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BBC Thinking of Canceling Sky At Night

samzenpus posted 1 year,25 days | from the no-stars-in-the-sky dept.

Space 171

Smivs writes "A year after veteran presenter Sir Patrick Moore died, the BBC are discussing pulling this iconic program. This has unleashed a torrent of criticism from fans of the monthly science-based astronomy show. There is an on-line petition for those who want to have their say."

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Nooo!!! (5, Interesting)

Michael Casavant (2876793) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957821)

What a terrible loss that would be. The Sky at Night is a very unique show that is a geared to the amateur astronomer. Seriously BBC, what does it actually cost to have a program like this on late at night, once a month?

Re:Nooo!!! (5, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958005)

It costs very little to produce Sky at Night. I worked on the show doing computer graphics over a decade ago; there's an old joke about the official BBC tartan being "small checks" and I can attest to that. The schedule was one 15-minute show a month involving a two-man talking-heads format in a tiny cubbyhole studio plus an annual "spectacular" with Sir Patrick making a visit to, say, Meteor Crater or a famous observatory like Siding Springs. Each studio program took a day to record, maybe three days production, scripting etc. There wasn't much else the BBC produced that cost as little per show.

Re:Nooo!!! (1)

firex726 (1188453) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958501)

As with much of TV, question is could they make more money repurposing that time for other programing?
The show might be cheap and making a return, but could they swap it out for something that could make an even better return?

Re:Nooo!!! (3, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958571)

Since the BBC makes its money from the license fee, not from advertising, it has no concept of "return" for a particular program. And, while viewer figures are not totally ignored, it is regarded as having some mandate to put on programs for minority groups not well catered for by commercial TV - such as, for example, amateur astronomers. On the other hand, TFA gives no idea what viewer figures actually are. If everybody has stopped watching after Moore died, it makes sense to drop the program. If viewer figures are holding up, it makes no more sense to drop it now than at any time over the past decades.

Re:Nooo!!! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959011)

Since the BBC makes its money from the license fee, not from advertising, it has no concept of "return" for a particular program. And, while viewer figures are not totally ignored, it is regarded as having some mandate to put on programs for minority groups not well catered for by commercial TV - such as, for example, amateur astronomers. On the other hand, TFA gives no idea what viewer figures actually are. If everybody has stopped watching after Moore died, it makes sense to drop the program. If viewer figures are holding up, it makes no more sense to drop it now than at any time over the past decades.

Sky at Night also has a magazine [] , which is very popular with excellent content.

Re:Nooo!!! (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959079)

Top Gear disagrees with you on the "no concept of return for a particular program".

Re:Nooo!!! (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958115)

Seriously BBC, what does it actually cost to have a program like this on late at night, once a month?

The fragile self esteem of network executives intimidated by science.

Re:Nooo!!! (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959015)

Seriously BBC, what does it actually cost to have a program like this on late at night, once a month?

The fragile self esteem of network executives intimidated by science.

Got to be careful with that science stuff. It sets off the politicians.

Re:Nooo!!! (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958315)

Yep. The BBC isn't supposed to be chasing ratings, it was created to inform/educate* the public so this is exactly the sort of program the they're supposed to be producing. The low on budget, high on imagination approach has brought some truly great TV to the world. It also attracts people like Patrick Moore and David Attenborough who are in it for the passion, not the paycheck.

[*] Yes, those are the exact words used in the BBC charter: []

(nb. For the Americans: there's no adverts on the BBC so audience figures don't translate into profits).

Re:Nooo!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958677)

I agree. I have never seen the Sky at Night (as I live in the USA), but we have a similar show here on Public Television ("Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer"). When Jack passed away in August 2010, we had guest hosts on the show (myself being one of them) until we could decide on what to do. In October 2011, we modified the format of the show, but kept the same flavor and subject matter. Perhaps the BBC should consider something similar.

Besides, considering programs like "Dr. Who" and movies like "James Bond 007", replacing an iconic actor/host with a new one isn't really a major dilemma. :)

"Keep looking up!"

- James C. Albury
Director/Kika Silva Pla Planetarium
Co-host of "Star Gazers"

terrible (2)

DFurno2003 (739807) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957823)

well, that's just terrible

Great idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957829)

Yeah, great idea. Let's clear the schedule for some more fucking reality TV.

Fucking morons.

Regenerate! (1)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957849)

Why can't he just regenerate?

(It works for Dr Who)

Re:Regenerate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958437)

It's Doctor Who

Re:Regenerate! (2)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959095)

It's The Doctor.

