BBC 100: Year of brilliant programming to mark centenary

The BBC will mark 100 years with sports, events and landmark commissions for TV, Radio, and Online to inform, educate and entertain the nation.

Published: 12:01 am, 18 November 2021
Updated: 12:01 am, 18 November 2021
Our centenary year will be a huge treat for audiences of all ages from massive sporting events, comedy, entertainment, drama, arts and music, to documentaries assessing all aspects of the BBC’s history. BBC 100 will celebrate and reflect on the unique role the BBC plays in the lives of audiences across the UK as our much cherished national broadcaster from its creation right up to the present day.
— Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer

To mark 100 years of the BBC in 2022, the Corporation has announced a bumper year of sports, events and landmark commissions for TV, Radio, and Online to inform, educate and entertain the nation, under the banner BBC 100.

In 2022 special content will range from the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to the Women’s Euros, the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, a host of new dramas and comedies plus Frozen Planet II, while BBC Three is set to return as a broadcast channel.

A tiger prowls through the snow
Frozen Planet II

Live music events return in 2022 with Radio 1’s Big Weekend, 6 Music Festival and Radio 2 Live all bringing world class artists and brilliant performers to audiences in different locations across the UK.

New TV and audio documentaries will consider the history of the BBC and its impact on public life over the last 100 years. And in a further treat for music fans, the biggest names from across the BBC will curate their personal music mixes for listeners on BBC Sounds as part of a collection called My Sounds, with names and tracks to be announced next year.

The BBC will also broadcast specials of its biggest shows around its 100th birthday. Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Top Gear, MasterChef, The Apprentice and Antiques Roadshow will all be marking the centenary in their own unique way.

Clockwise from the top left we see Fiona Bruce, Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who, Lord Sugar from The Apprentice and MasterChef's John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
Antiques Roadshow, Doctor Who, MasterChef and The Apprentice

In commissions for TV and iPlayer, comedy The Love Box In Your Living Room with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse will take a look at the BBC’s last 100 years mixing contemporary footage with “genuinely authentic made-up stuff”. While on CBBC, children will be entertained by Horrible Histories: BBC’s Big Birthday Bonanza! in a special of the multi-award winning comedy series, packed with fascinating facts and jokes about the Corporation.

Here’s One I Made Earlier (w/t) with former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq will explore and celebrate the very best of British Children’s Programming from the past 100 years. The programme will track content from the very first radio broadcast of Children’s Hour in 1922, via the iconic Magic Roundabout, right through to Saturday morning megahits such as Going Live.

Three-part series David Dimbleby's BBC: A Very British History will trace the impact of the BBC on British life across recent decades. He will explore the Corporation's role in major moments of political and cultural change, its conflicts with governments over the years, its own public controversies and how it continues to engage with the British people and attempts to represent a diverse and changing nation.

David Dimbleby sits at a desk
David Dimbleby (Image: Suki Dhanda)

In the BBC’s First 50 Years (w/t) John Bridcut will look at the challenges and triumphs of today’s BBC, which have their roots in the Corporation’s first half century. The two part feature-length documentary will look at John Reith’s launch of BBC Radio in 1922; the rapid pace of technological change which has driven editorial priorities and opened up fresh opportunities; and the changing shape of British society which has fuelled the debate over whether the national broadcaster should lead or follow new social attitudes.

BBC Three will return with a renewed focus on British drama with four series written by and starring some of the foremost new talent and voices the UK has to offer. In 2022 audiences can look forward to Superhoe, written by and starring Nicôle Lecky; a contemporary horror series from the Clarkson Twins set in Bolton titled Red Rose; emerging writer Ryan J Brown’s thriller Wrecked; and an adaptation of Sally Rooney’s award-winning debut novel Conversations with Friends.

Also to coincide with the centenary and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, BBC Three and BBC England are collaborating with Create Central to uncover original and untold stories from West Midlands voices for the channel.

In audio, Radio 3 programmes across the year will be marking The Sonic Century, exploring the impact of 100 years of radio and the audio revolution it unleashed. From documentary to drama Radio 3 will consider how - a century after the first public radio broadcasts - we live in a transformed world of ubiquitous sound and music. Across the weekend of 11-13 February, Radio 3 will broadcast live concerts from BBC Orchestras and Choirs, which have their origins in the BBC’s first decade, including classical music from the 1920s and the 2020s.

While on Radio 4 Past Forward, featuring historian Greg Jenner, will use a random date generator to alight somewhere in the BBC's vast archive. He will find a piece of audio from that day and use it as a starting point in a journey towards the future. In each episode Jenner will uncover connections through the people, places and ideas that link the archive fragment to Britain in 2022.

