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Step Back In Time

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Richard Titus Richard Titus | 13:32 UK time, Friday, 30 November 2007


One of my first memories of the BBC was as a child on my first trip to London. We stayed at a hotel in Piccadilly, a magical place for a young man from California, drank sugary watered-down tea and, due to jetlag, woke up and slept odd hours - which meant we were allowed to watch television whenever we awoke.

The BBC clock, the history of which you can learn more about at Andrew Wiseman's Television Room, is a memory which stuck with me from that first trip to the UK. I didn't yet know what the BBC was, but the clock signified to me the wonderful, eccentric strange place that England represented. It signified James Bond, Mary Poppins and all the best bits of CS Lewis.

This year is the tenth anniversary of the BBC's presence on the internet; it's a time of celebration of the past and of proud steps into the future. Watch for the return of the clock - a piece of the entire BBC audience's childhood - in a few weeks...

Update 2008-02-29: Alan Connor of this parish has written about the clock for the BBC News Magazine.

Richard Titus is Acting Head of User Experience & Design, BBC Future Media & Technology. Many thanks to Gary August of BBC Heritage for the photo.


  1. At 02:26 PM on 18 Dec 2007, John wrote:

    How about reviving the spinning globe ident and the stick-on weather symbols ;)

  2. At 01:09 AM on 20 Dec 2007, Greg K Nicholson wrote:

    John has a point. I'm not old enough to remember this BBC clock when it was on TV, so it just looks weird on the new homepage—especially since it's contained in a black box (I assume this isn't by design).

    A digital clock would take up less space and convey more information (not being a 12-hour clock). Even better, don't have a clock at all: most computer environments include one on screen at all times, so it's simply unnecessary.

  3. At 05:26 PM on 31 Dec 2007, David H Grant wrote:

    Well, Mr Nicholson, just because you are too young to remember doesnt mean others don't. I most certainly do remember and think it adds a nice touch to the homepage, at the same time giving a nod to our heritage.
    Don't you have any fun in you?

  4. At 07:14 AM on 01 Mar 2008, Mark wrote:

    Is there anyway you can use the javascript onunload event to trigger the national anthem??

  5. At 07:43 AM on 01 Mar 2008, Gavin Thomson wrote:

    As www.bbc.co.uk is my homepage, I love the fact there's the big 'analogue' clock there. Beats the silly digital Windows one at the bottom of my screen.

    It's only a shame that it's not on every page.

    Well done the Beeb !

  6. At 09:30 AM on 01 Mar 2008, steve williams wrote:

    Re Gavin's comments

    "Hear Hear" !


  7. At 11:24 AM on 01 Mar 2008, Mac wrote:

    I remember the Interlude with the spinning potters wheel, and the test card with the little girls and a clown like doll. Can we have the steam train thing back, the one that describes what the travelling Post Office did?

    I was 5years old at the time.

  8. At 03:09 PM on 01 Mar 2008, A Buchan wrote:

    I love this clock! can we please have it on the BBC News page, It brings back so many memories. It should be a permanent BBC icom, much better than hippos going around in circles.
    An analogue clock is so much easer to read than a digital.

  9. At 03:39 PM on 01 Mar 2008, Anthony Cook wrote:

    Shame it misses a second every minute though to compensate for the second hand tremor.

    Good to see it back again, hope it stays..

  10. At 11:54 PM on 02 Mar 2008, Steve Brereton wrote:

    Having the good old BEEB clock back is a strange bedfellow for the smart new BBC web home page.
    Whilst it's only an Adobe Flash applet, it does show one of the very few useful applications of this generally vastly overused aspect of web sites the world over. Not sure about the carefully scripted second hand tremor, though - it is possible to have the retro without every last detail of the mechanical original.
    For those moaning about the sight of an analogue clock, check out https://www.spikecity.net/ for another one that is a modern, sporty version.

    Please, though, some of us do like the 'old' analogue style for what it represents. Check out the intricate mechanics of an old clock and give a thought to the craftsmanship it involves, compared to the production line quartz electronics of modern digital.

  11. At 11:55 AM on 03 Mar 2008, steve wrote:

    The eighties was a great time to watch bbc tv. We had the bbc one globe and the 2. It was also a time when we had the clock before news programmes. BRING THEM BOTH BACK AS WELL. also the eighties we had christams idents that was good to watch. now they are awful. come on bbc bring back the eighties.

  12. At 12:02 PM on 03 Mar 2008, Kyle Ryland wrote:

    Ill be honest i'm too young to remember it but i'ts apart of history and that history needs to be reborn before it is lost compleatly. I as a teenage boy know that our generation seems to get Priority over most things.
    If i'm wrong please correct me but its going to be small things like this that show that we dont need brand new things to impress people and i think that its important to bring back the clock

  13. At 11:01 PM on 03 Mar 2008, Polly wrote:

    The clock is a fantastic "subliminal" dedication to the BBC's history - it kind of says to the older generation who use the site and are a bit taken aback by the change to the home page "it's ok - Aunties here"

    You know everything is ok and familiar - without knowing why! Genius.

  14. At 12:02 AM on 04 Mar 2008, David wrote:


    Well done Beeb! I'm NOT too young to remember and it's a very welcome return (especially the juddering second hand)! The pinnacle of perfection would be someone clever at the Beeb turning the clock into a screensaver for us to download. Anyone willing to turn their hand?

  15. At 04:52 PM on 06 Mar 2008, JPR wrote:

    I do not seem to get a clock on my version of the new home page. I get the outline of the 'numbers' around the edge and a white circle in the centre, but no hands, so it is pure decoration to me and I would prefer a working clock please.

  16. At 10:05 PM on 11 Apr 2008, Gareth Strong wrote:

    Just spotted the "new" retro BBC clock. Think I spent over 2 mins just staring at it wondering why it was sooo familiar and somehow comforting...

    That second hand... oh very nice

    Well done BBC.

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