Abolish the licence fee (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957855)

It's about time the BBC was abolished and the licence fee scrapped. Clueless middle class pricks spewing disinformation and downright lies disguised as news and then time and time again cancelling, and destroying archive material, of anything culturally good that somehow manages to get made under their control.

The government doesn't mandate that I have to pay 100+ pounds a year to Heinz for their beans (whether I eat them or not) but thinks I should pay a licence fee to the BBC whether I want to receive their shite or not.

Fuck the BBC.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (5, Insightful)

Tanaka (37812) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957921)

No thank you. If it weren't for the BBC, The Sky At Night, would never have even existed.
If there was no BBC, all we would have to look forward to is wall to wall reality TV.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957937)

The BBC is pretty much wall-to-wall reality TV these days. They're funded by taxes; they shouldn't be competing with commercial channels at all.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (3, Insightful)

Tanaka (37812) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957997)

What nonsense. BBC4?

The BBC is so cheap for what you get. It has to cater for all tastes, so your not going to like everything.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958335)

If you think it's such good value, then why not give people the choice about funding it rather than forcing everyone? I love some of their stuff, but think it's very overpriced for what they do and if they were allowed to fund via advertising, they'd have even more money to produce shows and it would cost us less.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (3, Insightful)

Tanaka (37812) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958521)

It's good value when you look at the diversity the BBC provides. Sure you cant agree with the BBC on everything, but a lot better overall. Look at the Olympics. In the US, they got highlights. The BBC showed just about everything, live, without any breaks, for no extra cost.

Personally, I'd like to see the BBC paid out of taxation, providing it cant be touched by MPs. Link the rate to GDP or something, so there is never any question over how much money they get each year.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958581)

And if you don't value "diversity" for its own sake, then it's not.

Personally, I'd like to see the BBC paid out of taxation

Depends how you define taxation. But for me, a mandatory user fee created and enforced by government is taxation.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958629)

The Olympics were an exception. That's precisely the kind of coverage you'd want a broadcaster to provide. But even there they've screwed up. Their deal with the IOC meant they've taken down their online event archive. I can't watch it over again. I paid for it, twice, with my licence fee and my taxes, and now I can't watch it because of IOC licencing? Disgusting.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958757)

I just don't agree that the BBC is good value. I don't mind them producing a wide diversity of shows, but the problem I have is with them broadcasting reality tv rubbish that is already shown on other channels.

Also, I don' agree with them paying ridiculous amounts of money to their executives and huge salaries to their stars when they could be encouraging less well known names and nurturing young talent.

I don't think the BBC should get many kudos for their Olympics coverage as it's much cheaper for them to cover sports events than it is for them create new drama.

I don't think that taxes would make too much sense as then you have people paying a different amount according to their salary, rather than how much tv they watch. The other problem with taxation is that the BBC would then be too tightly tied with the political system. Advertising would be my choice of funding for them.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958543)

Advertising revenue depends on viewing figures. If you want high viewing figures all the time you have to show shite like Honey Poo Poo and Naked Monster Truck Wrestling because that's what the plebs watch.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958599)

I'd posit that a lot of BBC programming is already like that and that's why I dislike being forced to pay for it.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (2)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958609)

Radio 4 is actually excellent, but it's niche. BBC television has a few gems that have been dumbed down over the last 10 years (someone mentioned Horizon and Panorama, which used to be good, not so much now). Other than that it's just the usual rubbish indistinguishable from commercial channels.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Tanaka (37812) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958755)

BBC4 not Radio 4. But that too.

In defence of the Beeb (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958129)

I agree that it is probably unwise for the BBC to compete too much with commercial channels. However, compared to what's on most of those commercial channels, the BBC remains a very different broadcaster with a much broader spectrum of programming. Of the major commercial alternatives, only Channel 4 comes anywhere close.

I think it's fair to claim that, among other things, the BBC offers by far the best news and current affairs reporting of any major UK TV network (investigative/undercover journalism programmes, Newsnight, political debate and parliamentary coverage, several niche programmes on the BBC News channel, plus of course their main news bulletins), numerous excellent science and human interest series (Planet Earth, Human Planet, Our World, Wonders of the Solar System; notably, they cover a range from special interest programmes like The Sky at Night through to popular science with the likes of Dara O'Briain's Science Club), numerous original drama miniseries, better-than-average coverage of major sporting events, a broad range of films, and sometimes just good, old-fashioned entertainment (numerous Saturday night BBC One family shows, thoughtful/satirical/informative comedy like QI and Mock the Week). And of course we get all of this without disruptive commercial breaks every few minutes or having graphics advertising the next tacky programme that appear just to spoil the critical moment in what you're watching.

