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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 08:59 GMT
25 facts from Channel 4's 25 years
Channel 4 celebrates its 25th anniversary on air on Friday 2 November. To mark this milestone, here are 25 facts about the network.


Channel 4 logo
The original Channel 4 logo

1. Channel 4 began broadcasting at 4.45pm on 2 November 1982.

2. The first voice heard was that of continuity announcer Paul Coia. He said, "Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be able to say to you - welcome to Channel 4."

3. Richard Whiteley was the first man to appear on screen on Countdown. The very first letters game produced this selection of consonants and vowels - T, N, E, M, A, R, H, I, B. The two contestants came up with two seven-letter words, "raiment" and "minaret". Whiteley died in June 2005, but co-host Carol Vorderman remains with the programme, alongside current presenter Des O'Connor.

4. The first advert to be shown on the new channel was for the Vauxhall Cavalier 1600 GLS.

5. Offshoot digital channels Film4, E4 and More 4 were launched in November 1998, January 2001 and October 2005 respectively.

6. S4C, a separate service for Wales with its own Welsh-language programming alongside shows from Channel 4, launched the previous day. Channel 4 will only become fully available in Wales when its switch to digital TV is complete in 2010.

7. 24-hour broadcasting on the channel began in January 1997.


8. Music show The Tube made its debut in 1982 and ran for five series, featuring live bands and interviews. In 1987 host Jools Holland was rapped for swearing during a live trailer for the programme.

9. Max Headroom, who made his debut in 1985, was ground-breaking in his portrayal of a futuristic computer-generated TV host. Best known for his jerky techno-stuttering speech, he landed a US series in 1987.

4.45pm Countdown
5.15 Preview 4
5.30 The Body Show
6.00 The People's Court
6.30 Book Four
7.00 Channel 4 News
8.00 Brookside
8.30 The Paul Hogan Show (comedy sketch show)
9.00 Film on Four: Walter
10.15 The Comic Strip Presents: Five Go Mad in Dorset
10.45-11.50 In the Pink (A revue celebrating women's lives through music, poetry and dancing.)

10. The Big Breakfast replaced Channel 4 Daily as Channel 4's breakfast service in 1992. It was an instant hit and launch presenters Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin became household names. It was dropped in 2002, and the show's base - a few hundred metres from London's Olympic Stadium site - is now used as a private home.

11. Four Weddings and a Funeral, backed by Channel 4's film arm, became a runaway worldwide hit, netting 165m. But Channel 4 reportedly only recouped 4m, despite stumping up one quarter of the budget.

12. Reality series Big Brother made its debut in 2000. In recent years it has provided the channel with its biggest ratings - but a fortnight after the end of the 2007 series, Channel 4's share of TV viewing fell to its lowest level for 15 years.

13. Through his series Jamie's School Dinners, TV chef Jamie Oliver led a campaign to change the nation's school meals. In 2005, he succeeded in getting the government to spend more money on them in England.


14. Liverpool soap Brookside was a fixture of the network for its first 21 years, reaching its peak with the early 1990s murder of wife-beater and child abuser Trevor Jordache, played by Bryan Murray, and his subsequent burial under the patio. Actress Anna Friel, who played his daughter Beth, became a household name thanks to this story line, and her character's affair with nanny Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson). The soap screened the first lesbian kiss to be shown on primetime British TV between the pair in 1993.

Beth Jordache's kiss
Beth Jordache's kiss was dropped from the teatime omnibus edition

15. The final episode of Brookside featured the killing of drug dealer Jack Michaelson (played by Paul Duckworth). The character's name is said to be a play on that of the Channel 4 controller who axed the show, Michael Jackson. The cul-de-sac built for the show in West Derby, Liverpool, remains.

16. One element of Brookside survived its cancellation in 2003 - character Matt Musgrove, played by Kristian Ealey, moved across to sister soap Hollyoaks, making his last appearance in 2004.


17. In 1986, Channel 4 trialled showing 18-rated films in late-night slots with a red triangle in the corner of the screen. The season was attacked in the media and by Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association.

Craig Phillips, Darren Ramsay, Anna Nolan
Big Brother's first finalists battled it out to win 70,000

18. Satirist Chris Morris caused controversy in 1997 with his Brass Eye series, which conned celebrities into warning against the dangers of a fictional drug called "cake". He returned in 2001 with a satire on the media frenzy over paedophilia which also caused a furore.

19. The channel received many complaints after screening a live autopsy in 2002, conducted by Professor Gunther von Hagens.

20. Since 1993 Channel 4 has broadcast an "alternative Christmas message", often by a controversial celebrity, in the style of the Queen. Some of the those chosen to deliver it include Ali G, Sharon Osbourne, The Simpsons character Marge Simpson and, in 2006, by a British Muslim woman in a veil.


21. Not all viewers could see Channel 4 when it launched - it took five years for transmitters in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be adapted.

22. David Dundas penned Channel 4's original signature tune, Fourscore. The four-note melody is said to have earned the composer 3.50 each time it was played.

23. Channel 4 won a fierce bidding war to screen The Simpsons in 2002, with a deal reportedly worth 700,000 per episode.


24. Channel 4 was in talks about merging with rival network Five, but the plan was abandoned after its then-chief executive Mark Thompson left to run the BBC in 2004. This summer, it bought a half-share in the firm behind music TV channels The Hits, Kerrang!, The Box, Q, Kiss, Magic and Smash Hits.

25. Channel 4 moved into radio in 2006, launching a series of podcasts and buying a stake in digital station Oneword. It will launch a range of digital radio stations next year.

Channel 4's legacy of controversy
06 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Merger off for Channel 4 and Five
17 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
E4 Radio to be first new network
06 Jul 07 |  Business
Two million watch Brookside's end
05 Nov 03 |  Entertainment
Channel 4 lands Simpsons
20 Feb 02 |  Entertainment
TV satire sparks 1,500 complaints
27 Jul 01 |  Entertainment
Big Breakfast bows out
29 Mar 02 |  Entertainment

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