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View Full Version : Where to hear Big Ben ring in the New Year?



RobbH
2018-12-31, 07:11
For years, I've tuned to the BBC World Service on this date at midnight GMT to hear Big Ben strike the hour, marking the new year. I can still do that, of course, but I wonder if there's a better way to listen, now that I have access to the BBC's domestic channels. (And many thanks to Triode and BPA for that!)

Can any UK listeners recommend a better source?

d6jg
2018-12-31, 08:40
Unfortunately if you listen via Internet stream of any kind it will be a few seconds late.
That said I suppose it depends on your musical taste. Iíd opt for BBC 6 Music

bpa
2018-12-31, 08:51
Unfortunately if you listen via Internet stream of any kind it will be a few seconds late.
That said I suppose it depends on your musical taste. Iíd opt for BBC 6 Music

Isn't there the strange situation using Radio where BBC have a microphone very close to the Big Ben bell and if you are a certain distance away from Big Ben - you can hear Big Ben strike on the Radio earlier than through the air as radio wave travel faster than sound waves.

d6jg
2018-12-31, 08:53
I believe bpa is correct

castalla
2018-12-31, 08:59
Wait until 2019-2020 then Big Ben will be 45 years after the rest of the world if the Brexiters get to turn back the clock to 'How things used to be' as the UK casts off the shackles of the EUSSR ....

bpa
2018-12-31, 09:05
Wait until 2019-2020 then Big Ben will be 45 years after the rest of the world if the Brexiters get to turn back the clock to 'How things used to be' as the UK casts off the shackles of the EUSSR ....

Just as soon as Parliament agrees on what sort of Brexit but don't worry the Donald will give UK a "great deal" aka America First.

d6jg
2018-12-31, 09:12
Hey. No politics here. Take it downstairs to Audiofools where they will argue about anything!

RobbH
2018-12-31, 15:47
Thanks for the replies!

d6jg, if I understand what you're saying, all BBC radio services will carry the same thing, cutting away from whatever program is in progress at about 23:59:30 to hear the Westminster chimes, then resuming regular programs after the final stroke of midnight and brief New Year's wishes. Is that right? So the only reason to choose one over all the others is which regular programming one prefers?

I understand that, due to latency, the new year will be a few seconds old by the time we hear it ringing in. I'm okay with that. When I used to work at an NPR station, we carried the annual New Year's broadcast of live remotes from venues across the country. (It's all canned now.) The countdown to midnight was almost always off in every time zone. The latency of multiple satellite hops accounted for some of the delay, but not all of it! They were just very lax about time-keeping. Even with network latency, I think The Great Clock will probably be more accurate than those broadcasts.

ftlight
2019-01-05, 17:45
Isn't there the strange situation using Radio where BBC have a microphone very close to the Big Ben bell and if you are a certain distance away from Big Ben - you can hear Big Ben strike on the Radio earlier than through the air as radio wave travel faster than sound waves.

Yes, that's correct.

When I worked at BBC Bush House in London, there was a toggle switch on every studio console labelled "Ben", so that the operator could insert the chimes as needed. The microphone in the clock tower was live all the time so the op could check the feed, and you could occasionally hear conversations of workmen in the tower.

ftlight
2019-01-06, 14:55
A final note on Big Ben - for the next few years you may as well just play a recording of the chimes, as that's what the BBC is doing while the clock tower is being restored, although this article suggests that the bells will still ring on special occasions:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/14/big-ben-silenced-four-years-maintenance-chimes

slartibartfast
2019-01-06, 16:09
A final note on Big Ben - for the next few years you may as well just play a recording of the chimes, as that's what the BBC is doing while the clock tower is being restored, although this article suggests that the bells will still ring on special occasions:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/14/big-ben-silenced-four-years-maintenance-chimesSeems that for New Year the bells were rung by an electric motor.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/big-bens-hands-and-numerals-will-be-blue-after-61m-renovations-works-are-completed-a4027226.html

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk

d6jg
2019-01-07, 06:00
An interesting thread which will no doubt be resurrected in late December

bpa
2019-01-07, 06:08
An interesting thread which will no doubt be resurrected in late December
Since work on Tower is supposed to last 4 years - maybe even a few more times.

RobbH
2019-01-30, 11:01
I thought I should follow up and report my experience, before it recedes so far in the past that I can't!

I settled on Radio 6, even though I am a bit old for most of the music there. But it was lively, and I didn't feel like the offering (chamber music, I think) on 3. It cut away to Big Ben striking midnight without any introduction that I noticed, but then I might not have been at my most attentive. I did notice though, that there were no Westminster chimes preceding it, which made sense.

I often forget that "Big Ben" is not the name of the clock or the tower. It is the name of the 13-ton bell that strikes the hour. And that's exactly what was promised: despite ongoing restoration, Big Ben would toll midnight. The other bells were supposed to remain silent, and they did.

After that, I found the CBC's live feed on YouTube provided the perfect way to welcome the new year to North America, with countdowns for Newfoundland and Atlantic time. By the time midnight arrived at my location in Eastern time, I had already toasted the new year several times.

d6jg
2019-01-30, 12:02
I thought I should follow up and report my experience, before it recedes so far in the past that I can't!

I settled on Radio 6, even though I am a bit old for most of the music there. But it was lively, and I didn't feel like the offering (chamber music, I think) on 3. It cut away to Big Ben striking midnight without any introduction that I noticed, but then I might not have been at my most attentive. I did notice though, that there were no Westminster chimes preceding it, which made sense.

I often forget that "Big Ben" is not the name of the clock or the tower. It is the name of the 13-ton bell that strikes the hour. And that's exactly what was promised: despite ongoing restoration, Big Ben would toll midnight. The other bells were supposed to remain silent, and they did.

After that, I found the CBC's live feed on YouTube provided the perfect way to welcome the new year to North America, with countdowns for Newfoundland and Atlantic time. By the time midnight arrived at my location in Eastern time, I had already toasted the new year several times.

Point of order. It isnít Radio 6!
It is branded 6 Music by the BBC presumably because it isnít broadcast via radio only via DAB and via Internet but I quite appreciate that you mist probably couldnít give two hoots about that particularly after a couple of your New Year drams! :)

ftlight
2019-01-30, 14:42
I thought I should follow up and report my experience, before it recedes so far in the past that I can't!

Thanks for the update!

RobbH
2019-01-30, 19:03
Point of order. It isnít Radio 6!....

Thanks for the correction! If I had actually looked at the BBC app, instead of going by what passes for my memory, I might have gotten it right. Being a survivor of a career in radio, that's the sort of distinction that matters to me.

By the way, I should also qualify my earlier comments about the time errors in NPR New Year's broadcasts of years past. I implied that they might have been the result of carelessness, but that's probably not the case. More likely, each feed was subjected to multiple delays for content assessment. In other words, to make it possible to kill the feed in case someone uttered one of those words that must never be heard on the airwaves of the USA. Quite possibly, there was a delay on the feed from the remote site, and another one on the national feed from D.C.

However, I did sometimes visualize an exasperated producer trying to cue the musicians to do the countdown and being ignored until they were good and ready. But I don't actually know if that ever happened. If I were inclined to bet, I'd probably be willing to put money behind it, though.