Compared to spending Saturday nights watching Simon Cowell smugly mocking children who were brave enough to have a go at something, news coverage on Sky that really does make Fox seem fair and balanced, and Celebrity Big Brother 174, I'd gladly pay a lot more than the current licence fee if the BBC did go commercial. In fact, I could happily take the BBC channels and the Channel 4 family and dump almost everything else, because I don't watch that much live any more but almost everything I do find worth watching is on a very limited set of the available channels.

Re:In defence of the Beeb (1)

Tanaka (37812) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958703)

I think it's OK for the BBC to have a few flagship shows for ratings sake. Keeps them on their toes. Such shows unite families too.

It's defiantly OK for them to spend money on programming that would otherwise not be commercially viable. I want quality & diversity.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (2)

GauteL (29207) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958707)

There's still some excellent stuff on the BBC, but I do at least partially agree with you. The BBC has been chasing ratings too hard for too long.

The worst part is when they very nearly shut 6 Music because it didn't have enough listeners, when it was the only radio station catering for those who were really into their modern music. I.e. really top quality, but not necessarily commercially viable. Exactly the sort of thing the BBC should produce. Thank Deity they failed and their attempt actually turned into a fantastic advertisment for 6 Music ("Listen to us before it's too late") which massively boosted their listener base.

But I disagree that they shouldn't compete with commercial channels at all. Mass market productions are a hugely important way for the BBC to reach people who may otherwise never have seen the good stuff the BBC does. Large parts of their potential audience would never even have heard about their quality productions if it wasn't for mass-market productions.

I also totally oppose the idea that the commercialism of the BBC is an argument against public broadcasting and the licensing fee. If the BBC has become too commercial (it has), then it should be reigned in and told to refocus more on the education aspect. Abolishing the license fee is the only sure way of making everything commercial.

The BBC just need to remember that the mass market productions are not the goal, they are the teasers that allow the BBC to produce their educational stuff.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958295)


I've been to many countries around the globe and few have TV as great quality as we have in the UK and the BBC is the reason for that.

If it weren't for the BBC's advertising uninterrupted shows and so forth you'd rapidly see the race to the bottom you get in North American TV where you can't go 5 minutes without an advert interrupting your show.

In North America you have to have over a hundred channels just to have a chance of anything decent popping up amongst all the shit. I like the fact that in the UK you can find something worth watching nearly all the time by checking only a handful of channels because the quality bar is set high enough by the BBC that they all have to provide as good or better stuff to compete raising the bar in general.

The BBC is one thing the UK does absolutely right.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (5, Insightful)

schizz69 (1239560) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957923)

The BBC is THE best broadcasting agency in the world. It has provided an outlet for so many different arts, science and cultural programs that would never have been made with out the public funding it receives and not tied to being a slave to advertising agencies and the wares they are trying to flog.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957941)

You are an idiot.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (-1, Troll)

ciderbrew (1860166) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958013)

The BBC is WAS .. It is far from that now. Even the NEWS has sunk down to a tabloid level. thus far this year I've watched Sky at night - The 6 tops gears and some horizon programme about waves. That is not £145 of value. When I look at iplayer there is nothing on that i want to watch. I'm done with TV for the most part.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958185)

When I look at iplayer there is nothing on that i want to watch. I'm done with TV for the most part.

The BBC is WAS .. It is far from that now. Even the NEWS has sunk down to a tabloid level.

The BBC shows plenty of crap, but there's also a lot of science if that's what you're looking for. In the past year off the top of my head there has been Science Britannica [] (general scientific method background and history with a UK slant), Bill Bailley's Jungle Hero [] (about the life and discoveries of Alfred Russell Wallace), How It Works [] which covered the materials science of metals, ceramics and plastics and how they're essential for modern day technologies and hell, even The Secret Life of Rockpools [] about the ecology of what is a pretty unloved niche. That's before you even go for the more "infotainment" slanted shows like Dara O Briain's Science Club [] which are still worth watching.

