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120 new members of the 2012 BBC Academy Production Talent Pool

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Jon Jacob | 17:13 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

BBC Production Talent Pool 2012

Members of the Production Talent Pool for 2012 at a networking event in the BBC Media Village.

Editor's Note - Simon Smith is the Manager of Creativity and Special Projects in the BBC Academy. In this post, he writes about the new intake of young creative talent who have won places in the BBC's prestigious Production Talent Pool.

Today is a big day. I am really proud to say the first members of the BBC Academy's Production Talent Pool are now recruited, trained and ready for work in the BBC. Last night I met for the first time many of these 120 bright, talented and committed recruits who are now available for junior production management and running roles across BBC TV and radio.

The BBC Academy, which delivers training, has always helped the BBC discover, recruit and train new talent to work on its radio and TV shows. It's a big day because this year we have changed the way we do this; combining three previous recruitment schemes into one. Until 2011 the Production Trainee Scheme, the Audio and Music Talent Pool and the Vision Intake Pool worked independently of one another. It was confusing for delegates applying for places and it was costly for the business as each scheme required lots of BBC staff time helping with the interviewing and selection process.

The Production Talent Pool brings these three schemes together for the first time, it was a risk but, meeting the new members of the Pool last night, it looks like it's paid off. Recruitment for the PTP started in February. There were just under 3000 applicants and my team have done a terrific job of managing a rigorous selection process that started with online tests and ended with observed assessment of creative and group work skills. We have ended up with 120 who have been given basic training by the BBC Academy, and who are now ready to be deployed across the BBC by its network of production and talent managers. The successful 120 will be in the PTP for 1 year and for that time will be 'first on the list' for shows needing to recruit production management assistants and runners.

Winning a place in the Pool is also the first step to gaining the most cherished of the BBC's training schemes. After a final selection process 1 in 10 of those in the Pool will be selected for a place on the prestigious Production Trainee Scheme. The PTS has been the launch pad for many illustrious careers and the successful 11 will start their training in October. You can follow their progress and discover more about BBC Academy training by following @bbctrainees on Twitter.

Simon Smith is Manager, Creativity and Special Projects, BBC Academy. Follow him on Twitter @simonsmithster.

Bruce Forsyth participates in the Olympic Torch Relay at BBC White City

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Jon Jacob | 16:53 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth carried the Olympic Torch through the BBC White City Media Village today receiving the torch from international banker Antoine de Navacelle (great nephew of Pierre de Coubertin who organised the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896) on the site of the finishing line of the 1908 Olympics stadium.

Staff lined the main piazza to get a glimpse of Sir Bruce as he walked back towards Wood Lane with the Olympic Torch. Others congregated on the top floors of the BBC Media Centre and Broadcast Centre, from where this video was shot.

Different ways to listen and watch the BBC's Olympics 2012 coverage

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Alix Pryde Alix Pryde | 17:32 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Wimbledon may be over, but the time for strawberries and cream in the BBC Distribution office is short. I wrote in May about how we were working on delivering to you the BBC's greatest year of broadcasting and I wanted to let you know how our final preparations are going.

I think there are a few areas where you may find an update useful:

  • Details of the new services we are launching for the London 2012 Olympic Games and how to access them
  • How to make sure you watch in HD if you have it
  • 3D broadcasts and HD resolution changes this summer

I've also written a separate blog on how to make sure that you are still recording your favourite shows through any regular recordings you've set up, because some of the BBC's most popular programmes on BBC One move to a new temporary home on BBC Two to make space for Olympics coverage.

New Services

24 live streams via satellite and cable (Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media)

We are making great progress with getting 24 high definition (HD) and 24 standard definition (SD) streams onto satellite and cable platforms in time for the first Olympic event on 25 July. I know that some of you will be interested in how we are achieving this. Just for the two weeks of the Games there will be nine additional satellite transponders in use to ensure you can watch as much sport as you can handle. Three of these will carry eight SD channels each and the remaining six will carry four HD services each.

The details of these transponders can be found on the BBC's Reception Advice FAQ site. All the channels are up and working now and should be appearing in your EPG.

However, to make it as easy as possible for you to find the events you want to watch amid this vast array of choice, the BBC's teams in Salford have been working with our platform partners (Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media) to create a slick interactive application on each platform. The application will allow you to see what is coming up and help you to navigate to the right channel. The application will look something like this (depending on which platform you use).

To access it, just press the red button on a BBC channel.

24 live streams via the internet on selected connected TVs

I mentioned last time that it will be possible to access the 24 streams on certain Freeview HD and Freesat HD TVs connected to the internet. This is through the BBC Sport App which enables viewers to watch Olympic sport live from every venue in the same way as you can on satellite and cable. It will be available on the following models of Freeview HD TVs:

  • Panasonic connected TVs (2011 and 2012 models)
  • Samsung connected TVs (2011 and 2012 models)
  • Sony connected TVs (2012 models)

You'll need to make sure your TV is connected to your broadband connection.

You'll need to use your TV's menu or app store to add the BBC Sport App to your TV. If you have trouble with this, the best source of advice should be your manufacturer. The BBC Sport App is also available on the Sony PlayStation 3 and on Virgin Media Tivo, and a mobile version has recently been launched for Android, iPhone and Blackberry via a shortcut app.

Three HD channels on Freeview HD

People with Freeview HD will be able to watch HD Olympic coverage on three TV channels across the day: BBC One HD, BBC HD and a special HD stream through the BBC Red Button.

Because of the different way that Freeview (digital terrestrial television) works, compared with digital satellite or digital cable television, there isn't enough space to broadcast the 24 streams on Freeview. However, within these capacity constraints, we've sought to do our best to give as much coverage of the Olympic Games to Freeview viewers, and in HD where possible.

Freeview HD launched in 2010 and since then 5.6 million Freeview HD TVs or digiboxes have been sold. The Freeview HD signal coverage of the UK has been rolling out with digital switchover and now covers c. 95% of UK homes.

On 19 June we turned on this new HD BBC Red Button channel which is available to anyone who can currently receive the BBC's other HD channels using a Freeview HD compatible TV or digibox. During the Olympics you will be able to access this service through the BBC Red Button when you are watching either BBC HD or BBC One HD. You will also be able to set up recordings for Olympic events through your EPG by selecting channel 304.

