2000 Today (BBC1, 1999-2000)
As we recently welcomed yet another year, I was surprised when I realised how long ago the ultimate in these celebrations was. This of course the time when we went into the year 2000, and everything was described as “the millennium”. I remember one critic at the time saying that every other TV show seemed to be a special made for “the millennium”, and made up an example called Celebrity Hair Swap (at least I think it was made up).
It really did seem to be an exciting moment though, and the most was going to be made of all this. The main channels did various things. On BBC2 there was Nineties Night, featuring a TOTP2 special, a Gimme Gimme Gimme repeat, and the 90-minute Goodbye To The Nineties. ITV had Countdown 2000, a two-hour live special from ITN hosted by Trevor McDonald among others.
Channel 4 had Eurotrash’s Big Bang, a live special with Graham Norton, and The Biggest Breakfast Ever, lasting a huge nine hours. Channel 5 had several specials of Night Fever, that each focused on a decade of pop music. But BBC1 really decided to go to the extreme, with 2000 Today, an epic live show that began at 9:15am on New Year’s Eve, and ended around 1:30pm on New Year’s Day.
This was going to be 28 non-stop hours of action, and was one of the most ambitious shows in the BBC’s history. It seems that they decided to have just about every TV host at the BBC at the time take part, so there would be the likes of David Dimbleby and Gaby Roslin taking a look at the scenes around the world, before it was time for a news update with Michael Buerk and Phillipa Forrester.
There would be various reports and features, as the new millennium was eagerly awaited, and as the clock ticked down, the anticipation increased. And just when viewers thought that things couldn’t get any more exciting, there were two episodes of EastEnders as well. The climax took place in London at the Dome, a much derided location, which later had more success after becoming the O2 Arena.
Nobody seems to know where the promised “wall of fire” went though. But everybody was now in the mood for a party, and the longer this show went on, the stranger things started to get. I didn’t see it myself, but apparently by 4am things had started to fall apart somewhat, everybody in the studio was somewhat giddy and “tired”, and Jamie Theakston or some such person just ended up shouting at everyone.
There was also an update on the Millennium Bug from Peter Snow, which was supposedly going to corrupt computers everywhere, when it turned out that barely anything happened at all, but this was because things had been properly prepared for, not because this never existed. It really was an experience that you’ll never forget. Now here’s the weather with Michael Parkinson and Katy Hill.