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Channel 5

Channel 5 was the fifth and final analogue TV station to be launched in the UK. Trying to squeeze another network onto an overcrowded UHF band was never going to be easy, especially as the frequency chosen was already allocated for RF output on millions of video recorders. The franchise holder was given the unenviable task of hiring engineers, at their expense, to manually retune any equipment in peoples homes that would be affected.

When Channel 5 eventually began broadcasting in 1997, it could only be received by 65% of the population. Many viewers were forced to upgrade their aerial and were still left with an inferior quality picture compared to the other analogue channels. Within a few months it was added to the Astra satellite, enabling satellite viewers to receive a better signal, but defeating the whole purpose of it being a free-to-air terrestrial TV channel.

Ironically, a year later, the first digital TV channels began broadcasting in the UK, requiring viewers to once again upgrade their aerials, this time with the promise of dozens of new channels with better quality picture and sound.

Then in 1999 the Government announced it's plans for a digital switchover, resulting in all five analogue channels being shut down between 2008 and 2012. Technology was now advancing at such a pace that the whole reasoning behind adding a fifth UK TV channel in the first place had become irrelevant. In hindsight, the project should never have been allowed to go ahead and the launch should have been delayed until 1998 when digital TV became a reality.

TVRDb now contains complete listings of all programmes broadcast on Channel 5 in the 1990s. These include 721 episodes of Family Affairs (with three opportunities to watch each episode!), 1759 broadcasts of the game show 100% (including the various spin-offs and special editions), a slew of American daytime TV: Sunset Beach, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Roseanne Show and not forgetting Australian cult classic Prisoner: Cell Block H.

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