BBC Four: Wikis


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BBC Four
BBC Four.svg
BBC Four logo
Launched 2 March 2002
Owned by BBC
Picture format 16:9 SDTV
Audience share 0.5% (September 2009, BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Replaced BBC Knowledge
Sister channel(s) BBC One,
BBC Two,
BBC Three
BBC News,
BBC Parliament,
Freeview Channel 9
Freesat Channel 107
Sky Digital Channel 116
Astra 2D 10773H 22000 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 107
UPC Ireland Channel 117
UPC Netherlands Channel 806
Ziggo (Netherlands) Channel 53
Telenet (Belgium) Channel 566
TalkTalk TV Channel 20
Internet television
BBC Online Watch live (UK only)
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
BBC iPlayer Watch live (UK only)

BBC Four is a BBC television channel available to digital television (Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable) viewers in the UK. BBC Four launched on 2 March 2002 being the successor to BBC Knowledge, evolving from its last schedule consisting mainly of documentaries. BBC Four transmits from 19:00 to the early hours of the morning. On Freeview it time-shares with CBeebies.

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."[1]

BBC Four has an annual budget of £53.5m [2]. It has a schedule dominated by repeats but is required by its licence to broadcast at least 100 hours of new arts and music programmes each year[3].



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[4], Armando Iannucci's cutting political satire, The Thick of It, The Chaser's War on Everything and Flight of the Conchords.

BBC Four share of viewing 2002-2007 BARB figures

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 documentaries such as The Century of the Self and The Trials 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 Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! (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.[5] The official audience figures for the broadcast, including time-shifting, were later published as 1,625,000.[6] 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.

Another notable programme broadcast on BBC Four is Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe it contains reviews of current shows, as well as stories and commentary on how television is produced. The show is presented by broadcaster Charlie Brooker.

According to BARB the comedy panel game QI has the highest ratings of any show on BBC Four.[7]

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 channel's 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

BBC Four and BBC Two

Since the launch of BBC Four, the BBC has been accused in particular of shifting its more highbrow output to the new channel, which a minority (12% in the second quarter of 2008)[10] of viewers do not receive. The perceived strategy has been to allow BBC Two to show more popular programmes and to secure higher ratings. Many commentators have judged there to be a strong resemblance between the new Four and the earlier, more ambitious, BBC Two.[11] Output from BBC Four (documentaries rather than foreign films) was for a time repeated on BBC Two in a 'BBC Four on Two' branded area, although this was often in a late night broadcast slot after Newsnight and has now been discontinued.

See also


External links


Simple English

BBC 4 redirects here. For the radio station, please see BBC Radio 4
BBC Four
Launched2 March, 2002
Owned byBritish Broadcasting Corporation
Picture format576i (SDTV)
Audience share0.5%[1] (January 2009)
Country United Kingdom
ReplacedBBC Knowledge
Sister channel(s)BBC One,
BBC Two,
BBC Three
Sky Digital116
Astra 2D10773H 22000 5/6
Virgin Media107
UPC Ireland117
UPC Netherlands806
Ziggo (Netherlands)53
Telenet (Belgium)566
Tiscali TV20

BBC Four is a television channel operated by the BBC. It is only available through digital means such as freeview or Sky. It launched on March 2, 2002. It often shows alternative programs that often have a much smaller audience than BBC One or Two.


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