40 years of BBC2

· culture ·

I watched a bit of the BBC 2 40th birthday celebrations last night, which reminded me what a lot of excellent and innovative programmes they've produced over the years. The snippets they showed were tantalizingly short, but some made me wish I'd been old enough at the time to watch the documentaries they made in the 60s and 70s, like the Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski. The clip showed Bronowski standing in a pond made of human ashes from the gas ovens at Auschwitz and talking about how we have to "cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power", and to touch real people. He then bent down and picked up a handful of the wet ashes from the pond. It was an extraordinarily powerful moment.

Other highlighted programmes that I did watch and enjoy at the time included:

They covered the decades in chronological order, and there was a marked decline in quality when we got to the 00s; the first show they featured was ‘The Weakest Link'. Still, I think that there's a lot of life left in Beeb 2 yet — Little Britain is a brilliant comedy show (though it started on Radio 4 and then BBC 3 before moving to 2), and there's still some good drama on 2. Here's to another 40 years.