BBC 2 is the British Broadcasting Corporation's more experimental, less mainstream channel. It began broadcasting on the 20th of April, 1964, with the first programme transmitted being Play School. Other opening-night features included Arkady Raikin, Kiss Me Kate, and Newsroom. The channel's mascots were Hullaballo and Custard, a kangaroo and her joey: the concept was that the baby kangaroo was the new service, and the mother was BBC 1.

On the first of July, 1967, BBC 2 became the first channel in Europe to transmit in colour using the PAL system. The first colour programmes were from the Wimbledon tennis tournament in that year. Two years later, the colour system would be adopted by BBC 1 and ITV.

Most widely known as the home of minority programming, cult sci-fi series, and imported American comedy, BBC 2 is also the channel for the more intellectual television, such as the Newsnight current affairs programme, the Horizon documentary series, the University Challenge game show, and the late-night Open University broadcasts. BBC 2 is also the home of the best original British comedies, such as Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Absolutely Fabulous, Black Adder, and Red Dwarf. The BBC's unofficial policy appears to be that BBC 2 is the channel for experimental programming, where good ratings are not guaranteed: as such, most of the innovative television is to be found on this channel (along with its kindred spirit, Channel 4).

Many of the less popular but more interesting programmes are run for several series on BBC 2, until popularity is gained, and then they are moved to BBC 1. A key example of this is The X-Files, which was initially broadcast at 11pm on BBC 2, and after three increasingly popular series moved to a prime time 10pm slot on BBC 1. This brings them to a more mainstream audience, while boosting the rating figures for BBC 1, and is the occasional pay-off for the multitude of gambles the BBC makes on programmes.

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