On October 18th, 2022 the BBC hits the ripe old age of 100. Which honestly seems like a really, really long time to be tuned into world events, which must be absolutely exhausting. Imagine having to spend all day looking at people’s hot takes on whatever is going in the world. With a century of history, though, there’s going to be trivia abound. Plus everyone always asks “what’s in the news,” “who’s in the news,” but nobody ever asks “how is the news?” Is trivia the same, probably not but here are some trivia facts about the BBC.
12 Trivia Facts About the BBC
1. Since the 1960s, the British government has had a contingency for what happens when Queen Elizabeth II eventually passes away (which she did in 2022). The whole thing was called Operation London Bridge, and while it has been revised multiple times, the BBC rehearsed it about once every year. They’re always ready, with black ties on hand for their casters just in case a royal kicks the bucket. Yeah they do it for other members of the royal family too.
2. One time they rehearsed a scenario where Prince Philip was shot by his son.
3. On a fateful 1930s Easter the BBC was aware there would be no published newspapers so they just said “there is no news” on the radio and played piano music.
4. For April Fool’s in 1957 the BBC told people they could get spaghetti from a spaghetti tree. Plant a sprig of spaghetti into tomato sauce for best results.
5. The BBC really didn’t like jazz music in the 1930s. They also considered rock music unsuitable for broadcast for a while.
6. At the height of the Cold War the British government was really scared of communism, and accused the BBC of harboring “political subversives.” From the late 1930s through to the end of the Cold War MI5 (British secret service) had an officer vetting applicants. People deemed “political subversives” were marked with an upwards green arrow that looked like a Christmas tree, giving the files the creative name of “The Christmas Tree Files.”
7. Pirate radio ships got the BBC to turn around on rock music. Long story short the BBC wanted to capitalize on a massive music market.
8. In 1942 the BBC banned “Deep in the Heart of Texas” because everyone would clap along. They were afraid people making bombs would clap and drop live munitions.
9. The BBC had very strict rules about what constituted a joke, contained in what was called The Green Book. Jokes about bathrooms and (specifically) ladies’ underwear weren’t allowed. Even jokes about alcohol were allowed–only in moderation. While some of the rules are definitely dated, they did also ban slurs and kept from anything considered derogatory. The Green Book has since been succeeded by The Producer Guidelines.
10. The first time a live on-air hacking incident occurred was against the BBC in 1983. The casters on air were supposed to demonstrate e-mail, but instead of getting messages they got pirate music.
11. The BBC has trained elephants to operate cameras so they could get footage of tigers.
12. A Congolese business graduate named Guy Goma was once accidentally interviewed by the BBC on live TV. Guy was just there for an interview, but was interviewed for his take on Apple Corps v. Apple Computer.
See if you know what books the BBC likes here.