To mark the BBC's centenary, and some of the biggest names in TV reflect on the broadcaster's impact and incredible legacy.


We speak to David Tennant about the importance of the BBC when it comes to our "distinctive" voice as a nation and Miranda Hart praises comedy giants Morecambe and Wise.

Chris Kamara reflects on one of the most iconic moments in sports broadcasting history and Stephen Merchant remembers the origins of the hit BBC comedy The Office.

From Stargazing Live to Doctor Who, and Children in Need to The Goodies, celebrate 100 years of the BBC with us.

The BBC is one of the few things that gives our nation a distinctive voice.
David Tennant

David Tennant (Inside Man, Doctor Who)

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"I got to be in the final night of the TV Centre, as it was, before it got regenerated. That felt like a very important night. That building has been through so much – it’s basically dripped in all our cultural history. It’s still there of course, and they still make shows there, but there’s something about that building. We grew up watching it, it was like the backdrop to Record Breakers and Blue Peter – it’s just part of the cultural furniture of the nation, as is the BBC itself.

"It’s one of these things that we tinker with at our peril, I would say. To me, the BBC is one of the few things that gives our nation the distinctive voice that it has once enjoyed! It’s something that we have to cling onto with white knuckles to preserve."

Charlotte Moore (Chief Content Officer, BBC)

"Like so many of us, my world was very much shaped by watching the BBC as a kid. The films and the shows that really affected my career were watching The Trials of Life and shows like Life on Earth – The World About Us in my childhood. And it was really where there were windows into the world and there you were, in your own bubble of life. It was where I got an appetite to want to go into television in the first place.

"For so many children, so many young people, I do think those shows allowed you to realise the whole world beyond your front door, and beyond the life that we all lived. Those, for me, were shows that made me want to go into television in the first place. And then of course cut to many years later, you end up finding yourself working with David Attenborough... it was like a dream come true."

David Bradley as William Hartnell and Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert in Doctor Who's An Adventure in Space and Time
An Adventure in Space and Time. BBC

Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Dracula)

"Doctor Who is my first TV memory – making An Adventure in Space and Time, nearly 10 years ago, for the 50th was a really special thing. That was also a love letter to the BBC as well, the TV Centre, and everything I’ve always loved about it as an institution.

"There’s honestly too many [highlights] to mention. The BBC remains the most incredible thing; it’s like the fabric of everyone’s lives in the United Kingdom. I know it’s a cliché to say, but it’s absolutely true – we turn to it in times of trouble, we turn to it for news and wisdom, and above all else, for our entertainment! It’s an incredible institution, and god bless it for 100 years."

Helen Daly (Associate Editor,

"If there’s one thing that’s a staple in my household, it’s the soaps – especially EastEnders. While the soap is full of drama and intrigue all year round, it’s Christmas I always look forward to. EastEnders always goes above and beyond during the festive period to deliver explosive action – and I just love it. A real staple of Christmas and showcases what the BBC does best."

Chris Kamara (Kammy & Ben's Proper Football Podcast)

"I am old so I remember when England won the World Cup and Kenneth Wolstenholme shouted, 'It's you know, Geoff Hurst's third and final goal, they think is all over – it is now.' The best bit of telly ever."

England win the 1966 World Cup.

Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, Then Barbara Met Alan)

"I spent most of my childhood and teenage years trying to watch the maximum amount of television possible. For me, my BBC teachers were Jack Rosenthal, Caroline Aherne, Alan Bleasdale, Jeanette Winterson, Jean Marsh, Eileen Atkins, Peter Flannery and Tony Marchant.

"I know exactly where I sat watching Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Our Friends in the North, Goodbye Cruel World, and Boys from the Blackstuff. Growing up in a small town, the box in the corner of the room was my TARDIS and I loved it for it."

Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders)

"The BBC has always been very good for me. I love the way they work; I love the way they leave you alone creatively. I do a lot of work in the States and that's great, but when you work with the BBC they just let you do it, which is wonderful.

"I started pretty much at the BBC with Jasper Carrott and The Detectives, so The Detectives is a very fond memory for me. It's lost and forgotten now but if people ever get a chance to watch old episodes, it's really good.

"And the big moments – the 1966 World Cup final, watching on the BBC – the landmarks in one's life. I'm a big supporter of it because I think people don't realise what they've got in the BBC; it is an absolute national treasure. It's our big brand, I think. The streamers have come along quite recently but BBC is still, I think, the authority in the world of television. I just couldn't be more fond of and loyal to the BBC."

