BBC HD was a high-definition television channel provided by the BBC. The service was initially run as a trial from 15 May 2006 until becoming a full service on 1 December 2007 before closing on 26 March 2013. It broadcast only during the afternoon and evening and only broadcast material shot in High Definition, either in a simulcast with another channel or by inserting a repeat of an HD programme.

The channel featured a mix of programming including new episodes of Top Gear, Doctor Who and Hustle, repeats of HD programmes including Planet Earth, Bleak House and Torchwood as well as live coverage of large events such as The Proms, Wimbledon, the Eurovision Song Contest and the FIFA World Cup.

The channel was replaced by an HD simulcast of BBC Two, partly as a result of budget cuts affecting the entire corporation.[1]

Launched15 May 2006 (trial)
1 December 2007 (channel)
Closed30 November 2007 (trial)
26 March 2013 (channel)
Owned byBBC
Picture format1080i HDTV
Audience share0.3% (November 2012, BARB)
Replaced byBBC Two HD
Sister channel(s)BBC One
BBC Three
BBC Four
BBC News
BBC Parliament
Availability (at time of closure)
FreeviewChannel 102
FreesatChannel 109
Sky (UK)Channel 115
Sky (Ireland)Channel 143
Virgin MediaChannel 187
Smallworld CableChannel 120
Virgin Media IrelandChannel 139



BBC HD began as a trial station on 15 May 2006 to test the possibility and technical practicality of broadcasting programmes in HD.[2][3] The first programme to be broadcast that was specifically made for HD was natural history programme Planet Earth, which was shown on the 27 May 2006. The trial by 450 businesses and homes was set to last until June 2007, however just before this deadline the BBC Trust began a Public Value Test of the service to determine whether, as the BBC argued, the service was of worth to the general public. As a result, the HD service was extended throughout the testing period which began on 21 May. The result of the test was announced on 19 November that they had approved the BBC Executive's high definition television proposals to allow the launch of UK's first free-to-air, mixed-genre public service HD channel.[4][5]

Official Launch

The channel officially launched on 1 December 2007 although much of the programme makeup and format of the broadcasts remained the same from the trial.[6] This new channel was nationwide and platform neutral, in that it was carried by all providers as a free to air channel. This channel, as recommended by the BBC Trust's Public Value Test, broadcast only for around nine hours a day during prime time and only showed programmes made specifically for HD. The channel would air programmes from across the BBC channels.

This arrangement continued until 2010, when the increase in HD content saw several changes. 2010 had been the BBC's internal deadline for the majority of new content to be produced in HD and as a result the broadcast space was fast running out.[7] As a result, on 3 November 2010, BBC One HD launched as a separate simulcast of the channel and at approximately the same time, BBC HD's broadcast hours were extended to twelve hours a day.[8][9][10] The channel now catered for the programming of the BBC's channels other than BBC One.[9]

From 2011, the channel also began to experiment with showing select programmes in 3D. The first such broadcasts were the live men's and women's finals of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships[11] and continued with the broadcast of that year's Strictly Come Dancing final in December.[12] 2012 saw one of the most ambitious levels of 3D coverage with the BBC screening the opening and closing ceremonies and the men's 100m final of the 2012 Summer Olympics including a daily highlights programme in 3D.[13] In addition to this, the channel also broadcast in 3D the men's and women's finals of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships,[14] the natural history programme Planet Dinosaur Ultimate Killers in August,[15] the second half of the Last Night of the Proms on 8 September 2012,[16] the adaptation of Mr Stink on 23 December 2012 and Killer Dinosaurs and the Royal Christmas Message on 25 December.[17]


Initial reports of the closure of the channel began to surface in July 2011 when Broadcast magazine claimed that the BBC HD would become more of a simulcast of BBC Two[18] when Danielle Nagler, head of HD and 3D at the BBC, left the corporation in September.[19] Although this was later disproved,[20] it caused speculation about the channel's future given that the new head of the channel was Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC Two.[19]

The channel's future was again called into question following the BBC's Delivering Quality First review of the corporations spending. The review sought cost cutting measures following the government settlement that froze the license fee, reducing the BBC's income, and saw the corporation take on additional responsibility for funding some services.[1] The review recommended that BBC HD should close and be replaced with a simulcast of BBC Two.[1][21] The proposals were approved by the BBC Trust in May 2012[22] and subsequently, BBC Two HD launched on 26 March 2013, replacing BBC HD.[2][23]


A BBC High Definition Outside Broadcast van at the 2005 World Athletics Championships, Helsinki.


