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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
BBC Two anniversary: Your memories
BBC Two is celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary on Tuesday.

The channel was the first to bring colour television to the UK in 1967 with the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

It launched the TV careers of stars including Rik Mayall, Dawn French and Delia Smith.

ASK BBC TWO CONTROLLER
BBC Two controller Jane Root, answered your questions


BBC Two also introduced viewers to Playschool, Match of the Day, The Forsyth Saga, Fawlty Towers and Have I Got News For You.

What are your memories of BBC Two through the years? Do you enjoy its current crop of shows or do you think it should resurrect some of its previous ones?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of the opinions we have received:

I have always felt that BBC2 was the equivalent of the quality "Broadsheet" of the Newspaper world. You know that the material will be of good quality.
Phil W, UK

I can't believe nobody has mentioned the excellent Mary Whitehouse Experience and Baddiel & Newman. I always remember the two old men who'd try to have a serious political debate but it would always descend into schoolboy insults: "That's YOU that is..". Also Fantasy Football league, most notably the one that ran through the World Cup. The "Phoenix From The The Flames" section where classic footballing moments were re-enacted were always hilarious. And as for anybody who doubts the diversity and originality of the channels latest output, what about Robot Wars? My favourite of all time has to be Have I Got News For You. Nothing will ever equal it. I haven't even began to mention the great sporting finals: darts, snooker and golf all coming to an end late on a Sunday night.
Jason, Spain

BBC2 has much to look back on with pride
Graeme, London
Has nobody mentioned the excellent 'Ripping Yarns' up there with Not the Nine O'Clock News, Yes Minister, The Day Today and Marion and Geoff as some of the best comedy of the last 30 years. For music, OGWT and Later. Drama like Boys From the Blackstuff and This Life. The outstanding Life on Earth. BBC2 has much to look back on with pride.
Graeme, London

I cannot join in these celebrations until Spike Milligan & his Q Series are given their rightful place on the BBC -every night please!
Roger Morgan Freedlan, Whitwick, England

Call My Bluff! My father made me watch it as a child and I loved it, didn't understand a lot of it but liked all the funny sounding words. Pot Black was brilliant , along with Our Friends in The North , Quantum Leap and the old , old Star Trek. I hope BBC2 is here forever reminding us what TV is actually for - Educating and Entertaining.
Joanne Foley, Edinburgh, Scotland

While the quality of other channels, including BBC1, have noticeably slipped, BBC 2 seems to be holding its own nicely. I hardly watch TV nowadays, but when I do, it's usually BBC 2 or BBC 4. One programme that stands out is an excellent TV play (when there were TV plays!) from about 1988, called "The Black and Blue Lamp", very funny, and dark. Let's have more!
John B, Gloucester, UK

I remember when BBC showed many good programmes on art and classical music, including broadcasts of concerts. Sadly, it has all gone, replaced by alternative comedy and hand me downs from BBC4. Even Horizon has fallen from its place as the foremost of science programmes. Take a look at the schedules for the late 70s and the early 1980s - better by far.
Mark Gould, Botley, Hampshire

Thank you BBC2!
Catherine, Nottingham, UK
Filthy, Rich and Catflap - sheer brilliance! Also Bottom, The Young Ones, The Day Today, Red Dwarf, Happy Families, The Office and The League of Gentlemen to name a few! Thank you BBC2!
Catherine, Nottingham, UK

BBC2 will always be associated in my mind with Newsnight, still the best news programme on TV anywhere in the world, and still sorely missing from the BBC World line-up (please, please, add it to their schedule so I can see it here at the other end of the world).
Hans Versluys, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

I have to say that 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' is possibly the funniest show on TV at the moment. Forget 'The Office' or 'Phoenix Nights', give me Marc Lamarr and Phil Jupitus any day. Only programme that has both me and my mother howling with laughter week after week!
Corrina, Cheltenham

My first memories were Play School in the mornings, the test card, the Goodies and the News for the Deaf on Sunday Evenings. Unfortunately BBC2 now just looks like any other bland 24 hour channel which is a shame.
Steve, Pontypridd, Wales

Staying up late with a friend over to stay to watch Red Dwarf! Classic comedy.
Russell English, Kent

Bring back the old black and white OU programmes with the trend setting presenters with their incredible haircuts, clothes and sandals! These programmes would always brighten up my day when I was ill and off school in the early 70's.
Maxwell King, Northampton