Morgan Jeffery (Executive Editor,

"The BBC might not be a perfect institution, but in 2003, it owned one of its biggest mistakes when it green-lit new episodes of Doctor Who, 14 years after the once-legendary sci-fi series had been allowed to dematerialise from our screens. Reviving the show, and doing so with such energy, imagination and colour that it appealed not just to the hardcore but captured the imaginations of a whole new generation, is perhaps my absolute favourite thing that the Beeb has done in its 100-year history."

Ariana Grande performing at One Love Manchester
Ariana Grande performing at One Love Manchester. Getty

Ore Oduba (BBC Sport, Strictly Come Dancing)

"Creating moments of telly that go right to the heart of the nation has been the cornerstone of the BBC for the last 100 years. I’ve been lucky to be part of a few but to host One Love Manchester on BBC One – a once-in-a-lifetime global concert featuring some of the biggest names in music – just days after one of the greatest tragedies in recent memory was overwhelming, heartbreaking and yet totally inspiring.

"I remember standing in our studio position, above 55,000 people at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, broadcasting to a TV audience of 18 million as Ariana Grande sang One Last Time to the world. It was one of the most powerful moments I’ve witnessed in my life."

Abby Robinson (Drama Editor,

"From I May Destroy You to Happy Valley to Fleabag to Luther to Time to Normal People to The Office (I could go on and on and on), the BBC has consistently delivered some of the very best drama and comedy in the world. The hours of storytelling I’ve gobbled up across its platforms have enriched my life immensely, through both pure entertainment and a willingness to tackle challenging subjects that kickstart vital conversations and change right here in the real world. Here’s to the next 100 years!"

Michaela Coel in I May Destroy You. BBC

Shem Law (Co-Editor, Radio Times)

"Colditz, BBC One, 1972: This was what passed for 'must-watch' TV back in those days. The daring escape attempts discussed in much detail in form rooms up and down the country on a Friday morning after the Thursday night airings. Doctor Who was something that you might look forward to on a Saturday but it wasn’t a true story like this.

"I suppose a drama about being incarcerated all day, eating bad food and dreaming of escape spoke to the pupils at secondary moderns nationwide; it certainly did at mine. We even started dressing like the POW’s (I bought a black civil defence blouson from the army surplus shop in town, which my mother reluctantly sewed my blazer badge onto, and a white rollneck sweater. Many detentions later, I was forced back into a tie and a shirt.) We even started a tunnel under the stage in the main hall, but we didn’t get down very far before deciding it was far too much like hard work.

"Never before or since, I might add, has a BBC TV drama had that sort of effect on me (though I understand there was a Peaky Blinders fashion craze in schools not so long ago). Most kids in my school wanted to be Allan Clarke or Peter Osgood; I just wanted to be David McCallum."

I couldn't be more fond of and loyal to the BBC.
Steven Knight, Peaky Blinders creator

Hamza Yassin (Strictly Come Dancing, Countryfile)

"For me, [it's] Attenborough with the gorillas. For sure."

Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call the Midwife)

"Watching Morecambe and Wise aged seven and deciding my life’s aim was to 'be silly' like them was my most vital, joyful, and inspiring television experience. Yet I never would have believed that 30 years later I could be in the same iconic BBC studio recording my own sitcom. During one recording I had to wipe away a tear that my comedy heroes had trod the same floor. I will be forever grateful and proud to be part of BBC comedy history, particularly the sitcom tradition of recording in front of an audience."

Morecambe and Wise
Morecambe and Wise. BBC Studios

Shane Richie (EastEnders)

"My fondest memory of Saturday mornings was Noel Edmonds's Swap Shop. Every Saturday I’d rush back and watch it and pray that Noel Edmonds ended up in North West London. Sadly he didn’t ever come to Harlesden but I was always happy to swap an Action Man for a Six Million Dollar Man - that was one of my first memories of the BBC. Then I finally got to meet Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin and I asked them if I could swap an Action Man for a Six Million Dollar Man – they didn’t find it funny!"

George Webster (CBeebies)

"When I was really little, I always loved watching the Tweenies and listening to the Tweenies tapes. I would listen to the tapes every afternoon and throw all my balls out of my playcot. Then I would go straight to sleep.

"When I went to CBeebies for my screen test, I walked down the corridor and I saw all the pictures of the presenters. It was so cool. One of my favourite TV shows on the BBC is Casualty. Recently, I was filming for an episode which was another dream come true. I feel very honoured and privileged to be part of the Casualty family. Afterwards, I went to the summer party to celebrate the filming and Will [Beck] who plays Dylan was being the DJ and George [Rainsford] who plays Ethan did an amazing speech."