At the time of the official launch, BBC HD was available universally on all HD broadcasters as a free-to-air station. Satellite viewers could watch the channel on Freesat or Sky, who received their signal from the Astra 1N satellite. The channel was also available to cable television customers through Virgin Media's basic package. The service was also carried on digital terrestrial television in London, from Crystal Palace, until May 2007 as part of the channel's trial and gradually made available nationwide on a region-by-region basis from 2 December 2009.[24]

The service expanded into the Republic of Ireland with the channel's carriage on UPC Ireland's Digital+ HD service from the 5 August 2009[25] and on the Sky Ireland platform from the 27 April 2010.[26]

Technical Specifications

The channel was broadcast at a display resolution of 1440 by 1080i, which despite being less than the usual 1920 by 1080 resolution used for HD broadcasts was still acceptable to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) of which the BBC is a member.[27] But after years of pressure from bloggers and tech experts alike, the BBC finally relented and switched BBC HD to full 1920 resolution for all broadcasts, not just when 3D was being broadcast. The channel encoded in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC for satellite and terrestrial broadcasts and in MPEG-2 for cable transmissions.

Over time changes were made to the way that the channel is broadcast or received. Following the launch of BBC One HD on 3 November 2010, both the new channel and BBC HD were statistically multiplexed on the satellite feeds.[28] Equally, on 6 June 2011, the satellite transponder carrying BBC One HD and BBC HD was upgraded to DVB-S2.[29] In addition to the satellite changes, alterations were made in March 2011 for the Freeview HD encoders to change automatically between 1080i at 50 frames per second to 1080p at 25 frames per second depending on the programme's GOP.[30] Unfortunately some receivers did not handle the transitions between these modes well, resulting in sound and picture disruption.[31]

2009-2010 bitrate drop

On 5 August 2009, the channel's satellite encoders on the Astra 2D satellite were replaced by newer models. A side effect of this change was a drop in bitrate from 16 Megabits per second (Mb/s) to 9.7 Mbit/s, leading to a large number of complaints to the BBC.[32][33][34][35][36][37] The problem only occurred on the satellite platforms as the cable versions were encoded by the provider themselves and so remained at 17 Mbit/s[38] while the later launched terrestrial version was statistically multiplexed between 3 Mbit/s and 17 Mbit/s.[39] Further anger ensued that the new satellite bitrate fell below the recommendations set out by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which the BBC is a member. These recommend a minimum of 12 Mbit/s, but as Andy Quested, principal technologist at the BBC stated, the current technology gave a consistent reliable output of 8-10 Mbit/s which would soon become the requirements with improved technology.[27][40]

Within four months of the change, by mid December, the number of complaints on this issue to the BBC reached 130 of which one was passed straight to the BBC Trust.[41] At around the same time a petition was added to the official Number10 website in December 2009, petitioning then Prime Minister Gordon Brown to bring the BBC into line with the EBU standards.[42] The petition was sparked by the BBC's insistence that there was no problem with the bit rate. In addition, tests run by consumer publication Which?, published in December 2009, found no significant decline in picture quality on the BBC HD channel, labelling the difference in picture quality between the new and old BBC HD broadcasts as "insignificant".[43] Meanwhile, the international version of BBC HD continued to broadcast on satellite at the higher bitrate and screen resolution.[44] The following year, on 30 April 2010, a delegation of viewers who had complained met with Andy Quested and Danielle Nagler[45] to argue that BBC HD was failing to "deliver a very high quality technical service to viewers, by adhering to, or seeking to exceed, industry standards for picture resolution". The visitors took part in an evaluation of the new and old encoder's picture quality (by an ITU R500 test) and the results demonstrated that the new encoder, at much reduced bit rate, was not only "as good as" but actually much better than the old.