I have nostalgic memories of watching test transmissions with my brother when we were kids in the late 60s. They weren't brilliant TV....but an excuse to marvel at programmes in colour.
Terry, Hants, UK

Nobody seems to have mentioned Big Train. A fantastic and original sketch show which, thank goodness, launched Simon Pegg's career and brought great comedy back to BBC2.
Toby, Swindon, England

In my carefree days I used to watch for the cult series of X-files and the Simpson's et al - now the weekend just isn't the same with out Saturday Kitchen!
Sandy, UK

Like some of the fledgling channels today my main memory of BBC2 in the early years was of a channel that was on only part of the day and the High Chaperal was the only populist programme that reminded people it was there. For me the best on going programme on the channel is Horizon.
Michael Savage, Scotland

I believe it was a Tuesday evening when BBC2 was scheduled to start. At the age of nine I set out to watch my friend's TV, as ours wouldn't receive the new channel for some reason (perhaps it would but wasn't a colour set, I don't quite recall). For some reason I headed over for the 7pm start on my decidedly dodgy go-kart. It took rather longer than I anticipated but as it turned out, I hadn't missed a thing! By the next day I think I had lost interest and so had to wait to view the new channel until our home had a new set. Sorry if that's the biggest anti-climax amongst people's memories, I was only nine, remember!
Peter Edwards, Croydon, England

Maybe I'm missing the point here, but is there anything special about BBC2?
Steve Brereton, York

Maybe I'm missing the point here, but is there anything special about BBC2? It seems full of repeats, and hosts such dire, appalling rubbish as The Simpson's. Yes, it has hosted some timeless classics, but what really is the point when no-one seems capable of writing anything these days that can hold a candle to the inventiveness of Monty Python and contemporaries. Having more digital channels than I can count seems to have diluted any remaining shreds of original, quality TV so far that trying to celebrate the coming of age of any TV channel kind of fails to excite me.
Steve Brereton, York, UK

I have often accidentally stumbled across great documentaries, dramas and comedies when switching away from trash on other channels. What about Horizon, This Life, A Very Peculiar Practice and more lately the If series.
Shahed, UK

What about Coupling? BBC2 we love you.
Mark, Kent

The entire series of Red Dwarf. What a treat!
Andrew Taylor, Wigan, UK

I just wanted to wish a very happy 40 birthday to BBC2 - I shall be celebrating all week with you as I turn 40 today, 20 April!
Caroline George, Skelton, North Yorkshire

Nobody here has mentioned the BBC2's great logo - the animated 2s are always great fun to watch!
Caroline, UK

Being allowed to stay up late to watch the 1985 Snooker final reach its climax - have never met anyone who wasn't enthralled by the battle at the crucible - the final black ball skirmish is something to cherish.
Andrew Cooper, London, UK

I remember when BBC2 actually took risks and catered for those of us for whom BBC1 and ITV have become bland. It was a rosy world, with decent cult and foreign films, serious drama and documentary and a multitude of non-mainstream programming. Not anymore.
Ian Mc, Arbroath, Scotland

I have fond memories of BBC2, not just from its selection of innovative and creative chat, quiz and game shows and hilarious British comedy, but from its willingness to show the new and unusual. Thanks BBC2!
Dan, Manchester, UK

For me, BBC2 has always been the place to watch comedy like Bottom, Shooting Stars, Red Dwarf and Not the Nine o' Clock News. I work nights and always tune into the Learning Zone if I can because there's always something interesting on.
Jen, Cardiff

My greatest memories and moments of BBC 2 have been the OGWT's creation, the "Sight & Sound" concerts and the "Late Night In Concert" programmes. The wealth of serious adult music entertainment. I hope similar progs return, the commercial channels are doing an appalling job of whatever they cover of entertainment in the same genre.
Philip Lowe, Malvern, UK

Here's to another forty years
Yousaf, London UK
I love the Beeb, but I specially love BBC2. I discovered all my favourite comedy programs such as Fawlty Towers, Monty Python's flying circus and Have I got news for you on BBC2. BBC2 is part of a great institution, which to me symbolises the fact that media can work without commercialism. Thanks to all those who helped make BBC what it is today. Here's to another forty years.
Yousaf, London UK

University Challenge! The lounge at home is always packed, as is the TV room at uni.
Alice, Cambridge

