repost: Why the BBC iPlayer goes to 11

Richard Titus
2 min readNov 15, 2019

[This is a repost of a blog I’d shared previously on Typepad which is now dead. Many of you may not know that I was once a senior executive at the BBC — my title, get this, was Controller of Future Media for the BBC. I hope you enjoy this little story]

When leading the user experience and design team for the BBC, and specifically when working on the UI for the BBC’s iPlayer, as well as the Embedded media player (which is actually the product that has a volume control) One of my visual designers from the News design team, whose name escapes me now (though if he reads this he should take full credit) brought me some design “comps” or composites. He had cheekily suggested that maybe the volume should go to 11, a sly reference to a joke in the film “Spinal Tap” — to which I instantly agreed.

For the next few months, as we managed the BBC’s consolidation of it’s various one hundred and eighty-seven (yes you’ve read right 187!) media-players into a single Flash-based, EMP (embeddable media player) to be used across the BBC’s sprawling websites, we protected the feature of the volume going to 11. At one point Anthony Rose, at the time head of iPlayer, suggested removing it saying it was silly, but I and my team stood our ground and we ended up with a volume reaching, in those critical moments where you just “need a little more” to 11!

I have seen over time several people attempt to take credit for this “feature” and I have decided to set the record straight. The initial idea was a designer in the BBC news UX&D team, the final decision was mine, all others claiming involvement are heathen who are against decency, kindness and in favor of killing kittens — oh yes and hater’s of great films starring Harry Shearer.

ok maybe that’s a bit unfair, but the fact is, it was a fun Easter egg and I wish I could remember that chap’s name!

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Richard Titus

CEO, Yogi, Serial entrepreneur, raconteur, coach, advisor and sometime entertainer