BBC 'Little Ben' in-vision clock

c 1953 in England

'LIttle Ben' in-vision clock, c 1953, used by the BBC in the standby studio, Lime Grove (Studio P).

When transmissions were about to finish every evening, the BBC would put out a shot of Big Ben using this model in the standby studio (Lime Grove, Studio P). According to a veteran BBC engineer, 'the floor manager would be told when we had two minutes before the clock would go on air. Then he would ask the half dozen people in the studio – who had the right time? After various different answers he would decide – and set the clock accordingly – plus two minutes. This was necessary because “Big Ben” had no mechanism – time stood still for our clock! Apart from the fact that very often we didn’t have the right time in the first place, sometimes our “two minutes” stretched to considerably more – timings of programmes (all live) wasn’t rocket science. If the preceding programme was someone talking to the camera it wasn’t always easy to get him or her to stop! (particularly if it was a politician!).' As a result, 'Little Ben' sometimes did not show the right time. The clock contains three fluorescent tubes, used to simulate the clock at night.


Object Number:
electric components, glass, metal (unknown) and wood (unidentified)
studio prop
BBC Heritage