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Happy birthday Channel 4: A look back at the launch day schedule

Happy birthday Channel 4: A look back at the launch day schedule
© Channel 4
Take a look back at the Channel 4 schedule for its launch day on November 2, 1982.

With literally hundreds of channels and on-demand services now available, it's perhaps hard to imagine a world where viewing options were limited to just three linear TV channels - but that was exactly the case until this day in 1982, when Channel 4 burst onto the airwaves across the UK.

The country's second commercial broadcaster - wholly owned by the government - launched with the ambition of offering an alternative to the established programming offered by the BBC and ITV, and over the years it has certainly fulfilled that remit with shows such as Big Brother, Brookside and Eurotrash, to name but a few.

Here, as the broadcaster celebrates its 38th birthday, we take a trip down memory lane and look back at Channel 4's opening-day schedule.

4.40pm: Welcome To Channel 4

At 4.40pm (4, 4 - get it?), Channel 4 officially launches with a preview of what to expect from this bold new broadcaster. Thanks to YouTube, you can relive the birth of the channel below:

4.45pm: Countdown

Literally the longest-running show on Channel 4, Countdown was the first proper programme to be broadcast and soon established itself as a favourite among greys and students. The late, great Richard 'twice nightly' Whitely was the original host, introducing the first episode with the line: "As the countdown to a brand new channel ends, a brand new Countdown begins..."

5.15pm: Preview 4

A look ahead to the programmes coming up on Channel 4.

5.30pm: The Body Show

Featuring exercises used by dancers to keep them supple and bendy.

6pm: The People's Court

A US import! A pre-cursor to Judge Judy, this real-life courtroom series is still going strong.

6.30pm: Book Four

Before Richard and Judy's book club there was this show, a review of the best new books hitting the shelves. (The best-selling book of 1982, you say? The novelisation of E.T. by William Kotzwinkle)

7pm: Channel Four News

Peter Sissons presents the first ever edition of the news bulletin which has remained in the same weekday slot ever since.

8pm: Brookside

Just 16 characters feature in the UK's newest soap, masterminded by (Sir) Phil Redmond.

8.30pm: The Paul Hogan Show

Aussie import alert! A sketch show featuring the Crocodile Dundee star portraying characters such as Leo Wanker, George Fungus and Perce The Wino.

9pm: Film on Four: Walter

Starting off C4's proud pedigree of championing British film, this piece from Stephen Frears (The Queen) starred a youngish Sir Ian McKellen as a man with a learning disability.

10.15pm: The Comic Strip Presents..... Five Go Mad in Dorset

The comedy which launched the careers of Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall and Alexei Sayle.

10.45pm: In The Pink

A performance from the feminist cabaret group the Raving Beauties.

11.50pm: Close

Back in the days where TV channels assumed no-one was awake overnight, C4 brought its first day to an end before midnight.


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