Welcome to the Historical Television Website. Devoted to the past, present, and future of television in the United Kingdom, HTW places emphasis on the programme makers as opposed to the programmes themselves (though some programmes inevitably do get mentioned). Special sections are provided for each of the four largest UK terrestrial TV broadcasters in launch date order (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5), plus features on other topics such as Colour Television are also included. Other TV channels are currently not included but they are relatively young compared with the first four terrestrial broadcasters (with the exception of Channel 5 launching in 1997); however some of these may be included at a later date.

Click on the title links to read more information, or alternatively use the menu at the top of this page to select various articles (requires Javascript).

Please note that we cannot supply copies of any of the featured programmes, music or images, and some of these may not be commercially available. Contact the relevant broadcaster for further information or if you wish to obtain a copy.

HTW on Twitter for news of site updates, UK media news plus the very occasional live blogging of selected TV programmes.



This is the BBC - From the British Broadcasting Company's first experimental 240-line broadcasts to Call the Midwife, find out more about the world's oldest public service broadcaster.


ITV: A (Very) Brief History - The monopoly of the BBC Television Service gets the shock of its life in 1955 when viewers suddenly realise that they have an alternative to watching Muffin the Mule.

Channel 4

Welcome to Channel 4 - In 1982, the long-promised fourth channel ushers in a new era of broadcasting, which in turn stimulates the growth of independent production companies.

Channel 5

The power of Five - The last 'national' commercial terrestrial analogue broadcaster in the UK finally launches after several delays in 1997, with a little help from the Spice Girls.


Wake up! It's TV-am - The BBC's Breakfast Time may have beaten them to it, but TV-am soon carved a niche for itself as the first ITV breakfast show franchise provider.

Local TV

Local television - Fed up with so-called local news not mentioning your area? The answer could be literally just round the corner.


BBC South Today

BBC TV South - The South of England has had its own regional BBC studio facilities since 1962, with South Today being the title used for its news programming.

Southern Star

Southern Television - Find out more about Southern Television; the original ITV franchise for the South and South-East of England.

TVS Clock

TVS Television - Tracing the history of TVS, who took over Southern Television's ITV franchise from 1982 until its unfortunate demise at the end of 1992.

Northam Studios

Meridian Broadcasting - Charting the period from Meridian taking over from TVS in 1993 to the closure of the Northam studio complex in 2005 and the creation of a single broadcaster (ITV plc) for England.


John Logie Baird

Baird's Early Experiments - The winter of 1923 was when John Logie Baird first managed to transmit an image by means of wireless.


BBC2: A Choice of Viewing - 1964 sees the UK introduction of 625 lines and the first channel to offer programmes that were deliberately different from the existing BBC and ITV services.

Colour Television

Colour Television - BBC2 was the first UK TV channel to transmit colour pictures publicly in 1967, though John Logie Baird was conducting experiments shortly before his death in 1946.

BBC Schools

Early BBC Schools Broadcasts - The BBC started schools broadcasts in 1957 with initially one programme being broadcast each day.

Hardware: 1950s-70s

TV Hardware: 1950s-70s - Post-war television sets and the rise of the video recorder are featured in this section.


Anatomy of a football match

Anatomy of a 1979 football match - Not the actual game itself, but concentrating on the general on-screen presentation used, such as the style of on-screen captioning.

BBC 70s Children's TV

BBC Children's TV: 1970s - There was more to kids' TV than just a saggy old cloth cat.

BBC Gardening

BBC Gardening: A (potted) history - Tracing the evolution of gardening programmes on BBC1 and BBC2, with particular emphasis on Gardeners' World.

QD: The Master Game

QD: The Master Game - This quiz managed to be both entertaining and educational, which is normally a very hard thing to achieve.

Secret Life Of Machines

The Secret Life of Machines - A quirky, off-beat, popular and thoroughly entertaining series, this feature covers the episode entitled The Secret Life of the Television Set.

TV Offal

TV Offal - Looks back at this late night off-beat series shown on Channel 4 in 1997 and 1998, which was presented by TV critic Victor Lewis-Smith and took a wry look at television presentation in general.

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Except where specified, images, text and site layout are © 1998-2013 Historical Television Website. All trademarks and logos are the property of their respective companies. "Southern Television" and associated logo © Nic Ayling. "TVS" and associated logo © Keith Jacobsen. "TV-am" and associated logo © Ian White. Errors and omissions excepted.

Many thanks to: Chris Bowden-Smith, Ray Bradley, Robert Brown, Rory Clark, Andy Emmerson, Russ J Graham, Tim Pragnall plus others who have contributed over the years. Plus special thanks to Transdiffusion for permission to use certain photos as well as providing assistance and encouragement.