Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster that began transmission on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the station is now owned and operated by Channel Four Television Corporation, a public corporation of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which was established in 1990 and came into operation in 1993. With the conversion of the Wenvoe transmitter group in Wales to digital on 31 March 2010, Channel 4 became a UK-wide TV channel for the first time.
|Launched||2 November 1982|
|Owned by||Channel Four Television Corporation|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV) 16:9|
1080i (HDTV) 16:9
0.72% (+1) (September 2018, BARB)
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Timeshift service||Channel 4 +1|
Channel 4 +1 HD
Channel 7 (Wales)
Channel 13 (+1)
Channel 104 (HD)
Channel 109 (+1 HD)
|Freesat||Channel 104 (SD)|
Channel 120 (Wales)
Channel 121 (+1)
|Sky (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland)||Channel 104 (SD/HD)|
Channel 138 (HD) (except London)
Channel 204 (+1)
Channel 804 (SD) (London)
|Sky (Wales)||Channel 117|
Channel 138 (HD)
Channel 217 (+1)
|Sky (Ireland)||Channel 135|
Channel 235 (+1)
|Astra 2E||10714 H 22000 5/6|
10936 V 22000 5/6 (+1)
|Astra 2G||11126 V 22000 5/6 (HD)|
|Virgin Media (UK)||Channel 104|
Channel 141 (HD)
Channel 142 (+1)
|Virgin Media (Ireland)||Channel 111|
Channel 142 (HD)
Channel 161 (+1)
|Channel 163 (CH-D)|
|Eir Vision||Channel 204|
Channel 205 (+1)
|All 4||Watch live|
|TVPlayer||Watch live (UK only)|
Watch live (UK and Ireland only)
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
Watch live (+1, UK only)
Before Channel 4 and S4C, Britain had three terrestrial television services: BBC1, BBC2, and ITV. The Broadcasting Act 1980 began the process of adding a fourth, and Channel 4, along with its Welsh counterpart, was formally created by an Act of Parliament in 1982. After some months of test broadcasts, it began scheduled transmissions on 2 November 1982.
The notion of a second commercial broadcaster in the United Kingdom had been around since the inception of ITV in 1954 and its subsequent launch in 1955; the idea of an "ITV2" (which came in 1998) was long expected and pushed for. Indeed, television sets sold throughout the 1970s and early 1980s had a spare tuning button labelled "ITV/IBA 2". Throughout ITV's history and until Channel 4 finally became a reality, a perennial dialogue existed between the GPO, the government, the ITV companies and other interested parties, concerning the form such an expansion of commercial broadcasting would take. It was most likely politics which had the biggest impact in leading to a delay of almost three decades before the second commercial channel became a reality.
One clear benefit of the "late arrival" of the channel was that its frequency allocations at each transmitter had already been arranged in the early 1960s, when the launch of an ITV2 was highly anticipated. This led to very good coverage across most of the country and few problems of interference with other UK-based transmissions; a stark contrast to the problems associated with Channel 5's launch almost 15 years later.
At the time the fourth service was being considered, a movement in Wales lobbied for the creation of dedicated service that would air Welsh-language programmes, then only catered for at "off peak" times on BBC Wales and HTV. The campaign was taken so seriously by Gwynfor Evans, former president of Plaid Cymru, that he threatened the government with a hunger strike were it not to honour the plans.
The result was that Channel 4 as seen by the rest of the United Kingdom would be replaced in Wales by Sianel Pedwar Cymru (S4C) (Channel Four Wales). Operated by a specially created authority, S4C would air programmes in Welsh made by HTV, the BBC and independent companies. Initially limited frequency space meant that Channel 4 could not be broadcast alongside S4C, though some Channel 4 programmes would be aired at less popular times on the Welsh variant, a practice that carried on up until the closure of S4C's analogue transmissions in 2010 when S4C became a fully Welsh channel.
Following the announcement, the channel headed into a montage of clips from its programmes set to the station's signature tune, "Fourscore", written by David Dundas, which would form the basis of the station's jingles for its first decade. The first programme to air on the channel was the teatime game show Countdown, at 16:45 produced by Yorkshire Television. The first person to be seen on Channel 4 was Richard Whiteley with Ted Moult being the second. The first woman on the channel, contrary to popular belief, was not Whiteley's Countdown co-host Carol Vorderman but a lexicographer only ever identified as Mary. Whiteley opened the show with the words:
On its first day, Channel 4 also broadcast controversial soap opera Brookside, which ran until 2003.
On its launch, Channel 4 committed itself to providing an alternative to the existing channels, an agenda in part set out by its remit which required the provision of programming to minority groups.
In step with its remit, the channel became well received both by minority groups and the arts and cultural worlds during this period, especially under founding chief executive Jeremy Isaacs, where the channel gained a reputation for programmes on the contemporary arts. Channel 4 co-commissioned Robert Ashley's ground-breaking television opera Perfect Lives, which it premiered over several episodes in 1984. The channel often did not receive mass audiences for much of this period, however, as might be expected for a station focusing on minority interest.
In 1992, Channel 4 also faced its first libel case by Jani Allan, a South African journalist, who objected to her representation in Nick Broomfield's documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife.
In September 1993, the channel broadcast the direct-to-TV documentary film Beyond Citizen Kane, in which it displayed the dominant position of the Rede Globo television network, and discussed its influence, power and political connections in Brazil.
After control of the station passed from the Channel Four Television Company to the Channel Four Television Corporation in 1993, a shift in broadcasting style took place. Instead of aiming for the fringes of society, it began to focus on the edges of the mainstream, and the centre of the mass market itself. It began to show many US programmes in peak viewing time, far more than it had previously done. It gave such shows as Friends and ER their UK premières.
