Tuesday evening (18th June 2019) and if you switched over to BBC Two just in time to catch the start of episode two of The Family Brain Games, you were in for an unwelcome surprise. Just under twenty seconds into the programme, it was interrupted by a couple of BBC Two programme trails. The endboard for the second trail remained on screen for just shy of three minutes – yes, that’s right, THREE MINUTES!
A BBC Two ident then appeared – minus voiceover. That was followed by the start of the programme due to go out at 9pm – The Planets. So, seconds into The Family Brain Games, it seems the playout system jumped ahead to the next event and played out the entire 9pm junction, as well as the opening moments of The Planets. An apology caption then finally appeared. Announcer Duncan Newmarch provided a verbal apology – having hot-footed across from BBC One, where he introduced Our Next Prime Minister, just a few minutes earlier. After a minute-and-a-half of apology caption and music, we returned to The Family Brain Games, which was played from the start.
It’s not clear why the BBC Two duty announcer, Siân Polhill-Thomas, did not provide the apology – she introduced The Family Brain Games and reappeared to introduce The Planets at 9.05pm. Curiously, there was no apology at the end of The Family Brain Games.
Not that it would’ve made a huge difference, but given the delay caused by the technical fault, one would’ve thought that dropping the planned trails in the next junction might’ve been a good way of clawing back some time. As it turned out, one of the two trails was dropped.
Here’s a full replay of last night’s events (clip courtesy of Darren Page):
It’s not known why the fault continued for as long as it did. A still image remaining on screen for almost three minutes is quite unprecedented, for a national broadcaster, in primetime.
BBC Two Northern Ireland continuity did not interject and remained with the network feed for the duration of the fault. BBC Two Wales was showing a different programme in the 8pm slot and so was not affected by the breakdown. They did however have to insert an unplanned episode of Coast, at 10.30pm, just before rejoining network for Newsnight, which was delayed by 5 minutes due to the earlier technical issues.