What was on TV on the day you were born?

Radio Times cover from 1976 Image copyright Radio Times

A new digital archive of Radio Times listings has opened up a treasure chest of TV nostalgia. So what BBC shows are people celebrating from the day they were born, asks Tom de Castella.

It is a gold mine for nostalgia buffs. The BBC's new digital archive, called Genome, lets users look at the Radio Times TV listings from any given day between 1923 and 2009. It covers just BBC output until 1991 when TV listings were deregulated and Radio Times could include ITV and Channel Four.

Many Twitter users seized on television or radio that went out on the day they were born.

@jon_melville: Thanks to #Genome I know that Seaside Special with Sacha Distel, The Grumbleweeds and Keith Harris aired on the day I was born

@flyfour: Angela Rippon read the News on the day I was born, and June Whitfield read "The House That Sailed Away" on Jackanory #genome

TV reviewer Julia Raeside tweeted: An hour after I was born there was an Open University programme on BBC2 about HAMLET. I knew it

@AliceBG_: BBC #Genome project shows I'm so old that, whilst I was being born (11:22am, so not middle of night), what was on TV was 'Pages from Ceefax'

@drl: By my calculations, The BBC News at One o'clock with Martyn Lewis was on BBC One when I was born

@awgossip: thank god I wasn't born 15 minutes earlier: "6.45 Social Science: Abortion", sends the wrong message

Simon Blackwell, comedy writer on Veep and the Thick of It, tweeted: On the day I was born, Music While You Work was on the Light Programme. God I'm old

Image copyright AP

@RyanJL: Newsround was on when I was born.

@HeathyChanDesu: According to #Genome, Chucklevision was on BBC One 3 minutes after I was born. I couldn't ask for better! :)

@jasew: On BBC1 the day I was born: Watch with Mother, Play School, Jackanory, Wacky Races, Babar, Z Cars, Tomorrow's World, and Boxing. #genome

@baroness_sheene: 45yrs & I have been lied to my whole life. Told I was born upstairs whilst dad watched match of the day downstairs

@LisaMarieArt: Just found out that Jackanory, Take Hart, Star Trek, The Wombles and Miss UK 1979 were on BBC One the day I was born. Thanks #Genome

@rupinjapan: Captain Pugwash and Kojack were on BBC One the afternoon I was born… my dad was in the pub #genome

@Ravenser: #Genome Jackanory, Champion, The Wonder Horse, Animal Magic, Tin Tin and Softly, Softly were on TV the day I was born

Image copyright Radio Times

@mandymachado: Found out from #genome that the Cricket was on all day on BBC 2 on the day of my birth - impressed my Dad made it to the labor ward

@TheDashingChap: BBC1 schedule on my birthday: Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, World Cup Grandstand, Kojak, Sailor, Sinatra & Friends - not bad! #genome

@Mr_Lingo: mine was Wildlife on One; Gannets Galore Narrated by David Attenborough

@RosieB_London: I had a brilliant TV listings the day I was born (29/12/1978): Buck Rogers, Playschool and The Ashes! #Genome

@AlanJSlater: No idea... we didn't have a television set back then. @bbcnewsmagazine #genome

Not everyone was talking about their birthday. @alanconnor tweeted: Things you find on Genome: '5 television quizzes about practical electricity with BOB HOLNESS as the Question-Master'

Radio Times writer Andrew Collins calls the Genome project "a brilliant time capsule". Most of the period covered is pre-video, iPlayer or Catch Up. You get a snapshot of what Britain was sitting down to watch at any given time, he says.

Sometimes it makes for awkward reading - The Black and White Minstrel show was still on in 1973. It was a different age. As @FrankieForber tweeted: "Goodness! BBC TV stopped at 22:40 for News (sound only)!"

Collins, who was born in 1965, recalls how for long swaths of the day there were no children's programmes - no bad thing, he says, with a faint echo of Why Don't You.

The 1970s, he believes, was a "Golden Age" for television, especially sit-coms. "Man About the House looks a bit shaky, the sexual politics are dated but it's still funny," he says. There would be two good sit-coms a night - Dad's Army and On The Buses are other favourites that still work, he says. It was part of the national conversation. "There was nothing else to watch and everyone was watching the same thing. Look at the Radio Times now and there's so many channels and so much choice."

Today the communal experience - barring exceptions like Bake-Off - is nostalgia. Share your birthday TV and radio highlights by tweeting @BBCNewsMagazine and include #genome - we'll update the story throughout the day.

Image copyright Radio Times

Images courtesy of Radio Times

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