Saturday, 19 April 2014

Avast, a larks with mein electronic digit... (50 years of BBC2 with a big cake and all..)

BBC2 is 50. Well, well.. Finally, its joints are getting creakier and its hair is needing some artificial help along the way. But how could you describe the channel to an alien? Well, you could always show that 40 Minutes documentary, about being an alien on earth with trees and a lady undressing herself. 

Though enough with the nudity, there's been plenty of that over the years and coarse behavior and its never done its viewers any harm at all. I don't remember Percy Thrower with nipple tassles though on Gardeners World,  how did we get to this point though? Apart from some people throwing paint at a still BBC2 ident, there have been many interesting programmes on BBC2 through the years and rather then doing a top ten as most people would seem to do about the subject or make a hilarious copycat (see 'The Big Fat Quiz') quiz.

How does BBC2 like to lift its skirt and show itself off? For instance, from Pete and Dud talking about bloody Greta Garbo at the window, onto those Goodies, onwards into space with The Hitchikers' Guide and Red Dwarf and back down to earth with a bump to The Office. The channel itself likes a good laugh and has made comedy a key part of its schedule, though along the way it hasn't been plain sailing. May we not forget, Its Ulrika plus also the second series of Look Around You, with a tiny bit of The Mighty Boosh.

As the channel shows itself to be a breeding ground for shows, with The Apprentice starting off on the second channel, business is a serious business. The Troubleshooters three of Sir John Harvey-Jones, Sir Gerry Robinson and now Lord Digby Jones showed there was an appetite for smart documentaries about the business world and that over time you can move from being a Sir to ending up as being a Lord. But business is entertainment as well, taking us 'Back to the Floor' and leaving us with 'Blood on the Carpet' thanks to Robert Thirkwell's well thought programmes over the years. With as much business people and other people learning more about vast sways of business aspects than reading a lifetime's supply of the Financial Times.

Though there is no business like show business as someone once sung, as well as serious programming music is the food of love for BBC2 with it having Dance Energy in the 90's, being Later with Jools, see if it will pass The Old Grey Whistle Test, plus thanks to the foresight of the BBC light entertainment department allowing Terry Henebery to come up with Jazz 625 showcasing some of the finest jazz musicians ever. But the second channel shows its class as well with its coverage of the arts. Arena, the fore-barer today's modern arts documentaries has been floating along in the moonlight for many years now looking at the Ford Cortina, how to do it My Way and with an amount of menace looking at the Beano and Dandy story. 

Ever so often it will show its sport credentials as well, starting off what has become an institution in Match of the Day from Beatleville with Kenneth Wolstenholme in 1964 to Nigel Starmer-Smith from a wind swept Rugby Special, the quiet of the green baize in its snooker coverage to the men and women of the oche in its coverage of the BDO World Darts Championship. Plus even dedicating a whole afternoon of sport on Friday afternoons during the late 80's and early 90's. Though the channel likes the smell of oil and petrol as well, apart from the Open University that is. BBC2 was the home of Formula One for many years as well Moto GP, but it likes to get itself all revved up now and again, from the pokey motoring show started by Angela Rippon and Noel Edmonds, through the sensibleness of Tony Mason, Chris Goffey and William Woolard to today's massive road trips partaken by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Seemingly Top Gear is what BBC2 is about today and has always been which is fast paced, funny, incisive plus informative as well.

But as BBC2 sees itself in a mirror, does it seem to be sagging? A little, but doesn't everyone do by the time they get to fifty? When the candles are lit on the birthday cake, most probably made by The Great British Bake Off team, the second channel can look at itself and say 'Yeah, I've done alright for myself!' Then raise a glass, a cup, a mug or even an Arielator from Jed's house in I'm Alan Partridge to BBC2, you might not be old as your bigger brother or sister, though at least you kept us entertained.

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