When the BBC closedown played us the national anthem

Anyone under the age of 40 might find this hard to believe, but even in the 1980s ALL television stopped soon after midnight – but not before playing us the national anthem.

After the last program had finished, a BBC announcer with a posh voice used to wish us all a very good night, remind us to turn our television sets off, and then leave the national anthem playing.


We’d respect our Queen by listening attentively (unless it was a Saturday when we’d just stumbled home from the pub, which obviously closed at 11pm in those days). Finally, the hypnotic ‘swirling globes’ BBC logo would disappear and the television set would go blank.

And, in case you really did forget to turn your TV set off, a few minutes later a loud constant high-pitched warning sound would play for the whole night until the next morning’s programming began.

Relive the BBC closedown in this video, taken in September 1981. It was quite a late finish for the BBC that night, taken at 1.01am. Sometimes it shut up shop as early as 11.30pm!