Engineer media servers

BBC website down – Error 500 – Internal Error

bbc error 500BBC website down

It ain’t often you can’t reach the BBC. They have 700Gbps of connectivity1 to their servers. As one of the world’s foremost media organisations their website will rank as the most robust going.

It comes as a mild surprise therefore to see the error message on the screen in front of me -“Error 500 – Internal Error”. Is the BBC website down? The little clown icon is quite cool and totally in keeping with the creative nature of the BBC. You can almost hear the clown laugh as if this is some macabre late night feature. The audience is spellbound, silently gripping their seats.

The hiccup was over in a moment. It’s one of those glimpses of an event in life that you think back on and wonder if it really happened except that here I have the screenshot.

It isn’t as big deal but my curiosity is aroused and I think to myself it would be quite nice nice to understand what actually happened. What architecture does the BBC use for its website and what caused the error message? It’s one of those things that in real life is not worth wasting time drilling down to a root cause. Still if anyone can chip in it would be nice:)

Note added 20th July. I’m guessing this happened again yesterday as there was a huge spike of visitors to this site with people reading this post around 11am.

Other great Beeb reads:

Tablets shifting our viewing habits
A visit to Broadcasting house
BBC promo int

1 last time I asked.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

One reply on “BBC website down – Error 500 – Internal Error”

“it would be quite nice to understand what actually happened”

Ah yes, as all webmasters will attest, that is usually the first thought that pops up when seeing the familiar error 500 🙂 .. followed by “arrrghhhh!”.

What follows is usually a long and arduous process of examining logs, checking scripts, drinking coffee, milking the cat for more coffee before realising that the cat is in fact not a coffee machine and trying to pin down precisely which code or combination of events caused your web server to suffer a brief moment of Benny Hill. More often than not, unless it happens frequently, then you might struggle to find the answer. In which case.. “arrrghhh!” again.

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