TV Cream

Bric-a-Brac: B is for...

BSB squarial

A rare survivor in the wildSatellite telly in Britain has been around since 1978, however Sky Channel broadcasting Australian Rules football and looped episodes of The Untouchables to a few enthusiasts with giant dishes in their back garden doesn’t really count.  The satellite age didn’t really kick-off here until 1989 when a Rupert Murdoch-injected Sky Television went head-to-head against BSB. The stark difference between the two services was perhaps best symbolised by their radically different satellite dish designs: Sky’s was an ugly, wire-meshy, nobbly affair made by the bloke who ran Amstrad, whereas the BSB squarial was of a majestic white, adhering to that aesthetic so beloved of home make-over programmes – clean, sleek lines. Undoubtedly the squarial was the more elegant of the two but whose carried the most popular service? Well BSB offered state-of-the art D-MAC satellite technology and an eclectic mix of arts, sport and entertainment programming, but for those who chose Sky there was unlimited ALF, 21 Jump Street and The Price is Right .



  1. B B Beyer

    August 11, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I was a team captain on BSB’s “Intellect” gameshow in 1990, you know. It was made by Action Time at Granada Studios as “University Challenge by another name” during the fallow years between Bamber and Paxo. Despite the rarefied atmosphere they were trying to create, there was a very blue comic doing the warm-up – I think he was Kate Robbins’s brother. My pal Sandy said “oh f***” under his breath but on camera, just audible, when I chose science as the subject and we then got biology – we were PhD students reading molecular electronics and marine technology, and proceeded to get ’em all wrong! But Sandy did get four straight correct answers on the 1988 Olympics next round. We then argued on set (but between takes) as to who was going to do the final head-to-head round. We got beaten by Manchester Poly in the end – what an embarrassment! But we did get a night out in Manchester (beer and curry, natch) on Action Time and got to meet William Roache (well, he said “hello” as he walked past). I still have a VHS of our performance!

  2. diz

    August 13, 2009 at 12:19 am

    There’s still one to be spotted on the side of the tenements on Copeland Road, just outside Ibrox Stadium. Not sure how many I-Spy points it’s worth though…

  3. JL

    November 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I still have a boxed squariel + receiver, which I won in a competition** in the Sunday Mail, in the loft – I think I’ll bin this weekend.
    My (then 15 yr old) daughter sent a (clean) pair of my underpants with a letter written on them to a Chris Evans show on BSB & he duly showed them & read it out on air!
    **The competition was to give a name to the squarial – I called it a Quantile (quantum leap in tile technology)

  4. Richard Davies

    June 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Debenham’s in Stockport still has one on it’s wall along with an original Sky dish that no-one can be bothered to be removed.

    You can easliy spot them from the A6 or when crossing the viaduct going to & from Manchester Picadilly.

    When Sky took over most shops sold their surpless stock dirt cheap, often snapped up by cricket buffs who wanted to see a test series only shown on The Sports Channel.

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