London Big Ben in Shadows Perspective
Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster. The nickname is often also used to refer to the clock and the tower.
The clock is the world's largest four-faced, chiming clock and the third largest free-standing clock tower in the world. The clock tower is situated at the north-eastern end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. The Big Ben clock tower has been referred to incorrectly as St Stephen's Tower, which is a low tower above St Stephen's Entrance.
The nearest London Underground stations are Waterloo and Westminster.
Significance in popular culture
The clock has become a symbol of the United Kingdom and London, particularly in the visual media. When a television or film-maker wishes to quickly convey to a non-UK audience a generic location in Britain, a popular way to do so is to show an image of the Clock Tower, often with a Routemaster bus or Hackney carriage in the foreground. This gambit is less often used in the United Kingdom, as it would suggest to most British people a specific location in London, which may not be the intention. Big Ben is often polled as the Most Iconic London Film Location.
The sound of the clock chiming has also been used this way in audio media, but as the Westminster Quarters are heard from other clocks and other devices, the unique nature of this sound has been considerably diluted.
The Clock Tower is a focus of New Year celebrations in the United Kingdom, with radio and TV stations tuning to its chimes to welcome the start of the year. Similarly, on Remembrance Day, the chimes of Big Ben are broadcast to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and the start of two minutes' silence.
ITN's News at Ten opening sequence features an image of the Clock Tower with the sound of Big Ben's chimes punctuating the announcement of the news headlines, and has done so on and off for the last 41 years. The Big Ben chimes continue to be used during the headlines and all ITV News bulletins use a graphic based on the Westminster clock face. Big Ben can also be heard striking the hour before some news bulletins on BBC Radio 4 (6 pm and midnight, plus 10 pm on Sundays) and the BBC World Service, a practice that began on 31 December 1923. The sound of the chimes are sent in real time from a microphone permanently installed in the tower and connected by line to Broadcasting House.
Big Ben's clock face as depicted in The Thirty-Nine Steps.Londoners who live an appropriate distance from the Clock Tower and Big Ben can, by means of listening to the chimes both live and on the radio or television, hear the bell strike thirteen times on New Year's Eve. This is possible due to what amounts to a one-strike offset between live and electronically transmitted chimes by virtue of a combination of digital coding and decoding and satellite transit delay. Guests are invited to count the chimes aloud as the radio is gradually turned down.
Big Ben has appeared in many films, most notably in the 1978 version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, in which the hero Richard Hannay attempted to halt the clock's progress (to prevent a linked bomb detonating) by hanging from the minute hand of its western face. It was also used in the filming of Shanghai Knights starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, and was depicted as being partially destroyed in the Doctor Who episode "Aliens of London". An animated version of the clock and its inner workings were also used as the setting for the climactic final battle between Basil of Baker Street and his nemesis Ratigan in the Walt Disney animated film The Great Mouse Detective, and is shown being destroyed by a UFO in the film Mars Attacks!.
London Big Ben Shadows Perspective in Westminster England