The issue was resolved when, on the 3 June 2010, the BBC introduced variable bitrate encoding and fixed previous problems with mixing, fading and noise in pictures.[46] The variable bitrate encoding allowed the channel to maintain the same average bandwidth while allowing an increase in bitrate for more demanding programme scenes such as fast movement. Equally the fixes for mixing and fading treated specific problems with changing scenes, while a configuration change for ‘noisy’ video means the BBC no longer needed to use noise reduction techniques that often reduced the overall picture quality. The changes were welcomed by campaigners.[47]

3D Broadcasts

Whenever the BBC has broadcast programmes or events in 3D, there were other technical changes made to the channel that accompanied it. The BBC's first broadcast of the Wimbledon finals in 2011[11] saw the screen resolution increased from the usual 1440 by 1080 to 1920 by 1080 between 13 June and 6 July.[48] Equally, the same occurred for the 2011 Strictly Come Dancing final[12] when the resolution was changed between 8 December 2011 and 5 January 2012. An increase to 1920 horizontal resolution was again observed on 30 May 2012 as part of the preparations of 2012's 3D broadcasts.[13][49]


The BBC HD channel only ever ran at its peak for an average of twelve hours a day, usually from mid afternoon, and was only ever allowed to expand beyond these hours for coverage of significant sporting events. When off air, the channel would broadcast a looped series of clips identified as the BBC HD Preview. These were of extended trailers and extracts for upcoming programmes on the channel separated by the channel's idents. These segments were also notable in their hourly broadcasts of the HD testcard, nicknamed Test Card X, overlaid with a BLITS audio test signal which allowed users to test and adjust their picture quality and position and the quality of their surround sound respectively.[50] Equally, an audio visual synchronization animation was also broadcast hourly.[50]

The channel's presentation was unique from the other BBC channels and used its own style of programme idents and trailers. The channel originally used an ident that featured a diamond shape falling backwards down a stream before exploding to several more diamond shapes before taking its place back where it started to be back-lit over an announcement.[51] These were used until 2009 when the presentation changed to a style featuring an ordinary scene which would become extraordinary when viewed through a rotating diamond shape.[51] An example of this was a cat chasing pigeons that was seen as a lion when looked through the diamond shape.[51][52] Original programme trailers and slides used the back-lit diamond shape as a base, while the 2009 versions used bright colours and textures inspired from the idents, for example the picnic blanket from the cat ident.[51]


The channel's programmes were sourced from every BBC channel and were of a mixed genre. The channel would only broadcast productions made in high definition and would not upscale any programmes from standard definition for use on the channel - in contrast to the BBC One HD and BBC Two HD simulcast services. Any individual programme could contain of up to 25 per cent non-HD material converted from SD, for example archive shots in a documentary. Some high definition recording formats like HDV as well as some film formats like 16 mm are considered by BBC to be "non-HD".[53] As many of the BBC's top productions were made in HD from soon after the channel launched, many of these productions were broadcast on the station at some point.

Live events

The channel had broadcast several live and significant events in HD. Sporting events include the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the Australian Open and French Open from 2009, the FIFA World Cup 2006 and 2010, the Euro 2008 Championships, the US Masters golf, Open Golf, England football internationals, action from the FA Cup and Six Nations rugby. The channel also broadcast the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics. For the latter, the channel simulcast BBC Three's Olympic coverage and broadcast some of BBC Two's content in HD late at night, time permitting. In 2008, BBC Sport officials indicated that they hoped to offer all of their output in HD by 2012, based on the availability of global feeds and planned new studios or HD-friendly renovations in London and Manchester.[54]

Non sport broadcast include simulcasts of The Proms, the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the 2009 United States presidential inauguration and coverage of the 2010 United Kingdom General Election


The channel also aired select CBBC and CBeebies shows, a schedule in 2010 shows:

14:00 Waybuloo (CBeebies)

14:20 Jungle Book (CBBC)

14:30 Jungle Book (CBBC)

14:45 Something Special (CBeebies)

15:05 Waybuloo (CBeebies)

15:25 Driver Dan's Story Train (CBeebies)

15:35 Copycats (CBBC)

