|Launched 1 November 1992|
Timeshift service Gold +1
|Picture format 16:9, 576i (SDTV)|
|Audience share 0.39%
0.08% (+1) (June 2016 (2016-06), BARB)|
Formerly called UK Gold (1992–2004) UKTV Gold (2004–2008) G.O.L.D. (2008–2012)
Sister channel(s) Alibi Dave Drama Eden Good Food Home Really W Yesterday
Owned by Thames Television, BBC Worldwide, Virgin Media, Scripps Networks Interactive
TV shows Yes Minister, Marley's Ghosts, Bottom, Jim'll Fix It, Then Churchill Said to Me
Gold (stylised as GOLD) is a classic comedy channel from the UKTV network, broadcasting to the United Kingdom and Ireland. It launched on 1 November 1992 as UK Gold, before, in 2008, it was split into current flagship channel Gold and miscellaneous channel, Watch, with comedy based programming now airing on Gold, non-crime drama and entertainment programming airing on Watch, and quiz shows and more high-brow comedy airing on Dave. The channel is currently available as subscription-only on Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk TV, BT TV, and TVPlayer (When subscribed to TVPlayer Plus). It shows repeats of classic programming from the BBC and other broadcasters. The channel's main rival is the ITV plc owned ITV3, which mainly airs the archive ITV programmes, and has a higher audience share than Gold. Another rival is More4 which also has a higher audience share than Gold. This is because they are free-to-air channels whereas Gold is a pay TV channel.
The channel launched on 1 November 1992 as a joint venture between the BBC, through commercial arm BBC Enterprises, and outgoing ITV London weekday franchisee Thames Television. The channel, named "UK Gold", was to show repeats of the 'classic' archive programming from the two broadcasters. The rights to the BBC programmes previously were held by the BSB entertainment channel Galaxy, prior to the merger with Sky Television plc to form BSkyB in November 1990. The channel was initially broadcast on an analogue transponder from an SES satellite at 19.2°E which was less well suited for UK reception. As a result, the channel used to be notorious for being marred with interference, known as 'sparklies', in large parts of the UK. Another initial drawback was the cutting of programming down to fit commercial time slots, and the intensive use of commercial breaks. Reception improved however with the channel added to BSkyB's basic subscription package in 1993, and the launch of the channel on cable services.
In 1993, Flextech gain its first stake in the station after acquiring Tele-Communications' (TCI) TV interest in Europe. In 1996, it started discussions about increasing its stake, to gain full control. At that point, Flextech held 27% with Cox (38%), BBC (20%) and Pearson (15%). By the Autumn, Flextech held 80% of UK Gold. Flextech's main reason for increasing its stake in UK Gold was in participation of new talks with the BBC.
The channel's success led to the launch of the UKTV network on 1 November 1997, owned by BBC Worldwide and Flextech, and consisting of three other channels: UK Arena, UK Horizons and UK Style, focusing on the arts, factual and lifestyle programmes respectively. The UKTV network would expand to include numerous more channels as the years progressed.
The UK Gold brand was expanded in October 1998 with the launch of the digital only channel UK Gold Classics, broadcasting some of the older comedy serials that were being lost from the UK Gold schedule, as the channel moved towards more modern programming. UK Gold Classics was not to last however, and was rebranded as UK Gold 2 on 2 April 1999, which acted as a time shift of the original channel, showing the daytime programmes from UK Gold in the evening on UK Gold 2. In 2003 however, UK Gold 2 was rebranded and repositioned as UK G2, with some programming transferring to the new channel.
On 8 March 2004, the channel was rebranded as "UKTV Gold" in line with the other channels in the UKTV network. At approximately the same time, Granada-run archive channel Granada Plus closed to make way for ITV3. In late 2004, to show films produced in Hollywood in a marathon, UKTV Gold temporarily changed its name to "USTV Gold". The channels had always been the main rivals to Gold due to the direct mix of archive BBC and ITV programming. ITV3 currently has a higher viewer share, often put down to the fact that the terrestrial platform Freeview shows ITV3 but not Gold.
Gold began transmitting in widescreen on 31 January 2008, although some programmes made in 16:9 format are screened in the compromise 14:9 semi-letterbox ratio for a short while, before the 16:9 format became standard later in the year. The channel has been criticised by some, particularly in recent years, for featuring many recent programmes as opposed to 'classics' as was the original concept, with some shows appearing on the channel mere months or weeks after their first television broadcast.
In 2008, UKTV began a process of rebranding and expanding its channels, removing "UKTV" from their name, following the rebranding of UKTV G2 as Dave in October 2007. On 7 October 2008, UKTV Gold became "G.O.L.D.", exclusively showing comedy, both old and new. This is reflected by its new slogan, which now represents Gold as a backronym—"Go On Laugh Daily". Unlike the complete name change for Dave, the Gold name was retained as having a resonance with viewers. The same day also saw the rebranding of UKTV Drama as Alibi, and the launch of a new channel, Watch. In Spring 2010, the channel dropped the acronym and is now known simply as "Gold".
In October 2011, Virgin Media, owner of half of Gold and the rest of the UKTV network, sold their share to Scripps Networks Interactive, with the remaining half still retained by the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.