In the early 2000s, Channel 4 began broadcasting reality formats such as Big Brother and obtained the rights to broadcast mass appeal sporting events like cricket and horse racing. This new direction increased ratings and revenues.
Partially in reaction to its new "populist" direction, the Communications Act 2003 directed the channel to demonstrate innovation, experimentation and creativity, appeal to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society and to include programmes of an educational nature which exhibit a distinctive character.
On 31 December 2004, Channel 4 launched a new look and new idents in which the logo is disguised as different objects and the 4 can be seen in an angle.
Under the leadership of Freeview founder Andy Duncan, 2005 saw a change of direction for Channel 4's digital channels. Channel 4 made E4 free-to-air on digital terrestrial television, and launched a new free-to-air digital channel called More4. By October, Channel 4 had joined the Freeview consortium. By July 2006, Film4 had also become a free-to-air and restarted broadcasting on digital terrestrial.
Venturing into radio broadcasting, 2005 saw Channel 4 purchase 51% of shares in the now defunct Oneword radio station with UBC Media holding on to the remaining shares. New programmes such as the weekly, half-hour The Morning Report news programme were among some of the new content Channel 4 provided for the station, with the name 4Radio being used. As of early 2009, however, Channel 4's future involvement in radio remained uncertain.
On 2 November 2007, the station celebrated its 25th birthday. It showed the first episode of Countdown, an anniversary Countdown special, as well as a special edition of The Big Fat Quiz and using the original multicoloured 1982–1996 blocks logo on presentation and idents using the Fourscore jingle throughout the day.
In November 2009, Channel 4 launched a week of 3D television, broadcasting selected programmes each night using stereoscopic ColorCode 3D technology. The accompanying 3D glasses were distributed through Sainsbury's supermarkets.
On 29 September 2015, Channel 4 revamped its presentation for a fifth time; the new branding downplayed the "4" logo from most on-air usage, in favour of using the shapes from the logo in various forms. Four new idents were filmed by Jonathan Glazer, which featured the shapes in various real-world scenes depicting the "discovery" and "origins" of the shapes. The full logo was still occasionally used, but primarily for off-air marketing. Channel 4 also commissioned two new corporate typefaces, "Chadwick", and "Horseferry" (a variation of Chadwick with the aforementioned shapes incorporated into its letter forms), for use across promotional material and on-air. On 31 October 2017, Channel 4 introduced a new series of idents continuing the theme, this time depicting the logo shapes as having formed an anthropomorphic "giant" character.
Channel 4 has raised concerns over how it might finance its public service obligations after digital switch-over. However, some certainty came with the announcement in April 2006 that Channel 4's digital switch-over costs would be paid for by licence fee revenues.
On 28 March 2007, Channel 4 announced plans to launch a music channel "4Music" as a joint venture with British media company EMAP which would include carriage on the Freeview platform. On 15 August 2008, 4Music was launched across the UK. Channel 4 announced interest in launching a high-definition version of Film4 on Freeview, to coincide with the launch of Channel 4 HD, however the fourth HD slot was given to Channel 5 instead. Channel 4 has since acquired a 50% stake in EMAP's TV business for a reported £28 million.
Channel 4 was considered for privatisation by the governments of Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair. As of 2016 the future of the channel was again being looked into by the government, with analysts suggesting several options for the channel's future.
Channel 4 was established with, and continues to hold, a remit of public service obligations which it must fulfil. The remit changes periodically, as dictated by various broadcasting and communications acts, and is regulated by the various authorities Channel 4 has been answerable to; originally the IBA, then the ITC and now Ofcom.
The preamble of the remit as per the Communications Act 2003 states that:
"The public service remit for Channel 4 is the provision of a broad range of high quality and diverse programming which, in particular:
- demonstrates innovation, experiment and creativity in the form and content of programmes;
- appeals to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society;
- makes a significant contribution to meeting the need for the licensed public service channels to include programmes of an educational nature and other programmes of educative value; and
- exhibits a distinctive character."
Channel 4 was carried from its beginning on analogue terrestrial, which was practically the only means of television broadcast in the United Kingdom at the time. It continued to be broadcast through these means until the changeover to digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom was complete. Since 1998, it has been universally available on digital terrestrial, and the Sky platform (initially encrypted, though encryption was dropped on 14 April 2008 and is now free of charge and available on the Freesat platform) as well as having been available from various times in various areas, on analogue and digital cable networks.
Channel 4 is also seen outside the United Kingdom where it is widely available in Ireland, Switzerland and Belgium. Here viewers receive the channel either on basic cable subscription services or premium services.
Channel 4 has been available in large parts of Ireland, especially border counties which have been able to receive terrestrial transmissions from Northern Ireland. Channel 4 has been carried on Irish cable networks since the station went on the air in 1982. From 4 December 2006 Channel 4 was officially available to Sky viewers in Ireland; some programmes, mainly imports, are not aired on this channel variant, due to Channel 4 not owning the relevant broadcast rights within the country. As of 2015, Channel 4 has an opt-out for the Republic of Ireland featuring Irish advertising, but the schedule is the same as the UK channel.
The Channel 4 website allows Internet users in the United Kingdom to watch Channel 4 live on the Internet. In the past some programmes (mostly international imports) were not shown. Channel 4 is also provided by Virgin Mobile's DAB mobile TV service which has the same restrictions as the Internet live stream had. Channel 4 is also carried by the Internet TV service TVCatchup and was previously carried by Zattoo until the operator removed the channel from its platform.
Channel 4 also makes some of its programming available "on demand" via cable and the Internet through All 4.
During the station's formative years, funding came from the ITV companies in return for their right to sell advertisements in their region on the fourth channel.
