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Steve in Pudsey10,673 posts since 4 Jan 2003
Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
I used to read "Satellite TV Europe" (anyone remember that magazine?) and I always got the impression that BBC Prime acted as a reminder of home to ex pats or military personnel.


Sim Courtie started at CBBC doing Prime, he says in this interview that the job was pitched to him as a channel for ex-pats.

http://thebroomcupboard.co.uk/page8.html
Write that down in your copybook now.
Inspector Sands14,480 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I remember the directors working on Prime having to reversion live programmes such as Blue Peter for the channel. They went out a week or so later so anything that will be out of date was taken out as well as things that were very UK-centric and I think any commercial music. Sometimes there was barely anything left and the episode was ditched and replaced by a generic standby
Steve Williams2,993 posts since 1 Aug 2008
When I was in the audience for Fist of Fun in 1996, after the recording finished they had to record a load of trailers for BBC Prime, with Stew saying "Fist of Fun tonight/tomorrow/Friday/coming soon" and Rich saying "in The Zone on BBC Prime!". Went on for ages. Probably more trailers than they got on BBC2.
Inspector Sands14,480 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I can't believe the BBC thought precious stones were a good idea for its international channel considering the history of the British Empire.

I wouldn't have thought many people would think that much about the semiotics of it. Besides it was just a European channel. Before it was called Prime it was something like BBC TV Europe.
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deejay2,971 posts since 5 Jan 2003
Central (South) Oxford
Quite a lot of BBC shows were happy to provide BBC Prime trails, though once recorded many of them ran for years and years. On children in need, Alan Deadicoat was also happy to name check the channel a few times during the show. Eurovision was harder to show in later years when viewer voting became the norm. Obviously it was being shown across Europe so the U.K. phone numbers weren’t suitable but Prime also wanted Terry Wogan’s commentary. So for the recap of songs some complex juggling between international (clean) and UK feeds was required. The year I did (Riga 2003) I took the international clean vision throughout and mixed Terry’s audio in myself. It was quite revealing hearing what he said off air!!
Two minutes regions...
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mici012334 posts since 23 Jul 2017
BBC World News
Obviously it was being shown across Europe so the U.K. phone numbers weren’t suitable but Prime also wanted Terry Wogan’s commentary. So for the recap of songs some complex juggling between international (clean) and UK feeds was required.


Interesting the BBC made such a fuss when TVE, BVN and DW pretty much don't care that they show the phone numbers of their respective countries. Very Happy
AndrewPSSP15 posts since 16 Feb 2019
London London
The only other appearance of it is in a Martin Lambie-Nairn internal BBC presentation about the 1997 revamp (seen here). It includes some mock-ups of what the new branding would look like on BBC Learning and BBC Sport channels.
Thanks for sharing - that was a really interesting video!
At school they taught me how to be
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They didn't quite succeed
TheMike107 posts since 12 Jan 2019
Central (East) East Midlands Today
I remember BBC Prime's 1995 to 1997 era.

Created when the World Service Europe channel was split into BBC World and Prime, BBC Prime had news from BBC World at 0700, 1900 and 2200 CET.

Good Morning with Anne and Nick was simulcast at 1100 CET, on Saturday nights Noel's House Party was shown. In 1996, BBC Prime also had Euro 96 and Olympic coverage on the channel, before the way sports rights were sold radically changed.

The Learning Zone was on BBC Prime between 0130 and 0700 CET, I think BBC Prime text had details on page 340.

BBC Prime was also used as a sustaining service for GBC (Gibraltar), with GBC opting out between 2000 and 2100 CET for their own programmes, until that arrangement ended in the late 90s.

Both BBC World and BBC Prime radically changed from the end of October 1997, and both relied a lot more on repeats to fill the schedules.

I think it was in 1998 that the channel expanded to Africa, and trails started showing CET/CAT times.

Interesting was how BBC Prime was marketed directly to viewers as a standalone channel, complete with their own smartcard, rather than being marketed as part of another TV platform, as is the case with most encrypted channels today.
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infra4delta1 post since 27 Mar 2020 new member
BBC World News
I remember it too — I was a viewer in Turkey from before its 1995 launch until around 2004, when internet viewing became a little more routine and the quality began to decline (deejay's departure probably had a lot to do with it too!)

Some memories:

Before 1995 and its official debut, it was just a branch of World Service Television, but there would be a CBBC offering then too.

When it launched in 1995, it was actually a joint venture between the BBC and Thames Television and had programmes from both. It had only been a couple of years since Thames had lost its ITV franchise so a lot of its archive included contemporary stuff. I have very clear memories of watching CITV shows on "Children's BBC on Prime" (as it was called then) — The Tomorrow People was one. I think the 1998 changes were when the BBC/Thames arrangement ended.

It was a big scandal in the expat community when Prime switched satellites in the mid-to-late Nineties and it resulted in the channel being off-air in Turkey for quite a long time — some months, I think — until they struck a new deal with the cable provider.

I remember Euro 96 being shown live, and how much it irked the Turkish state broadcaster TRT (which had the Turkish rights), to the extent that they started switching off Prime's signal at match times and replacing it with a Turkish caption telling viewers to watch TRT's (inferior) offering instead. But they were so inept at doing it that they'd sometimes forget to switch it back on again once the game was over. Many episodes of EastEnders were missed, many teeth were gnashed.

TRT weren't quite as protective of the Eurovision Song Contest, which we'd indeed choose for the Wogan commentary. I remember something went wrong with the 1998 contest in Birmingham because we got no commentary at all, the whole night.

We were living away from the UK and so, I suppose, couldn't be too picky about the offering and the increasingly frequent repeats, but we did begin to dread the continuity announcement "And now on BBC Prime, we have time for a little something extra". It would result in an episode of filler like East Anglian Gardens, a holiday snap featuring something with Jill Dando, or the blooper reel show Rodge and Podges' TV Bodges. There were so few of these on rotation that we knew every episode off by heart and precisely how long we had to make a cup of tea.
Last edited by infra4delta on 27 March 2020 3:44pm
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thegeek5,360 posts since 1 Jan 2002
London London
I vaguely remember the WSTV offer from a trip to Denmark in the late 90s, and being surprised to find Anne and Nick on the telly. I think it was followed by a world weather forecast by a familiar presenter, which surprised me too.

Despite it being more recent (but bloody hell was it really fifteen years ago) I can't quite remember much about my time working on media management for Prime when I started at Red Bee, but I think they took CiN live in 2005. Also the favoured five minute filler of the day was The Witness. That desk also involved working on BBC Food (possibly only aimed at Africa) - whose schedule was pretty much identical to UKTV Food.