BBC Television: 70 Years by Paul Newman

Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of ITV (22 September 1955, 7.15pm. London); this year it is the seventieth anniversary of the BBCs television service. (First regular high-definition television transmission; minimum of 240 lines).

By a small margin the BBC had the first public television service anywhere in the world. Initially running for three years from 2 November 1936 until 1 September 1939 it was then shut down for defence reasons for the duration of the Second World War and resumed services on 8 June 1946.

Apart from a widely rising Saturn there is little astrological evidence of “Auntie” BBC in her conservative aspect here, but then this is not the chart of the BBC proper, just its television service. BBCTV comes across as artistic and imaginative (Pisces rising, Venus out-of-bounds), positive and expansive (Jupiter in Sagittarius conjunct North Node and midheaven on the Galactic Centre), original despite itself (Sun opposite Uranus), communicative, innovative and educational (very strong Gemini/Sagittarius), eliciting a critical response from a lively artistically-minded audience (Mars conjunct Neptune in Virgo on descendant). Unlike some television channels, the BBC has always encouraged its viewers to express their true opinions on its programming through letters to the Radio Times or in long-running shows like Points of View. (As in the horoscope of a business, the descendant is taken to refer to its customers, the other-halfs who receive and pay for the service on offer).

Yet the BBCTV Sun in Scorpio in the eighth house, representing the heart of the enterprise, seems secretive and untouchable, perhaps reflecting the timeless bastion of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Even to this day comedians and light entertainment presenters on the BBC will parody the organisation that employs them as a Kremlin-like stronghold with corridors of power and dark vaults where ageing television programmes are stored amongst cobwebs. What is certainly true about the BBC is a sense of place, (Moon conjunct IC). There is a real building in London and there is a Blue Peter garden outside it where, we like to believe, a gardener toils tirelessly through the seasons tilling the soil and planting seeds. The chart’s Moon exactly on the lower heaven emphasises a family bond and gives the BBC a tangible image of a homely base that no other TV channel comes close to possessing. This Gemini Moon, which is conjunct the South Lunar Node, also confirms the important communicative heritage brought over from the earlier days of the BBC itself.

The hideaway aspect of the Scorpio Sun is also reflected in the opposition of a twelfth house retrograde Saturn to Neptune, an aspect that can easily succumb to a persecution complex. This may stem from the second-rate status that the television service originally held in comparison to the radio service within the ranks of the BBC during the 1930s, 40s and most of the 50s. It took virtually twenty years before BBC Television was even beginning to claim viewing figures comparable to the listening figures of an average radio show, and there is no doubt that it was looked down on by those in charge and avoided if possible by those in the business. Although the social change in Britain from listening to the wireless to watching the telly would landslide in television’s favour in a few key years from 1956 to 1959, for most of the 1950s the plum jobs were still within Radio. Television was the poor relation at the BBC and its presenters paid on a lower scale. Having been dismissed completely during wartime, where by contrast BBC Radio played such a vital and historic role, it seemed that the Scorpionic BBC Television service was always being forced to hide its light.

And a similar loss of confidence occurred just as BBCTV was starting to assert its identity and pick up viewers in the mid-1950s. It had barely got into its stride when a licence was granted for a competing commercial television channel. ITV put a lot of money and effort into giving the public what it wanted to watch, in contrast to the BBCs perceived policy of broadcasting what it thought the public ought to watch; and the result was that the late 1950s saw a bigger audience abandonment of the BBCs programming than at any other time in its history. (Saturn transiting the BBCs Sagittarius planets including the midheaven and opposing its Moon; Neptune transiting its Mercury). Once again BBC Television felt it was the poor relation. But the crisis served to force the powers-that-be to acknowledge the importance of television as the new medium and as the 1960s opened and Neptune transited the BBCTV Sun a new sensitivity and idealism swept in. This transit also coincided with a move to the new Television Centre (in 1961), allowing BBCTV to assume its true artistic destiny and start to realise the “royal” reputation of having both Jupiter conjunct the North Node on the midheaven and the Part of Fortune exactly conjunct its Sun.

In the last couple of years Pluto’s transit to the BBC Jupiter has coincided with several technological transformations, most obviously in the form of the digi-box producing an expansion of BBC (and other) freeview channels.

For a study of unusual aspect patterns the BBCTV chart has much to offer. T.Squares and Grand Crosses clustered around the angles involve most of the planets including the Moon, while the Sun is positioned exactly 133 degrees both ways between the Moon and the ascendant. This last measurement has allowed the Sun to become conjunct the Part of Fortune and form a triangle of 2 sesiquadrates and a square between Sun, Moon and ascendant, with the Sun at its apex. These are eighth harmonic outer manifestation aspects and help to explain the outward dynamic initially hidden beneath an eighth house Scorpio Sun, a lower-heaven Moon and a Pisces ascendant.


BBCTV chart