I'll never forgive BBC2 controller for axing Spike Milligan that was a crime against our freedom of choice! Hence, why I detest to this day paying for the Licence fee.
George Dorman, Gillingham, UK

I can remember being disappointed at not being able to watch Playschool when it was first transmitted on BBC2, as our television at the time could only receive BBC1 and ITV! Imagine now having only 2 channels!
Sue S, Dorking

Alan Partridge! Gotta be one of the funniest comedy characters I have ever seen.
Matt Jones, Whitehaven, UK

We watched it all evening and marvelled at the higher definition picture
Martin Ingram, Aberdeen
I remember getting pretty excited at age 7 (c.1972) when we had a new aerial installed and our old telly was tuned into that funny "625" button and suddenly we could receive BBC2 for the first time! We watched it all evening and marvelled at the higher definition picture. Incredible, in this age of multi-multi channel TV, to think having three channels at your disposal, one felt spoilt for choice! Happy birthday BBC2 - get Fry and Laurie back on for a new series!!
Martin Ingram, Aberdeen

Definitely Star Trek. Wednesday and Thursday nights used to be bliss for a Trekkie like me after a difficult day at the office!
Chris Blore, Billericay, Essex, UK

BBC Two's finest moment was without a doubt when it first bought in the Simpson's and gave a whole generation brilliant satire from an early age. Shame it got so mild recently.
Tom Whyman, Hampshire, England

"The Forsyte Saga," and that little aerial attached to the main aerial, will always be my best memory of BBC2 all those years ago. Well done BBC2.
Hyder Ali Pirwany, Okehampton, Devon, England

My favourite adaptation was "The Bell" by Iris Murdoch starring Ian Holm - and what about "Face the Music" with Joseph Cooper, Robin Ray et al - great programmes.
Kevin, Merseyside

The Old Great Whistle Test with Bob Harris has to be here on the memory wall somewhere! That was magnificent. And Jools Holland (especially the Hootenanny shows) continues the excellence today!
David, Didcot, UK

As a very young man, my earliest memory of BBC2 was sitting up to watch "first broadcast" Fawlty Towers, Monday nights 9.00pm.
Ben, Falkirk

Thanks to Beeb 2 for the seldom remembered piece of Saturday (or Sunday) noon time genius absurdity: This Morning With Richard Not Judy.
Oleg, Pontypridd, UK

It's the only channel worth watching
Barry Shirfield, Southend-on-Sea, UK
Long live BBC2! It's the only channel worth watching for a good mix of comedy, documentaries, news and the learning zone...who needs to change channels?! Keep this channel publicly funded and there will be no danger of commercial content creeping in!
Barry Shirfield, Southend-on-Sea, UK

By showing a load of repeats, I see that BBC2 are marking their 40th anniversary in the way they intend to go on. So much for original program making which has gone down the drain. It seems to take only about 3-4 months before a program is repeated now.
Andrew Curphey, Manchester

The Open University! All morning Saturday and Sunday - in the good old days. Where else could a teenager get access to university standard teaching on subjects from industrial chemistry to art in 15th century Florence? Bring it back.
Chris Richardson, London, UK

The Testcard!, I used to watch it for hours as a child, the girl looked just like my sister and I though it was her for a long time.
Bianca Rowan, UK

In my relatively short life I have seen most of my favourite shows on BBC2, including Top Gear, The Young Ones, The Simpson's and the fantastic Red Dwarf. Long may it continue!
Adam Williams, Bristol

When I was 11, our school took us on a week long trip to an educational centre. We all happily went without TV except when it was time for The Young Ones and there was a mini-riot as we tried to break into the training room which held the only TV on site. No-one cared about missing any of the other programmes.
Adrian Bhagat, Nottingham, UK

Who could forget whispering Bob?
Jeremy, Oxford, UK
The Old Grey Whistle Test - surely the best alternative music programme in television history. Who could forget whispering Bob but mostly who could forget the unbelievable catalogue of performers - everyone from John Lennon to Captain Beefheart to Alex Harvey to Billy Preston to Bob Marley to David Bowie to Little Feat to Focus to Roxy Music and so on and so on. Truly remarkable....
Jeremy, Oxford, UK