See also


  1. ^ a b c "BBC cuts: nearly 2,000 jobs to go". 6 October 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b Pryde, Alix (19 March 2013). "Hello BBC Two HD; Goodbye BBC HD". About the BBC Blog. BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  3. ^ "BBC to trial High Definition broadcasts in 2006". Press Office. BBC. 8 November 2005. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  4. ^ "BBC Trust HDTV public value test final conclusions". BBC Trust. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  5. ^ "High Definition television (HDTV)". BBC Trust. 14 November 2007. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  6. ^ "What is HD?". BBC. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  7. ^ Limbert, Chrichton (22 February 2006). "High definition vision". Newswatch. BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC One goes high definition". BBC Trust. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b "BBC One HD to launch Autumn 2010". BBC. 28 May 2010.
  10. ^ "BBC One HD Channel to launch 3 November and EastEnders to go HD on Christmas Day". BBC. 21 October 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Wimbledon finals to be first 3D broadcasts on BBC". BBC Sport. 7 June 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Strictly final to screen in 3D". Broadband TV News. 2 August 2011.
  13. ^ a b "BBC confirms 3D coverage plans for London 2012 Olympic Games". BBC. 15 February 2012.
  14. ^ "Wimbledon goes multi-platform with the BBC". Digital Spy. 19 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Planet Dinosaurs Ultimate Killers in 3D". BBC. 14 August 2012.
  16. ^ "A 'Summer of 3D' on the BBC". BBC - Media Centre. 4 July 2012.
  17. ^ "BBC HD Channel To Simulcast Queen's Christmas Speech & New Drama Mr Stink In 3D". HDTVTest. 21 December 2012.
  18. ^ Laughlin, Andrew (14 July 2011). "BBC HD boss Danielle Nagler quits". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  19. ^ a b "Danielle Nagler to leave BBC". Ariel. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  20. ^ "BBC HD is NOT ..." What Satellite and Digital TV. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Delivering Quality First: Public Consultation - Section 2: Television". BBC Trust. 6 October 2011. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Delivering Quality First Final Conclusions" (PDF). BBC Trust. 15 May 2012.
  23. ^ "BBC - Media Centre - BBC Two HD Channel to launch 26 March". BBC Online. 19 February 2013.
  24. ^ "BBC announces timetable for Freeview HD signal availability". BBC. 16 November 2009.
  25. ^ "UPC Ireland introduces HD". Broadband TV News. 5 August 2010.
  26. ^ "BBC HD added to Sky ROI EPG". The Airwaves. 27 April 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
  27. ^ a b "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: So Many Tests, and Thanks for All the Recommendations (Or the BBC and the EBU)". BBC. 8 December 2009.
  28. ^ "BBC One is going High Definition". BBC. 28 May 2010.
  29. ^ "Changes to BBC HD channels on satellite on 6th June". BBC. 2 June 2011.
  30. ^ "Software upgrade for BBC HD on Freeview". BBC R&D Website. 5 April 2011.
  31. ^ "BBC experiments with 1080p broadcasts on Freeview HD - but viewers complain of audio dropouts". What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision. 20 May 2011.
  32. ^ "Picture Quality on BBC HD: a response". BBC. 17 September 2009.
  33. ^ "A day in the life of the Head of BBC HD". BBC. 30 October 2009.
  34. ^ "Points of View and HD Picture Quality: a response". BBC. 13 November 2009.
  35. ^ "BBC's Keating speaks on BBC HD bitrates". Digital Spy. 26 November 2009.
  36. ^ "Freesat 'backs BBC HD picture quality'". Digital Spy. 1 December 2009.
  37. ^ "BBC HD Picture Quality: some myths laid to rest". BBC. 12 December 2009.
  38. ^ "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: And Another Test...(Or PSNR and all that...) Post 86". BBC. 11 December 2009.
  39. ^ "Freeview HD goes live". Register Hardware. 3 December 2009.
  40. ^ "BBC's Quested talks EBU recommendations". Digital Spy. 8 December 2009.
  41. ^ "BBC High Definition service draws complaints". BBC News. 16 December 2009.
  42. ^ "BBC HD picture quality petition launches". Digital Spy. 30 December 2009.
  43. ^ "Which? backs BBC HD's picture quality". Digital Spy. 29 December 2009.
  44. ^ "BBC HD quality definition draws criticism from viewers". informitv. 11 December 2009. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012.
  45. ^ "BBC HD quality campaign to meet BBC". Digital Spy. 30 April 2010.
  46. ^ "Picture Quality on BBC HD: a Viewers' Group Visit (part 1)". BBC. 4 June 2010.
  47. ^ "BBC boosts HD bandwidth and quality". What Satellite & Digital TV. 18 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 June 2010.
  48. ^ "Gearing up to deliver Wimbledon 3D". BBC Internet Blog. 7 June 2011.
  49. ^ "Different ways to listen and watch the BBC's Olympics 2012 coverage". BBC. 24 July 2012.
  50. ^ a b Quested, Andy (17 December 2008). "A Christmas Present from the HD Channel!". BBC Internet Blog. BBC. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  51. ^ a b c d "BBC HD". TVARK: The Online Television Museum. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  52. ^ "BBC HD Ident". BBC Idents. BBC. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  53. ^ "Technical Standards for Delivery of Television Programmes to BBC Worldwide" (PDF). BBC Guidelines. BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  54. ^ BBC - Sport Editors: Plenty to look forward to in 2009 Archived 15 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine

External links

BBC Entertainment

BBC Entertainment is an international television channel broadcasting comedy, drama, light entertainment, reality and children's programming (some regions only) from the BBC, Channel 4 and other UK production houses. The channel broadcasts regional versions to suit local demands and replaced BBC Prime. It is wholly owned by BBC Studios.

BBC HD (international)

BBC HD is an international high-definition television channel provided by BBC Studios. In many countries the channel has been replaced by other BBC Studios operations. At present, the channel is only available in Turkey, selected cruise ships and within the maritime industry.

It first launched in Australia. An Australian version of BBC HD was broadcast on the Foxtel HD+ service which was made available to subscribers on 2 June 2008 and was officially launched on 22 June 2008. On 15 November 2009 it was replaced on Foxtel HD+ by UKTV HD.

During the first broadcast of BBC World News America, it was announced that BBC America HD would be launched in 2008. However, the HD version did not begin broadcasting until 20 July 2009.BBC HD started broadcasting to the Scandinavian countries in 2008. A localised Latin American feed started in 2011. In 2012 a Brazilian feed was created, though later that year, the Brazilian feed merged with that for the rest of the region, with separate audio and subtitle channels.

It was launched in Romania on 31 December 2010, but closed on 6 August 2013.

BBC First replaced BBC HD in Poland on 26 October 2018.

BBC Japan

BBC Japan was a television channel from the BBC available via satellite in Japan. Similar in format to BBC Prime (now BBC Entertainment), BBC Japan showed such BBC programmes as Blackadder and Fawlty Towers, with many of them subtitled in Japanese.The channel launched on December 1, 2004 and was available on Sky PerfecTV! satellite channel 110 and Online TV Company's IPTV service, but ceased broadcasting less than two years later.

BBC Lifestyle

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BBC UKTV is an Australian pay television channel in Australia and New Zealand, screening British entertainment programming, sourced mainly from the archives of the BBC, RTL Group (mainly Talkback Thames material) and ITV plc. The channel was originally a joint venture with Foxtel (60% ownership), the RTL Group (20% ownership) and BBC Worldwide (20% ownership). It is now owned solely by BBC Studios. It is the home of the channel's flagship programme The Graham Norton Show.


CBBC (short for Children's BBC) is a British children's television brand owned by the BBC and aimed for children aged from 6 to 15. BBC programming aimed at under six-year-old children is broadcast on the CBeebies channel. CBBC broadcasts from 7 am to 9 pm on CBBC Channel.

The CBBC brand was used for the broadcast of children's programmes on BBC One on weekday afternoons and on BBC Two mornings until these strands were phased out in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as part of the BBC's "Delivering Quality First" cost-cutting initiative.. CBBC programmes were also broadcast in high definition alongside other BBC content on BBC HD, generally at afternoons on weekends, unless the channel was covering other events. This ended when BBC HD closed on 26 March 2013, but CBBC HD launched on 10 December 2013. CBBC programming returned to BBC Two on Saturday mornings in September 2017 when Saturday Mash-Up! launched, however this strand continues to use the regular BBC continuity announcers and not the CBBC presenters. BBC-produced children's programming, in native languages of Scotland and Wales, also airs on BBC Alba and S4C respectively.