Most of these have been started in the 8-9pm slots even if they weren't shown on the flagship channel. There isn't another broadcaster in the UK who would have touched most of these shows, let alone given them a high profile slot on their secondary channel.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958389)

My comment got modded troll so the debate is moot.
So for you, Fair point; I'd add anything with Professor Jim Al-Khalili; but its so dumbed down I'd rather not bother.
I can't opt out off the BBC and not have people knocking at the door. Search TV licence fee on youtube as see the harassment people get.
I don't have sky, virgin, netflix, or any other cable. NHK and Al Jazeera English do better news coverage. I've not watched ITV or C4 in about 5 years. I want out!

So with no BBC connections try these on youtube: Vsauce, veritasium, Computerphile, Mike's Electric Stuff, Big Think and my fav periodicvideos and many more.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (3, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958061)

Yes. The BBC may not be as good as people want them to be, but they are certainly better than all the other channels.

All commercial channels first of all broadcast around 30-35% advertisements. Pure garbage.
Secondly, many commercial shows repeat fragments throughout their shows - especially around the commercial breaks. More garbage.
But most importantly, the BBC have a primary task to inform the public, whereas most other channels have a primary task to earn money.

And I really like it that they allow quite some of their shows to be put on Youtube for the whole world to watch.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (2)

Inda (580031) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958143)

No where in the BBC charter does it say that.

They're not supoosed to chase ratings, but they do.

They're not supposed to promote state views, but they do.

They're supposed to be balanced, but they are far from balanced. Apple good, Android bad. Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea good, every other team bad. Israel good, the rest bad.

Inform the public? That's funny because when you read the news from other websites, you clearly see the BBC choosing not to report certain stories.

Their top story two weekends ago was about former Prime Minister Tony Blair's son getting married. Tabloid bullshit.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958415)

Absolutely true. Whenever they accidentally allow comments they get massively called out on their fanatical love for Apple and need to shoehorn them into every vaguely related tech story [] (scroll down to comments and sort by best rated), but this doesn't lead to them correcting this huge bias. Maybe apple bribed them with a truckload of free ipads, which you routinely see their newscasters and presenters using.

To counterbalance the geopolitical bias I've taken to watching RT pretty frequently, obviously it may as well be Russian state controlled and takes any opportunity to portray the US negatively but I figure the only way to have an informed opinion is to watch both side's propaganda. It's notable that they report on important stories that the BBC ignores entirely.

As for domestic political coverage Newsnight is still okay but Question Time is now a joke, for any remotely controversial subject it's set up as a 10 Minutes Hate session for hard left social justice warriors to screech RACIST and BIGOT, with hopelessly biased panels / audience selection / moderation. Long gone are the days when they would thoughtfully interview domain experts in a calm and rational manner and you would actually learn something.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958103)

This used to be the case about 15 years ago. These days it is full of reality TV crap to boost viewing figures, and the documentaries and science programs are dumbed down to the level a five year old could understand.

Since Sachgate and the Hutton inquiry they have been reluctant to broadcast anything remotely risque or criticize the goverment too much and most of their news programming has a left-wing liberal or politically correct angle on it.

With the exception of Wimbeldon, sport programming covers only minor stuff very few people watch; out of a £3 billion + budget they wont pay for any football or cricket rights despite being our national sports. They have lost half the formula one this year to Sky too. Great if you want to watch wheelchair basketball or sailing but not many people do.

About the only thing they do well any more are Top Gear and Doctor Who as well as childrens TV which is actually educational and 100x better than cartoon network and all the other obnoxious imnported crap on kids tv channels cable.

Their radio is worse, apart from terrible local stations you basically have a choice of 2 analogue music radio stations in the UK because they have put all the others out of buisiness or near to it by competing directly which them which is something they are not supposed to do. This means you have a choice of BBC Radio 1 (commerical chart music of the low common denominator form) or BBC Radio 2 which is the same but 30-50 years back in time depending on the time of day you tune in.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (-1, Flamebait)

Inda (580031) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958109)

The BBC is full of paedophiles, managers who cover up for said paedophiles, managers who give golden handshakes to their mates, vastly overpaid presenters compared to other broadcasters, old fashioned sports coverage, third rate docu-soaps, hidden advertising that's not so hidden, Apple prasing tech stories "All hail Jobs!", bias news reporting, Siria propagandists for the state, Isreal loving, stuffy nosed, toffs.

And I have to pay for all that shite or risk a gaol sentence.

