And now it’s time for a totally unoriginal blog, one in the style that countless other blogs are going to be publishing today – a list of personal favourite Channel 4 shows. You see the station is 25 today, a quarter of a century of being the ‘Alternative’. Still, I’m slightly bitter about Channel 4, I still haven’t forgiven them for depriving me of my favourite morning call – for all of my teenage years (it started when I was 12) The Big Breakfast was the first thing I saw everyday – and I still miss it. Still, there’s a few other shows that I’ve watched religiously…
Spaced – The sitcom that was made for me. While most of the nation aspired to be like a certain six Manhatten mates it was the adventures of Tim Bisley and Daisy Syeiner that matched my lifestyle. The first show aired in the very first week I attended university and it was like staring at a looking glass of those tensions of living with weird strangers. Also the fact that Tim was an utter geek highlighted out similarities. One of the best sitcoms ever made, though news of a US version of the show this week has jangled my nerves.
Wanted – The gameshow that I thought, until today, no one else remembered. You can keep The Crystal Maze – this high-tech nationwide game of hide & seek was awesome. The final 60-second countdown as the teams were trapped in their telephone boxes every week was strangely simple but gripping TV.
Teachers – Another moment of synergy between Channel 4 and my life. Teachers aired at the time I was teaching. It shared the same disillusions with the profession and perfectly captured some of the staff room antics. Wasn’t the same when Kurt & Brian left though.
Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush – The best gameshow ever made. Fact.
Big Brother II – Ahh the summer of 2001, the summer of Brian, Bubble, Paul & Helen. This was the one Big Brother I really enjoyed and got addicted to. Shame that it’s been shit ever since.
Ultraviolet – For UK science ficton fans the 1990s was awful. Sure we had the X-Files, Buffy and Star Trek from the states but the UK seemed incapable of producing SF TV. We had the excellent Red Dwarf about once every 3 years and that was it (except for that awful BBC Invasion Earth crap). Then, towards the end of the 90s Channel 4 slipped this beauty in. Ultraviolet is simply one of the best science fiction series ever produced in the UK, it’s only recently been matched by the likes of Life On Mars. The premise was simple – a secret organisation battling Vampires, except they were never called vampires – they were Code V’s. Stylishly filmed and acted by the team that made This Life the series wasn’t afraid to tackle taboo subjects such as abortion and paedophilia (with an excellent twist!).
And while we’re on the subject of paedophilia what about THAT episode of Brass Eye. Pure genius which the media fell hook line and sinker for. Totally blind to the fact that the show was ripping apart the media/tabloid coverage of paedophilia and not the subject itself the media then ripped the show apart, and made themselves look like fools.
Then there’s the rest Father Ted, Gamesmaster, Trigger Happy TV, Whose Line Is It Anyway, Absolutely, and the American imports the station has brought us – Roasanne, Dark Skies & Home Improvement. Not to mention the occasional cracking documentary.
You’ll notice though that there’s nothing on my list since 2002. That’s because these days C4 just doesn’t seem to churn out the goodness like it once did. The mornings are shit since Lock Keepers Cottages closed its doors and evenings seem to be full of lifestyle and reality TV. (Hmm, odd wasn’t C4 supposed to be the alternative channel?) Then there’s The Simpsons which channel 4 have treated like a pile of crap. Big press coverage of the fact that they’d be bringing new episodes to terrestrial and what do we get? A screening of season 13 on Friday night for a few weeks only for the show to be placed into the 6pm slot showing the same old episodes that BBC 2 & Sky have been screening for years. Zzzzzzzzz.
Channel 4 needs to pull its finger out because at the moment it’s the other Channel 4 that’s got me hooked – BBC 4, the station that really does seem to air the alternative…