We expect Freeview HD receivers to have automatically discovered the new channel and added it to the EPG. If you can't find channel 304 then please try retuning your Freeview HD TV or box.

If you can't find channel 304 then please try retuning your Freeview HD TV or box.

Four SD channels on Freeview

All Freeview viewers, whether Freeview HD or original Freeview, will have a choice of up to four Olympic feeds in standard definition, depending on the time of day. This is thanks to the temporary return of BBC Red Button channel 302 in the evenings, alongside coverage across the day on BBC One, BBC Three and BBC Red Button channel 301.

Bringing back our BBC Red Button channel 302 on Freeview from 7pm each night is a side benefit of the work we have done to bring you BBC Three all day during the Olympics (see below). If you tune to Freeview channel 302 and can see our holding message on the screen then you are ready for a great summer of BBC Red Button sport. Otherwise please retune your digital TV or box. If you need help with re-tuning, an excellent place to go for advice is www.tvretune.co.uk which provides detailed instructions for many different makes and models of Freeview receiver. We've also made advice available via BBC Red Button page 9991. Plus we've been broadcasting some messages that "pop-up" on screen to let Freeview viewers know that they will get the additional service if they retune, and to press the blue button to get retuning advice.

Extended BBC Three on all platforms

BBC Three usually comes on air at 7 o'clock in the evening. However, during the Olympics, it will become a 24-hour channel. You shouldn't have to do anything to receive the extended BBC Three once we get to 27 July; your TV should automatically allow you to watch. To make space for BBC Three all day long on Freeview, BBC Parliament will be off-air during the Olympics, but it remains available on satellite and cable.

Radio 5live Olympics Extra

The BBC has also launched Radio 5live Olympics Extra on DAB. The service went live this week, most DAB receivers should have picked it up already but if yours hasn't, here is some information on how to receive it.

Watch in HD

The best way to enjoy the BBC's coverage of the London 2012 Olympics is to watch in high definition. But because our standard definition channels sit at the top of the channel list on each platform, it's often the case that people watch in SD even though they have HD available. You may be able to watch in HD through Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media or Freeview so long as you have an HD capable digital TV and HD box if necessary. Indeed, if you have bought a large screen (32" or more) TV in the last couple of years, there's a very good chance it has Freeview HD built in, even if you don't usually use it.

All BBC channels, including the HD ones, are available subscription-free (or in the case of cable, in the basic package). To make it easier for you to find your BBC channels in HD, I've included a table below with channel numbers by platform:

  • BBC One HD (Sky 143, Freesat 108, Virgin Media 108, Freeview 50)
  • BBC HD (Sky 169, Freesat 109, Virgin Media 187, Freeview 54)
  • 24 streams in HD (Sky 450-473*, Freesat 150-174, Virgin Media 550-573, Freeview n/a)
  • BBC Red Button 301 HD (Sky n/a, Freesat n/a, Virgin Media n/a, Freeview 304)

NB: as well as an HD signal from one of these platforms, you will also need an HD ready TV.

* If you have a Sky HD subscription then you will receive the BBC's Olympics HD channels at positions 450-473. If you have HD equipment but have never subscribed to Sky HD you can still see our HD Olympics channels but these will appear from 474-497. The channels are all labelled HD or SD so you will know which version you are watching.

3D Broadcasts and HD Resolution Changes

Earlier this year, Roger Mosey announced the 3D coverage we will be showing during the Olympics on BBC HD. We will offer the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Men's 100m final and a daily evening highlights programme. You may also have seen that we broadcast live 3D coverage of the Wimbledon Ladies' and Men's finals, and that later this summer we will broadcast Planet Dinosaur and the Last Night of the Proms in 3D.

For 3D to work on BBC HD, we have to broadcast it at "1920 horizontal resolution", ie, with 1920 pixels across the width of the screen. Usually we broadcast conventional HD at 1440 resolution on digital terrestrial and digital satellite television, so we make a special change to our settings to broadcast BBC HD at 1920 when we need to do 3D broadcasts.

Making this change involves a fair amount of effort, plus there's always the risk that something goes awry. To minimise the effort and risk, I decided that we should broadcast BBC HD at 1920 for an extended period - from May to September. Then, to be fair to the other HD channels we broadcast in BBC controlled capacity on Freeview HD (BBC One HD, ITV1HD, Channel 4 HD*) we investigated whether we could broadcast all of them at 1920 resolution. I'm delighted to say that thanks to a huge amount of work from some very clever people in BBC Research & Development and our suppliers we can do that this summer. We implemented the changes in May to allow us to offer 3D coverage across the great summer of programming and we have moved BBC One HD on Sky and Freesat to 1920 too.

As regular readers of the BBC's blogs will know, 1920 resolution is something we've been aspiring to for some time so I thought I'd explain a bit about the considerations involved. We have to consider the trade-off between the benefits to our audiences of our being able to fit a whole extra channel into the multiplex (whether on digital terrestrial or digital satellite) versus any perceived picture quality benefits of increasing to 1920 resolution. At present the benefits are most apparent on 3D programming. Thanks to some upgrades of our coder systems along with many other tweaks to the way we multiplex services together, this summer we've been able to achieve 1920 on all the channels, whilst the gains would not have been sufficient to broadcast an additional channel. At the moment there is still a question about whether we'll be able to sustain 1920 resolution for the long term; I'll let you know more news on this when we have it.

*Clirlun for viewers in Wales

I'm really proud of what we've been able to achieve in the area of distribution for the Olympics and I hope you enjoy what we deliver. It really is going to be a fantastic summer of sport!

Alix Pryde is the director of BBC Distribution

Recording your favourite television programmes during the Olympics

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Alix Pryde Alix Pryde | 15:34 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A collection of TV remote controls. The picture is taken by Flickr user Odonata98 and used here under the terms of the Creative Commons License.

A collection of TV remote controls, photographed by Flickr user Odonata98 and used here under the terms of Creative Commons.