Don't forget 'The Goodies'! Long overdue for a repeat on terrestrial TV.
Colin

I notice all the shows that people are rightly praising on this page are relics of the past. What has BBC2 given us recently that we will remember in 40 years? Only 'Changing Rooms', I rather fear. BBC2 has an impressive past which makes its recent decline all the more sad. I hope there are plans to rectify this.
Anton Buxley, Snape

The Great War - what an awesome documentary. Much copied but never bettered. Shame you didn't repeat it for 35 years though!
Woody, London, England

'The Ascent of Man' and 'Civilisation' were among the outstanding achievements of BBC2. With the appalling lowering of the quality of BBC programmes during the past years, we shall probably not see their like again.
Robert, Croydon, UK

My own personal favourites have to be Not The 9 O'Clock News, Fawlty Towers, The Day Today, I'm Alan Partridge, Dead Ringers, Rab C Nesbitt, Have I Got News For You, The Young Ones, Bottom, Little Britain, Room 101, The Simpson's, Ren and Stimpy, Seinfeld, Monty Python. And that's only the comedy output!
Stephen Gordon, Warrington, UK

Thanks BBC2 for having the courage to produce Our Friends in the North , the greatest television drama ever made.
Simon, London, England

Keep up the good work BBC2
Stephen Bowes, Manchester, UK

Beeb Two brought is the magnificent Absolutely Fabulous, absolutely hilarious more like, keep up the good work BBC2!
Stephen Bowes, Manchester, UK

Prior to BBC2 officially launching, the channel showed 'Canadian Pacific or CN railway' colour films. I vaguely believe colourful shots of long trains traversing Canada, in those days of black and white programmes. Please tell me if I'm wrong or if you will show them again!
Shaun S, Flint, Wales

My best memory is being among a gang of boys congregating around one boys house to watch the cup final in colour (Man City v Leicester.) I think in 1969.
Ian, Dudley

The best thing I remember on BBC2 was the X-Files, tucked away at 9.30 on a Tuesday. A great slice of scary drama to round off the day!
Alan, Southampton, UK

BBC2 has given us real breadth of programming and a little intellectual snobbery too
Nick, Manchester, UK
Everyone remembers the comedy but BBC2 has given us real breadth of programming and a little intellectual snobbery too (sic); from Sir John Harvey Jones troubleshootin' in the eighties to Gerry Robinson today. Only 'Two' would wait twenty-odd years before revisiting the format.
Nick, Manchester, UK

I also remember those very odd Czech cartoons that used to be on BBC2 where two cubes would often chase each other round the set to overly dramatic music. They were completely bonkers.
Jason Williams, London, UK

The Simpson's! Need I say more?? The Simpson's surpasses all other TV shows! It has been a classic for years and mustn't go unmentioned!
Esther Cosnahan, Woking , England

BBC 2 introduced me to my favourite programme - Quantum Leap. BBC 2 introduced me to my favourite comedy - The Office. When late at night and I have a thirst for knowledge, BBC 2 has the Learning Zone. BBC 2 is my BBC 1!
Dermot Devlin, Ireland

24. Two seasons of brilliance. Not to mention all the other great programmes shown over the years. Listing them would take the next 40 years of BBC2.
Michael, Hornsea, UK

Its got to be Star Trek, years of entertainment thanks to BBC 2.
Jonathan Davies, Isle of Man

As a teenager I liked the unusual programmes that were transmitted
Lawrence Harris, Southampton, UK
I saw the opening night of BBC2 - or rather saw the test card! I couldn't find a BBC2 aerial but I was able to make one. As a teenager I liked the unusual programmes that were transmitted, particularly the quiet presentation of some 'pop' programmes. All-in-all - a welcome channel.
Lawrence Harris, Southampton, UK

Watching Apollo astronauts work on the moon. On colour TV. If you aren't old enough to remember that, you will never know what it felt like.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK

Three words: The Day Today.
Biff, Cardiff

BBC2 has produced really memorable cutting edge comedies in the last 40 years. But it's the League of Gentlemen which is my personal favourite, brilliantly dark and hilarious. A work of genius by the team and only the BBC would be farsighted enough to give programmes like this a chance. I only hope there will be another series.
Marina, Sidcup, UK

