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“Thursday night on BBC1, and…”

Things That Have Long Since Disappeared But Still Make Good Subjects For Idle Conversation #375: defining days of the week with TV channels.

For an entire generation, surely Thursdays was always BBC1 night. Top Of The Pops followed by EastEnders followed by Tomorrow’s World was something stamped inside your head with as much force as a school timetable. There was no point ever thinking any different. There’d be no family arguments over what to watch because there was no reason to ever switch to the other side. It was the perfect appetiser to a Friday. A siren song that trumpeted the imminent arrival of the weekend.

Mondays, however, were – for at least one person – ITV’s domain. A cold compress in the shape of Coronation Street, Fresh Fields and World In Action. The reality was inevitably different, but the perception is of those programmes always being on and always being on Mondays. A positive disincentive to welcome the start of the new week.

Call it what you want – more sensible scheduling, less channels to choose, more variety of programmes, a less complicated existence – but no longer will you ever get the kind of free association that would forever equate early Sunday nights with BBC1 and late Sunday nights with ITV and Friday evenings with BBC2.

And that really won’t do, because how else are you supposed to remember what day of the week it is other than by the names of television programmes?



  1. Chris Hughes

    January 27, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I’m saying Friday nights were ITV – kick off with a game show at seven (Family Fortunes), then a US action import (The Fall Guy, The A-Team), a sitcom (usually from Yorkshire – The Gaffer, The Bounder, Home To Roost) then a decent drama (The Gentle Touch).

  2. Paul

    January 27, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I concur. I also seem to recall The Krypton Factor being on a Monday at 7.00pm, certainly in its prime. An intellectual hors d’œuvre before tucking into half an hour of Coronation Street. And when that wasn’t on in that slot I seem to recall a ghastly ‘magazine’ programme presented by Miriam Stoppard, called something like ‘Where There’s Life’, and featuring a Jean-Michel Jarre theme tune.

  3. fl3m

    January 28, 2008 at 12:28 am

    You’re spot on about Thursday nights on BBC1. I always remember turning over to catch the end credits to Top Gear (why do they never use that music any more?)just before the start of something like Red Dwarf
    or Alexei Sayle’s Stuff.

    Thanks to Paul for naming the Miriam Stoppard programme that has been torturing me for years. I have a very very vague memory of that programme being on an early afternoon slot on ITV, possibly after The Sullivans but before Give Us A Clue or What’s My Line.

  4. Tim

    January 28, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Monday night at 9pm on ITV was always Quincy, without fail.

  5. Darren

    January 28, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Friday’s were indeed ITV’s domain.

    Happy Days, Kick Off, Granada Reports, Play Your Cards Right, Vegas, some shite ATV sitcom, Gentle Touch (or switch over to Petrocelli on the Beeb – has he finished that house yet?), News at Ten (with Job-losses!) and then Newhart.

    Got to agree about switching over to catch the end music of Top Gear. Bring back that Elton John music!

    Wednesdays were ITV as well – Where There’s Life, Corrie, Wednesday at Eight, then some Thames drama. Switch over at 10 to the Beeb for Sportsnight.

    Thursday was always great throughout the 70’s & 80s – TW, TOTP, Eastenders, Blankety Blank, Just Good Friends…

  6. steve norgate

    January 28, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Good thoughts from all. I would echo the comments about switching to BBC2 at 9 on Thursday for quality comedy. Blackadder was always in this slot it seemed and Red Dwarf, Stuff etc, etc.

    Channel 4’s Friday comedy from 9 was the last slot of such solidity. A great slab of American imported sit coms – Cosby Show, Cheers, Roaseanne, Friends, Will & Grace was the cornerstone to weekend, for me at any rate.

    In the Cream period I would contend that each and every day had it’s own flavour, even between Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Surely the Beeb always owned Sunday night too, with Antiques, Songs, Last of’ being a more important institution to the fabric of the country than, arguably, the monarchy.

  7. Ian Jones

    January 28, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Cheers for all the comments, folks. I think I can spot a pattern developing, to wit:
    Monday – ITV
    Tuesday – BBC1
    Wednesday – ITV
    Thursday – BBC1
    Friday – ITV
    Sundays were BBC1 until you were old enough. As for Saturday, if you were at your gran’s it was ITV, if you were at home it was BBC1.