With less than one week to go before the Opening Ceremony I wanted to take a few minutes to make sure you understood the details about recording your favourite shows during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As you will probably know BBC One will be showing coverage of the Olympics from 6am until midnight. This means that many shows will take a break during the Games but the following ones will move to BBC Two:

  • EastEnders
  • Holby City
  • Panorama
  • Songs of Praise

If your set top box regularly records one or more of these shows for you, you may need to take action to capture them in their new temporary home:

  • If you have a Freeview+ or Freesat+ box these should carry on recording your favourite shows even if they move to BBC Two
  • If you have a Sky+ or Virgin Media V+ box then you will need to tell your box to record your shows on BBC Two. You can do this by simply setting up a new series link for the show when it appears on BBC Two. You will be able to set up a new recording on BBC Two for a show seven days before it's due on BBC Two
  • If you have a Virgin Media TiVo box and have setup a 'Wish List' on your TiVo box for a given show then you don't need to do anything else. If you have a normal series link set up, you'll need to create another one for your shows on BBC Two

After the Olympics have finished, your set-top box should start recording your shows for you again on BBC One. However, Songs of Praise is expected to be an exception because it will have been off BBC One for more than 28 days, so you may need to set up a new series link, as described above.

Besides all the Olympics coverage there are extra programes coming up which showcase our sporting heroes both past and present so whilst you are at it, set some recordings for these as well. Personally, I'm particularly looking forward to Bert & Dickie.

Alix Pryde is the director of BBC Distribution.

The picture used in this post features a collection of television remote controls. and was taken by Flickr user Odonata98 and used here under the terms of Creative Commons.

More on the BBC and service companies

Zarin Patel Zarin Patel | 10:03 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Following recent press speculation, Chief Financial Officer Zarin Patel clarified the BBCs position in relation to the use of Personal Service Companies and tax affairs in general in an all staff email sent on July 23rd.

Dear all,

I wanted to take the opportunity to correct misleading reports in today's media about the BBC's relationship with individuals who we pay through service companies.

Contrary to these reports, we have not told thousands of workers to go 'off the books' in order to cut our tax bill, neither are we 'avoiding national insurance' contributions by paying individuals via service companies. The facts are simply that freelance contractors who earn more than £10,000 a year are told that we prefer them to set up a service company and, in many cases, this will be their only option. This is for a number of reasons including the need to ensure that the appropriate amount of tax is payable by an individual.

Let me be clear, the BBC does not expect anyone to use the service company arrangement to 'dodge tax' by paying the lower corporation rate when they are not eligible to do so. Moreover, the BBC provides HMRC with details of all payments to these companies every year so that it can independently look into whether the appropriate amount of tax is being paid.

All the arrangements that the BBC uses have been designed in conjunction with HMRC. Far from being an attempt to 'dodge tax', the arrangements are designed to ensure the correct amount is payable, while ensuring that we can offer the flexibility needed in the broadcasting industry, where individuals may work with several different organisations during the year. More detailed information about the BBC's tax arrangements can also be found in my blog from earlier this month.

We will be reviewing our tax arrangements shortly, not because we have anything to hide, but because we want to be able to reassure licence fee payers that all of our arrangements are functioning correctly and appropriately. I hope that the outcome of this review will be reported with slightly greater accuracy than has been the case so far.

Kind regards, Zarin

Zarin Patel is the BBC's Chief Financial Officer

UPDATE (Thursday 26 July 2012): The Daily Mail have apologised for their article, the text of which can be found on the Daily Mail Clarifications & Corrections page.

Apprentice David Matchett blogs about his experiences on Apprentice 2012

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Jon Jacob | 14:00 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

David Matchett pictured second from left with some of the other participants in the BBC Scotland Apprentice Scheme,Leigh-Ann Bennett, Laura Paterson and Kimberley Patterson.

David Matchett pictured second from left with some of the other participants in the apprentice Scheme, Leigh-Ann Bennett, Laura Paterson and Kimberley Patterson.

Editor's Note - In a previous blog post, Sharon Mair, Editor Olympics & Commonwealth at BBC Scotland explained how a collaboration between the BBC and various media organisations across Scotland had given ten teenagers experience of working in the media as part of the Creative & Digital Media scheme.

In this post, one of the ten apprentices David Matchett who has been spending time at BBC Scotland headquarters Pacific Quay in Glasgow shares his thoughts and feelings about the scheme.

My arms are bruised from the amount of times I've had to pinch myself into believing that my career path has shifted in such an interesting way since I joined the Apprentice 2012 scheme in September last year.

I found an application online that looked too good to be true: a creative apprenticeship in which you could earn and learn simultaneously within the BBC. No degree required, just a positive attitude and willingness to learn. To me the BBC building seemed as impenetrable as Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. But, once inside you'll realise the staff are not actually Oompa Loompas and are just really welcoming, creative people who you can learn a lot from.

Every month each apprentice moves into a new department, becomes part of a team and learns new skills and a wide understanding of the industry as a whole. Whether it's meeting Prince Charles, getting to co-present MacAulay & Co on BBC Radio Scotland or working towards the Olympics, it's been quite an experience.

Every day is different. Sometimes you have to do what may be considered menial work but once you understand how team oriented the industry is, you realise regardless of how small a part in it you play you are working towards something great. I used to often join in when my friends complained about their jobs, now if I say a word I am met with looks which say 'Stop it! Your job-whinging privileges have been revoked. You work somewhere cool now!'

David Matchett (second left) with some of the other apprentices meeting HRH Prince Charles.

David Matchett (second left) with some of the other apprentices meeting HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.

I would go as far as to say the apprenticeship scheme is character shaping. The confidence gained from this immersion-style training has influenced our personalities in a positive way. The transferable skills we now possess have transformed us into dynamic and ultimately more employable people, regardless of whether we want to stay working in the media (which of course we do).

Looking towards the future however, there are no 100% job certainties. But to be perfectly honest we have grown to understand that with the nature of the industry it would be less kind to gift us a job.

In my mind the whole point of this traineeship is to learn how to build contacts, work flexibly and fend for ourselves within a highly competitive environment. It's the old saying: give a man a deep fried Mars bar and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to batter and fry it and you will feed him for an (admittedly shortened) lifetime.

