BBC Four

BBC Four

Infobox TV channel
name = BBC Four
logofile = BBC Four.svg
logosize = 180px
logoalt = BBC Four logo
launch = 2 March 2002
picture format = 576i (SDTV)
share = 0.6%
share as of = April 2008
share source = []
owner = BBC
country = United Kingdom
replaced names = BBC Knowledge
web = []
sister names = BBC One,
BBC Two,
BBC Three
terr serv 1 = Freeview
terr chan 1 = Channel 9
sat serv 1 = Freesat
sat chan 1 = Channel 107
sat serv 2 = Sky Digital
sat chan 2 = Channel 116
sat serv 3 = Astra 2D
sat chan 3 = 10773H 22000 5/6
cable serv 1 = Virgin Media
cable chan 1 = Channel 107
cable serv 2 = UPC Ireland| cable chan 2 = Channel 117
cable serv 3 = UPC Netherlands| cable chan 3 = Channel 806
cable serv 4 = Ziggo (Netherlands)
cable chan 4 = Channel 53
cable serv 5 = Telenet (Belgium)
cable chan 5 = Channel 566
online serv 1 =
online chan 1 = [ Watch online] (UK only)| adsl serv 1 = Tiscali TV
adsl chan 1 = Channel 20

BBC Four is a BBC television channel available to digital television (Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable) viewers in the UK. The part successor (with CBeebies) to BBC Knowledge, it launched on 2 March 2002.

It shows "a wide variety of programmes including drama, documentaries, music, international film, comedy and current affairs ... an alternative to programmes on the mainstream TV channels." [cite web|url=|title=BBC - BBC Four - FAQ|accessdate=2007-08-19]

BBC Four has an annual budget of £67m (£49.8m on content, £2m distribution, £15.2 infrastructure) which is only 4.7% of that of BBC One [cite web|url=|title=|accessdate=2007-08-19] (but 1.8% of the audience) and consequentially has a schedule dominated by repeats.


The first evening's BBC Four programmes were simulcast on BBC Two. BBC Four is notable for first showing Larry David's "Seinfeld" follow-up, "Curb your Enthusiasm" [cite web|url=|title=BBC NEWS - Have Your Say - Are BBC Digital channels poor value?|accessdate=2007-08-19] , Armando Iannucci's cutting political satire, "The Thick of It" and "Flight of the Conchords".

The channel broadcasts a mixture of art and science documentaries, vintage drama (including many rare black-and-white programmes), and non-English language productions such as films from the Artificial Eye catalogue and the French thriller "Spiral". BBC Four further supports foreign language films with its annual World Cinema Award which has been running since 2004.

On weekdays at 19.00, the channel shows a 30-minute global news programme called "World News Today", simulcast with and produced by BBC World News. It screens a number of original documentaries such as "The Century of the Self" and "The Trial of Henry Kissinger". The channel is also home to many political travel shows such as Holidays in the Axis of Evil which features investigative journalism.

Drama has given the channel some of its most popular programmes, with "The Alan Clark Diaries" (2003) and "" (2006) being among the highest rated, with over 800,000 viewers. The 18 March 2008, broadcast of The Curse of Steptoe brought the channel its highest audience figures, estimated as 1.41 million viewers, a 7% share of multichannel audiences between 9pm and 10.05pm, based on overnight returns. [ [ BBC4 breaks ratings record] , 19 March 2008, The Guardian] The official audience figures for the broadcast, including time-shifting, were later published as 1,625,000. [BARB multichannel top ten, BBC Four, week ending 23 March 2008] Another notable production was a live re-make of the 1953 science-fiction serial "The Quatermass Experiment", adapted from the original scripts into a single, two-hour version (though on the night it in fact underran considerably, lasting less than 1 hour 40 minutes), broadcast on the evening of Saturday 2 April 2005. Discounting BBC Four's previous live relays of theatrical Shakespeare productions, this was the first live made-for-television drama to be broadcast by the BBC for twenty years.

According to BARB the comedy panel game "QI" has the highest ratings of any show on BBC Four. [ [ Analysis of BARB audience figures] , produced for QI by the BBC, QI website, accessed 28 March 2008]

At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC Four won the Non-Terrestrial Channel of the Year award in 2004 and 2006.

On the Freeview digital terrestrial television platform, BBC Four is broadcast in a statistically multiplexed stream in Multiplex B that timeshares with the CBeebies channel; broadcasting from 7 pm to about 4 am every day.

On-screen identity

The BBC's "cultural" channel BBC Four was launched on 2 March 2002 as a successor to BBC Knowledge. The initial series of idents were generated dynamically reflecting the frequencies of the continuity announcers' voice or of backing music and were designed by Lambie-Nairn. As a result, no two idents were ever the same.

When the channel first started airing, it used the slogan "Everyone Needs A Place To Think", but the BBC stopped using this several months after the launch. However the BBC Four logo and above slogan can be found, engraved on benches along the South Bank in London, between the London Eye and Waterloo Bridge.

In September 2005, the channel's new idents based on the theme of an "four" and optical illusions, for example a swimming pool where a person on an inflatable ring appears in the bottom left corner, though ripples don't enter the remaining quarters. Although the image appears as one at the start of the ident by the end it is clearly four separate images.

Controllers of BBC Four

*2002–2004: Roly Keating
*2004–present: Janice Hadlow

See also

*List of documentary channels
*BBC Four World Cinema Award


External links

*|id=bbcfour|title=BBC Four
* [ BBC Four listings] at

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