Nowadays it pays for itself in much the same way as most privately run commercial stations, i.e. through the sale of on-air advertising, programme sponsorship, and the sale of any programme content and merchandising rights it owns, such as overseas sales and video sales. For example, as of 2012 its total revenues were £925 million with 91% derived from sale of advertising. It also has the ability to subsidise the main network through any profits made on the corporation's other endeavours, which have in the past included subscription fees from stations such as E4 and Film4 (now no longer subscription services) and its "video-on-demand" sales. In practice, however, these other activities are loss-making, and are subsidised by the main network. According to Channel 4's last published accounts, for 2005, the extent of this cross-subsidy was some £30 million.
The change in funding came about under the Broadcasting Act 1990 when the new corporation was afforded the ability to fund itself. Originally this arrangement left a "safety net" guaranteed minimum income should the revenue fall too low, funded by large insurance payments made to the ITV companies. Such a subsidy was never required, however, and these premiums were phased out by the government in 1998. After the link with ITV was cut, the cross-promotion which had existed between ITV and Channel 4 also ended.
In 2007 due to severe funding difficulties, the channel sought government help and was granted a payment of £14 million over a six-year period. The money would have come from the television licence fee and would have been the first time that money from the licence fee had been given to any broadcaster other than the BBC. The plan was scrapped by The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Andy Burnham, ahead of "broader decisions about the future framework of public service broadcasting". The broadcasting regulator Ofcom released its review in January 2009 in which it suggested that Channel 4 would preferably be funded by "partnerships, joint ventures or mergers".
Channel 4 is a "publisher-broadcaster", meaning that it commissions or "buys" all of its programming from companies independent of itself, and was the first broadcaster in the United Kingdom to do so on any significant scale; such commissioning is a stipulation which is included in its licence to broadcast. This had the consequence of starting an industry of production companies that did not have to rely on owning an ITV licence to see their programmes air, though since Channel 4, external commissioning has become regular practice on the numerous stations that have launched since, as well as on the BBC and in ITV (where a quota of 25% minimum of total output has been imposed since the 1990 Broadcasting Act came into force). Although it was the first British broadcaster to commission all of its programmes from third parties, Channel 4 was the last terrestrial broadcaster to outsource its transmission and playout operations (to Red Bee Media), after 25 years in-house.
The requirement to obtain all content externally is stipulated in its licence. Additionally, Channel 4 also began a trend of owning the copyright and distribution rights of the programmes it aired, in a manner that is similar to the major Hollywood studios' ownership of television programmes that they did not directly produce. Thus, although Channel 4 does not produce programmes, many are seen as belonging to it.
Channel 4 also pioneered the concept of stranded programming, where seasons of programmes following a common theme would be aired and promoted together. Some would be very specific, and run for a fixed period of time; the 4 Mation season, for example, showed innovative animation. Other, less specific strands, were (and still are) run regularly, such as T4, a strand of programming aimed at teenagers, on weekend mornings (and weekdays during school/college holidays); Friday Night Comedy, a slot where the channel would pioneer its style of comedy commissions, 4Music (now a separate channel) and 4Later, an eclectic collection of offbeat programmes transmitted in the early hours of the morning.
In its earlier years, Red Triangle was the name given to the airing of certain risqué art-house films due to the use of a red triangle DOG in the upper right of the screen, dubbed as being pornographic by many of Channel 4's critics, while general broadcasting of films on the station for many years came under the banner of Film on Four prior to the launch of the FilmFour brand and station in the late 1990s.
|Rank||Programme or film||Viewers (millions)||Date|
|1||A Woman of Substance||13.85||4 January 1985|
|2||Big Brother||13.74||27 July 2001|
|3||A Woman of Substance||13.20||3 January 1985|
|4||Four Weddings and a Funeral||12.40||15 November 1995|
|5||A Woman of Substance||11.55||2 January 1985|
|6||Gregory's Girl||10.75||8 January 1985|
|7||The Great British Bake Off||10.34||30 October 2018|
|8||The Great British Bake Off||10.04||31 October 2017|
|9||Big Brother||10.01||26 July 2002|
|10||Big Fat Gypsy Weddings||9.71||8 February 2011|
During the station's early days, the screenings of innovative short one-off comedy films produced by a rotating line-up of alternative comedians went under the title of The Comic Strip Presents. The Tube and Saturday Live/Friday Night Live also launched the careers of a number of comedians and writers. Channel 4 broadcast a number of popular American imports including Roseanne, Friends, Sex and the City, South Park and Will & Grace. Other significant US acquisitions include The Simpsons, for which the station was reported to have paid £700,000 per episode for the terrestrial television rights.
In 2010, Channel 4 organised Channel 4's Comedy Gala, a comedy benefit show in aid of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. With over 25 comedians appearing, it billed it as "the biggest live stand up show in United Kingdom history". Filmed live on 30 March in front of 14,000 at The O2 Arena in London, it was broadcast on 5 April. This has continued to 2016.
Channel 4 has a strong reputation for history programmes and real-life documentaries. It has also courted controversy, for example by broadcasting live the first public autopsy in the UK for 170 years, carried out by Gunther von Hagens in 2002, or the 2003 one-off stunt Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live.
FourDocs is an online documentary site provided by Channel 4. It allows viewers to upload their own documentaries to the site for others to view. It focuses on documentaries of between 3 and 5 minutes. The website also includes an archive of classic documentaries, interviews with documentary filmmakers and short educational guides to documentary-making. It won a Peabody Award in 2006. The site also includes a strand for documentaries of under 59 seconds, called "Microdocs".
Channel 4 is obliged to carry schools programming as part of its remit and licence.
