Belfast Telegraph

Len's last hurrah and losing Bake Off: an eventful year for the BBC

From the long-awaited report into DJ Jimmy Savile's victims, to the loss of the Great British Bake Off and Len Goodman's last hurrah on Strictly Come Dancing, it has been an eventful year for the BBC.

Big changes over the last 12 months have included BBC3 moving online only, the Government setting out the BBC's Charter and the closure of an iPlayer loophole.

On screen, the BBC disappointed Top Gear fans when the return of the famous motoring show lost viewers, but it enjoyed ratings success with the likes of Bake Off, Planet Earth II and Strictly.

Here are some of the key moments.

:: February 16

BBC3, famous for shows such as Gavin & Stacey, Little Britain and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, went online only after broadcasting its last shows as a TV channel.

More than 290,000 people signed a petition to "save BBC3".

But the controversial change to the youth strand, part of a cost-cutting move, was given approval by the BBC Trust.

:: February 25

Long-awaited reports by Dame Janet Smith and Dame Linda Dobbs were published, identifying 72 victims of DJ Jimmy Savile - including eight who were raped - and 21 victims of Stuart Hall, over five decades from 1959.

Dame Janet said that celebrities had been "treated with kid gloves and were virtually untouchable" and the BBC missed a string of opportunities over five decades to uncover and stop "monstrous" child sex abuse.

:: July 13

Len Goodman shocked Strictly Come Dancing fans by announcing he was stepping down.

The 72-year-old, who led the judging panel since the BBC1 show launched 12 years ago, said he would be doing one more series - which aired this month.

Such was the stir Goodman caused that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn quipped that then Prime Minister David Cameron had deliberately timed his exit with the announcement.

"There's a rumour going around that your departure has been carefully choreographed so you can slip seamlessly into the vacancy created this morning on Strictly by Len Goodman's departure. Is that your next career?" he asked.

:: July 4

Chris Evans announced he was quitting Top Gear after just one series.

The Radio 2 DJ said he "gave it my best shot but sometimes that's not enough" as he tweeted the news.

His decision came after falling ratings for the TV show, which Evans presented alongside Matt LeBlanc.

:: July 6

The BBC announced a senior leadership restructure - with BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore becoming director of content. She now oversees all the BBC's TV channels.

James Purnell, a previous Labour government culture secretary, became the new director of strategy and education. He was later promoted to a new role overseeing the corporation's radio stations and has been tipped by some as a future director-general.

:: September 1

The closure of a loophole meant viewers have to now confirm whether they have a TV licence to watch content on the BBC iPlayer.

Previously, only live television was covered by the £145.50 a year licence fee.

Following the change in rules, viewers could be fined up to £1,000 for downloading or watching programmes on iPlayer without a TV licence.

:: September 12

The BBC announced it had lost the jewel in its TV crown, The Great British Bake Off, with Channel 4 saying it had won the contract.

Judge Mary Berry and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins later announced that they were not moving with the show.

Paul Hollywood later called the reaction of his move to Channel 4 "out of control" and likened his media treatment to that of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe.

:: September 15

The Government announced the BBC's draft Charter - requiring the corporation to name stars earning more than £150,000 year.

The change is expected to force the disclosure of the pay packets of more than 100 of the BBC's best-known faces - including football commentator Gary Lineker and chat show host Graham Norton.

There will also be a new BBC Board, which will be responsible for the governance of the organisation, while Ofcom takes over responsibility for regulation and the National Audit Office will become the corporation's financial auditor.

:: September 13

BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead announced she was stepping down.

She was previously asked by David Cameron's government to continue in the role for four more years.

But after new Prime Minister Theresa May asked her to reapply for the job, she said: "After much thought I have come to the conclusion that I should not do so."

:: October 19

Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn - who was sacked over evidence he gave to the Jimmy Savile inquiry - announced his return to the BBC, saying he "can't wait to get behind the mic again".

The 73-year-old broadcaster, a household favourite, claimed he had been made a "scapegoat" after he was taken off air following Dame Janet Smith's review into sexual abuse at the BBC.

The corporation said it stood by the findings of the review and the decision to take Blackburn off air at the start of this year, but that he would be back on Radio 2 in January.

:: December 12

BBC bosses staged a defence after Sir Cliff Richard took legal action in the wake of reports naming him as a suspected sex offender.

They deny that the singer is entitled to the compensation he is claiming following publicity about a raid on his home.

Detail of the BBC's defence emerged in paperwork lodged by lawyers at the High Court in London, pending the start of any court hearings.

:: December 21

It emerged that BBC1 would be on course for a decisive victory over ITV in the battle for the year's biggest ratings.

Hit series such as The Great British Bake Off, Planet Earth II and Strictly Come Dancing meant that more than three-quarters of the top 40 most-watched programmes so far in 2016 were broadcast by BBC1.

This included the Bake Off final, won by Candice Brown, which is at number one in the chart with 16 million viewers.

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