|Covid-19|1 January – The James Bond film Never Say Never Again is aired as part of BBC1's New Year's Day schedule.
12 January – Gaby Roslin presents her final edition of The Big Breakfast after three years as co-presenter, weeping live on air.
15 January – Zoë Ball takes over as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast.
15 January–11 March – Our Friends in the North, a nine-part serial spanning the 1960s to the 1990s in the lives of four friends, is shown on BBC2.
9 February – A brand new Friday entertainment show TFI Friday begins on Channel 4. The show ran for over 4 and a half years with 6 series.
18 February – ITV airs the final episode of the long running satirical puppet show Spitting Image.
19 February – At the 1996 BRIT Awards, subsequently aired by ITV, Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker invades the stage during Michael Jackson's performance of his "Earth Song". Jackson, surrounded by children, was dressed as a Christ-like figure, an image which Cocker found objectionable.
March – Launch of the business and financial news channel CNBC Europe, which is based in London.
1 March – The Media Authority of Berlin and Brandenburg (Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg) awards a terrestrial television licence to BBC World, thought to be the first time a country has awarded a television frequency to a foreign broadcaster.
8 March – Mersey Television boss and creator of soaps Brookside and Hollyoaks, Phil Redmond predicts that in the future every major soap on television will be aired five nights a week.
16 March – Cable channel L!VE TV stages a live reconstruction of the Frank Bruno vs. Mike Tyson fight using lookalike boxers as a way of hitting back at pay-per-view television, on which the actual fight is being shown.
19 March - Channel 4 debuts And The Beat Goes On.
24 March – ITV airs Coronation Street – The Cruise, something which proves to be controversial as the film had only been released on VHS a few months earlier to celebrate the show's 35th anniversary.
26 March – Cadbury becomes the first company to sponsor Coronation Street after signing a deal with Granada Television. The sponsorship will begin in September.
1 April –
Sir Christopher Bland succeeds Marmaduke Hussey as Chairman of the BBC.
All BBC commercial activities, including BBC Publications, is merged into BBC Enterprises Ltd.
5 April – BBC1 airs Eskimo Day, Jack Rosenthal's poignant comedy about parents letting go of their children when they make their way in the world.
13 April – Channel 4 debuts the first of ten editions of The Gaby Roslin Show, a chat show presented by Gaby Roslin which aims to recapture the atmosphere of 1970s series such as Parkinson. Ratings for the programme quickly fall from 3 million to less than a million, and it is panned by viewers and critics alike. The Daily Mail quotes a critic who described it as "The Shabby Roslin Show", and a viewer who observed it was like "watching a schoolgirl meeting the stars". The programme is axed in July.
18 April – Marketing Magazine reports that Midland Bank will sponsor ITV Drama Premieres, starting on 1 May with the latest series of Sharpe.
21 April – The BBC Arabic television service closes down when the Saudi backer pulls out following a row over coverage of the execution of a princess accused of adultery.
6 May – BBC1 airs the first of a new series of The Liver Birds, which catches up with Beryl (Polly James) and Sandra (Nerys Hughes) two decades on from the original series.
25 May – Paul Doody wins the seventh series of Stars in Their Eyes, performing as Marti Pellow. He is the second Grand Final winner to portray the singer.
27 May – Doctor Who, an American television movie continuation of the famous British series of the same name, airs on BBC One. This television movie is regarded as being a part of the same story as the original series and is an unsuccessful pilot for a new, American co-produced series. This marks the end of Sylvester McCoy's era as the Seventh Doctor. Paul McGann stars as the Eighth Doctor. Doctor Who does not return as a full series until 2005.
7 June – The BBC is restructured by the Director-General, John Birt. In the new structure BBC Broadcast will commission programmes, and BBC Production will make them.
8–30 June – The BBC and ITV air coverage of Euro 96, which is held in England.
14 June – After 32 years (excluding six months in 1973), Top of the Pops moves from its traditional Thursday evening slot to Fridays.
26 June – The BBC and ITV coverage of the England v Germany quarter final match of Euro 96 is collectively watched by 26 Million viewers.
30 June – Neil Haidar wins the 1996 series of MasterChef.
11 July – ITV announces a deal with Doritos sponsoring ITV Movies with the premieres of Demolition Man, Unforgiven, Groundhog Day and Sleepless in Seattle, the sponsorship will debut on 17 August.
