme Life On Earth was first transmitted in 1979

THE 1980s

Yes, Minister
Satirical sitcom Yes Minister ran for three series between 1980 and 1984, followed by Yes, Prime Minister
Dog Training The Woodhouse Way
The fierce Barbara Woodhouse started her TV career on BBC Two on Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way
Boys From The Blackstuff
Liverpool drama Boys From The Blackstuff, penned by Alan Bleasdale, captured the mood of the early '80s
The Young Ones
The Young Ones, co-written by Ben Elton, was the first sitcom of the alternative comedy generation
Floyd on Fish
Flamboyant restaurateur and chef Keith Floyd's first TV series was Floyd on Fish in 1985
Dennis Taylor in the World Snooker Final 1985, which is thought to have attracted BBC Two's highest audience
BBC Two's highest ever ratings came during the 1985 snooker final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis
Edge of Darkness
Crime drama and political thriller Edge of Darkness, broadcast in 1985, won six Bafta Awards
Red Dwarf
Sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf blasted off in 1988. It ran until 1999 before being resurrected by TV channel Dave
Jeremy Paxman during a moment off air on Newsnight
Newsnight started life in 1980, and Jeremy Paxman (pictured during a moment off air) joined in 1989
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
An adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit proved controversial

THE 1990s

Have I Got News For You
Have I Got News For You has used guest hosts since original compere Angus Deayton was fired in 2002
Later... with Jools Holland, with PJ Harvey
Music show Later... with Jools Holland (pictured with PJ Harvey in 1993) is now into its 44th series
The Day Today
Chris Morris satirised and subverted mainstream news programmes on The Day Today
Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge
The Day Today's sport reporter Alan Partridge was given his own chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You
Johnny Depp on The Fast Show
Johnny Depp dropped in to be measured up by Mark Williams and Paul Whitehouse on The Fast Show
Goodness Gracious Me
The stars of Goodness Gracious Me have reunited for a one-off episode to celebrate BBC Two's anniversary
Two Fat Ladies
Clarissa Dickson Wright (left) and Jennifer Paterson broke the cookery show mould as Two Fat Ladies
Our Friends in the North
Our Friends in the North made stars of Christopher Eccleston, Gina McKee, Mark Strong and Daniel Craig
This Life
House share saga This Life was another of the decade's landmark dramas
Sister Wendy's Story of Painting
Sister Wendy was one of TV's unlikeliest stars, but her Odyssey art appreciation show achieved cult status
Ground Force
Garden makeover series Ground Force proved a hit after launching in 1997, later moving to BBC One
The Royle Family
The Royle Family, which arrived in 1998, turned the minutiae of mundane family life into comedy gold
The League of Gentlemen
The League of Gentlemen took their black comedy to BBC Two after making their debut on BBC Radio 4

THE 2000s

The Weakest Link
Anne Robinson was the wicked queen of the Weakest Link in both the UK and US
A History of Britain with Simon Schama
Simon Schama attempted to cover 5,000 years in 15 episodes of A History of Britain
Top Gear
Top Gear went on the air in 1976, but has picked up speed since Jeremy Clarkson and co took over
The Office
Ricky Gervais' mockumentary The Office won six Baftas and two Golden Globes and spawned a US remake
Little Britain
Little Britain moved to BBC Two after its initial success on BBC Three
Miranda Hart made her name with her sitcom on BBC Two in 2009 before transferring to BBC One

THE 2010s

Wonders of the Solar System
Professor Brian Cox became a household name thanks to documentaries like Wonders of the Solar System
Twenty Twelve
Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes sent up the Olympics and then the BBC in Twenty Twelve and W1A
Line of Duty
Line of Duty, starring Keeley Hawes, is one of BBC Two's most talked-about dramas of recent years

More on this story