2012 programming investment
In February 2012, it was announced that UKTV was to invest millions into producing its own original shows. According to the trade magazine, Broadcast, Gold "has secured a budget running into "double-digit millions" to create a raft of new comedy shows over the next two years." the article went on to say "the channel is looking to develop a mix of panel shows, sketch shows, sitcoms and comedy dramas." This move means Gold will follow its sister, Dave, which has resurrected Red Dwarf and produced numerous different panel and entertainment shows, and BSkyB, who have invested £600m into original comedy for Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic. The first set of new shows for Gold are expected to be broadcast in the latter half of 2012.
UKTV executive Jane Rogers stated to Broadcast that the commissions would be high-quality, as "they'd need to sit confidently alongside classics such as Only Fools And Horses and The Vicar of Dibley." She also added that "Gold is well entrenched in the UK's psyche as the home of national treasure comedies, so we cannot afford to look cheap next to those programmes. It's important that anything we order continues that love and feel, but we don't want to look back; we want a contemporary stamp on the channel." Commissioning editor Sarah Fraser commented that "there's never been a better time to invest in homegrown comedy. Comedians are selling out arena tours, being cast in the West End and on the big screen here and in the US."
The first programme announced as part of the investment was a reboot of classic BBC sitcom, Yes, Prime Minister, to be based on the popular 2010 stage show and is to be written by original writers Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. The reboot was the second classic BBC sitcom to be resurrected by a UKTV network, following the two Dave-commissioned series of Red Dwarf. News about other new commissions for the channel were expected during the summer.
The channel was removed from Freeview in 2013, along with Home as part of the closure of Top Up TV and was replaced with Drama in July 2013. However, Home relaunched on the platform in March 2016.
Alongside the main channel, a time shift channel is also operated: Gold +1. The channel, previously named UK Gold +1 and UKTV Gold +1 when corresponding to the name on the main channel, shows all programming from the channel one hour later. The channel UK Gold 2 also used to be a time shift, showing the daytime schedule from UK Gold in the evening prime time slot. This service ended in 2003.
For the first few years, idents on UK Gold featured an animated golden retriever mascot named "Goldie" posing with the UK Gold logo. Goldie was never name-checked as such on air, possibly owing to the death of the Blue Peter dog Goldie some weeks before launch, although the late-night music video slot Dog House was originally listed as Goldie's Video Bites in initial pre-launch listings. The Goldie idents were kept until 1993, when they were replaced with a form-up of the first logo against a blue background. A re-branding in 1994 saw UK Gold adopt idents based on the forging of gold bars, with the station's logo appearing to have been stamped into gold. Variations on this theme were used until 1997, when the channel received a revamp as part of the formation of the UKTV network.
The new network's corporate identity saw all its channels logos simplified to a boxed "UK" followed by the name (e.g. "Gold") in the Gill Sans font, which had also been adopted by the BBC. The new network-wide ident theme would involve the splitting of the screen for different purposes. UK Gold's new idents depicted objects such as apples or leaves falling through the top half of the screen, with only the gold coloured ones reaching the bottom half of the screen. These idents were briefly adopted for UK Gold 2 when it launched in 1998.
In 1999, the theme changed again, this time with idents featuring fireworks making shapes in the air. The fireworks theme was carried on in a new set of idents, alongside another network-wide re-branding of the logo in 2002, adopting a bolder font and merging UK into a single composite character. A range of live-action idents showing everyday activities from unusual perspectives appeared in 2002. The 2003 to 2007 idents showed channel hopping viewers with their TV set "off stage" being brought to a halt by the appearance of a golden light accompanied by the channel's ident jingle. This new identity also featured a series of shifting yellow, orange and red blocks which suggested a gold bar at the centre of the screen.
On 4 April 2007, UKTV Gold unveiled a new on-air identity centred around a branded golden space hopper, playing to contemporary trends toward 1970s nostalgia, and emphasising the station's re-run content. 12 new live action idents featured the branded space hopper, either with people on them bouncing around normally serious scenes, or let loose to bounce around the natural environment, aired from 5 April 2007 to 7 October 2008.
On 7 October 2008, following the rebranding, Gold's current presentation debuted, featuring cartoon objects making a giant chain, in Heath Robinson fashion, which triggers an event to herald the next programme. The Gold logo features in the centre, with the channel slogan usually appearing alongside in the sequence. Programmes are announced by sole channel continuity announcer David Flynn, who has had the position since June 2009.
In July 2014, Gold rebranded after over 6 years in its original identity. The logo is a ribbon with the letters "GOLD". The new idents have funny and wacky stuff happening (such as dancing legs). At the end of the idents, the ribbon comes out saying "GOLD", while the activity behind it is still going.
The output of the channel is mainly British comedy programmes including repeats of BBC shows and sometimes feature-length films.
Programming of classic general entertainment and movies now unused or superseded on 7 October 2008. Some programmes that were shown on UKTV G2 moved to other channels sometime later when it was renamed Dave in October 2007. However, most of the classic comedy series includes re-runs of some BBC shows which are used only in this channel. All classic general entertainment shows must move to some different channels such as Watch and Drama.
An analogue teletext service known as GoldText used to be available on the channel, but has since closed down.