Tonight’s TV… in 1999 

16 November 2016

Radio Times tells us what was on terrestrial TV in Yorkshire and the North East on Tuesday 16 November 1999. Things worth noting include:

  • The pattern of television changed radically in the 1990s as Sky caught on and digital approached. The multichannel world was young, but this schedule is familiar to us now from today’s version.
  • Differences include a lot of children’s programmes across BBC-1, BBC-2 and YTV/TTT. 2h10m on BBC-1, 2h50m on BBC-2 and 1h50m on ITV.
  • BBC-1 is the usual mixed bag all evening that we expect today, with drama, comedy, Crimewatch and “factual” programmes jostling up against one another. The morning is interesting for being far more varied than today.
  • BBC-2 is still firmly an alternative to BBC-1. The fashion for it catering to babyboomers has passed and it’s now a brainer version of its big sister. The drift to the current directionless sweepings bucket it now is has begun.
  • ITV is on the way down the tubes. The success of the soaps and WWTBAM would soon sweep the channel into relying on them and little else to stay afloat. As the shareholders demanded more and more dividends, the channel would it rock bottom in 2005 with a schedule that was nothing but soaps, Millionaire and the word ‘Celebrity’ hammered on the front of every other genre to survive. Only now is the channel recovering from this wasteland time.
  • Channel 4 is adrift as well. It too moved out of the babyboomer market and was coming out of the shadow of its former sister channel ITV. Not quite knowing what to do with itself, a hint of the “bodyshock” policy of latter years can be seen in Embarrassing Illnesses at 8.30pm and the Cutting Edge documentary on blindness at 9.00pm. The rest of the time is taken up with “edgy” comedy designed to attract Generation Xers.
  • Channel 5, two and half years old, still hasn’t answered the question “What is Channel 5 for?”. This comes as no surprise as the channel is now almost 20 years old and on its fourth set of owners and still hasn’t come up with anything. There’s simply nothing in tonight’s schedule that would make anyone tune in.

You Say

2 responses to this article

Ben Rigsby 16 November 2016 at 2:04 pm

You forget that the 1pm programme on BBC2 was also part of Children’s BBC as well. So should have the round figure of 3 hrs rather than 2h50m.

Paul Mason 18 November 2016 at 3:47 am

When Channel 5 was launched in March.1997 it was a much delayed project and was something of an anachronism and many questioned its purpose in a world where multi channel TV had arrived. I’m afraid the last words of Adam Faith summed CH 5 up.

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