Smug British Superiority in Broadcast Automation

So this morning as I was watching some clips from BBC News I came across the ever famous top of the hour countdown displayed on BBC News.  I always thought it was just some countdown to fill odd space between local commercials from a cable provider and BBC taking over.  Then I noticed the countdown was a bit odd.  Instead of displaying fractions of a second the part where normally fractions of a second were put in a countdown started at Seconds:24 and went to  Seconds:0.

Below you can see a complete countdown for the top of the hour along with the top of the hour headlines.

I did some looking around online and could find the original videos you can see one of them below.

After watching the different versions over and over again and then downloading it and looking at it frame by frame I realized the countdown is actually two seperate things.  The first number is the number of seconds left on the clock, the second number after the : is the frame number for that second.

So whats with the music.  If you notice its the same hertz tone every second until the time hits 9 seconds and then the hertz tone changes to a bit of a higher frequency.  Clearly its some sort of automated system.  I remember a couple of times seeing countdowns like this on TV when someone at Master Control on a TV station falls asleep and in older movies… a recreation of that is below.

The BBC decided to have an orchestra to do the tones, because you know BBC has its own orchestra the BBC Orchestra

So basically instead of just using a normal timecode video like most broadcast networks do which typically displays a timer, the network logo and a ticking clock BBC has to display the British smug attitude and produce several videos and have an orchestra to make some music with the tones.  Just so your cable network can make sure its got the sync between audio and video.  Thats the smug British superiority attitude.

The BBC Countdown has become quite famous over the years and has had tribute paid to it by Musicians


Spent a couple hours on that this morning…


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