TV The digital switchover has began last night in the north-west of England with the switching off of the analogue stream/broadcast of BBC Two. For a lot of you this won’t be newsworthy news – it’s already happened in Wales and the South West and elsewhere. But it still feels like an event worth noting anyway. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too maudlin about the loss of one particular way of viewing a channel which is still available in a wider ratio and better picture quality. It’s not like BBC Two has gone (no matter what some mad old Tory back bencher might say every other month about reducing Auntie’s power or some such).

Except that this is the format on which the channel began and how I viewed most of my favourite programmes up until just under a decade ago when we signed up with On Digital. Shivering in the front room of original house in Speke (no central heating) watching the original broadcasts of Moonlighting or Twin Peaks in black and white through a snowstorming picture, needing to get up now and then to adjust the wire. When I had my own television, I probably saw most of Star Trek this way.

Now, it’s just a case of working through an EPG, selecting a programme and assuming it’s not clashing with something on the other side, choosing if I want to record the whole series then pressing OK. That’s better and more convenient but like vinyl, the old process involved in actually being able to watch a programme increased its magic somehow, of experimenting with the location of the portable tv for the best picture (corners mainly) and trying to get done before Quantum Leap started (because the signal for each channel was always best in different parts of the room).

I had planned to stay and watch the signal being shut off, but the only device which still has analogue tuned in is my dvd recorder and it was inevitably capturing what looked like a good film on BBC Four. But perhaps fittingly, someone was there, did record it, and has put a video of the event up on YouTube. There was no countdown, no reprize of the channel's launch campaign mascot "Hullabaloo" (a mother kangaroo -- see above), just the BBC's reporter at The Hague being cut off mid-sentence:

BBC Two Analogue broadcast from Winter Hill. Time of death 12:26 am.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that perhaps indicates that I should take a trip home to make sure my grandad is not wondering where the hell BBC Two has gone