24 July – Buckingham Palace ends the BBC's monopoly on producing the Royal Christmas Message, which has been the sole responsibility of the broadcaster for 63 years. It is produced by ITV from 1997, before returning to the BBC in 1999, then ITV again from 2001. The two year changeover continues to the present day.
26 July – The BBC and Hat Trick Productions are fined £10,000 each in the High Court for contempt of court over comments made on a 1994 edition of Have I Got News for You, in which presenter Angus Deayton referred to Ian and Kevin Maxwell as "two heartless, scheming bastards" ahead of their trial.
22 August – BBC World begins broadcasting to Berlin.
30 August – Zoë Ball presents her final edition of The Big Breakfast, having left the series in order to present BBC One's Live & Kicking.
1 September –
Sky 2 launches in the UK, a sister channel to the then-titled Sky 1. It closes a year later, but a channel of almost the same name (Sky Two) would later launch in 2005.
The Computer Channel is launched. It was later renamed .tv (pronounced Dot TV).
2 September –
Launch of "Daytime on 1", BBC1's new daily schedule that includes six and a half hours of drama, quiz shows, discussion programming, chat shows and cookery shows.
The ITV region Tyne Tees Television is rebranded as Channel 3 North East. The rebranding is unsuccessful, and the original name returns two years later.
Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies succeeds Zoë Ball as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast.
1 October – Granada Sky Broadcasting launches.
5 October – Channel 4 airs The Ghost of Ivy Tilsley, a programme telling the story of singer and actress Lynne Perrie, who played Ivy Tilsley in Coronation Street, and who speaks about her time with the soap, and how she lost her sense of self in her search for fame.
12 October – After nearly 14 years, Channel 4 is given a whole new look replacing the original blocks idents with all new circles idents.
19 October – Fox Kids launched in the UK (1996–2009)
27 October – Lucy Wright wins the 1996 series of Junior MasterChef.
1 November – Sky Scottish launches.
15 November - Sarah Lancashire makes her final appearance in Coronation Street as Raquel Watts.
17 November – BBC1 airs Ruby Wax Meets the Duchess of York, a one-off interview with Sarah, Duchess of York conducted by US comedian Ruby Wax.
23 November – The BBC picks up the Terrestrial rights to The Simpsons, which is first shown at 5.30pm on BBC1, with a Sunday lunchtime repeat on BBC2. There's No Disgrace Like Home is the first episode to be shown on BBC1, later being beaten in the ratings by Sabrina.
24 November – ITV introduces a fourth weekly episode of Coronation Street, airing on Sundays at 7:30pm.
30 November – During the live broadcast of The National Lottery on BBC 1, the draw machine fails to start, causing the draw to be delayed by 50 minutes; Resident psychic Mystic Meg later said that she had been predicting it all day.
25 December – BBC1's Christmas Day highlights include the British television premiere of Steven Spielberg's dinosaur adventure Jurassic Park.
26 December – Ian Kelsey makes his final appearance in Emmerdale when Dave Glover dies in a fire.
27 December – BBC1 airs the British television premiere of The Firm, starring Tom Cruise and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
29 December – Time On Our Hands, the final episode of a Christmas trilogy of the popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses, airs on BBC1. Publicised as the last ever episode, it draws 24.35 million viewers, the largest ever audience for a sitcom in the UK, and discounting Diana, Princess of Wales's funeral the following year, the biggest UK television audience of the 1990s. In the event, however, the show returns for three subsequent specials, one shown each Christmas from 2001.
