CBeebies is a BBC television network for programming aimed at encouraging "learning through play in a consistently safe environment for children aged 8 or under", and providing "high quality, mostly UK-produced programmes".
The name is used to brand the free-to-air domestic British channel, and is used for international variants supported by advertising, subscription or both. The channel was first launched in 2002.
The channel has won a number of awards. At the BAFTA Children's Awards, it won awards in 2002 and in every year between 2002 and 2015, including "Best Pre-school Live Action Series" in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008. It has additionally won "Best Schools Programme – 0–6 years" awards (or equivalent) from the Royal Television Society from 2002 to 2005. CBeebies is the most-watched children's channel in the UK. CBeebies HD officially launched on 10 December 2013.
The CBeebies channel launched on 11 February 2002. The domestic CBeebies channel broadcasts from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day– a result of the channel sharing bandwidth with the channel BBC Four on the Freeview platform. The station was joined later on by an audio counterpart, CBeebies Radio, which broadcast for three hours each day on the radio station BBC Radio 7, however after the station was rebranded as BBC Radio 4 Extra this obligation has ceased. Later on they launched a weekly publication called CBeebies Weekly.
Since 27 March 2013, CBeebies has been carried by the British Forces Broadcasting Service, sharing a channel with BFBS Extra.
The international CBeebies channel is advert-free and wholly owned by BBC Worldwide. The first international launch for the CBeebies channel was in India in May 2007, although the channel was withdrawn at the end of November 2012 due to "commercial considerations".
The channel is available in the Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Poland, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Africa, Australia, and the United States (in Spanish only). In March 2011, the on demand version of the network was launched in the US and is available on Xfinity.
On 13 May 2011, CBeebies was launched as a programme block on BBC Kids in Canada, available on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., serving a similar schedule to the main channel.
In the UK, CBeebies is operated by the BBC Children's division and part of BBC North. The division is additionally responsible for CBBC and overall strategic responsibility for all of the BBC's domestic services for children rests with the Director of Children's, Alice Webb (since 2015). The direction of the domestic CBeebies channel itself rests with Kay Benbow, the current Controller of the channel and responsible for commissioning all CBeebies content across BBC television, online, interactive TV, and radio. She took over from the first controller Michael Carrington in 2010.
Internationally, CBeebies is owned by BBC Worldwide, who operate the brand.
CBeebies offers a mix of mostly UK-produced entertainment and educational output designed to encourage learning through play. These goals are realised through a range of programmes about simple science, natural history, music and movement, storytelling, make up and make do, puzzle programmes and animation. The channel's schedule is deliberately the same every weekday, with a different schedule at weekends, so that children can know what's on instinctively. The schedule additionally includes signed programmes, shown in the UK between 14:00 and 17:00 on weekends.
The international channels additionally show a large number of programmes broadcast on the UK channel, however a few include programmes unique to that service or are available through additional networks in the UK (for example, Humf, which airs on Nick Jr. in the UK). Inversely however, shows that air on CBeebies in the UK might air on networks additional than CBeebies worldwide (for example, Chuggington airs on Disney Junior Asia instead of CBeebies in the Asian region). Also, the international CBeebies airs 24 hours a day, unlike the UK variant.
Most viewed programmes
The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on CBeebies, based on Live +7 data supplied by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
|1||CBeebies Christmas Panto||Strictly Cinderella||16 December 2011||1,158,000|
|2||The Clangers||The Lost Notes||15 June 2015||967,000|
|3||CBeebies Christmas Panto||Alice in Wonderland||18 December 2015||929,000|
|4||CBeebies Christmas Panto||Peter Pan||20 December 2014||854,000|
|5||CBeebies Christmas Panto||Peter Pan||19 December 2014||844,000|
|6||The Octonauts||A Very Vegimals Christmas||17 December 2013||806,000|
|7||Justin's House||All Wrapped Up||15 December 2011||800,000|
|8||CBeebies Pantomime||Aladdin||17 December 2010||785,000|
|9||CBeebies Christmas Panto||Jack and the Beanstalk||21 December 2012||782,000|
|10||Justin's House||Robert's Inventions||16 October 2011||744,000|
The links between programmes on CBeebies are primarily achieved through the use of in-vision continuity, using presenters to interact with the children. In the UK, links are pre-recorded rather than broadcast live, as is the case on sister channel CBBC. They were originally pre recorded from studio TC0 at BBC Television Centre in London, however moved out in 2008 to Teddington Studios, and returned briefly in 2010. From September 2011, the links have been based at the BBC's Northern base at MediaCityUK in Salford, Greater Manchester, following the move of the BBC Children's department there. International variants feature broadcast links produced either in the corresponding country, or from a central base.
Logos and idents
As well as hosting a few of the shows, a number of presenters fill the gaps between the CBeebies shows, performing little sketches, showing viewers' birthday cards, and introducing the shows. Many of the presenters used to have histories as characters on additional services or on children's programmes.