Hilda Matheson with Lord Hailey in 1938
Hilda Matheson with Lord Hailey in 1938

Radio 4 will also broadcast The Battle of Savoy Hill, a dramatised five-part account of Hilda Matheson, one of the first women to work at the BBC, and her working relationship with BBC founding Director-General, Lord Reith.

Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer says: "Our centenary year will be a huge treat for audiences of all ages from massive sporting events, comedy, entertainment, drama, arts and music, to documentaries assessing all aspects of the BBC’s history.

"BBC 100 will celebrate and reflect on the unique role the BBC plays in the lives of audiences across the UK as our much cherished national broadcaster from its creation right up to the present day."

As announced earlier this year, younger audiences will be at the heart of the BBC’s broader centenary plans. The Corporation is opening up its entire digitised BBC broadcast archive to students in formal education in the UK in 2022, and BBC stars and staff are to visit 250,000 students in schools across the UK to inspire the next generation of storytellers, in a project called Share Your Story.

More BBC 100 announcements from across the UK will follow soon.

BBC Press Office


TV & BBC iPlayer

The Love Box In Your Living Room

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse wear black suits as they stand alongside an old BBC TV camera

Examined through the eyes of "Adam Adamant Curtis" and his brother "Richard Dimbleby Curtis", comedy The Love Box In Your Living Room, “charts the intertwined socio-litical history of the British and their BBC since its quasi-religious birth on that great day in 1922”. Mixing contemporary footage with “genuinely authentic made-up stuff”. The Love Box In Your Living Room is faithfully concocted by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse.

The Love Box In Your Living Room (1x60) is a Balloon Entertainment production for BBC Two. It is produced by Bradley Adams and executive produced by Harry Enfield and Balloon’s Bryan Elsley. Tanya Qureshi is the Commissioning Editor for BBC Comedy.

Horrible Histories: BBC’s Big Birthday Bonanza!

Horrible Histories

On Auntie’s Big Birthday, Horrible Histories celebrates the Corporation’s past century packed with fascinating facts and jokes.  The first Director General, Lord Reith, reveals why he needed a postman’s help with his job application. We find out why the Queen’s Coronation made you the most popular house on the street if you had a TV, and how the launch night of BBC Two went awry, with not only a power cut, but also an escaped kangaroo!

Radio announcer Wilfred Pickles confounds Britain’s enemies with his Yorkshire accent, and how the creators of Doctor Who thought they were making a history programme. And from Bill and Ben to Tracy Beaker, Swap Shop to Blue Peter, how the BBC’s Children’s department has inspired the imagination of generations of kids. 

Horrible Histories is made for CBBC and iPlayer by Lion Television. It was commissioned by BBC Children’s former Head of Content Cheryl Taylor. Executive Producers for Lion are Richard Bradley and Simon Welton, and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Melissa Hardinge.

Here’s One I Made Earlier (w/t)

Konnie Huq

Here’s One I Made Earlier is a very special programme which explores and celebrates the very best of British Children’s Programming from the past 100 years, to mark the BBC Centenary.

From the very first radio broadcast of Children’s Hour in 1922, via the iconic Magic Roundabout and the chaotic fun of Tiswas, right through to Saturday morning megahits such as Going Live and SMTV, Here’s One I Made Earlier promises to treat viewers to the ultimate story of one of the most important TV genres.

Blue Peter’s longest serving female presenter, Konnie Huq, will guide viewers through this extraordinary cultural and historical adventure, featuring not only nostalgic highlights from the past century, but also showcasing how Children’s TV has been at the forefront of change, social progression and inclusivity.

Along the way, Konnie will be joined by a host of famous faces, who will help her examine seminal moments from the past 100 years in this unmissable telly treat.

Here's One I Made Earlier (1 x 60’) is a Mighty Scotland Production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, commissioned by Kate Phillips, Director of Entertainment Commissioning. The Executive Producers for Mighty Scotland are Lynn Sutcliffe and Kirsten Highet. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Rachel Ashdown.

David Dimbleby's BBC: A Very British History

As the BBC celebrates its centenary, it finds itself facing unprecedented challenges, from questioning of its funding model to fundamental shifts in broadcast technology and viewing habits. The BBC is among Britain’s most loved and yet criticised institutions: envied around the world, and always under intense scrutiny at home.

Whether receiving praise or criticism this publicly funded institution, at the very heart of our national life, is a lightning-rod for all of Britain’s frustrations, injustices, success stories and celebrations.

In this new three-part series, David Dimbleby will trace the impact of the BBC on British life across recent decades. He will explore the corporation's role in major moments of political and cultural change, its conflicts with governments over the years, its own public controversies and how it continues to engage with the British people and attempts to represent a diverse and changing nation.

