(Cybertech) – Some television sets are so iconic that you can recognise them instantly, while others might not stand out so much but still do their job perfectly, transporting you to a time and place without ever seeming overbearing.
It stands to reason that some of the best sets ever made have been created by the teams at the BBC, which, after all, has created some of the most famous and widely-watched TV ever.
To cheer people up during these trying times, the BBC has made a wide selection of images of some of its most famous sets available to use as backgrounds for people’s Zoom calls and video chats, so we’ve sifted through the archive and selected a range of amazing photos from the list.
Top of the Pops
One of the most well-known music shows ever made, Top of the Pops was around for decades (and will appear much later in this gallery, too).
Here, we can see its studio in 1965, complete with the charts on the back wall and a drum kit ready for a mime-along performance.
Dad’s Army is a quintessentially BBC sitcom, with warmth and good heart all tied up in its tales of the Home Front, and it had a variety of quaint sets to go with it, including this view of the village hall.
Dad’s Army again
This view of the pub set from Dad’s Army, meanwhile, is interesting for how it contrasts to some of those you’ll see later on, in terms of detail and. the amount of set dressing around the place.
Steptoe and Son
In fact, speaking of set dressing, this room from Steptoe and Son shows just how much you can squeeze into the background to characterise your location, and the characters who live in it.
Fawlty Towers is a true classic of comedy, even despite the paucity of episodes in its actual run.
This view of the dining area of the hotel captures a lot of the tawdry Britishness that makes it so cringingly enjoyable.
Porridge is set, famously, in a prison, and it’s fascinating to see a different angle on the main walkways that make up the jail. It gives some context for how complicated shooting could have been on what might otherwise look a simple show.
Of course, much of the action in Porridge is shot in this very cell, making things a little less complicated. Its simple design is important, of course, given the characters’ incarceration.
The Good Life
By contrast, this homely kitchen says an awful lot about how the central couple live in The Good Life, in effective bliss in a semi-rural setting with a delightfully individual set of decor.
When you’re talking about unique decorations, though, not much can top Doctor Who’s Tardis, in any of its iterations.
This is from 1976, and showcases a dingier, darker look than modern versions.
A different Tardis
Only a few years later, and the Tardis is completely different inside, as happens when a new Doctor arrives on the scene. Now we’ve got wide open space and bright light.
The Two Ronnies
Returning to more mundane sets, though, this bar from The Two Ronnies sketch show is another much more simple set that, in a dramatic show, might stretch viewers’ suspension of disbelief because of how bare it is.
Whereas this set from Yes, Minister is an interesting insight into how sets can be dressed to look like approximations of real locations such as ministerial offices, with the crests on those blue leather chair backs doing a lot of heavy lifting.
Only Fools and Horses
Similarly, if you want to showcase how a character lives their life, a look into their home can do an awful lot of work, as demonstrated by this set from Only Fools and Horses, which shows how scamming and hoarding can overlap.
The Young Ones
This view of anarchic living conditions from The Young Ones, meanwhile, also says all it needs to about how its inhabitants treat their living space – it’s not very hygge, is it?
In cleaner looks, this set from Blackadder II is a nice example of how the BBC could create historical spaces that take viewers to another time entirely.
The same goes for the restaurant in ‘Allo, ‘Allo! We wonder how much of the food and ingredients on show here were ever real, and which were fakes.
Top of the Pops down the years
Coming back to music, though, this view of Top of the Pops from 1990 shows just how much the show’s aesthetic had changed, and how subject it was to the stylings of the time.
Just so, the apartment from AbFab, which is garish and modern, much like the sensibilities of its two occupants – with those all important fridges of champagne a key touch.
Blue Peter is like daytime TV for kids, and a classic format, with a studio that changed over time. This is a picture of how it looked in 2004.
Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing’s return in the noughties was a huge success story, and its flamboyant dancefloor set played its part, for sure.
This view of the Queen Vic pub from iconic soap Eastenders marks a contrast to others from decades earlier – it’s so detailed, and the distances and proportions are entirely realistic.
Match of the Day
Match of the Day is another iconic jewel in the crown for the BBC (for as long as it can keep the rights), and its clean, open studio is imposing from this angle.
Doctor Who of today
Finally, we return to the Tardis, for this view of the latest doctor’s version of the classic ship, which is all angular and well-lit. It’s a great measurer of how sets have changed, yet in so many ways, changed the same.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Adrian Willings. Originally published on .