Tonight’s television… in 1999 

13 November 2015

The Radio Times gives us a run down of the programmes for Saturday 13 November 1999. Things worth noting include:

  • Live and Kicking at 9.15am on BBC-1 had been a big hitter for the BBC since taking over the slot from Going Live! in 1993. However, this season’s presenters – Steve Wilson and Emma Ledden – had not been as popular as their predecessors and ITV’s SM:TV Live at 9.25am had gained the edge thanks to the combination of Ant, Dec and Cat Deeley. L&K‘s presenters wouldn’t last, but the show never recovered, limping on until 2001.
  • Grandstand still exists, at 12.15pm, on BBC-1, but ITV’s World of Sport died a few years before, with just a few sports programmes now remaining in amongst the entertainment.
  • BBC-2’s daytime spends more than 5½ hours in black and white, thanks to the weekend diet of old films.
  • Speaking of old films, ITV has Carry On Cleo at 3.20pm.
  • Carlton Central. :-(
  • ITV has a hit on its hands with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It then milks the format to death, eventually sending the audience running.
  • Remembrance Day festivities from the Albert Hall dominate the evening on BBC-1. It’s up against an Audience with Cliff Richard on ITV and one of the many, many, many list-format shows that Channel 4 of the time showed.
  • Meanwhile, on BBC-2, primetime is given over to Doctor Who, ten years since the series was cancelled. A comeback of sorts was attempted in 1996 but failed and this was the nadir of fan’s hopes that the series would ever return. The BBC had ruled it out almost completely, and had come to think of the series as a very troublesome children’s programme with uppity, sad adult fans. The sketches dotted around the night, although written by and starring famous fans, played down to this view. Many adult fans walked away from this night convinced that the BBC hated both them and the show. It would be 5 years before that view was challenged.

Meanwhile on satellite, cable and that new digital thing:

  • UK Gold is drifting from its launch mandate of “the best old programmes from the BBC and Thames” into “BBC-1 +1 week”, including shoving dull straight-to-video films in primetime.
  • The three BBC digital channels are BBC Choice, basically BBC-1 +24 hours; BBC Knowledge, which didn’t know what it wanted to be; and BBC News 24, which doesn’t get a Radio Times listing at all.
  • ITV had given birth to ITV2. Again, they don’t seem to know what to do with it. The Radio Times terse note at midnight – See Your EPG – is a brief hint of what challenges would lie ahead for the magazine in the new century.
  • Granada Plus is what ITV2 should’ve been.
  • Cable’s various attempts to compete with Sky are in evidence, mainly from the existence of Performance, an upmarket loss-leader designed to point to Sky’s 1980s reputation for cheapness. But the cable companies couldn’t agree on a schedule, or a consistent channel, or whether to give it away for free or to charge a premium, leading to yet another messy marketing blunder for cable that sent people off in the direction of Sky.

You Say

3 responses to this article

dale 13 November 2015 at 12:13 pm

tv looked better back then

Victor Field 13 November 2015 at 12:37 pm

Channel 4 had yet to do an NBC and declare cartoons persona non grata on Saturday mornings (or indeed at any time outside of “The Simpsons”‘and Christmas, it seems).

Ant 21 November 2015 at 9:09 pm

Love the fact the BBC are still able to remind readers that there’s also a Live and Kicking magazine “available from retailers”!

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