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BBC System of Measurements

The Board sometimes has metric vs. imperial “debates” (i.e. flamewars), but these pale into comparison beside the stark feelings of horror that the BBC System of Measurements provokes in both sides of that argument. BBC Measurements can commonly be found in many news articles on the BBC website, including those posted on the forum.

Example seen by Thande at Chatham Dockyard, Kent

Examples of BBC Measurement Units

The exact extent of these is unknown, but some that are regularly encountered include:


Double decker bus (DDb) or Routemaster bus (Rb) (sometimes driven by Jesus Christ, see below) - 8.4 metres.

Blue whale (Bw) - 33.59 metres (or approximately 4 DDb).

Olympic swimming pools (Osp) - 50 metres (or approximately 5.95 DDb).

Jumbo jet (Jj) - 70.8 metres.

Car ferry (Cf) - 150 metres (or 3 Olympic swimming pools).

From the BBC News website.



African elephant

Blue whale


Double decker bus (NB, this is a different amount to the length).

Canary Wharf tower

Statue of Liberty (encountered in American improvements on corruptions of extensions to the BBCSoM).

Nelson's Column (British equivalent)


Tennis court

Football pitch

US Aircraft carrier (presumably a Nimitz-class).




Dice (used to describe size of chunks of ice on Mars)

Coke bottle (i.e., 2 litres)

Olympic swimming pool



Nagasaki atom bomb

Other Notes

Although some BBC measurements are reasonable (most people know how large a double decker bus is) others are highly nonsensical, particularly 'Olympic swimming pool' and 'blue whale'.

Another fine example of BBC measurements was taken verbatim (or at least as well as Thande can remember it) from the BBC News live coverage of the ESA launch of the Jules Verne ATV:

Presenter: How large is the rocket?

Scientist: 50 metres.

Presenter: No, no, I meant, in…

Scientist: Oh, okay, 162 feet.

Presenter: No, I meant in terms of jumbo jets.

Scientist (misunderstands): Well, it has thrust of 552 pounds per square inch.

Presenter: Yes, but what's that in terms of Concordes?

Scientist (flummoxed): Er… (wild guess) five?

Presenter (satisfied): Alright.

offtopic/bbc_system_of_measurements.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 by

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