David Matchett participated in Apprentice 2012 at BBC Scotland

Apprentice 2012: Invaluable industry experience to the next generation of media professionals

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Jon Jacob | 16:22 UK time, Friday, 20 July 2012

Sharon Mair

Editor's note - Since September 2012 ten teenage apprentices have gained invaluable experience working alongside staff at BBC Scotland in Pacific Quay on a special scheme run in collaboration with various organisations across Scotland.

In this post Sharon Mair (pictured left), Editor Olympics & Commonwealth at BBC Scotland explains how the scheme worked.

Ahead of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and as part of our commitment to legacy at BBC Scotland we followed in BBC 2012's footsteps and opened up the doors of Pacific Quay to young hopefuls from across Scotland.

After a rigorous recruitment process we chose ten candidates to work alongside industry professionals across radio, online and TV as part of their modern apprenticeship in Creative & Digital Media. We collaborated with Skillset Scotland and John Wheatley College who were brilliant in working with us to deliver this course. We contacted other areas of the creative industry in Scotland and Scottish Television and the independent Comedy Unit supported us in taking apprentices for short periods of time.

Our class of 2012 started with us in early September last year and after a crash course in working in production each apprentice was assigned to a department. Over the course of the year they spent a month in every department followed by two days at college.

There were highs and lows across the year, many had only just left school and adapting to a professional working environment was difficult for some. At BBC Scotland we've learned lots from the apprentices and we've had lots of learning we can take on board for our new intake in September 2012.

We've had many individuals here at PQ on work experience who tend to shadow staff however this scheme is different in that staff are expected to give the apprentices on the job training and get them heavily involved in the production process; something that takes time and patience and they have done brilliantly.

All ten of our apprentices have encountered exciting experiences throughout their time with us. Four of them met with Prince Charles answering questions about the scheme and explaining what it is that they have got out of the experience so far.

We are also sending another four to spend a month working on some very exciting projects at the Edinburgh Festival with our colleagues at BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live and BBC Three.

Our Gaelic speaking apprentice, Angus, will be travelling to London with the Radio Nan Gaidheal team who will be broadcasting from just outside the Olympic stadium across the second week of the games. And two of our chattiest apprentices gave Fred MacAulay a run for his money while co-presenting MacAulay and Co on BBC Radio Scotland during National Apprenticeship Week back in May this year.

Ideally we'd like to have trained 30 - 40 apprentices by the time the Commonwealth Games come to a close in 2014. My ambition for our apprentices was to give them the opportunity and a fantastic insight into the industry and for them to have the skills to go out and make their mark.

As I write this I am surrounded by three of the apprentices and when asked if they would do it again I was told, they want to come back next year! So if there are any areas in the BBC looking for young people that have now got a great training in the industry - can you give me a call!!

Sharon Mair is Editor Olympics & Commonwealth, BBC Scotland

The Olympic Games, broadcast innovation and Super Hi-Vision

Robert Seatter Robert Seatter | 16:28 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The television control room at BBC Broadcasting Centre, Wembley for the1948 Olympic Games, held in London where pictures from the Empire Pool and Empire Stadium were switched before being transmitted to Alexandra Palace.

The television control room at BBC Broadcasting Centre, Wembley for the1948 Olympic Games, held in London where pictures from the Empire Pool and Empire Stadium were switched before being transmitted to Alexandra Palace.

'May the weather be fine, the events well contested, and may records be broken.' With these words from Prime Minister Clement Atlee in 1948, Britain took on the hosting of the Olympics, launching the so-called 'Austerity Games'. Coming only three years after the end of World War II, they were run on a proverbial shoe string - no new venues built for the Games, athletes housed in existing accommodation, and competitors even bringing their own food along (as rationing was still in operation in UK).

However, these London Games were highly innovative - in broadcast terms. They saw the advent of the first ever Olympic television outside broadcast operation, with programmes going direct into domestic homes. A total of 64 hours of BBC programming created. Yes, the Berlin Games in 1936 had seen early TV in operation, but they had not transported them directly into people's living rooms.

Take a look at the short film the BBC released just before the 1948 Olympics, showing lots of young men with pipes enthusing over the new outside broadcast kit. The star performer was the CPS Emitron camera or Cathode Potential Stabilized (pictured below), which gave much better pictures and performed particularly well at the indoor swimming events. Only two surviving examples of this camera exist, and you can see one of them on display at Broadcasting House during this current Olympic season.

Two of the new C.P.S (Cathode Potential Stabilisation) Emitron cameras  prepared for televising the events in the Empire Pool, Wembley, during the 1948 Olympic Games.

Since 1948, whichever events you look at almost every modern Olympic Games without exception have heralded broadcast innovation, as broadcasters around the world have sought to match sporting excellence with the next new technological wonder.

Up to 1956, TV pictures were still limited to the host country. The Winter Games at Cortina d'Ampezza changed all that, and saw television pictures relayed for the first time outside the host. By 1960, television crews were flying tapes of the Rome Games to New York to be broadcast, changing the way that the wider public interacted with the Olympics. In total, 21 countries received the feed from Rome. Thanks to broadcasting, the Games were really going global.

Four years later, and the Games pushed at the boundaries of broadcasting, when experimental colour arrived at the Tokyo Games - broadcast via satellite to the USA, with the results stored on a computer for the first time ever. Forty countries now tuned directly into the Games. By the next Games in Mexico, live colour broadcasting was watched by over 600 million viewers. The leaps were exponential.

Another big 'first' came in 1984, when Japanese broadcaster NHK trialled experimental high definition television at the Los Angeles Games, along with the first use of email.

You can see the very camera they used as part of a special free exhibition at Broadcasting House in London this summer, courtesy of our current broadcast partner NHK, who have shipped it over to the UK especially for us. A further twelve years would pass before the first ever Olympic Games website was launched, at the Atlanta Games, when it received an astonishing 189 million hits.

Super Hi-Vision camera in studio TC0 in BBC Television Centre.

Working in partnership with Japanese broadcaster NHK the BBC has been experimenting with Super Hi-Vision in a dedicated studio in BBC Television Centre in London. This picture shows the SHV camera used during the 2010 trial. The image in the viewfinder is of a quarter-page from then in-house newspaper Ariel hanging on a board on the other side of the studio.