But hey, that's just my opinon. Other British people will have a longer list of the BBC's failings.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (2)

jeremyp (130771) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958173)

And yet it's programming is still far better than that of any of the commercial channels.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958273)

I see've you've been reading your tabloid like a good little plebeian.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958423)

The BBC is full of paedophiles, managers who cover up for said paedophiles

Yeah, like that guy from Coronation Street. Oh wait, that's not the BBC is it?

vastly overpaid presenters compared to other broadcasters

Got a citation for that?

old fashioned sports coverage

Because brainless plebs like you complained and howled when the BBC spent money on sports coverage, so now they get outbid by the likes of Sky & BT, and now you howl and complain that they don't show sport.

bias news reporting, Siria propagandists for the state, Isreal loving, stuffy nosed, toffs.

Yeah, and what's with all these nignogs and pakis everywhere? Send 'em back! Coming over here, taking our jobs. Well, obviously not you because you're on the social, but if you weren't getting disability they'd be taking your jeeeerrrrrb.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (2)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958515)

You mean Michael Le Vell? Who was found not guilty on all counts.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958719)

The BBC is full of paedophiles, managers who cover up for said paedophiles

Yeah, like that guy from Coronation Street. Oh wait, that's not the BBC is it?

Can't be him anyway, he got off. On a technicality, of course. People like that don't deserve a trial anyway.

Sorry, got a bit confused. Thought I was doing my column for the Daily Mail.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958455)

The BBC's funding mechanism is so utterly indefensible that it almost renders any discussion of quality moot. A tax on hardware which goes exclusively to one content provider??? This is just ridiculous. Of course it manages to produce the occasional high quality programme but overall the standard is mediocre and falling. Also senior management are drawn from a very small soi-disant intellectual liberal elite.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958769)

You're paying to be able to receive a set of channels*, which operate under public oversight. In what way is it ridiculous?

*You don't have to pay if you don't receive the signal, and it's only billed against the household receiving the service rather than per TV sold, so it's hardly a tax on hardware

Re:Abolish the licence fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958349)

Middle Class? are you Brits stupid? They are Upper class ungodly rich.

Re:Abolish the licence fee (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958497)

"Middle class" means something else in the UK. Whereas your American middle class is everyone too wealthy to live on the street but too poor to own an airplane, in the UK... well, it was coined to refer to those people who were neither "lower class" manual workers or "upper class" landed gentry who hadn't worked a day in their lives. Today it basically means you're a doctor or a lawyer or high level management in a company, or something, you're financially secure and upwardly mobile, and socially implies that you're more likely to go to dinner parties and the theatre than pubs and football games.

Bad Idea (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957883)

Why not give the show to Prof. Brian Cox? He'd be brilliant and has a huge following and the admiration of young people. It would foster an interest in astronomy in a new audience for many years.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957959)

Makes me think of John Hammond's comment in Jurassic Park: "I bring scientists, *you* brought a rock star".

Plus, I suspect that Prof. Cox is a little over-committed already, TV-wise.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958021)

If they really wanted a rock star, they could get Brian May to take it over!

Re:Bad Idea (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958073)

This isn't a joke, May was brilliant when he presented the programme many years ago. I'd much rather May take it over than that wet-fish Cox.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958179)

Yep. He was great friends with Patrick Moore and knows the program well.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959083)

Yep. He was great friends with Patrick Moore and knows the program well.

How about Sir Patrick Stewart? I hear he knows something about stars.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958035)

Oh dear god no, I think he makes a lousy presenter.

I'm not sure if I fall into the "young people" segment as understood here, being in my mid-20's, but there are so many other science presenters that are better.

I really don't get why people like Brian Cox so much, but then, apart from the odd fanboy/girl, I don't know anyone who actually likes him. Maybe it is just the case for teenagers?

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958093)

Because unlike most presenters he actually seems passionate about the subjects he presents on?

I see other presenters like Ben Fogle, but he comes across as a presenter presenting whatever he's been told to present on even if he's not interested in it, but with Cox you see a clear passion for the subject which is what IMO makes him great at putting across the ideas and concepts in his shows.

About the only other presenters for science based shows I can think of that have this level of passion and gives them the same level of excellence in presenting as a result of that genuine interest in what they are presenting are Attenborough and du Sautoy.

Some of the Horizon presenters do a similarly good job, but they're normally one-offs.

It's nice to have presenters that are interested and knowledgeable about the topics they present rather than presenters that are presenting a topic for the simple reason they're paid to do so.

FWIW I'm in my early 30s so no it's not just teenagers and I know lots of people who like him my age and older, whatever such anecdotes are worth.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958211)

Because unlike most presenters he actually seems passionate about the subjects he presents on?

Bingo. If you're going to show popular science programmes, you have to start with a presenter who can actually engage popular interest. Stuffy old academics are not the ideal population to search for such presenters, even if they might be world class authorities on the latest research in their field.

