Sunday 27 February 2022

New Article in Best of British (March 2022)


I'm delighted to reveal that my first ever published article features in the March issue of Best of British. The subject of the article, titled Anarchy Over the Airwave, is one which is a particular favourite of mine: the history of pirate television in the UK.

From the very early days of City TV in the 1960s (which never got on the air) through to Caroline TV in the 1970s (which, again, never got on the air) and onto the glory days of the 1980s when several stations managed to, finally, start making illegal broadcasts, it's all here.

Friday 25 February 2022

7 British TV Channels You Probably Never Saw in the Pre-Sky Era

There was a time, before the emergence of satellite television, that Britain's televisual landscape was a much simpler, uncluttered place. Turn on your television today and call up the EPG and, well, you can scroll through the available channels until the cows come home. It's a vastly different world to the good old days of, at best, having four channels to watch. But, guess what? There were more than four channels available in the days before Sky.

Some of these were community channels, some required cable and, most excitingly, some were illegal. Regardless of the format they took, there was one thing that they all had in common: a relatively small audience. As a result, it's unlikely that most people reading this article caught these channels when they were on the air, and I include myself in that. Therefore, the time has come to take a look at 7 British TV channels you probably never watched.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

The Launch of The Children's Channel in 1984

British children's television in the mid-1980s may have been fantastic, but the amount of children's programming was limited. Across the BBC and ITV, there were roughly six/seven hour's worth of children's content available on a weekday, and around five hours of this was playing at the same time on Children's BBC and Children's ITV.

I was there and, well, I just accepted this was the way things were, a little bit of television for me and then the rest dedicated to Wogan, Pebble Mill at One and Cagney & Lacey. But there was more children's television available. You just had to have access to cable television, where The Children's Channel launched in 1984.

Friday 11 February 2022

A Mystery from 1981: Where is Smithy's Kaff?

I've never focussed on adverts when it comes to looking at the weird and wonderful corners of British television. Sure, I've highlighted a few ad breaks I've found whilst sifting through old VHS tapes, but little else. And maybe that's a mistake as, back in the days before streaming and on-demand viewing, adverts could quickly become cultural touchpoints, just look at the rapid rise (and descent) of Flat Eric. Most importantly, there are stories to be told behind these adverts. And there are none more mysterious than Smithy's Kaff.

Thursday 3 February 2022

Trouble in Mind Coming to Forces TV

Back in 1996, as a fledgling teenager, I was flicking through the channels on Sky when I stumbled across (on UK Gold, I think) a little programme called Robin's Nest. It wasn't a series I'd heard of before, I hadn't even heard of the more famous show it was spun off from, Man About the House. But there was something charming, funny and engaging about this series from the late 1970s, and it provided early evidence of my curiosity regarding archive television.

As a result of this early dalliance with Robin's Nest, I've always had a soft spot for all things Richard O'Sullivan. Therefore, as you can imagine, I was pleased as punch to discover that Forces TV are going to start airing his 1991 sitcom Trouble in Mind. It features O'Sullivan playing Adam Charlesworth, a psychiatrist going through a mid-life crisis and was written by Tony Millan, Mike Walling and Colin Bostock-Smith.

It's a series I know very little about, hence the lack of detail above, but one that I've been trying to track down for about 18 months. Thankfully, this unsuccessful endeavour is now at an end and, from Saturday 5th February, I'll finally be able to watch it. And so should you.