  8. N Fishwick

    January 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Sunday teatime was always the domain of ITV quiz-shows such as Bullseye and Catchphrase, followed by two or three drab hours until Spitting Image or Hale & Pace would arrive for those final, “the weekend’s finished and you’re back at school tomorrow” laughs.

  9. MrChairman

    February 1, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Oh, but! Friday night was Channel 4 night! The Chart Show early doors then The Any Good Cosby Show, Cheers or Substitute and maybe even The Paul Hogan Show late on.
    As for Sunday, that belonged to the Spitting Image/Hot Metal axis, surely?

  10. Antman

    February 8, 2008 at 4:52 am

    This is a subject I’ve been giving much thought to, so apologies for the length of the post…

    In the early to mid 80s, Saturday nights felt like a two-way battle between BBC1 and Anglia (none of that ITV business back then) – the Beeb had Jim’ll Fix It, Dukes Of Hazzard, comedy duos a plenty (Les & Dustin’s Laughter Show, Little & Large, The Krankies Electronic Comic, in fact weren’t The Two Ronnies on Saturdays too?), The Paul Daniels Magic Show, Noel Edmonds while the other side had Candid Camera, Game For A Laugh, Beadle’s About, Metal Mickey, 3-2-1, various ‘comedy’ shows (The Grumbleweeds, Bobby Davro, Duncan Norvelle), Blind Date, CHiPs, The A-Team, Nightrider, Streethawk. Forgive the lack of gameshows, but my mum has always loathed Monkhouse, Brucie and Tarby so my diet of them was very limited!

    It’s only in the ’90s that I remember ITV having a clearer Saturday night lead (when House Party came off the boil) with 90210, Baywatch, Gladiators, Stars In Their Eyes and Blind Date (still going strong).

    I concur with the idea of Fridays being solidly Channel 4, especially at the start of the 90s – Golden Girls, Roseanne, Whose Line Is It Anyway, The Word, the early episodes of Eurotrash. The Jack Dee Show (live from the Bohemia Club) and Drop The Dead Donkey are potential adds to the list but may have been on Thursdays! Anyhow, the only time I strayed elsewhere on a Friday was for the 30 mins of Red Dwarf on BBC2.

    On Sundays ITV had the brilliant Supergran pre-Bullseye/Catchphrase, Sir Harry of Secombe on his Highway plus later on quality drama like Maigret or Poirot AND Clive James! The Two Of Us should probably be in there too. During the season, BBC2’s Ski Sunday was must watch in the Martin & Graham Bell era if only for that superb music.

    Lapsing a bit further off the TV Cream years, mid-late ’90s Wednesday nights on BBC1 always seemed to involve showing an American film set in either a college or office where the downtrodden eventually triumphed. ‘Nine To Five’ airing on BBC1 last night in that very slot reminded me of this – other favourites that seemed to get shown endlessly included ‘The Secret Of My Succe$s’, ‘Necessary Roughness’ and ‘Back To School’.

    I may be wrong but I’ve an awful feeling that Jim Davidson was a stalwart of Friday nights on ITV with Up The Elephant, Home James and some plain old Jim does stand-up type show (toned down a notch for a TV audience).

  11. Merseytart

    February 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Surely Saturday night began with the Brookside omnibus/Right to Reply on Channel 4?

  12. Richardpd

    October 30, 2021 at 10:42 pm

    For years Mondays for me were The Krypton Factor, Watchdog & Telly Addicts.

    If there wasn’t any homework then maybe a repeat of Allo Allo or Goodnight Sweetheart at 8:30.

    Fridays at one time seemed to normally involve Sounds Of The 70s & a 1960s show, normally an ITC / Gerry Anderson one or The Man From UNCLE.

  13. Glenn Aylett

    October 31, 2021 at 11:44 am

    Monday nights were ITV, although the BBC did hit back occasionally with an imported series like The Rockford Files and the spoils were divided evenly between Panorama and World In Action. BBC 2 did sometimes join in the battle for viewers who wanted to escape current affairs and often had a chat show or The Goodies as an alternative that seemed to do quite well. However, against a line up of shows like Coronation St and The Sweeney, the BBC mostly gave up.
    I’d say until 1981, when ITV really upped its game, Saturdays belonged to BBC1, Thursdays until 9pm, and Fridays and Sunday evenings if the BBC had a strong run of sitcoms and light dramas. and ITV was a bit weaker. ITV was strongest Mondays to Wednesdays and on Sundays when they premiered lavish dramas like Jesus of Nazareth and Bond films.

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