BBC Unveils its Red-Button Interactive TV Schedule for the Coming Weeks

--Taps TV Chef for Primetime BBC iPlayer Marketing Campaign

The BBC announced Friday the line-up of content that will be available through its red-button interactive TV service for the next two weeks (and beyond). Here are the highlights:

  • From 7.55PM on August 14th, Following BBC One Northern Ireland's live linear-TV coverage of the Tall Ships event--which will only be available to Northern Irish viewers--digital viewers across the UK will be able to press red to access archive coverage of the last Tall Ships event, which took place in 1991 when Northern Ireland was still in the midst of The Troubles. They will also be able to access a documentary charting Mike McKimm's exploration of the wreck of the Titanic, the most famous ship to have been built in Belfast's shipyards. (Note: this red-button service will not be available on the UK's free-to-air digital satellite service, Freesat.)
  • Starting August 9th, each week the BBC One Football League soccer round-up show, "The Football League Show," will be offered through the red button, following the Saturday-night broadcast of the show, "Match of the Day." It will be available on the service through noon. In addition, the soccer results show, "Final Score," will be available through the red button from 2:30PM on Saturdays, starting August 8th.
  • On August 5th, BBC Scotland's coverage of the Champions League soccer qualifying game between Dinamo Moscow and Celtic will be available through the red button from 4:45PM.
  • During the remainder of Ashes cricket test series between England and Australia, digital viewers will be able to press red to access live commentary from BBC Radio's Test Match team, led by Jonathan Agnew, as well as live scorecards and statistics (third test: July 30th-August 3rd; fourth test: August 7th-11th; fifth test: August 20th-24th).
  • From 7:00PM on August 2nd and 3rd, Rugby League fans will be able to press red to access "The Super League Show," a round-up of the weekend's Rugby League games. Then, at 4:30PM on August 8th, following the Rugby League Challenge Cup semi-final between the Wigan Warriors and the Warrington Wolves, they will be able to press red to access "Rugby League Forum," a post-game analysis and discussion show.
  • Through August 3rd, digital viewers can press red to access live coverage of the 13th World Swimming Championships in Rome. This coverage, and all the sports coverage listed above, will be offered through the BBC Sport Multiscreen, a 24/7 red-button application that provides up to five screens of extra coverage as well as round-the-clock headlines.
  • Fans of the BBC Two comedy-drama, "Taking the Flak" (follows the progress of a small African war through the eyes of journalists sending home nightly reports for the Ten O'Clock News), will be able to press red to access new material and exclusive footage from the show's location in Africa (nightly through August 23rd, starting at approximately 9:30PM--not available on Freesat).
  • For the 2009 Proms season, BBC Red Button has launched a new feature called "Maestro Cam." Over the course of five Proms concerts, the corporation says, the feature will give digital viewers who press red a "unique insight" into the art of conducting via a dedicated camera that will "capture the conductor's every intonation and flourish." The camera's feed will be complemented by commentary from Matthew Rowe, Peter Stark and Jason Lai of BBC Two's "Maestro" series, who will explain the conductor's gestures and how they are interpreted by the orchestra. Conductors who have agreed to participate in the project include Daniel Barenboim, Vasily Petrenko and Ilan Volkov. The service, which debuted in conjunction with Prom 12 (note: for an inside look at the app, see the article published on, July 30th), will also be offered in conjunction with Proms 31 (August 8th, 7:00PM, BBC Two), 38 (August 13th, 8:00PM, BBC Four), 48 (August 21st, 7:30PM, BBC Four) and 57 (August 28th, 7:30PM, BBC Four). (Note: not available on Freesat.)
  • During the August 8th broadcast of the show, "The National Lottery: Guestimation" (showcases the UK lottery's Dream Number draw, which raises funds for a number of the venues that will be hosting events at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics), digital viewers will be able to press red to play along with contestants. (Note: not available on Freesat.)

In other BBC news: The corporation has launched a new marketing campaign for its online catch-up service, the BBC iPlayer. The campaign, comprised of a "trail" featuring TV chef, James Martin, is designed to highlight special features of the service that the BBC feels "some viewers may currently overlook." Those features include "series catch-up," which allows users to watch entire series outside the standard BBC iPlayer seven-day window; and the iPlayer's recommendation engine. The trail, which debuted August 1st and which is set to run for three weeks in primetime slots on BBC One and BBC Two, was produced by Red Bee Media. It follows an iPlayer campaign that ran earlier this year and that was fronted by former "Blue Peter" presenter, Valerie Singleton. The latter campaign was designed to explain the benefits of the iPlayer to older viewers. "BBC iPlayer has enjoyed phenomenal success since its launch less than two years ago, and this campaign aims to encourage people to get even more out of it by drawing attention to some of the exciting features at their disposal," Anthony Rose, BBC Future Media & Technology controller for the Vision and Online Media Group, said in a prepared statement. According to the BBC, the iPlayer has generated over 500 million requests to view BBC programs since its launch in December, 2007. The corporation also claims that the iPlayer "plays an important role in helping the BBC meet its commitment to improving media literacy in the UK, providing a useful way of encouraging audiences to get--and stay--online, with BBC research revealing that the overwhelming majority of visitors to the BBC iPlayer site do return."