BBC Internet Blog

Richard Titus

Step Back In Time


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...

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

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 2:26 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • John wrote:

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

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 5:26 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 7:14 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

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

  • 5.
  • At 7:43 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Gavin Thomson wrote:

As 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 9:30 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • steve williams wrote:

Re Gavin's comments

"Hear Hear" !


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 3:09 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.

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 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

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