Since 1957 ITV had produced schools programming, which became an obligation. In 1987, five years after the station was launched, the IBA afforded ITV free carriage of these programmes during Channel 4's then-unused weekday morning hours. This arrangement allowed the ITV companies to fulfil their obligation to provide schools programming, whilst allowing ITV itself to broadcast regular programmes complete with advertisements. During the times in which schools programmes were aired Central Television provided most of the continuity with play-out originating from Birmingham.
After the restructuring of the station in 1993, ITV's obligations to provide such programming on Channel 4's airtime passed to Channel 4 itself, and the new service became Channel 4 Schools, with the new corporation administering the service and commissioning its programmes, some still from ITV, others from independent producers.
The schools programming has always had elements different to its normal presentational package. In 1993, the Channel 4 Schools idents featured famous people in one category, with light shining on them in front of an industrial looking setting supplemented by instrumental calming music. This changed in 1996 with the circles look to numerous children touching the screen, forming circles of information then picked up by other children. The last child would produce the channel 4 logo in the form of three vertical circles, with another in the middle and to the left containing the Channel 4 logo.
A present feature of presentation was a countdown sequence featuring, in 1993 a slide with the programme name, and afterwards an extended sequence matching the channel branding. In 1996, this was an extended ident with timer in top left corner, and in 1999 following the adoption of the squares look, featured a square with timer slowly make its way across the right of the screen with people learning and having fun while doing so passing across the screen. It finished with the Channel 4 logo box on the right of the screen and the name 'Channel 4 Schools' being shown. This was adapted in 2000 when the service's name was changed to '4Learning'.
In 2001, this was altered to various scenes from classrooms around the world and different parts of school life. The countdown now flips over from the top, right, bottom and left with each second, and ends with four coloured squares, three of which are aligned vertically to the left of the Channel 4 logo, with is contained inside the fourth box. The tag 'Learning' is located directly beneath the logo. The final countdown sequence lasted between 2004 and 2005 and featured a background video of current controversial issues, overlaid with upcoming programming information. the video features people in the style of graffiti enacting the overuse of CCTV cameras, fox hunting, computer viruses and pirate videos, relationships, pollution of the seas and violent lifestyles. Following 2005, no branded section has been used for Schools programmes.
From the outset, Channel 4 did not conform to the expectations of conventional religious broadcasting in the UK. John Ranelagh, first Commissioning Editor for Religion, made his priority 'broadening the spectrum of religious programming' and more 'intellectual' concerns. He also ignored the religious programme advisory structure that had been put in place by the BBC, and subsequently adopted by ITV. Ranelagh's first major commission caused a furore, a three-part documentary series called Jesus: The Evidence. The programmes, transmitted during the Easter period of 1984, seemed to advocate the idea that the Gospels were unreliable, Jesus may have indulged in witchcraft, and that he may not have even existed. The series triggered a public outcry, and marked a significant moment in the deterioration in the relationship between the UK's broadcasting and religious institutions.
Numerous genres of film-making – such as comedy, drama, documentary, adventure/action, romance and horror/thriller – are represented in the channel's schedule. From the launch of Channel 4 until 1998, film presentations on C4 would often be broadcast under the "Film on Four" banner.
In March 2005, Channel 4 screened the uncut Lars von Trier film The Idiots, which includes unsimulated sexual intercourse, making it the first UK terrestrial channel to do so. The channel had previously screened other films with similar material but censored and with warnings.
Since 1 November 1998, Channel 4 has had a digital subsidiary channel dedicated to the screening of films. This channel launched as a paid subscription channel under the name "FilmFour", and was relaunched in July 2006 as a free-to-air channel under the current name of "Film4". The Film4 channel carries a wide range of film productions, including acquired and Film4-produced projects. Channel 4's general entertainment channels E4 and More4 also screen feature films at certain points in the schedule as part of their content mix.
A season of television programmes about masturbation, called Wank Week, was to be broadcast in the United Kingdom by Channel 4 in March 2007. The first show was about a Masturbate-a-thon, a public mass masturbation event, organised to raise money for the sexual health charity Marie Stopes International. Another film would have focused on compulsive male masturbators and a third was to feature the sex educator Dr Betty Dodson.
The series came under public attack from senior television figures, and was pulled amid claims of declining editorial standards and controversy over the channel's public service broadcasting credentials.
On 8 March 2007 Channel 4 screened the highly controversial documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. The programme states that global warming is "a lie" and "the biggest scam of modern times". The programme's accuracy has been disputed on multiple points and several commentators have criticised it for being one-sided, noting that the mainstream position on global warming is supported by the scientific academies of the major industrialised nations There were 246 complaints to Ofcom as of 25 April 2007, including the complaints that the programme falsified data. The programme has been criticised by scientists and scientific organisations and various scientists which participated in the documentary claimed their views had been distorted.
Against Nature: An earlier controversial Channel 4 programme made by Martin Durkin which was also critical of the environmental movement and was charged by the Independent Television Commission of the UK for misrepresenting and distorting the views of interviewees by selective editing.
The Greenhouse Conspiracy: An earlier Channel 4 documentary broadcast on 12 August 1990, as part of the Equinox series, in which similar claims were made. Three of the people interviewed (Lindzen, Michaels and Spencer) were also interviewed in The Great Global Warming Swindle.
In the Christmas address of 2008, a Channel 4 tradition since 1993, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a thinly veiled attack on the United States by claiming that Christ would have been against "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers".
A spokeswoman for the FCO said: "President Ahmadinejad has, during his time in office, made a series of appalling anti-Semitic statements. The British media are rightly free to make their own editorial choices, but this invitation will cause offence and bemusement not just at home but among friendly countries abroad."
