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Initially launched as "The Computer Channel" by Sky Television, .tv naturally served to air programmes relating to computing—initially low-budget, with all its programming produced in-house and unashamedly in the same studio, each with similar presentation, like one large-if-very-departmental magazine show, and produced entirely by Hewland International, who, by this time we all recognised as being responsible for GamesMaster, and the first version of Games World.

It Begins

Broadcasting for two hours a day, its programmes were:

  • Buyers' Guide - Brief reviews of newly released hardware- scanners, printers, graphics cards and the like.
  • Chips With Everything - The show you'd write to if you'd bought something you'd seen on Buyers' Guide and it didn't work.
  • Two other shows which no-one can remember.
  • And most importantly, the second incarnation of Games World, about which there is more information on its dedicated page.

    Sky pulled out its usual trick of using subscription money to actually make/acquire a decent turnover of programmes, rather than just banking it (See UKTV, MTV), and all programmes were updated daily, Monday-Thursday, and repeated in clumps (All Buyers' Guides together, all CWE together, and so on) over the weekend, alongside the "challenge" programmes from Games World 1.

    The .tv era

    The advent of digital television meant that The Computer Channel no longer had to timeshare with the now-defunct, ITV-owned womens' channel Granada Breeze and so got its own channel number with 24 whole hours to play with, and a shiny new identity: .tv: The Technology Channel.

    The existing programmes continued, and were repeated numberous times daily with the extra advert revenue going towards building each show its own set and recording individual theme tunes and title/credits sequences.

    To fill the additional time, the channels' remit was increased to "Technology"- so Buyers' Guide started reviewing big-arse television sets and looked forward to something called "DVD"- and additional programmes were drafted in at various points, including:

  • Masterclass, a programme where a bloke with a massive touchscreen would guide you through simple computing tasks like Writing A Letter In Word, Retouching An Image In Photoshop and Hacking Into The Pentagon,
  • 404 Not Found, covering internet news, and
  • Nexus, a quiz show hosted by Brian Blessed, and a handful of one-off documentaries.

    Games World became "Game Over"- not to be confused with the later Game Over (sitcom)- and Big Boy Barry was replaced with Andy Collins, with most of the background staff (Including Gamezville's Matt Cuttle) intact, and became a weekly half-hour show, before reverting to its previous 4 15 minute episodes a week.

    It should be mentioned that the show's segments were punctuated with abysmal, embarassed mock-sixties dancing by both Collins and roving reporter Richard Pitt (IIRC) in two-tone, overlayed with equally inaccurate mock-sixties wood block-based music.

    Graphics and "Tips In Space" notwithstanding, the programme did get a few things right- it didn't directly aim itself at kids, the reviewers and reporters actually had a clue, and Andy Collins kept his trap shut when he wasn't introducing another segment.

    It's also worth pointing out it had a higher PC:Console ratio than most shows. Oh, and featured The Wind once.

    Later, the shows switched focus so that rather than confusedly cram together four, quarter-hour magazine shows, one day's programme would be dedicated to news, another to reviews and so on. Even later than that (circa 1998) the whole channel began to theme its days, so that daily shows, like Buyers', CWE, Masterclass and Game Over would follow one theme, and other weekly programmes would follow- for instance, one day a week would be "Creative.tv", where BG would review "creative" software, like imaging packages, CWE would tell you how to install them, Masterclass to use them, GO would be filled with some arse about cutscenes and then a specialist programme, such as in this case Ex Machina, a documentary series about technology's use in the creative industries.

    The weekly games night resulted in Buyers' Guide and CWE specialising in 3D cards, Masterclass in making Quake skins, and Game Over gave a similar effect to plugging a camcorder into a television and then pointing it at the screen.

    The specialist programme- and depressingly probably still the most interesting games TV concept yet broadcast in the UK- was Games Republic, a simple gaming quiz show fronted by then-childrens' entertainers Trev And Simon, featuring competent enough questions punctuated with competent enough GamesMaster-esque challenges for competent enough prizes, like A Big Chest Of Joypads, A Load Of Games and, if you were reallycompetent, Consoles.

    Astonishingly, it only lasted one series.

    A year or so after, the whole channel packed in, with Sky citing an inability to get the channel carried on cable as a major factor.

    Where Are They Now?

    After a stint as Games World v3.0's presenter, Andy Collins now presents quiz show "Family Fortunes" for ITV.

    The host of Buyers' Guide went on to advertise some ambulance-chasing claims company.

    Chips With Everything's presenter evaporated for a short time, before resurfacing on dabs.com and as a moderator (or "TJ") on SMS chat channel "txt me", while the theme tune went on to live a happy life as background music on the Sky digital EPG.
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    As with all State wiki pages, this is the version (or as near as possible) to the version I posted most recently, and may contain edits by the rest of State's community.

    Website (C) Mark Kelly 2002-5.

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