Elec. Telegraph: BBC plans $37.5m world TV show for Millennium

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From the Electronic Telegraph:


ISSUE 1511, Thursday, 15 July 1999

BBC plans 25m pound [$37.5m] world TV show for Millennium, By Tom Leonard and Nicole Martin

A LIVE link-up with the Mir space station, a mountaintop performance by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the opening of the Blue Peter time capsule will be part of the BBC's £25 million Millennium programme.

In what it described yesterday as the "biggest, most ambitious and courageous live broadcast ever undertaken", the BBC will transmit continuously for 27 hours from around the world as dawn breaks on Jan 1.

The link-up with 58 other broadcasters will start at 10am on Dec 31 with dawn in the Caroline Islands in the Pacific. Dame Kiri will lead a Maori song for unity from the top of a New Zealand mountain at dawn. Taking in along the way such landmarks as the Great Wall of China, the Sun Temple in Peru and Stonehenge, it will end on the international date line on the Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

British coverage will include the opening of the Millennium Dome, the sun setting over Land's End and the new dawn over the White Cliffs of Dover.

The programme, 2000 Today, is one of five major Millennium projects to be shown over 18 months from this autumn. About £13 million of the overall £25 million will be spent on programmes over the three days of the Millennium. Other projects include The Century Speaks, a radio series with 6,000 people who recall their memories of the 20th century. History 2000, produced by BBC Education, will be a multi-media project recounting the history of Britain since the Roman invasion.

The single most expensive event will be a £10 million Millennium Music Live, a countrywide music festival next May that will culminate in 24 hours of live broadcasting over the late May Bank Holiday weekend next year.

BBC FutureWorld, which was launched yesterday, is an interactive exhibition giving an insight into the future of broadcasting.

Will Wyatt, chief executive of BBC broadcasts, said: "The BBC will capture the mood, create the excitement and prepare its audience for the new Millennium with the most varied and exceptional programming plan ever broadcast to mark one event."

Radio highlights will include a live Radio 2 broadcast from Bethlehem, The Archers will be embroiled in preparations for the arrival of Nigel and Lizzie Pargetter's Millennium twins and Radio 4 will look back at English as a spoken language in One Thousand Years of English, with Melvyn Bragg.

While Radio 1 will host One World, a massive dance party, the BBC will broadcast on the first Sunday of the Millennium live from church services in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. The BBC's natural history unit will show State of the Planet, in which Sir David Attenborough discusses global environmental problems, and Living Britain, a study of the countryside. Later this year the EastEnders title sequence will be changed to feature an aerial shot of the Dome.

The 1,500-strong staff who will work during the Millennium weekend will be paid a flat-rate payment of £200, with an additional £300 available for those who work between 9pm on Dec 31 and 9am on New Year's day.

The BBC dismissed speculation that an event that some viewers might consider one of its highlights - the opening of the Blue Peter capsule buried in 1971 - might not happen at all.

The lead-lined capsule, which contains a copy of the 1971 Blue Peter Annual and photographs of the programme's pets, was buried under a tree outside Television Centre in west London with the intention of being opened in 2000.

However it had to be dug up and reburied at a secret site in 1984 because of redevelopment plans, prompting speculation that nobody could remember its whereabouts. Steve Hocking, programme editor, said a map showing its exact location lay in the BBC's vaults.

It is hoped that the three presenters who buried it - Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves - will be present at the opening ceremony.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 14, 1999


Why is this making me totally sick to my stomach with anxiety?

-- Mara Wayne (MaraWAyne@aol.com), July 15, 1999.

It will be the biggest night in world history, and not because of Blue Peter.

-- number six (Iam_not_a_number@hotmail.com), July 15, 1999.

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