On 15 August 2013, Channel 4 aired a 45-minute documentary on One Direction and their fans dubbed as "Directioners". Following the airing, fans across the world complained on social media about the documentary, arguing that this was not a reflection of them.
4Talent is an editorial branch of Channel 4's commissioning wing, which co-ordinates Channel 4's various talent development schemes for film, television, radio, new media and other platforms and provides a showcasing platform for new talent.
There are bases in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast, serving editorial hubs known respectively as 4Talent National, 4Talent Central England, 4Talent Scotland and 4Talent Northern Ireland. These four sites include features, profiles and interviews in text, audio and video formats, divided into five zones: TV, Film, Radio, New Media and Extras, which covers other arts such as theatre, music and design. 4Talent also collates networking, showcasing and professional development opportunities, and runs workshops, masterclasses, seminars and showcasing events across the UK.
4Talent magazine is the creative industries magazine from 4Talent, which launched in 2005 as TEN4 magazine under the editorship of Dan Jones. 4Talent Magazine is currently edited by Nick Carson. Other staff include deputy editor Catherine Bray and production editor Helen Byrne. The magazine covers rising and established figures of interest in the creative industries, a remit including film, radio, TV, comedy, music, new media and design.
Subjects are usually UK-based, with contributing editors based in Northern Ireland, Scotland, London and Birmingham, but the publication has been known to source international content from Australia, America, continental Europe and the Middle East. The magazine is frequently organised around a theme for the issue, for instance giving half of November 2007's pages over to profiling winners of the annual 4Talent Awards.
An unusual feature of the magazine's credits is the equal prominence given to the names of writers, photographers, designers and illustrators, contradicting standard industry practice of more prominent writer bylines. It is also recognisable for its 'wraparound' covers, which use the front and back as a continuous canvas – often produced by guest artists.
Although 4Talent Magazine is technically a newsstand title, a significant proportion of its readers are subscribers. It started life as a quarterly 100-page title, but has since doubled in size and is now published bi-annually.
Since its launch in 1982, Channel 4 has used the same logo which consists of a stylised numeral "4" made up of nine differently-shaped blocks. The logo was designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn and his brother Robinson and was the first channel in the UK to depict an ident made using advanced computer generation (the first electronically-generated ident was on BBC Two in 1979, but this was two-dimensional). It was designed in conjunction with Bo Gehring Aviation of Los Angeles and originally depicted the "4" in red, yellow, green, blue and purple. The music accompanying the ident was called "Fourscore" and was composed by Lord David Dundas, later released as a single alongside a B-side, "Fourscore Two", although neither appeared in the UK charts. In November 1992, "Fourscore" was replaced by new music.
In 1996, Channel 4 commissioned Tomato Films to revamp the "4", which resulted in the "Circles" idents showing four white circles forming up transparently over various scenes, with the "4" logo depicted in white in one of the circles.
In 1999, Spin redesigned the logo to feature in a single square which sat on the right-hand side of the screen, whilst various stripes would move along from left to right, often lighting the squared "4" up. Like the "Circles" idents, the stripes would be interspersed with various scenes potentially related to the upcoming programme.
The logo was made three-dimensional again in 2004 when it was depicted in filmed scenes that show the blocks forming the "4" logo for less than a second before the action moves away again.
In 2015, the logo was disassembled completely to allow the blocks to appear as parts of a nature scene, sometimes featuring a strange dancing creature and sometimes being excavated for scientific study, one being studied under a microscope and showing a tardigrade. The second wave of these idents, launched in 2017, depict a giant creature made of the "4" blocks (made to look almost like a person) interacting with everyday life, sometimes shouting the "Fourscore" theme as a foghorn.
Channel 4 has, since its inception, broadcast identical programmes and continuity throughout the United Kingdom (excluding Wales where it did not operate on analogue transmitters). At launch this made it unique, as both the BBC and ITV had long established traditions of providing regional variations in their programming in different areas of the country. Since the launch of subsequent British television channels, Channel 4 has become typical in its lack of regional programming variations.
A few exceptions exist to this rule for programming and continuity:
Some of Channel 4's schools' programming (1980s/early '90s) were regionalised due to differences in curricula between different regions.
Part of Channel 4's remit covers the commissioning of programmes from outside London. Channel 4 has a dedicated director of nations and regions, Stuart Cosgrove, who is based in a regional office in Glasgow. As his job title suggests, it is his responsibility to foster relations with independent producers based in areas of the United Kingdom (including Wales) outside London.
Advertising on Channel 4 does contain regular variation: prior to 1993, when ITV was responsible for selling Channel 4's advertising, each regional ITV company would provide the content of advertising breaks, covering the same transmitter area as themselves, and these breaks were often unique to that area. After Channel 4 became responsible for its own advertising, it continued to offer advertisers the ability to target particular audiences and divided its coverage area into six regions: London, South, Midlands, North, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
At present, Wales does not have its own advertising region, instead its viewers receive the southern region on digital platforms intentionally broadcast to the area, or the neighbouring region where terrestrial transmissions spill over into Wales. The Republic of Ireland shares its advertising region with Northern Ireland (referred to by Channel 4 as the 'Ulster Macro') with many advertisers selling products for Ireland here. E4 has an advertising variant for Ireland, although Northern Ireland receives the UK version of E4. The six regions are also carried on satellite, cable and Digital Terrestrial.
Despite the Republic of Ireland not being in the UK, Channel 4 has a dedicated variant broadcast on Sky Ireland which omits programmes for which broadcast rights are not held in Ireland. For example, the series Glee is not available on Channel 4 on Sky in Ireland. In recent years a Republic of Ireland advertising opt-out has been added to this version.