Cox has a long way to go before he's up there with the likes of David Attenborough, but then again he's only half the latter's age, with a presenting career that has so far collected only a tiny fraction of Attenborough's experience. I can see why not everyone is a fan, but I'll take what appears to be genuine enthusiasm over the ability to read a script wearing the correct shirt and tie any day.

Re:Bad Idea (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958249)

Plus Attenborough is more than just a presenter, for a while he had various jobs running bits of the BBC culminating in "Director of Programmes", making him responsible for the output of both BBC channels. He was offered the top job but decided to return to the other side of the camera.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958119)

Same reason the BBC put wogan on tv for years. Everybody in the country hates wogan, except for a few people who think he's great. Trouble is, those few people work inside the BBC, and they have no reason to ever speak to anyone outside.

Same with cox. he's irritating, often muddled if not downright wrong, and his shows just repeat the same tired lazy journalist science. For example, his recent shite on British scientists. Why include Tim Berners Lee and omit James Clerk Maxwell? Proof that he is not remotely interested in physics as the subject for TV, but rather he's very interested in a TV career so he repeats the bogstandard, wrong, lazy TV science cliches. want to ruin sky at night? give it to Cox. want to ruin mainstream TV coverage of science? hand the whole lot to Cox. as they have done.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958377)

I think he's a brilliant science presenter as his enthusiasm really shines through. Also, he does have a very good way of explaining complex ideas in very simple terms - his explanation of the retrograde movement of mars by drawing a couple of circles in the sand was superb.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958113)

I guess it's a question as to whether he'd want to do such late night show bearing in mind he's a lecturer at Manchester Uni.

It could be quite a problem staying up that late only to have to give a lecture the next morning.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

jeremyp (130771) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958209)

If only there were some way to record the show in advance on so sort of storage device and then play it back at transmission time.

It isn't a live show, you know.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958239)

I didn't realise that as I haven't been able to watch it in many years because I go to bed for work well before it's on.

Didn't it used to be live? I always thought that was part of the charm of it.

Perhaps when I was a teen and did stay up that late the episodes I watched did just happen to be live (because I know at least some were), hence why I assumed they all were.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958417)

they only let him lecture to first year undergrads, he basically does nothing else. I think it's far more likely that he'd rather be on primetime comedy panel shows than anything that might require 1) him to do some work 2) a cut in pay.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958151)

If they are going to dumb it down as much as all his shows are, they might as well pull the plug.

This has been a long time coming (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957907)

Elements of the BBC has been trying to finish the Sky at Night program for many years. Back in the Year of Astronomy 2009, I was with a film crew interviewing him at his home, where he talked about the fight he has had keeping it going.

Now he's gone, the knives are out. The program does not fit well within the BBC's output - it is a fact based program without stupid gimics or pointless 'celebrities'. Those celebs that do appear are (very) keen astronomers. It is a program format that works well for it's target audience - and it's an audience that is quite big. Every year the BBC (to their credit) organise a public astronomy event. This has proved very popular with families and individuals. My local astronomy society has seen an increase in members and enquiries whenever this event is on.

The problem seems that although the program format works, it is seen to be 'old' - and as we all know, managers want change for change sake. They may talk about viewing numbers, but the program has been aired at different times - often edited to only 20 minutes.

The BBC want it gone, despite Chris Lintott and Lucie Green doing an excellant job with it recently.

Re:This has been a long time coming (1)

AGMW (594303) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957967)

Oh I do hope they don't try and Top Gearise it, like they did with Gardener's World a year or so back. With GW they reverted to the old format (and quite possibly killed Toby Buckland's TV Gardener career!).

Hey BBC, do us all a service and just leave it alone!

Re:This has been a long time coming (1)

Xest (935314) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958187)

I didn't notice the GW change in format but possibly because I only watch it now and again. The problem I have with it is they seem to cover the same old plants over and over and over again when there's so much more variety people grow that they simply ignore.

It's more like Monty Don's favourite plants show and whilst I like the guy as a presenter I do wish he'd step outside his comfort zone and look at some slightly different things now and again.

Perhaps I've just missed the shows where he does that, but I see no worthwhile coverage of more exotic plants like palms, orchids, cacti, carnivorous, bonsai, bromeliads and so forth though this is a trait I see in general with the BBC - their coverage of Chelsea and Tatton Park and so forth seems to ignore these too, despite them being a fairly major part of said shows - they combined probably comprise about 30% of the stands, but only get about 1% of the coverage.