And so the wheel comes full circle, from London 1948 to London 2012, where the Olympic Games have really set a new standard in online delivery. These will be the first all-digital Games, with 2,500 hours of live sport coverage across multiple platforms. They will also see the advent of yet another new broadcast innovation - Super Hi-Vision (SHV). Developed once again by NHK in Japan, working in partnership with BBC and the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), SHV has 16 times the definition of current HDTV and offers 360 degree surround sound.

NHK cameramen make final adjustments to a super hi-vision camera used to gather material for special screenings in London, Glasgow and Bradford.

NHK cameramen make final adjustments to a super hi-vision camera used to gather material for special screenings in London, Glasgow and Bradford.

It won't be available for 20 years or so domestically, but you can get a taste of the future at three special screening venues in the UK: BBC Broadcasting House in London, BBC Pacific Quay in Glasgow, and at the National Media Museum in Bradford. Screenings are combined with a display featuring a giant timeline on the Olympics and broadcast innovation, plus some of those ground-breaking cameras (see above) in situ. Of course if you're lucky enough to be in Bradford, you'll get the whole story of TV in the museum's supporting gallery. My production colleagues tell me that SHV is just like being in the London stadium - so grab a (free) ticket and tell us what you think.

Robert Seatter is the Head of BBC History

To attend a Super Hi-Vision screening, visit the BBC Shows and Tours website or book via the National Media Museum.

The BBC's Research and Development Blog have two videos from the 2010 experiments in Super Hi-Vision and Full 3D including sequences from the Charlatans' performance and a Tae Kwon-Do demonstration. BBC Click presenter Spencer Kelly also reported from the trial.

Read more about the BBC's television coverage of the 1948 Olympics on the History of the BBC website.

Listen to a broadcast by then Prime Minister Clement Attlee welcome Olympic athletes in a special broadcast on BBC Radio in 1948 on the BBC Archive website. A collection of archive material from the 1948 Olympics curated by the BBC is also available.

For more updates, follow About the BBC on Twitter.

Olympic rights, sport and the BBC

Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 11:43 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

It's a big day for BBC Sport. The fact that we've won exclusive broadcast and digital rights to the next four Olympic Games - two winter and two summer games - means not just that Olympic action will be on the BBC into the 2020s, but that we have secured one of the last pieces in a portfolio of strategic sports rights which ensure that the BBC remains the UK's most popular sports broadcaster well beyond the present Royal Charter.

From Premier League highlights on television to Wimbledon to the Six Nations to the FIFA World Cup 2014 to Formula One to the Olympics - and that's by no means a complete list - we now have rights arrangements which stretch out for many years and which guarantee that sport will continue to be a central part of the diet of licence-payers across BBC Television, Radio and Online.

So much nonsense has been written about the modern BBC and sport that it's worth spending a moment setting the record straight.

First, we know that the public care passionately about sport on the BBC. Given the option, they overwhelmingly choose to watch sport on our services rather than on those of our rivals: the recent final of Euro 2012 in which the coverage on BBC1 gained six times more viewers than that on ITV1 is a good case in point. BBC Television currently shows just 2% of the hours of TV sport broadcast in the UK but that 2% represents over 40% of the hours actually consumed by the public. That's far more than any other broadcaster, including BSkyB. And when we have a sporting moment of national importance - think of England v Italy in the Euros, or Murray v Federer at Wimbledon - they turn to us in their tens of millions.

Second, we take our responsibility to meet that public expectation very seriously. People sometimes argue that sport is so widely available on British television that there is no longer an argument for the BBC using the licence fee to pay for sports rights. I couldn't disagree more. For decades, the public have valued the unique way the BBC covers sport: its technical professionalism, the quality of its commentary and analysis, the absence of interruptions for commercials. In recent years, we've backed up that traditional distinctiveness with a new burst of innovation both in linear coverage and via the BBC Sport website.

Like most other public organisations, we are having to live within a tight budget but those who claimed that Delivering Quality First meant that the BBC was turning its back on sport were very wide of the mark. Like virtually every other kind of output, sport has had to face some unpalatable choices. We have relinquished our remaining television commitments to horse-racing and successfully renegotiated our Formula One rights to create a sharing arrangement with Sky; although it is clearly not as attractive as retaining exclusive rights, this latter deal has kept half the races live on the BBC, broadly maintained the reach of our Formula One coverage and will save us more than £150 million over the lifetime of the contract - a significant contribution to our savings targets.

Of course, the BBC has always played a major role in broadcasting sport on the radio, and will continue to do so through long term deals covering all the major sports, including the iconic Test Match Special and the Ryder Cup.

Wherever possible, we've tried to keep the costs of renewal down: compare the recent near-flat renewal of Premier League highlights (now including BBC iPlayer rights) with the reported 70% increase in the live rights. But we always intended to protect the core of our rights portfolio and we set aside enough money to do so. To give you an idea of scale, our annual financial commitment to sport will remain broadly in line with our annual budget for domestic network news and current affairs.

What's gratifying about today's announcement is that it sees that strategy coming to fruition. Many people have been instrumental in securing our long-term position in sport, but I do want to pay special tribute to our Director of Sport, Barbara Slater, and our brilliant negotiator, Dominic Coles and his team.

Over the next few days, BBC Sport will begin coverage of the single most important sporting event in the history of the BBC. I know you'd like to join me in wishing the team every success in bringing the 2012 London Games alive for our audience. The great thing is that they - and all their colleagues in our brand new sports centre in BBC North - will head into the 2012 Games knowing that, notwithstanding the doom-mongers, that sport is here to stay on the BBC not for a year or two but for the long term.

Bigger and better partnerships

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Eloise McNaulty | 16:30 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

Andrew Tomlinson, Executive Producer, Media Literacy, BBC Learning, blogs about The Give an Hour campaign.

If, like we're told, delegation is an art, then BBC Learning deserves the Turner Prize. Over the last three months we've persuaded hundreds of thousands of people to give an hour of their time to do a crucial job for us.

Until a few months ago, Learning funded face-to-face sessions in libraries, community centres and schools across the UK, to help internet beginners take their first steps online. First Click had made a big difference to the lives of at least ten thousand people by the time we handed the project over earlier this year.

But with more than eight million people still offline and millions more 'on-liners' struggling to make the most of the internet, we needed two new weapons in our armoury to help us get those numbers down: bigger and better partnerships -- and a mass recruitment campaign to create hundreds of thousands of 'digital champions'.