With ITV plc pushing for much looser requirements on the amount of regional news and other programming it is obliged to broadcast in its ITV regions, the idea of Channel 4 taking on a regional news commitment has been considered, with the corporation in talks with Ofcom and ITV over the matter. Channel 4 believe that a scaling-back of such operations on ITV's part would be detrimental to Channel 4's national news operation, which shares much of its resources with ITV through their shared news contractor ITN. At the same time, Channel 4 also believe that such an additional public service commitment would bode well in on-going negotiations with Ofcom in securing additional funding for its other public service commitments.
In mid-2006 Channel 4 ran a six-month closed trial of HDTV, as part of the wider Freeview HD experiment via the Crystal Palace transmitter to London and parts of the home counties, including the use of Lost and Desperate Housewives as part of the experiment, as US broadcasters such as ABC already have an HDTV back catalogue.
On 10 December 2007, Channel 4 launched a high definition television simulcast of Channel 4 on Sky's digital satellite platform, after Sky agreed to contribute toward the channel's satellite distribution costs. It was the first full-time high definition channel from a terrestrial UK broadcaster.
On 31 July 2009, Virgin Media added Channel 4 HD on channel 146 (later on channel 142, now on channel 141) as a part of the M pack. On 25 March 2010 Channel 4 HD appeared on Freeview channel 52 with a placeholding caption, ahead of a commercial launch on 30 March 2010, coinciding with the commercial launch of Freeview HD. On 19 April 2011, Channel 4 HD was added to Freesat on channel 126. As a consequence, the channel moved from being free-to-view to free-to-air on satellite during March 2011. With the closure of S4C Clirlun in Wales on 1 December 2012, on Freeview, Channel 4 HD launched in Wales on 2 December 2012.
The channel carries the same schedule as Channel 4, broadcasting programmes in HD when available, acting as a simulcast. Therefore, SD programming is broadcast upscaled to HD. The first true HD programme to be shown was the 1996 Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore. From launch until 2016 the presence of the 4HD logo on screen denoted true HD content.
On 1 July 2014, Channel 4 +1 HD, a timeshift of Channel 4 HD, launched on Freeview channel 110.
On 20 February 2018, Channel 4 announced that Channel 4 HD and All 4 will no longer be supplied on Freesat from Thursday 22 February 2018.
All 4 is a video on demand service from Channel 4, launched in November 2006 as 4oD. The service offers a variety of programmes recently shown on Channel 4, E4, More4 or from their archives, though some programmes and movies are not available due to rights issues.
Channel 4 originally licensed an ancillary teletext service to provide schedules, programme information and features. The original service was called 4-Tel, and was produced by Intelfax, a company set up especially for the purpose. It was carried in the 400s on Oracle. In 1993, with Oracle losing its franchise to Teletext Ltd, 4-Tel found a new home in the 300s, and had its name shown in the header row. Intelfax continued to produce the service  and in 2002 it was renamed FourText.
In 2003, Channel 4 awarded Teletext Ltd a ten-year contract to run the channel's ancillary teletext service, named Teletext on 4. This has now ceased and Teletext is no longer available on Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5.
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8 Out of 10 Cats is a British television comedy panel game produced by Zeppotron (a subsidiary of Endemol UK) for E4. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 3 June 2005. The show is hosted by Jimmy Carr and the current team captains are Rob Beckett and Aisling Bea.
The show is based on statistics and opinion polls, and draws on polls produced by a variety of organisations and new polls commissioned for the programme, carried out by Harris Poll. The title is derived from a well-known advertising tagline for Whiskas cat food, which claimed that "8 out of 10 cats prefer Whiskas".
New and past episodes air across the Channel 4 network of channels, with past episodes also repeated on Dave. The show will also start to air on Comedy Central.All 4
All 4 is a video on demand service from Channel Four Television Corporation. The service launched on 16 November 2006 as 4oD (shorthand for 4 on Demand). The service offers a variety of programmes recently shown on Channel 4, E4, More4, Film4 and 4Music and shorts. However some programmes and movies are not available due to rights issues.
The cable and IPTV versions are operated through an appropriate set-top box whilst the internet variant can be accessed via their website. All 4 generated around 215 million long-form video views on all platforms where it is available in the first half of 2011, making Channel 4 the biggest commercial UK broadcaster in the video on-demand market during the period.On 30 March 2015, 4oD was merged into and renamed All 4.Black Mirror
Black Mirror is a British anthology science fiction television series created by Charlie Brooker, with Brooker and Annabel Jones serving as the programme showrunners. It examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. Episodes are standalone, usually set in an alternative present or the near future, often with a dark and satirical tone, though some are more experimental and lighter.
Black Mirror was inspired by older anthology series like The Twilight Zone, which were able to deal with controversial, contemporary topics without fear of censorship. Brooker developed Black Mirror to highlight topics related to humanity's relationship to technology, creating stories that feature "the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy."
The series premiered for two series on the British television channel Channel 4 in December 2011 and February 2013, respectively. After its addition to the catalogue in December 2014, Netflix purchased the programme in September 2015. It commissioned a series of 12 episodes later divided into the third and fourth series, each six episodes; the former was released on 21 October 2016 and the latter on 29 December 2017. A fifth series was announced on 5 March 2018. A standalone interactive film titled Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was released on 28 December 2018.
The series has garnered positive reception from critics, received many awards and nominations, and seen an increase in interest internationally, particularly in the United States after its addition to Netflix. Two episodes, "San Junipero" (from the third series) and "USS Callister" (fourth series), won a total of six Emmy Awards, with both episodes winning Outstanding Television Movie.Channel 4 News
Channel 4 News is the main news programme on British television broadcaster Channel 4. It is produced by ITN, and has been in operation since Channel 4's launch in November 1982.Channel Four Television Corporation
Channel Four Television Corporation is a publicly owned media company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. Its original and principal activity is the British national television network Channel 4.