If you're not growing potatoes or roses, the BBC just doesn't seem to want to know, but they'll quite happily tell you time and time again how to grow these same sorts of things as if you hadn't heard it all before and hadn't come across it in a billion books selling for 50p at your local The Works.

The only mitigation to the problem has been Around the World in 80 Gardens, but that was a one-off series.

Re:This has been a long time coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44959007)

Never thought I'd see Gardeners World mentioned on /. - Brilliant.

I miss The Star Hustler (1)

Molochi (555357) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957913)

But he's still on Youtube.

Re:I miss The Star Hustler (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958121)

...and they have continued to produce "Star Gazers" episodes with new presenters since Jack Horkheimer's death in 2010.

Dont cancel it - fix it! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957929)

What the BBC badly need to do, is revert the show to its old format - one main presenter (e.g. Dr Lintott) expounding on Astronomy, plus *relevant* guest experts, and loose the current crop of b-list cabaret circuit comedians and fading celebs, who have infested the show like roaches over the past few years - if I wanted to see that lot, I'd be watching the One Show, sick bag in hand.

Like a lot of other BBC sourced science programs (e.g. Horizon), Sky at Night has been dumbing down for some time, and, frankly, both the programme and the licence-fee payers deserve better.

Stop wasting money on soaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44957945)

The BBC is funded to provide precisely this kind of fringe programming. They should stop chasing the gutter audience with never ending celebrity chat shows and fucking soap operas.

BBC's standard (-1, Redundant)

cute_orc (2911555) | 1 year,25 days | (#44957983)

May be the show is not politically correct enough as per the BBC's standards.

Re:BBC's standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958265)

Well, it is now that the far right nazi who used to present it is dead.

Re:BBC's standard (1)

fremsley471 (792813) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959041)

Eh? Patrick Moore may have held views that were certainly more UKIP than Labour, however describing him as a "far-right Nazi" (Head of the SS-type far-right Nazi?) is just nuts. I wouldn't have agreed with much of his politics, but just as Labour voters aren't communists, UKIP voters aren't fascists (and personally, I'd like to see Labour be a lot more socialist).

I always thought of Moore as being a complex human-being. His views on 'foreigners' were forged in WWII and he, and any of his generation, should be forgiven. War deeply changes people. I certainly take Voltaire's view on his opinions.

I wonder what you'd say about my neighbour, George, who my son interviewed for a project on D-Day? George was on Gold Beach on June 6th 1944 and his first words were "I've tortured so many people". He then described the living hell of the Falaise Pocket in a way that there's now one ten year-old who'd never join the army. He's lived his life quietly, but he's never forgot the smell, miles down-wind of Belsen. You won't find him driving a VW.

Moore's alleged misogyny was odd, it came not from the women who worked with him (I read many defences and not a single "J'accuse" from his female colleagues), but from his own views that the (his?) world should be a Boys-Own club. Also, and rarely, 'Never Married' apparently meant just that, not that he actually cruised the public toilets of the world.


Re:BBC's standard (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959119)

Moore's fiance (a Nurse) was killed in WW2 by a Nazi bomb so he was no fan of them. She's also the reason he never settled down with anyone else. His view was he'd found the one for him and no one else would do.


Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958015)

Was thinking of walking on water !! Top that !!

Don't pay the licence. (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958045)

If you don’t watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV, on any device, you don’t need a TV Licence. []
The world got along fine without dross TV shows. Go read a book, play music, paint, exercise, play games, fuck, cook. write. Go to a play. Watch live performace it's in 3D!. Make the world a better place.
As for the BBC make programmes for X. Do you really need another polar bear program?

the new generation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958049)

I hate all young BBC presenters. They all speak as if they're pitching you something flashy and retarded from TV-shop.

Death (2)

ledow (319597) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958071)

Doesn't matter. Broadcast TV is dying.

The BBC has David Attenborough, ffs, and yet still we end up with the program dumbed down, repeating previous "information" on animals, and selling itself on 3D and other crap. And last I heard, it was all moved to the Eden channel which I can't get anyway.

The BBC have no interest in keeping this kind of stuff going, so forcing them to keep it is counter-productive. They'll just do their best to cripple it so it "dies" naturally. Already comedians appear on any programs that have the slightest bit of intellect to them to appear "entertaining" to people who wouldn't care less about the program anyway (QI, Science Club, Sky at Night, etc.). Some of them add something (Dara O'Brien or whatever his name is, is actually quite intellectual but still it descends into nob gags, and the people they bring on with him haven't a clue and are just there to be laughed at for not knowing the answer, basically).