2 January – The Demon Headmaster (1996–1998)
1 February – Ballykissangel (1996–2001)
21 February – Silent Witness (1996–present)
8 March – Muppets Tonight (1996–1998)
16 March – Dalziel and Pascoe (1996–2007)
4 September – Changing Rooms (1996–2004)
15 September – Rhodes (1996)
17 November – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996)
15 January – Our Friends in the North (1996)
18 March – This Life (1996–1997)
2 May – Airport (1996–2005)
27 September – All Rise for Julian Clary (1996–1997)
12 November – Never Mind the Buzzcocks (1996–2015)
29 December – The Moonstone (1996)
Wake Up in the Wild Room (1996–1998)
8 January – Call Red (1996)
4 May – Man O Man (1996–1999)
27 July – The Big Big Talent Show (1996–1997)
18 August – Cadfael The Devil's Novice (1996 Season 2 Episode 2)
25 August – Cadfael A Morbid Taste for Bones (1996)
24 November – Emma (1996)
1 December – Percy the Park Keeper (1996–1999)
9 February – TFI Friday (1996–2000)
6 November – The Fragile Heart (1996)
6 December – The Adam and Joe Show (1996–2001)
1 October 1996 - Springhill (1996-1997)
27 April – Dexter's Laboratory (1996–2003)
4 March – The Wombles (1973–1975, 1990–1991 BBC, 1996–1997 ITV)
10 April – The Two Ronnies for a 25th Anniversary special (1971–1987, 1991, 1996, 2005)
6 May – The Liver Birds (1969–1979, 1996)
27 May – Doctor Who (1963–1989, 1996, 2005–present)
7 September – Doug (1991–1994, 1996–1999)
Come Dancing (1949–1998)
Take Your Pick (1955–1968, 1992–1998)
What the Papers Say (1956–2008)
The Sky at Night (1957–present)
Blue Peter (1958–present)
Coronation Street (1960–present)
Songs of Praise (1961–present)
World in Action (1963–1998)
Top of the Pops (1964–2006)
Match of the Day (1964–present)
Mr. and Mrs. (1964–1999)
Call My Bluff (1965–2005)
The Money Programme (1966–2010)
Last of the Summer Wine (1973–2010)
Wish You Were Here...? (1974–2003)
One Man and His Dog (1976–present)
Grange Hill (1978–2008)
Antiques Roadshow (1979–present)
Question Time (1979–present)
Children in Need (1980–present)
Right to Reply (1982–2001)
The Bill (1984–2010)
Channel 4 Racing (1984–2016)
Thomas & Friends (1984–present)
The Cook Report (1985–1998)
Telly Addicts (1985–1998)
Comic Relief (1985–present)
The Chart Show (1986–1998, 2008–2009)
Chain Letters (1987–1997)
You Bet! (1988–1997)
London's Burning (1988–2002)
On the Record (1988–2002)
Fifteen to One (1988–2003, 2013–present)
This Morning (1988–present)
Birds of a Feather (1989–1998, 2014–present)
The Simpsons (1989–present)
Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–1998)
Stars in Their Eyes (1990–2006)
2point4 Children (1991–1999)
Big Break (1991–2002)
The Brittas Empire (1991–1997)
Soldier Soldier (1991–1997)
Noel's House Party (1991–1999)
Men Behaving Badly (1992–1998)
The Big Breakfast (1992–2002)
Saturday Disney (1993–1998)
Mr. Motivator exercise routines (1993–2000)
Breakfast with Frost (1993–2005)
Small Talk (1994–1996)
Aaahh!! Real Monsters (1994–1997)
Animal Hospital (1994–2004)
Time Team (1994–2013)
The National Lottery Draws (1994–2017)
Oh, Doctor Beeching! (1995–1997)
Father Ted (1995–1998)
Is It Legal? (1995–1998)
Xena: Warrior Princess (1995–2001)
Jackanory (1965–1996, 2006)
Finders Keepers (1991–1996, 2006)
Only Fools and Horses (1981–1996, 2001–2003, 2014)
Spitting Image (1984–1996)
Beadle's About (1986–1996)
Going for Gold (1987–1996, 2008–2009)
The Time, The Place (1987–1996)
That's Showbusiness (1989–1996)
The Upper Hand (1990–1996)
The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991–1996)
Rocko's Modern Life (1991–1996)
Good Morning with Anne and Nick (1992–1996)
Doctor Finlay (1993–1996)
Jo Brand Through the Cakehole (1993–1996)
Saturday Disney (1993–1996)
Body Heat (1994–1996)
Pets Win Prizes (1994–1996)
Small Talk (1994–1996)
God's Gift (1995–1996)
Out of the Blue
Raise the Roof (1995–1996)
The Thin Blue Line (1995–1996)
Call Red (1996)
Our Friends in the North (1996)
The Fragile Heart (1996)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996)
The Moonstone (1996)
26 January – Tyger Drew-Honey, actor and presenter
1996 in British television Wikipedia
This is a list of British television-related events from 1996.