In each episode, David will look back over key moments in the recent history of the BBC, making use of illuminating archive, long-forgotten broadcasts, first-hand testimony and oral history as well as drawing from his own personal experience within the corporation. The series will explore what the BBC stands for in the modern world and, looking to the future, will assess the new challenges it faces.

David Dimbleby's BBC: A Very British History w/t (3x60) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts & Classical Music and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries, History & Religion. It is being made by BBC Studios. The Documentary Unit the Executive Producer is Denys Blakeway. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Hamish Fergusson.

The BBC’s First 50 Years (w/t)

In two feature-length documentaries The BBC’s first 50 years will explore how the challenges and triumphs of today’s BBC have their roots in the corporation’s first half century.  Ever since John Reith launched BBC Radio in 1922, the rapid pace of technological change has driven editorial priorities and opened up fresh opportunities – and the changing shape of British society has fuelled the debate over whether the national broadcaster should lead or follow new social attitudes.  At the same time, the BBC’s international broadcasting has exported British values, while giving domestic audiences a window on the world.

Mixing extraordinary material from the BBC archive with revelatory testimony collected by film maker John Bridcut over a number of years, these programmes feature occasionally comical eye-witness accounts of the way the BBC developed, often at breakneck speed.

The BBC’s first 50 years range from the earliest outside radio broadcasts, through pre-war television to the launch of a second TV channel, colour television, local radio, and the lead-up to the first news-on-demand service. Along the way came the challenges of political impartiality, the coverage of sex and violence, and the protests of those who believed the BBC’s ambitions risked overturning life as they knew it.

The BBC’s First 50 Years (w/t) for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer is made by Crux Productions and The Garden Productions. The Series Producer is John Bridcut and the Executive Producer is Magnus Temple. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Mark Bell.


Radio & Sounds

My Sounds

Throughout the centenary year, the biggest names from across the BBC will curate their personal music mixes for listeners on BBC Sounds. Mixes will feature their favourite tracks and music that has been significant in their lives. These will all be available as part of a collection called My Sounds and the big names attached will be announced next year.

The Sonic Century

BBC Radio 3 programmes across the year will be marking The Sonic Century, exploring the impact of 100 years of radio and the audio revolution it unleashed. The huge change in society brought about by the big and small screen is well understood, but less discussed is how a century after the first public radio broadcasts, we live in a transformed world of ubiquitous sound and music. Radio 3 programmes will chart some of these developments - and how they reach us today.

Radio 3 will tell the story of the microphone: once a bulky piece of new technology so cutting edge that it was the first proud symbol of the BBC - now owned by millions within their dozens of devices. We will meet the pioneering creators of radio programmes and their innovative experiments in trying understanding the nature of audiences who had to “just listen”. New drama tells the story of the first political test for the BBC: The General Strike - and how it set a template for subsequent ideas about the power of radio and the BBC. And we ask today’s digital sound designers to pay homage to the producers of the past by bringing together and dusting down some of the great sonic creations of the BBC’s past for the new age.

BBC Orchestras weekend (w/t)

Most of the current BBC Orchestras and Choirs have their origins in the first pioneering decade of the BBC. Their founding mission was to bring classical music to the widest possible audience on the radio, which they continue to offer to this day. Across the weekend of 11-13 February, each of the BBC’s ensembles will present a live broadcast concert including classical music from the 1920s and the 2020s, including music by Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Hindemith, Bryce Dessner, Errolyn Wallen, Judith Weir, and Howard Goodall.

Past Forward

Marking the centenary, Radio 4’s Past Forward takes a deep dive into the BBC's archive to explore what it can tell us about who we are now. Historian Greg Jenner uses a random date generator to alight somewhere in the BBC's vast archive. He finds a piece of audio from that day and uses it as a starting point in a journey towards the future. In each episode, Jenner uncovers connections through the people, places and ideas that link the archive fragment to Britain in 2022. What he discovers are stories, big and small, that reveal much about the people we were and the people we have become.

The Battle of Savoy Hill

Coming to Radio 4 in March 2022 is The Battle of Savoy Hill, a dramatised five-part account of Hilda Matheson’s working relationship with Lord Reith and the censorship of a talk by writer and politician Harold Nicolson. The account is informed by the correspondence between Matheson and her lover, the novelist Vita Sackville-West. One of the first women on the staff of the BBC, Matheson was head-hunted by Reith in 1926 when he persuaded her to leave her job as political secretary to Nancy Astor MP and take up the post of the first Director of Talks.

Matheson’s pioneering work in this role shaped speech radio. During her time as Director of Talks some of the big names she brought to the wireless included HG Wells, John Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Matheson initiated The Week in Westminster and From Our Own Correspondent but fell out with Reith because of her championing of the modern novel, all references to which were at one point banned by him.