BBC2 is the most valuable of the two terrestrial BBC stations
Dan Factor, UK
It was BBC2 that introduced the fantastic time travel drama Quantum Leap to a generation of teenagers in the 1990s, like myself and all my friends whom I went to school with. It also brought us much juvenile laughs with comedies such as Bottom and Red Dwarf. BBC2 is the most valuable of the two terrestrial BBC stations as it continues to deliver top notch programmes such as The Office, League of Gentlemen and Little Britain.
Dan Factor, UK

People always remember The Young Ones and Bottom but BBC2 also brought us the sheer genius that was Filthy, Rich and Catflap. We never did get the second series it promised us.
Graham Breckon, Wirral, Merseyside

Perhaps my favourite BBC2 programme over the years was "Not the Nine O'clock News". A shame it ran for so short a time! It was the one programme guaranteed to fill the TV room at college.
Mark (UK Ex-Pat In US), Washington DC

Watching Jeremy Paxman tear people to shreds is worth the licence fee alone
James D, Birmingham, UK
I love watching BBC2. It has some great programmes i.e. Horizon. However, is there a better news programme than Newsnight? Watching Jeremy Paxman tear people to shreds is worth the licence fee alone.
James D, Birmingham, UK

Any and all the old comedies such as Monty Python, Ripping Yarns, Rutland Weekend Television, The Young Ones, Red Dwarf, Alexi Sayle, The Fast Show, Little Britain - need I list more? I've been watching BBC2 for over 30 years, it has consistently been the best station for decent comedy.
Jeff, Northants

I'd like to nominate that long running magnum opus 'Pages From Ceefax'. With its hi tech graphics and funky music, who needs News 24?
Max, Birmingham, UK

BBC2 used to show excellent foreign films on a Saturday night in the 70s when I was a boy. That's what gave me the impetus to learn my foreign languages which has opened up a number of horizons in my life. Thanks again BBC2.
Cameron, London, UK

A lot of good comedy, mixed with some more intellectual stuff, in no particular order... Pot Black, Not the Nine O'clock News, The Young Ones, Fawlty Towers, re-runs of Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Never mind the Buzzcocks, Horizon and more recently Two Pints of Lager....
Phil, Nimes, France

Here's to another 40 years BBC2
Lucy, Edinburgh, Scotland
Thank you BBC2 for introducing me to my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer! I have always enjoyed the more intellectual side that BBC2 can offer, but you can guaranteed a good old giggle too. Here's to another 40 years BBC2.
Lucy, Edinburgh, Scotland

The Open University! Men with kipper ties and beards explaining sine curves or standing halfway up a mountain pointing out interesting geological strata. Fascinated me as an insomniac teenager, and led me to do a course myself many years later.
Wayne, London, UK

I've watched BBC 2 more often than other TV channels over the decades. As part of the anniversary they should show the 3 or 4 demo films that ran every day for a few months before the channel went live. There was the film about a boy chasing his dropped red balloon, a Dutch scientific park (Evoluon) and a silent comedy about two guys chasing the same girl, one in an Austin Healey, one in a veteran car.
Richard Philips, UK

In reply to Richard Phillips recalling some transmission tests. I also remember two other films, one about the laying of an oil pipeline and one about the round Britain offshore powerboat race. Would love to see these again.
Colin Mackay, Norfolk

I remember watching "The Young Ones" in a student common room with some 100+ other students. It was so popular that you had to get there about 30 minutes before to get a seat. It's a real shame that the BBC don't seem to make this kind of ground breaking comedy any more. 2 Pints is Ok, Monkey Dust is Ok, but I find Little Britain to be absolute rubbish.
George Garratt, Wickford, UK

There is no news programme in the same league as Newsnight
Nick Holway, Guildford, UK
The Day Today, Chris Morris at his best for comedy. There is no news programme in the same league as Newsnight.
Nick Holway, Guildford, UK

Have I Got News For You at 10pm on a Friday night. That's my over-riding memory - the one time in the week the whole family came together and watched a TV programme. It's really become an enduring symbol of Britishness over the last 14 years - bit like BBC2 in the last 40 years!
Neil C, East Kilbride, Scotland

I think that BBC Two is now by far Britain's most diverse channel. In a world increasingly dominated by themed channels, it is a guiding light. Just one thing though - has Two forgotten that it has intelligent viewers? Where's the intelligent comedy (Yes, Minister) nowadays, and the deeply factual, yet still managed to be interesting Horizon?
John Smith, London, UK

I think it would be cool to show the old BBC Two idents for one day only (BBC Two's birthday).
Joe, London





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