Lauren Morris (Entertainment and Factual Writer,

"David Tennant’s four-year stint on Doctor Who made my childhood, with the converse-wearing Time Lord becoming my first proper celebrity crush. Weeping Angels and Cybermen may have haunted my nightmares, but it was worth it. Thanks BBC (and RTD)!"

Stargazing Live is an example of what the BBC, and only the BBC, can do very well.
Armando Iannucci, writer and director

Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, The Day Today)

"BBC Two’s Stargazing Live always stood out for me as an example of what the BBC, and only the BBC, can do very well. 90-minute shows, scheduled live each evening across a week, getting the country involved in science and astronomy. Hosted by Dara Ó Briain and Brian Cox, bringing fan bases across entertainment and factual together, utilising the BBC’s Outside Broadcast units across the country, plugging in the knowledgeable presenting team from The Sky at Night, and making entertaining, thoughtful television to enthuse a national audience. Brilliant.

"I chose it as my example of what the BBC does best in my MacTaggart Lecture of 2015 defending the BBC against political opposition. Alas, not long after, the show was one of the first casualties of forced cuts to the BBC budget. Why successive governments attack and harry this great institution, which commands so much respect for us around the world, I struggle to understand."

Rochelle Humes (The Hit List, Children in Need)

"For me, Children in Need is such a showcase of what the BBC do so well. I've been fortunate enough to be part of the presenting team on that show. When I think BBC, I think Children in Need – that's part of their legacy, right?"

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker meets young fan Anna on Children in Need.

Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)

"When I got the [Doctor Who] job, I was travelling through Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express when the train stopped at the station in Siberia. I got out to stretch my legs and was greeted by a Dalek. If you go to Hanoi, there's a cafe there with a TARDIS on the roof. In Brazil, they know of Doctor Who – in Manaus, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest... Extraordinary."

Stephen Merchant (The Office, The Outlaws)

"I was a young BBC trainee and, as part of a lesson on TV directing, I had to make an instructional film about how to wash a car. The next exercise was to make a short documentary. Instead, I made a fake documentary with my friend, Ricky Gervais. I still have the tape. The label reads: 1. How to wash a car. 2. The Office."

The Office
The Office stars Ricky Gervais and Mackenzie Crook. BBC

Gethin Jones (Morning Live, Blue Peter)

"As a Blue Peter presenter, I completed the 30-mile Royal Marine Commando Yomp, the final test standing between Royal Marine recruits and a green beret. The toughest challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I finished it, in bits, just outside the eight hours. A nine-year-old viewer called Millie was so upset I didn’t get my beret, she decided to knit me one. She made it to the scale of my head on her television screen, embroidered with a tiny Blue Peter badge! I still have it. A reminder of the power of television, and the effect it can have on audiences of all ages!"

Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who, Torchwood)

"It’s the TV comedies that got me early. First, the fizzing, endlessly inventive chaos of The Goodies. They were the gateway drug. Then, sneaking into my parents' bedroom, in the late 1970s, after my bedtime but before theirs, to watch forbidden 9 o'clock BBC Two comedies on a black and white portable TV: repeats of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, new episodes of Fawlty Towers, Ripping Yarns, and Not the Nine O’Clock News. All of them slightly forbidden, deeply iconoclastic, unsuitable for an eight-year-old. I had to laugh quietly, so my parents downstairs didn’t hear, didn’t realise I was still up. God I loved them all, and still do."

Blackadder 2 cemented my love of comedy, great writing and performance.
Tim Key, producer

Liz Bonnin (Bang Goes the Theory, Stargazing Live)

"The BBC’s outstanding natural history programming inspired me to study wild animal biology and conservation, and I’ve since been lucky enough to experience the exceptional talent behind these broadcasts for myself. When our team set out to make Big Blue Live, with a goal to capture humpbacks, great white sharks and blue whales live, we were all painfully aware of the scale of ambition and our chances of success.

"But the passion, dedication and expertise of the team that came together that year (not least the engineering team that pushed their equipment to the very limits of their capabilities to capture a magnificent blue whale in the final show), along with the sheer will to succeed, allowed us to showcase the natural world in a bold and exciting way - something that will stay with me forever."

Tim Key (Death in Paradise, Waterloo Road)

"Choosing just one moment from everything I’ve loved on the BBC throughout my life is completely impossible, so I’m going to ignore all of the important world events and go instead for Blackadder 2. I was beyond excited that there was going to be a second season and eagerly awaited the premiere. It cemented my love of comedy, great writing and performance and I think it just connected with me at the exact right moment. I recorded the entire series on VHS and would watch it again and again. I still love it now - it has aged very well!"

For what to watch, visit our TV Guide.


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