The company was founded in 1982 as Channel Four Television Company Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the IBA, and became an independent statutory corporation in 1993. November 1998 saw Channel Four expand beyond its remit of providing the 'fourth service' in a significant way, with the launch of FilmFour. Since then the corporation has been involved in a range of other activities, all in some way associated with the main channel, and mainly using the '4' brand.Charlie Brooker
Charlton "Charlie" Brooker (born 3 March 1971) is an English humourist, critic, author, screenwriter, producer, and television presenter. He is the co-creator of the anthology series Black Mirror and has written for programmes such as Brass Eye, The 11 O'Clock Show, and Nathan Barley. He has presented a number of television shows, including Screenwipe, Gameswipe, Newswipe, Weekly Wipe, and 10 O'Clock Live. He also wrote the five-part horror drama Dead Set. He has written comment pieces for The Guardian and is one of four creative directors of the production company Zeppotron.Davina McCall
Davina Lucy Pascale McCall (born 16 October 1967) is an English television presenter and model. She was the presenter of Big Brother during its run on Channel 4 between 2000 and 2010. She has also hosted Channel 4's The Million Pound Drop, Five Minutes to a Fortune and The Jump as well as ITV's Long Lost Family and This Time Next Year.
McCall was most notably the presenter of Big Brother on Channel 4 between 2000 and 2010. Having fronted the weekly live eviction shows every year since the beginning, she decided not to return as host after it was dropped by Channel 4 in 2010 and relaunched by Channel 5 the following year.
After a difficult childhood, in her early twenties McCall had pursued various jobs, including becoming a solo singer, but later embarked on a career on television with a first job presenting for satellite music channel MTV in 1992. After further work on terrestrial channels she became a household name thanks to Big Brother, while also continuing to work with other hosting vehicles on various channels, from game shows to talent shows. She has also been a regular co-presenter of the Comic Relief annual telethons since 2005.
Departures from presenting into other television roles, through a sitcom, a documentary series and fronting her own chat show, have all proven to be unsuccessful, and beyond Big Brother she has continued in the mainstream as a presenter on Channel 4, ITV and Sky One.E4 (TV channel)
E4 is a British free-to-air television channel owned by Channel Four Television Corporation. The "E" stands for entertainment, and the channel is mainly aimed at the 16–34 age group. Programming includes US imports such as The Goldbergs, The O.C., Smallville, Veronica Mars, Everwood, What About Brian, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, 90210, Gotham, Rules of Engagement, The Big Bang Theory, RuPaul's Drag Race, 2 Broke Girls, Scream Queens, Revenge, and previously Friends (now on Channel 5). Other programming includes homegrown British shows such as Skins, Misfits, The Inbetweeners, Shameless, Hollyoaks, Coach Trip and Made in Chelsea.
Its most successful broadcast to date was on 11 October 2010 when an episode of The Inbetweeners pulled in over 3.7 million viewers.Film4
Film4 is a British free-to-air television channel owned by the Channel Four Television Corporation, that broadcasts films. It was launched in 1 November 1998. While its standard-definition channel is available as a FTA network, its high-definition variant is offered as a pay television service.Hollyoaks
Hollyoaks is a British soap opera, first broadcast on Channel 4 on 23 October 1995. It was originally devised by Phil Redmond, who had previously conceived the Channel 4 soap Brookside. The programme is set in a fictional suburb of Chester called Hollyoaks, and features a large cast of characters, primarily 16-35 year-olds. The soap is targeted towards an adolescent and young adult audience, and is mostly filmed and produced in Childwall, Liverpool, although nearby locations are sometimes used. Beginning with a cast of seven major characters in 1995, the serial has approximately 65 main cast members today. Hollyoaks has a high cast turnover in comparison with other British soaps; as of December 2017 nineteen characters have spent five years or longer on the show. The programme has won 35 British Soap Awards, 18 Inside Soap Awards, one TRIC Award and one National Television Award; at the 2014 British Soap Awards, Hollyoaks won Best British Soap for the first time, breaking the 15-year draw between rival soaps EastEnders and Coronation Street. It is also popular in other countries around the world. The longest-serving cast member is Nick Pickard, who has played Tony Hutchinson since the first episode in 1995; all the other original cast members left by 2008. Other long-running characters include: Cindy Cunningham, Mandy Richardson, Jack Osborne and Darren Osborne.ITN
Independent Television News (ITN) is a UK-based television production company. It is made up of two divisions: Broadcast News and ITN Productions. ITN is based in London, with bureaux and offices in Beijing, Brussels, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, New York, Paris, Sydney and Washington DC.
ITN produces the daily news programmes for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 in the UK, and in recent years has diversified to produce a wide range of content including documentaries, sports, advertising and digital material for a range of international clients.
Between 1955 and 1999, ITN was more commonly known as the general brand name of ITV's news programmes. Since 8 March 1999, ITV has used ITV News as the brand name for its news programmes, though ITN continues as the network's news provider.Jack Whitehall
Jack Peter Benedict Whitehall (born 7 July 1988) is an English comedian, television presenter, actor and writer. He is best known for his stand up comedy, for starring as JP in the TV series Fresh Meat (2011–2016), and for playing Alfie Wickers in the TV series Bad Education (2012–2014) and the spin-off film The Bad Education Movie (2015), both of which he also co-wrote.
