The countdown on the BBC's news channel is used to fill time leading up to the start of each hour, to ensure the news starts at exactly on the hour. There was no countdown during the flags area (1997-99) - instead a flag simply wafted in the breeze, often with a menu of upcoming programmes superimposed on top.
The numerical element was introduced when BBC News 24 was revamped on 25th October 1999. The full sequence lasted 90 seconds, although much less than this would normally be seen. Accompanied by a superb piece of music by composer David Lowe, many people considered this feature to be the best thing about News 24!
This first countdown was entirely graphical, but all those that followed would be made up of live footage.
The countdown was changed on 13th January 2003, and now depicted scenes of mainly urban life, some using timelapse photography, and there were at least three different versions. Thankfully, at least the music remained unchanged.
BBC News 24 was relaunched on 8th December 2003, and a new version of the countdown was introduced. It now featured a greater range of clips from around the UK, some pinched from the opening titles of regional news programmes! Unfortunately the music was a rather watered down re-recording of the original.
A new countdown was introduced on Easter Monday 2005, with another reworked version of the music. The focus was now on BBC correspondents reporting from around the world, beaming the news back to BBC Television Centre. The full sequence was now only 60 seconds long.
The music was remixed again in 2006, and by now had reached such cult status that the BBC began inviting viewers to produce their own remixes, which would be aired on the channel on Fridays!
The countdown was updated once again on 18th June 2007. Note that what appear to be hundredths of a second are in fact nothing of the sort - they count down from 24 to 00 because the sequence only contains 25 frames per second - but rather appropriate for BBC News 24! The '24' was soon to disappear from the channel name, however...
BBC News 24 became simply 'BBC News' (or BBC News channel) on 21st April 2008. The countdown, however, was largely unchanged, other than the change in font to Gill Sans.
The next major change to the news channel was on 18th March 2013, when it moved home from BBC Television Centre to Broadcasting House. The font changed once again, this time to Helvetica.
The most recent update to BBC News's graphics involved the roll-out of the corporation's own font, Reith, on 15th July 2019. Naturally, this extended to the countdown sequence.
From our YouTube channel, lots of BBC News 24/BBC News channel countdowns recorded between 2001 and 2013.