Most of us agree that that BBC should play to its strengths, using our amazing reach into the homes of the UK to entertain, inform and, particularly in the case of BBC Learning, to educate. So that's what we're concentrating on -- and we're doing it as part of 'Go ON UK', a charity formed in May with the intention of making the UK the world's most digitally literate nation.

To put it simply, each Go ON UK partner has a core job to do: for example Lloyds TSB will focus on helping people and businesses carry out financial transactions online; Age UK will concentrate on the online needs of elderly people and the Post Office will help people do more of their everyday tasks on the internet. The other founder partners are TalkTalk, Everything Everywhere and E.ON.

The BBC's role in Go ON UK is to create great content like films, web pages and online guides and to promote its messages across our output, so everyone gets to see them.

Digital Champions are the core of Go ON UK's attempt to get more of us online and to increase the digital literacy of the UK - and that's where the Give an Hour campaign comes in. The idea is a simple one: we invite people to identify someone whose online skills could do with an upgrade -- and ask them to spend an hour with them, helping them improve.

But with many non-internet users resisting the invitation to go online, and asking the question "what's in it for me?", we needed a convincing answer - and this year it's an obvious one: sport.

This summer, the BBC's coverage of London 2012 includes live online streaming of up to 24 simultaneous events; a constantly updated results service on the 2012 site... and the entire torch relay online. You can also find out about all the cultural events that are happening in your area as part of the 2012 Festival. The message is simple: if you improve your online skills, you'll get so much more out of this fantastic summer of sport.

All of this raises the question of why it's so important to get people using the internet in their daily lives. Well, the creative and economic benefits are immense, not to mention the difference it makes to our quality of life.

From booking holidays, to skyping members of our family, to applying for jobs, to buying a tax disc, to editing and uploading videos, the list goes on and on. It's the BBC's job, as part of our charter, to help deliver the benefits of the new technologies and services that are available from being online - and, of course, to promote education and learning across the board.

You may have seen the promotional trails on BBC One over the last couple of weeks, asking you to Give an Hour, but they're just the tip of the iceberg.

Onbbc.co.uk/giveanhour there are simple guides to making the most of our summer of sport online, along with how-to films presented by our Give an Hour ambassadors, Chris Hollins and Fatima Whitbread. Chris and Fatima have been working tirelessly to get the Give an Hour message out there, on Twitter, Facebook, and local and national radio - and you may have seen some of the Give an Hour coverage on your regional 6.30 news programme.

So, go on: now you know what it's all about, Give an Hour and help someone you know make the most of our summer of sport online.

See Chris Hollins and Fatima Whitbread on Give an Hour:

Find out more about the campaign on the Give An Hour website.

The BBC offers a beginners guide to using the internet on the BBC Webwise website

Join the conversation about the programme by using the hashtag #givenanhour


Two stories about BBC Radio 1 - Chris Moyles and Nick Grimshaw

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Ben Cooper | 17:34 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Today there are two stories about BBC Radio 1. Chris Moyles announcing that his record breaking show is coming to an end. And Nick Grimshaw is the new presenter of the Radio 1 Breakfast Show.

I've known Chris since he walked into Radio 1 in 1997. I was his producer on the Early Breakfast Show. I'm a fan of the Chris Moyles Show. And quite simply, he is the most successful breakfast show DJ in Radio 1's history. But he has done the show for over eight and a half years - he couldn't do it for ever - and I would rather he went out at the top of his game.

Added to that, this is just as much about Nick. He's a young star who is on the up. He loves his music, from Azealia Banks to One Direction. He has a great sense of humour, which comes across when interviewing either film stars or callers to the show. Plus, he can just about get away with using the word 'sick'. So, I believe the time is right to give him a new, bigger platform.

I wanted to surprise people today. There has been so much speculation over the years, almost as soon as Chris got the Breakfast Show, people were saying it would be soon over. But he not only survived the odd controversial moment, he also got record audience figures, loads of awards - including a Sony Gold - and has been entertaining over seven million listeners every morning.

I have said all along that when the moment came for the show to end, it would be a conversation between myself and Chris. It was. Chris wanted the Radio 1 listeners to be the first to hear, and to hear it from him. I'm glad in these days of instant news and social media, that this is what happened at 8 o'clock this morning.

I would like to thank Chris and the Team, and to congratulate Grimmy.

Ben Cooper is Controller, BBC Radio 1

The BBC and service companies

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Zarin Patel Zarin Patel | 14:50 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

You may have seen reports recently about how the BBC pays some presenters and other specialist staff, suggesting that there is something underhand about our procedures. Nothing could be further from the truth and I want to explain clearly and simply why this is the case.

At the BBC, there are a number of overriding principles that we follow in this area. Firstly, everything we do is in line with HMRC guidelines, and we work closely with them to ensure that contracts do not result in any loss to the Exchequer. Secondly, we work extremely hard to make sure that we do not incur unnecessary costs that are ultimately borne by you, the licence fee payer.

And behind all this, we need to make sure that we support Britain's creative industries by giving specialist staff the ability to move around where necessary. Suggestions, therefore, that we are somehow facilitating tax avoidance are not only wrong, they are offensive both to the BBC and to the hard-working people who make and present our programmes. And they risk damaging a broadcast industry that ensures an uninterrupted flow of investment into UK content and adds significant value to the UK economy overall.

Let me quote you a senior figure on this issue: "There are circumstances in which it may be appropriate for an employer to engage an individual off payroll - and the fact that an individual is engaged off payroll doesn't mean that they are paying an incorrect amount of tax." Who is this? Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the review that prompted this debate - the government's Review of the Tax Arrangement of Public Sector Appointees.

Now let me explain the details: Across the organisation, in common with every other UK broadcaster, the BBC makes use of freelance and service company contracts. At any one time, between 1,500 and 2,500 people employed as freelancers and fewer than 500 who are employed through service companies. These are people who provide skills 'behind the camera' such as directing, editing and other craft skills for a finite period. This is standard practice for people working across the industry.