From 2012 to 2018, Whitehall was a regular panellist on the game show A League of Their Own. In 2017, Whitehall appeared with his father, Michael, in the Netflix comedy documentary series Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father and starred in the television series Decline and Fall. The following year, he hosted the 2018 Brit Awards.Jimmy Carr
James Anthony Patrick Carr (born 15 September 1972) is a stand-up comedian, presenter, writer, and actor who holds both British and Irish citizenship. He is known for his deadpan delivery, dark humour, and heckler interaction. Carr moved to a career in comedy in 2000.After becoming established as a stand-up comedian, Carr began to appear in a number of Channel 4 television shows, becoming the host of the panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and also The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, a comedy panel show that airs each December to review the past year.More4
More4 is a British free-to-air television channel, owned by Channel Four Television Corporation. The channel launched on 10 October 2005.Ricky Gervais
Ricky Dene Gervais (; born 25 June 1961) is an English stand-up comedian, actor, writer, producer, director, and singer.
Gervais worked initially in the music industry, attempting a career as a pop star in the 1980s as the singer of the new wave act Seona Dancing and working as the manager of the then-unknown band Suede before turning to comedy. Gervais appeared on The 11 O'Clock Show on Channel 4 between 1998 and 2000. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais, and then achieved greater mainstream fame a year later with his BBC television series The Office. It was followed by Extras in 2005. He co-wrote and co-directed both series with Stephen Merchant. In addition to writing and directing the shows, he played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. He reprised his role as Brent in the comedy film David Brent: Life on the Road.
Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. He has performed five multi-national stand-up comedy tours, and wrote the Flanimals book series. Gervais, Merchant and Karl Pilkington created the podcast, The Ricky Gervais Show, which has spawned various spin-offs starring Pilkington and produced by Gervais and Merchant.He has also starred in the Hollywood films Ghost Town, and Muppets Most Wanted, and wrote, directed and starred in The Invention of Lying and the Netflix released Special Correspondents. He hosted the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016, and appears on the game show Child Support.
Gervais has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and the 2006 Rose d'Or, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In a 2004 poll for the BBC, he was named the third most influential person in British culture. In 2007, he was voted the 11th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 3rd greatest stand-up comic. In 2010, he was named on the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.Television in the United Kingdom
Television in the United Kingdom started in 1936 as a public service which was free of advertising. Currently, the United Kingdom has a collection of free-to-air, free-to-view and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channels for consumers as well as on-demand content. There are six main channel owners who are responsible for most material viewed. There are 27,000 hours of domestic content produced a year at a cost of £2.6 billion. Since 24 October 2012, all television broadcasts in the United Kingdom have been in a digital format, following the end of analogue transmissions in Northern Ireland. Digital content is delivered via terrestrial, satellite and cable, as well as over IP.The End of the F***ing World
The End of the F***ing World is a British dark comedy-drama television programme, based on a graphic novel of the same name by Charles Forsman. The eight-part programme premiered its first episode on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2017, after which all eight episodes were released on All 4. It was a co-production with Netflix, who released it internationally on 5 January 2018. The programme follows James (Alex Lawther), a 17-year-old who believes himself to be a psychopath, and Alyssa (Jessica Barden), a rebellious classmate who sees in James a chance to escape from her tumultuous home life.
The show is based on Forsman's mini-comics The End of the Fucking World, which were collected into a book in 2013. Series creator Jonathan Entwistle contacted him about making a film, and a short was made in 2014. Instead, an eight-part serial was commissioned, with filming beginning in April 2017. It was written by Charlie Covell, and episodes were directed by Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak. In August 2018, Channel 4 renewed the programme for a second series.
The programme has been met with critical acclaim, and has been praised for its writing, execution and subject matter, as well as for Lawther and Barden's performances. It was nominated for the 2018 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series.The Great British Bake Off
The Great British Bake Off (also called Bake Off or GBBO) is a British television baking competition, produced by Love Productions, in which a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking skills, with a contestant being eliminated in each round, with the winner being selected from the contestants who reach the finals. The show's first episode was aired on 17 August 2010, with its first four series broadcast on BBC Two, until its growing popularity led the BBC to move it to BBC One for the next three series. After its seventh series, Love Productions signed a three-year deal with Channel 4 to produce the show for the broadcaster.The programme was originally presented by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, with judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. The current presenters are Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig, with Hollywood and Prue Leith as the judges. In chronological order, the winners are Edd Kimber, Joanne Wheatley, John Whaite, Frances Quinn, Nancy Birtwhistle, Nadiya Hussain, Candice Brown, Sophie Faldo and Rahul Mandal.
The show has become a significant part of British culture and is credited with reinvigorating interest in baking throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, with many of its participants, including winners, having gone on to start a career based on bakery, while the BAFTA award-winning programme has spawned a number of specials and spin-off shows: a celebrity charity series in aid of Sport Relief/Comic Relief or Stand Up to Cancer; Junior Bake Off for young children (broadcast on the CBBC channel); after-show series An Extra Slice; and Bake Off: The Professionals for teams of pastry chefs. The show's format was used as the basis for two BBC Two series, The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down. Under the title The Great British Baking Show, Bake Off has been shown in the United States and Canada. It also has appeared in other countries, and the format has been sold to television producers in many countries around the world, where local versions are made.Time Team
Time Team is a British television programme that originally aired on Channel 4 from 16 January 1994 to 7 September 2014. Created by television producer Tim Taylor and presented by actor Tony Robinson, each episode featured a team of specialists carrying out an archaeological dig over a period of three days, with Robinson explaining the process in lay terms. The specialists changed throughout the programme's run, although it consistently included professional archaeologists such as Mick Aston, Carenza Lewis, Francis Pryor and Phil Harding. The sites excavated ranged in date from the Palaeolithic to the Second World War.
In October 2012, Channel 4 announced that the final series would be broadcast in 2013. Series 20 was screened from January–March 2013 and nine specials were screened between May 2013 and September 2014.