Casualty 1900s

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It places the viewer in the Receiving Room of the London Hospital, in London's East End. The drama is shot with the pace and action of its modern-day counterpart A&E (ER in U.S.). Every case and character is based on real cases, characters and events taken from the hospital records, nurses' ward diaries, and memoirs.

It began with a single episode of Casualty 1906, followed by three episodes of Casualty 1907, and six episodes of Casualty 1909.

Digital television in the United Kingdom

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Great Barrier Reef (TV series)

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High-definition television in the United Kingdom

High-definition television in the United Kingdom is available via cable, IPTV, satellite and terrestrial television. The first high-definition broadcasts began in 2006 and since then the number of channels available to view has grown to a maximum of 87 that can be viewed on pay-TV service, Sky.The majority of channels in the United Kingdom remain broadcast, and largely viewed, in standard-definition but most major broadcasters have begun or are soon beginning their initial forays into high-definition television. Similarly, the vast majority of viewing still takes place in standard-definition though penetration of high-definition displays and receivers is increasing.

High-definition broadcasts are available on satellite services: Freesat, Freesat from Sky and Sky; cable services Smallworld Cable and Virgin TV and terrestrial Freeview HD.

List of Top Gear episodes

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For its first series, the show was presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and Jason Dawe, with support from anonymous race driver, The Stig. After the first series, Dawe was replaced by James May. After the twenty-second series, the line-up was changed after the departure of Clarkson, Hammond and May, in which Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc took over as the main hosts, with a team of co-presenters consisting of Chris Harris, Rory Reid, Eddie Jordan and Sabine Schmitz. After the twenty-third series, Evans departed from the show, leading to LeBlanc being joined by Harris and Reid as the main hosts, with occasional appearances from Jordan and Schmitz. LeBlanc is set to depart the show following the twenty-sixth series in 2019.The following is a list of episodes, listed in order of their original UK air date along with featured cars, challenges, and guests. For more information on features and challenges included in each series, visit each series' respective page. Comprehensive lists of challenges and races can be found at Top Gear challenges and Top Gear Races. The list does not include the following episodes: two shorter episodes produced for charity - Top Gear of the Pops, produced for Red Nose Day, and Top Ground Gear Force, produced for Sport Relief; and an Ashes to Ashes parody for BBC Children in Need.

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Norton Went On Hiatus in 2012 for Superstar same went for the BBC.

Following a public telephone vote, 18-year-old Danielle Hope was crowned the winner of the series and was chosen to play Dorothy. Miniature Schnauzer Dangerous Dave was chosen to play Toto.

A Canadian version of the show aired on CBC Television in the autumn of 2012.

That Mitchell and Webb Look

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Many of its characters and sketches were first featured in the duo's radio show That Mitchell and Webb Sound. First aired on 14 September 2006, a second series was commissioned later that same year and shown between 21 February and 27 March 2008. The third series began on 11 June 2009. Since the second series, the production has also been broadcast on BBC HD. The first series won a BAFTA award in 2007. The third series started airing on BBC America on 14 April 2010. The fourth series premiered on BBC Two and BBC HD on 13 July 2010 with a total of six episodes commissioned by the BBC. In a November 2011 interview, Webb stated that there are no plans for another series and added that "you'd have to ask the BBC" about further series.

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In the episode, the Eleventh Doctor—a time travelling alien played by Matt Smith—and his new companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) arrive in the distant future aboard the Starship UK, a ship constructed to transport the population and major cultural artefacts of the United Kingdom (except Scotland, who "wanted their own ship") away from Earth to escape the deadly solar flares that made Earth uninhabitable. However, they discover that the government of the ship secretly tortures a Star Whale that guides the ship, the abandonment of which is believed will destroy the ship and kill everyone on board.

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The nineteenth series of Top Gear was aired during 2013 on BBC Two and BBC HD, beginning on 27 January and concluding on 24 February. It was subsequently followed by a two part special entitled "Africa Special", the first part airing on 3 March 2013, and the second airing a week later on 10 March.

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The series forms part of the Natural History Unit's "Continents" strand. It was preceded by Madagascar in 2011 and followed by Wild Brazil in 2014.

The series premiered in Australia on 19 July 2015 on Nat Geo Wild.

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