Another group of people who regularly use service company contracts is presenters, as they typically work for a number of different organisations in any given year and they offer their services to the BBC and any other employer on self-employed terms. There are around 500 individuals with long term contracts paid in this way at the present time. It would be both unjustified and totally impractical to put all of these people on the payroll. By using the service company framework, which is set down by the HMRC, the BBC and other broadcasters can quickly and effectively contract people without having to undertake a lengthy detailed review of all their other work.

The service companies are not set up to help avoid tax. Once a service company is created, the individual has to pay the correct tax and National Insurance. We cooperate fully with the HMRC and provide them with annual reports of all payments made to individuals who operate service companies and provide all details required on any review they undertake. In addition to this we stipulate in our contracts that we expect individuals to settle their tax liabilities according to the HMRC guidelines in full.

Whether a freelance decides to set up a service company depends on their individual circumstances. But it is the preferred option for the BBC that talent are paid via a service company once a certain amount of work is being offered and HMRC are fully aware and satisfied with this arrangement. It is worth adding that we always recommend individuals seek independent advice on these matters as well.

It has also been suggested that we have forced people to set up service contracts rather than being a full-time employee. Again, this is not the case. We are not aware of any instance where someone who is eligible to be a staff member has requested this status and has been denied it. The BBC supplies the UK creative sector with a rich pool of highly skilled talent to draw from. This benefits large and small firms across the sector and helps the UK attract inward investment from those seeking access to some of the best creative expertise in the world.

We do this not only by producing some of the best content in the world but also by investing significant investment in training on skills used in our industry. The result is that we have a strong track record of nurturing talent across its TV and radio services, creating opportunities for new presenters, performers, musicians and writers that are not available elsewhere.

But we also do this by allowing creative talent the flexibility to move round the industry and to seek sources of income beyond the BBC. This does not only benefit the individual, it benefits the industry and the licence fee payer. And it does not mean - as no less than Danny Alexander has said - that they are paying the wrong amount of tax.

Zarin Patel is the BBC's Chief Financial Officer.

Making Volcano Live

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Jon Jacob | 18:07 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

Image for Volcano Live

Lisa Ausden is the Executive Producer of Volcano Live, an exciting new series of programmes broadcast from Kilauea on Big Island, Hawaii. In this post for About the BBC, she writes about some of the challenges the production team faced in making the programme.

The best live TV, in my experience, is led by event. Your location, and what's happening at that location is critically important. Volcanoes are pretty awesome when they're at full throttle, and many are in remote locations. That makes it logistically difficult, and very expensive to contemplate a live show, as there is a lot of kit and quite a few people involved.

Although there have been programmes about volcanoes before, live is a new concept. It's a logistical challenge to pull it off, so you have to find a volcano that you can get to safely and relatively easily. This is stating the obvious, but you can get two flights into Hawaii, drive for an hour, and there is our volcano. That's one hurdle cleared.

Once there, we are not only setting up a complex broadcast operation in an extraordinary location. You need to look after your team, who have to sleep and eat, as well as work. That's hard if you are in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, at Kilauea, there is a military holiday camp with accommodation and catering, all very close to our location by the crater.

And then there is our incredible subject matter. There was a statistic that surprised many of us when we started work on Volcano Live. There are twenty volcanoes erupting at any one time, somewhere around the globe ... and in a world first, we will be standing right on top of one of them, broadcasting live.

Kilauea, on Hawaii's Big Island, is the most active volcano in the world and has been erupting constantly since 1983. The beauty of Kilauea is that it's a relatively benign volcano - it doesn't tend to erupt violently - it oozes lava quite slowly. This means it is accessible and relatively easy to study, making Hawaii a centre of world expertise for volcanology. It's also a tourist attraction and the whole place sits within a national park.

The volcano is bristling with cameras, so we'll be able to keep an eye on everything that's happening, including the extraordinary lava lake, which bubbles and steams in the crater, day and night. In fact, we'll be creating a volcano "hub", allowing us to plug into the technology used to monitor volcanoes all round the world. So whatever's happening, wherever it's happening, we'll know about it at our hub in Hawaii.

The beauty of the live shows across consecutive nights, is that the viewer really can feel they have an opportunity to get involved. As well as explaining how volcanoes work and showing some quite incredible footage from all around the world, we will be welcoming questions from the audience, with our own expert, Prof Iain Stewart on hand to answer, plus an impressive array of experts on location in Hawaii.

But that's not all. The live blog which is going to run on nights nights one and four of the programme, with a featured scientist on our team each night on hand to answer viewer's questions directly online. So, if they send in questions to volcanolive@bbc.co.uk, even if their question doesn't make it on air in Hawaii, the scientists will try to make their way through them all in London.

A real opportunity to talk direct to two of the world's leading volcanologists: Clive Oppenheimer, Reader in Volcanology and Remote Sensing at the University of Cambridge, and Jon Blundy, Professor of Petrology at the University of Bristol. They both feature in the series, on expeditions to Antarctica (Clive) and Dominica (Jon).

Closer to home, keen walkers will be interested in a Radio Times pull out section, detailing volcanic walks around the UK. We may not be an actively volcanic place now, but parts of Britain certainly were in the past.

Iain Stewart on location in Italy

Before arriving in Hawaii, both Kate Humble and Prof Iain Stewart have been on their own volcanic filming adventures, and these will feature across the four nights. Volcanoes are a passion for Iain and he's particularly familiar with Italy. He heads to the Naples area to explain how the shifting tectonic plates have created the volcanically active regions of Italy. At Vesuvius, scene of the AD79 eruption which engulfed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Iain reports on the cutting edge technology being used today to try to predict the next big eruption.

Kate's been filming in Iceland, another extraordinary volcanic landscape:.... Eyjafjallajokull is the volcano which erupted in 2010. Kate travels to the summit and discovers why the eruption produced an ash plume so huge, it grounded flights across Europe. She also takes an incredible journey not up, but down...into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. Our cameras travel with her and I can guarantee the footage is simply breath-taking.

Kate and Iain will be in Hawaii before the live broadcasts, making some films and getting to know more about the scientists who study Kilauea and the park rangers who look after the extraordinary landscape, flora and fauna of Big Island. They'll also be introducing films made for us by expeditions to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chile, Antarctica and Dominica.