In the UK, presenters seen on the channel and the stranded service are:
- Andy Day (2007–present)
- Cerrie Burnell (2009–present)
- Cat Sandion (2013–present)
- Rebecca Keatley (2014–present)
- Ben Cajee (2015–present)
- Sue Monroe (2002- 2006)
- Nicole Davis (2003-2006)
- Justin Fletcher (2006- 2007)
- Sarah-Jane Honeywell (2006-2007)
- Eva Alexander (2006,)
- Chris Jarvis (2002-2009)
- Pui Fan Lee (2002-2009)
- Sidney Sloane (2002-2013)
- Alex Winters (2009 - 2015)
- Katy Ashworth (2011-2016)
The longest serving member is Sloane who introduced the programmes, along with most of the additional presenters, for just over a decade (11 years).
The international variants feature different personalities per broadcast region. In Australia, Tara Colegrave is the main presenter after 2008, while in Hong Kong and Singapore Nisha Anil is the main presenter. The Latin American variant uses Roser Cabañas, present on-screen after 2009, with the Polish channel showcasing Aneta Bożena Piotrowska as main presenter after 2008. From November 2014 to June 2015, Aneta additionally appeared as a continuity presenter in the UK. On 24 April 2016, Aneta resumed presenting duties in the UK. The South African channel utilises Sidney Sloane.
In the UK, the CBeebies channel uses stranded segments throughout the day.
From 3 April 2004 to early 2006, each weekend was divided into six segments; five of which presented by one of the original five "core presenters" namely Chris Jarvis, Nicole Davis, Pui Fan Lee, Sid Sloane and Sue Monroe. Each was given a core theme (for instance Sid's segment included "building and making" programmes such as Bob the Builder, Sue's included arts and crafts theme programmes and so on). This went on until 6:00 p.m., where a segment titled The Bedtime Hour was aired. This segmentation was later dispensed in 2006 when Sue Monroe and Nicole Davis left with only the Bedtime Hour segment retained.
The five sections, ran from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. included the following:
- Pui's Exploring Hour (Red Room), with programmes such as Come Outside, Teletubbies Everywhere, Bits and Bobs, and Fab Lab
- Sid's Fix-It Hour (Green Room), with programmes such as Bob the Builder, Brum, Fireman Sam, Postman Pat, Dr Otter and Little Robots
- Chris's Singalong Hour (Blue Room), with programmes such as Tweenies, Zingalong, Balamory and Boogie Beebies.
- Sue's Make and Do Hour (Pink Room), with programmes such as SMarteenies, Tikkabilla, Pingu, Big Cook Little Cook and Doodle Do
- Nicole's Furry Friends Hour (Orange Room), with programmes such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Barnaby Bear, Binka, The Magic Key, Angelmouse, Yoko Jakamoko Toto, and The Koala Brothers
Note: Boogie Beebies didn't broadcast on Chris Singalong Hour until October 2004.Yoko Jakamoko Toto didn't broadcast throughout Nicole's Fury Friends Hour until 2005 when BBC commissned the programme from ITV. Plus Doodle Do wasn't on CBeebies until 30 January 2006 and was on only on Sue's Make and Do Hour for only three weeks until both Sue and Nicole left at the end of February 2006 and the segments were dropped.
In March 2007, the segments were revived and modified to denote the time of day and the levels of activity. These segments are:
- Ready, Get, Set, Go! – Early Morning schedule between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Includes programmes such as Tikkabilla, Pingu, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Tweenies, Everything's Rosie, Chuggington, Octonauts, Messy Goes to Okido, and The Furchester Hotel.
- Let's Discover and Do! – Late Morning and Early Afternoon weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The strand is aimed at young children who wouldn't be attending school or pre-school. It often contains programmes that give a learning opportunity to viewers, such as Numberjacks, Alphablocks, The Numtums, Mr Bloom's Nursery, Something Special, Melody or Mister Maker.. Between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., a section called Lunch Time is aired.
- It's Big Fun Time – Late afternoon weekdays between 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. This strand aims at the higher end of its remit, airing programming for the children who have recently returned from school. Programs include Nina and the Neurons, LazyTown, Tree Fu Tom, Rastamouse, Rainbow Ruby and Peter Rabbit.
- The Bedtime Hour – The final hour of CBeebies broadcasting between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The original stranded section of the channel, Bedtime Hour features calm-natured programmes, such as In the Night Garden..., 3rd & Bird, 64 Zoo Lane, Waybuloo, Charlie and Lola, Clangers and Old Jack's Boat with storey telling both within and out of the programmes and closes with a final song, which is called "The Time Has Come to Say Goodnight", as the transmission closes and it goes over to BBC Four.
