This post may not mean much to readers outside the UK but it was a huge deal when Channel 4 – the fourth British terrestrial TV station – launched 40 years ago this week on 2 November 1982.
Excitingly, movingtheriver’s dad had got a gig at the burgeoning channel and we moved back to London in May 1982 after a few years away to prepare for lift-off. The celeb idents started in late summer with advice on how to tune your TV, and suddenly at 4:45pm on 2 November the station was on the air with an edition of ‘Countdown’.
It felt very post-punk in its early days, consistently challenging racism, sexism and homophobia (you might even say it ‘politicised’ a generation – maybe an exaggeration, but I’ve never met a fan of ‘The Comic Strip Presents’ who was also a racist…), giving minorities a voice and bringing mostly excellent British films courtesy of Film (on) Four, brilliant homegrown alternative comedy, US imports and live music into the mix.
Channel 4 also got a reputation early on for lots of swearing and ‘naughty’ foreign films – red rag to a bull for my generation. And, despite the Tories’ current assault on the station, it seems to be going strong – at least ‘Channel 4 News’ and ‘Countdown’ are.
Here’s a personal selection of memorable shows/films from the first eight years of Channel 4, in no particular order. They did the 1980s proud.
18. When The Wind Blows
17. The Snowman
16. The Tube
14. P’Tang Yang Kipperbang
13. The Comic Strip Presents
12. The Max Headroom Show
11. The Avengers
9. The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross
8. Robin Williams: Live At The Met
7. Clive Anderson Talks Back
6. Whose Line Is It Anyway
5. The Incredibly Strange Film Show
4. Star Test
3. Mavis On 4
2. Fifteen To One
1. After Dark