Hawaii isn't quite as far away as you can go from Britain, but it is more than 7,000miles, and right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The time difference is 11 hours, which has its logistical pros and cons, Hawaii being 11 hours behind the UK. So a transmission time on BBC2 of 8pm is in fact, 9am in the morning Hawaii time.

The time difference means we will be showing off our incredible locations in daylight. It also presents a whole set of challenges around rigging, de-rigging, rehearsals, eating and sleeping for the team in Hawaii. We are upping sticks and moving location for every show. This means, for example, that when we come off air after the first show at 10am Hawaii time, we need to de-rig, move to our next location, set up again and rehearse before breaking for the day. This is because we would not have time the next morning to "block through" and do a full dress rehearsal before going on air again, because it would not be light enough, early enough. Our days will start very early and finish early too. Our OB truck, or "scanner", in Hawaii is apparently a converted horsebox. Looking forward to that!

And then in London, there is a separate gallery in TV centre. If you're wondering why, well, you always have to have a Plan B, and as Hawaii is our sole location, we have to think about the unthinkable. And if we lost the satellite connection, London would need to take over.

Have I mentioned the Hawaiian weather? Contrary to what you might think... and you are thinking sunshine and surf.... Big Island, Hawaii is the wettest place in America. It rains more days of the year than it doesn't, and for varying amounts of time. It can also be misty. And it can be windy. Are you reminded of anything else? Like the great British summer!

Volcano Live begins on BBC Two and BBC HD at 8pm from Monday 9 July 2012.

Read about Volcano Live volcanologist Lorraine Field dramatic career transformation on the BBC TV Blog.

Read more information about the series in a press release on BBC Media Centre website.

Join the conversation about the programme by using the hashtag #VolcanoLIVE

Follow the live blog on the Volcano Live website during the programme on nights one and four.

BBC Radio Leeds' Crime and Justice Week

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Jon Jacob | 12:59 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

Rozina Breen is the Managing Editor of BBC Radio Leeds. In this post, she writes about the station's Crime & Justice Week which begins this Monday.

The week of programmes includes interviews, documentaries and debates which ask the question "Is the criminal justice system in the UK working?"

As I write this, I am listening for the first time to a documentary about Death Row, made by one of BBC Radio Leeds' presenters, Liz Green. It's a beautiful piece of work. Death and Beauty: that must sound odd. But it's a powerful piece of storytelling. It is a story that saw her, with two others, travel to Death Row to take a look at the US justice system in Florida.

It's not just any journey, told through dispassionate eyes. It's a journey felt, as well as a journey told. A journey for one West Yorkshire MP who believes the death penalty should be resurrected in this country and for his travel companion, a man called Shane who, with a few of his friends, set up a charity to tackle gun crime after his mother (also a peace campaigner) was killed.

Crime and justice is an issue that touches most of us at one time or another. Whether it's our own experience, or the stories and images we read or see in the media. I wanted to find the real stories behind the headlines and to challenge perceptions. That may be through hearing a prisoner read a book to his child via a recording that's processed into a CD and sent to his family, or from the man who's been inside dozens and dozens of times because life on the inside is more comforting than life on the outside. BBC Radio Leeds talks to the mother of a convicted killer on her love for her son, and to the criminals who let us into a day in their lives, into their world behind bars.

In BBC Radio Leeds' Crime and Justice Week the women who write to prisoners tell us what motivates them, and we feature the men who make radio programmes for their fellow inmates. We also interview criminal justice lawyer Michael Mansfield QC. I hope the audience will be interested in and stimulated by the stories we've discovered.

To end the week we stage a debate with a panel made up of the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Sir Norman Bettison, Frances Crook CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform and Philip Davies MP. Family members of murder victims, representatives from NACRO and West Yorkshire Probation Trust will also be there.

I hope our listeners find these programmes as rewarding and inspiring to listen to, as the team have found making them. We offer a unique, human appraisal of other - different - approaches to justice. These are stunning and unique stories from West Yorkshire and the world, and I am very proud of them, and of our team who have made them."

BBC Radio Leeds' Crime and Justice Week broadcasts from 9-15 July 2012. Programme times are available via the BBC Radio Leeds website. Programmes will also be available for catch-up on iPlayer for seven days after broadcast.

Read more about the week of programmes on the BBC Media Centre website.

Follow BBC Radio Leeds and presenter and journalist Liz Green on Twitter.

George Entwistle appointed Director-General

Jon Jacob | 16:26 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2012


The BBC Trust has appointed George Entwistle as the Director-General of the BBC. You can read a full press release on the BBC Trust website.

Shortly after the announcement George Entwistle sent an email message to all BBC staff. The message read:

Dear all,

I'm delighted the Chairman and Trustees think I'm the right person for the job.

Mark Thompson will be a tough act to follow. But it's a privilege to be asked to lead the greatest broadcasting organisation in the world and a privilege to be able to continue to serve our audiences in this new role.

I am proud to have worked with so many talented people across the BBC and am very much looking forward to working with all of you in future.

You won't be hearing a lot from me over the next couple of months, because Mark will be leading us through the great summer we have planned and I want to spend as much time as I can listening to you and hearing what you think the future holds.

All the best,

George Entwistle, Director-General Designate

Celebrate locally at a BBC Big Screen

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Stephen Morgan | 16:34 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

It's been an exciting few weeks for us in the Big Screens team across the UK.

Crowds convened in various locations to watch Euro 2012 games, and last week, matches from Wimbledon. One fixture saw BBC Big Screen manager Chris Nriapia filmed for a special series of videos for our colleagues in BBC Careers.

Many people who join us at one of the 22 screens up and down the country for a live broadcast comment on the great atmosphere. The communal experience is for many people often the best place to celebrate such TV events locally.

BBC Big Screen in Plymouth

BBC Big Screen in Plymouth

Wimbledon is being broadcast on all of the BBC Big Screens every day of the tournament. At selected screen sites during the finals' weekend, there will also be an opportunity to pick up a racquet and test your skills on temporary courts, with tennis experts on hand to offer tips.

Find out about what events are on at a Big Screen near you on the BBC Big Screens website.

Get the latest updates from @BBCBigScreens on Twitter

Watch BBC Big Screen Manager Chris Nriapia talk about his work.

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