TV Cream

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Four score: slight return

It’s the last blog entry on Channel 4’s birthday*.

By way of a follow-up to that 1992 list of the station’s supposed 50 most significant programmes, here’s what might pass for a similiar inventory today. First up, those worth keeping from Broadcast’s original rundown, and a word or two of justification:

After Dark (What closedown?)
Alter Image (your archetypal Isaacs-era impenetrable nonsense)
As It Happens (Paddy Haycocks, a microphone, and the city of London)
The Bandung File (textbook mid-80s multiculturalism)
Brookside (up to 1994, that is)
Chateauvallon (“Everyone’s here. Even the Regional Prefect!”)
Countdown (“It says here, ‘Man And Vorderman'”)
Diverse Reports (aka Thatcher’s Britain)
Drop The Dead Donkey (“Bloody bastard John bloody Major!”)
GBH (“This body leaves in two minutes: be on it!”)
The Last Resort (“Maybe if I sleep with you after the show?”)
Manhattan Cable (for inventing YouTube, at the same time as Clive James)
Max Headroom (“on drums: the Pope”)
The Media Show (bring it back now!)
The Nation’s Health (worthiness personified)
Network 7 (for-the-hell-of-it personified)
One Summer (a one-off one-off)
Saturday Night Live (“Please welcome…The Style Council!”)
Traffik (at last, a bit of money)
Treasure Hunt (“Erm, I think you might find *this* book will be of some use to you…”)
The Tube (for putting an entire ITV regional building on telly)
A Very British Coup (for being better and more expensive than Traffik)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (“I’d like you to read them in the style of…a man with only 20 seconds to live”)

Which totals 23. To bring it up to 50, how about…

The Big Breakfast (“That was funnier than you’ll ever know”)
Big Brother (up to 2002)
The Channel 4 Daily (missed out by Broadcast, for some reason…)
A Dance To The Music Of Time (even more money than Traffik)
Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live (proper ‘storm over…’ tabloid-bothering business)
Desmond’s (textbook mid-90s multiculturalism)
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush (well, William G. Stewart has to get a mention somewhere)
The Double Life Of Jonathan King (Jon Ronson’s finest hour)
Father Ted (C4’s last great sitcom)
Four Goes To Glyndebourne/Glastonbury (double-bill from 1993)
The Government Inspector (best drama for ages)
Grand Designs (kept C4 in pocket for ages)
Hearts And Minds (Dr Who and Jimmy McGovern: together at last)
Hollyoaks (up to 2001, that is)
Monarchy with David Starkey (grown-up telly)
The 1900 House (grown-up reality telly)
Right To Reply (again – why wasn’t this in Broadcast’s list?)
Richard And Judy (proper C4 ‘stars’)
So Graham Norton (ditto)
Teachers (paved the way for all 3,598,219 episodes of Shameless)
That Peter Kay Thing (paved the way for all 3,598,219 repeats of Phoenix Nights)
Time Team (as recommended by Andrew Collins)
Top Ten (as patronised by Andrew Collins)
Watercolour Challenge (Hannah Gordon + daytime telly = genius)
Wise Up (for slagging off Rick Adams, at the very least)
The Word (“Come on Terry, keep it together!”
You Are What You Eat (epitome of C4’s mother-knows-best TV)

*Until the next one.



  1. Anonymous

    November 5, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    What, no Escrava Isaura? 🙂

  2. drbendy

    November 5, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    What about Pob? Especially the episode where he drank tomato ketchup from the bottle with a straw. When my mum caught me doing that she contemplated a counsellor.

    Also Jayce and The Wheeled Warriors and the cartoon about innards of the human body.

  3. Anonymous

    November 7, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Still no Yok-Yok. Pah!

  4. Des Elmes

    October 18, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Wot, no Crystal Maze?!

  5. televisualcabbage

    October 18, 2010 at 10:01 am

    The Showbiz Set, Who Killed Saturday Night TV? Just to name two!

  6. Richard Davies

    October 18, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    A few more I can think of:

    The Secret Life Of….
    American Football
    TFI Friday
    Drop The Dead Donkey
    Paul Merton: The Series

  7. pessoa

    October 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    The Adam and Joe Show
    Deep Water (documentary about the lonesome end of yachtsman Donald Crowhurst)
    Ultraviolet (underrated revisionist vampire drama that came too early for the SF revival)
    The Devil’s Whore (one of the few attempts on TV to do a serious drama about the English Civil War)

  8. Richard Davies

    October 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    I’m surprised Brasseye hasn’t been mentioned before.

    Others that didn’t come to mind earlier:
    Paul O’Grady Show
    15 to 1
    Remote Control
    Trigger Happy TV

  9. televisualcabbage

    October 19, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Or perhaps has to be The Inbetweeners as well

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