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CBeebies Through the Years - part 3

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Andrew Bowden Andrew Bowden | 09:00 UK time, Friday, 21 August 2009


Over the last few days we've been looking at how the CBeebies service on BBC Red Button has changed over the years. In part 1, it was a trip in the time machine to the first service in 2002 and yesterday in part two, we looked at the revamp from 2004 which introduced a castle design on satellite and a bus on the cable version.

The castle and bus designs weren't based on the main CBeebies channel branding so when, in March 2007, the CBeebies channel got a new look, the decision was taken to bring the red button services much closer to the channel in visual appearance.

However initially it wasn't possible to rebrand all the services at once - at the time we were in the middle of a major infrastructure project and it would be some months before a full revamp would be possible. So it was decided to add an interim redesign on Sky to bridge the gap.

Interim homepage for Sky in 2007

Those with keen eyes will note that the layout looks rather familiar. That's because this design was exactly the same as the castle, but with a new background and some new character images slotted in place.

Also notable is our designers continued love of Postman Pat, Bob the Builder and everyone's favourite bilingual emergency service worker, Fireman Sam. (You mean you've never watched Fireman Sam in Welsh?)

A full revamp appeared on all platforms later in the year.

New CBeebies homepage on Sky in 2007

On Sky, this next version changed the layout and added some additional features. Due to a limitation, we were unable to do any animation with our existing infrastructure - it just wasn't designed to do it. However we could do some simple visual effects when someone pressed a key - so the number keys allowed children to spin and open the various flowers.

Different versions of the CBeebies homepage on Sky in 2007

The design also changed at different times of the day to match the on air channel branding. CBeebies has four strands each day - Get Set Go, Discover and Do, Big Fun Time and the Bedtime Hour. Each has its own colour scheme, and its own set of presenters. We designed the red button service to match in with that, so at different times of the day, the background image changed.

On Freeview, it was decided that there wasn't much more we could do with the space we had available, however the team were determined to do something a little special!

CBeebies homepage on DTT in 2007

Keen to try out some animation, one of our developers prototyped an animation affect where an object would "bounce" up and down across the screen, going from left to right then back again. The bouncing CBeebies bug was born! For good measure, we threw in some opening and rotating flowers too!

This animation was to prove slightly too much for some of our older set top boxes - at least one refused to animate the bouncing bug at all, and another would regularly get itself into a state where the bug got stuck if you stayed on the homepage for too long!

Cable users got something somewhere inbetween, with a new homepage featuring elements from the new design like the sun and the flowers.

CBeebies homepage on cable in 2007

And that's where CBeebies is today on BBC Red Button. But where will it be tomorrow? Well maybe not tomorrow but the future as a whole? The very near future even...

Andrew Bowden is a producer for the TV Platforms group and has worked on more versions of the CBeebies service than he can remember.


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