Let them kill it off, one of the world's longest running programs on TV, just because they want to. Let them be the idiots. The alternative is a sidelining that will kill it eventually anyway, which is where we've been for the last few years.

The Internet really needs to have a way for people to find content online that has the same ideals as those programs did early on - to educate and inform, not entertain - and let people discover their own niches free of the BBC's over-paid "talent".

Schools and exams are dumbed down already. Now TV is dumbed down. Appeal to the lowest common denominator as always, and suck every outlier back to the "average".

There's little left of merit on the BBC and what there is I cherry-pick out of iPlayer. Let them re-run crap like Doctor-fucking-Who to their heart's content and then wonder why nobody's paying for a TV licence.

The "Great Stupiding" goes on (1)

bazmail (764941) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958155)

No doubt they'll replace it with some sort of reality show. Utter garbage. The BBC is synonymous with bad decision making these days.

Reality TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958163)

don't complain about reality TV - sky at night is the *ultimate* in REALITY tv

seriously though I could think of many many more things to axe than this that are much poorer and much more expensive.

Something positive else you can do. (1)

queazocotal (915608) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958213)

Actually check the iplayer, and watch new epsisodes.

The reason is straightforward... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44958245)

The Sky at Night is no longer relevant.

It is no longer in tune with modern, forward thinking. It is a relic from an archaic age, hidebound by tradition and conservative values. It does not deal with issues which are important to contemporary life, like celebrity game shows.

The program purports to deal with technical subjects, which are opaque to BBC commissioning and managerial staff. No estimate of its quality can therefore be made. As far as we can tell, it does not conform to ethnic diversity targets, disability awareness directives or political balance requirements. It cannot be fitted into any of the BBC's entertainment categories. We have found no awareness of or support for the program in any of the lifestyle surveys we have commissioned in all the top artistic, cultural and media centres of North London.

Accordingly, we recommend its closure.

Re:The reason is straightforward... (1)

bazmail (764941) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958461)

Lol. Excellent. Not to mention elf 'n safety shitting themselves with all those telescopes and laser pointer lying around. Its just not on.

Insufficiently obsequious to Islam (1)

gelfling (6534) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958269)

No doubt some Imam is screaming for national arson day unless it's pulled off the air.

So it can then fail after the pilot miniseries (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958275)

For the last time, they ate not cancelling it. They are moving it to America on the Stars channel, but since it was a documentary, not fiction, killing off the Brit to replace with an American was problematic. Now that that's solved...

BBC licence money is wasted (1)

collect0r (794706) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958353)

I have just cancelled my tv licence and gone to full catchup TV and i have found that i do not watch anythhing at all on any bbc channels at this current time, but if you look into bbc wordwide you will find that its a provate corporatation thats worth 1.2 billion that sells all our tv programs we have paid for around the world making the people rich off our backs,

Also the bbc has been prooven to be a very corrupt business that paid out 25 million in severence pay to old directors, supported Jimmy saville, gives a very biased view on all news and also gets money from the EU to push forth their agenda`s.

i will miss the sky at night but there are many shows aimed at the amatuer and professional astromoner on youtube and even a daily program from suspicious observer @ [] which keeps you up to date on the stuff we need to know in less than 4 minutes a day

hope you enjoy my rantsworth :)

Re:BBC licence money is wasted (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958539)

Have you had any trouble with license people harassment yet?

Re:BBC licence money is wasted (1)

collect0r (794706) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958627)

none yet, i removed all implied rights of access and got an email back saying they agreed with my freeman rights and they would use other means to try to see if i watched live tv, but i do not watch live tv at all my wife waits an hr extra to watch soaps and its a lot better not having to be sat in front of tv at 7pm everyday.

xmbc media player is an awesome addition on a raspberry pi as it has support for catch up tv.

We have something close to this (1)

CimmerianX (2478270) | 1 year,25 days | (#44958513)

Star Gazer is the closest thing to this in the US. [] I grew up watching this show back in the 80's. IIRC, the little 5 minute segment would air between Sesame Street and Dr. Who on PBS in Florida. Don't know if that was true in other markets. And it's still shown today. It's what helped spark my interest in astronomy,

Enough (1)

operagost (62405) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959043)

This site is too UK centric. The internet is world-wide, you know!

Psst (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,25 days | (#44959045)

Nobody cares.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,25 days | (#44959125)

Please, Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

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