BBC News

The Sky at Night gets new slot after campaign

image captionSir Patrick Moore, who hosted the series from 1957, died in 2012

The BBC has confirmed its longest running astronomy series, The Sky at Night, will continue next year.

The show will move to a new monthly half-hour slot on BBC Four from February 2014, with repeats on BBC Two.

It follows an online campaign to save the BBC One series, with a petition signed by more than 52,000 people.

Since presenter Sir Patrick Moore's death in 2012, it has been fronted by a team including Jon Culshaw, Dr Chris Lintott and Dr Lucie Green.

Culshaw gave his reaction to the show's new series on Twitter, calling it "grand news".

"The Sky at Night is saved and will stay," he continued. "Huge thanks... to everybody who signed and spoke up so passionately."

The much-loved show was first broadcast on 24 April 1957 and became the longest-running programme with the same presenter in television history.

The latest series also featured astronomy experts Dr Chris North, Dr Paul Abel and Pete Lawrence. It has not been confirmed who will front the show when it returns in February.

The Sky at Night will be off air in January. The gap will be filled by BBC Two's astronomy series Stargazing Live, presented by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain.

"Sir Patrick Moore inspired generations of astronomers," said Kim Shillinglaw, head of commissioning for BBC Science and Natural History.

"I hope that alongside the BBC's other astronomy content, such as BBC Two's Stargazing Live, The Sky at Night will enthuse further generations about the wonder of the night sky."

'Historic programme'

The petition to save the show was started by a group of amateur astronomers on, after it was reported in September that the future of the series was in doubt.

"There were clearly thousands of people who care deeply about saving this historic programme," said Brie Rogers Lowery, the website's UK campaigns director.

"By tapping into that nostalgia and bringing together organisations, celebrities and fans they've made the BBC think again about axing The Sky at Night."

It is possible that moving the series from its BBC One slot could lead to a drop in viewing figures.

A recent episode on 6 October, featuring the team camping at the Brecon Beacons star party, attracted 655,500 viewers on BBC One.

The same show drew an audience of 197,200 when it was repeated on BBC Four a few days later.

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