When these segments were initially introduced, each segment featured its own presenting team and set, with Chris Jarvis and Pui Fan Lee who left in January 2009 then Alex Winters and Cerrie Burnell presenting Discover and Do in the CBeebies "living room"; Lunch Time in the "kitchen"; Bedtime Hour in the "bedroom"; Sidney Sloane and Andy Day presenting Get, Set, Go! in the "living room" and Big Fun Time in the "garage". Notwithstanding after moving production to Manchester this is no longer the case, with the exception of Bedtime Hour which is presented from the area nearest the house's bed.
While the lunchtime storey is usually read by one of the regular presenters, the final show of each day, the "Bedtime Story" is read by a guest storyteller, including well known actors, comedians, and past presenters of BBC children's television. Some notable storytellers in this slot have included Simon Pegg, David Hasselhoff, Lulu, Damian Lewis, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens, Ben Faulks, Michael Rosen and Floella Benjamin. In an unusual move, James Bolam appeared on "Bedtime Story" in costume and in character as Grandpa from Grandpa in My Pocket, not as himself.
On 16 July 2013, the BBC announced that a high-definition (HD) simulcast of CBeebies would be launched by early 2014. The channel launched on 10 December 2013, though was rolled-out nationwide up to June 2014 (as did BBC News HD and BBC Four HD). The channel broadcasts on the BBC's new HD multiplex on Freeview and shares its stream with BBC Four HD as they air at different times. Prior to launch, the majority of CBeebies' HD output was broadcast on BBC HD before its closure on 26 March 2013.
The CBeebies website coincided with the launch of the UK channel in February 2002 and showcases a child friendly site with activities themed to all CBeebies programmes, past and present, with games, songs and print-outs featuring for nearly all shows. The UK version additionally features links to CBeebies iPlayer, a child friendly version of the BBC iPlayer featuring CBeebies programmes only, to CBeebies radio player and a dedicated micro site containing advice for raising children and toddlers called CBeebies Grown-ups, which was relaunched in 2011.
The international channels are run by BBC Worldwide, and their websites are operated by the company also. As a result, not all of them are the same and a few channels have less extensive websites than additional services. CBeebies channels in Asia, Australia, Poland, South Africa and the USA all have their own international variant.
Five CBeebies-branded CDs have been released, 'CBeebies: The Official Album' in 2002, 'My CBeebies Album' in 2006, 'My CBeebies Album (Christmas Edition)' in 2007, 'CBeebies: Song Time' in 2010, and 'CBeebies: The Album' in 2012.
CBeebies Land opened in May 2014. Designed as a retheme of the previous Storybook Land and Old McDonald's Farmyard areas of the Alton Towers Resort theme park. It contains a range of themed rides, attractions as well as live entertainment based around various popular programmes. Containing various indoor and outdoor activities aimed at making an immersive and interactive world for children and young families.
The site based within Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire includes a few of the more popular characters from the original channel for guests to meet. Described as a 'fun environment for pre-schoolers to play and learn' by critics.
At the start of the year, the theme park sporadically released information on the characters involved in the development via their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- On 4 January, Mr Tumble was the first character confirmed - featuring in the Something Special Sensory Garden and 5 January saw Mr. Bloom confirmed as featuring in the development in the form of Mr Bloom's Allotments.
- On 6 January, the park revealed an In the Night Garden redesign of their existing Riverbank Eyespy. On the re-themed attraction, In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride, guests will be able to drift around the 'enchanted dreamworld'; an area that will use colours, sights and sounds to bring picture books to life. Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka and Upsy Daisy will all be on the Night Garden Island to help children appreciate the values of diversity, and enjoy the wonder in the world around them.
Stephen Gould, commercial director at DHX Media who licence In The Night Garden commented, "We are extremely excited to be working in partnership with BBC Worldwide, Merlin Entertainments and Alton Towers Resort on this new venture. In The Night Garden is the ideal draw brand to provide a fun, nurturing, inspiring and immersive environment for CBeebies Land and its visitors."
The fourth reveal on 7 January was that of Nina and the Neurons Based around the popular show which sees Nina, with the help of her animated sense Neurons, explain how and why the world around us works as it does. Nina's Science Lab will bring together the Neurons to show how they control your five senses. In a hands-on scientific attraction, children will learn how their bodies work and what they do.
The UK channel and the programmes it has broadcast have received a number of awards throughout the years. In 2002, the Cbeebies Interactive TV Services was nominated in the Best Interactive Service category and CBeebies Online was nominated in the same category in 2005 at the BAFTA Children's Awards. The channel was awarded Best Children's Channel and Highly Commended at the Broadcast Digital Channel Awards 2006, however only achieved a nomination in 2007 and 2008. The channel was additionally named Children's Channel of the Year at the BAFTA Children's awards in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013 and was nominated for Channel of the Year in 2008 and 2009
The CBeebies UK website was nominated Best Interactive Site at the 2007 BAFTA Children's awards, and the brand as a whole additionally won the Best Design and Innovation award by the Royal Television Society, whose awarding panel said "Its website is an integral part of the brand, with its TV production and online teams working together to create innovative game play and immersive web experiences."