|Launched 1 September 1984|
Replaced by Trouble
|Owned by Flextech|
Website Wayback Archive
|Closed 3 April 1998
October 1998 (UK cable)
October 2000 (Nordic)|
Broadcast area United Kingdom Republic of Ireland Benelux Scandinavia (Nordic version)
The Children's Channel, also known as TCC, was a television station in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Benelux nations (with Dutch voiceover) and Scandinavia, which was owned by Flextech. It began broadcasting on 1 September 1984.
The Children's Channel launched in 1984, almost exclusively to cable households owing to the low proliferation of domestic satellite dishes in the UK and Europe at the time, and originally operated by Starstream who were backed by British Telecom, DC Thomson, Thames Television and Thorn EMI.
The channel shared its slot with The Entertainment Network, before sharing with Mirrorvision. In 1986, it started broadcasting on satellite from 0500 for 10 hours. In January 1987, Central Independent Television acquired a 22% stake in Starstream, within days of buying FilmFair, allowing the channel to add new programming including Paddington Bear.
In March 1989, the channel started airing free-to-air on Astra 1A, airing between 05:00 and 10:00 on weekdays and between 05:00 and 12:00 on weekends, time-sharing with Lifestyle. Following the launch of the Astra 1B-satellite in 1991, the channel expanded to broadcast until 5pm each day, time-sharing with JSTV. In 1990, Flextech acquired its first stake in the company, beating United Artists Cable International to gain a stake. Within a year, United bought its own stake in The Children's Channel and won the management contract to run it. In autumn of 1993, Flextech held talks with Tele-Communications (TCI) and acquired TCI's European programming business in exchange for shares, giving TCI a 50%-60% stake in the enlarged Flextech group. The deal was completed which resulted in Flextech increasing its stake from 50.1% to 75%.
Change of ownership
In 1992, the channel launched an evening block showing programming of greater interest to older children and teenagers. The segment, called simply TCC, aired from 5pm to 7pm, and featured a number of home-produced programmes, such as CDQ ("compact disc quiz") and TVFM, as well as US imports including Saved By The Bell. During the day, the channel, by then still branded as The Children's Channel, continued targeting younger children, and a large amount of its programming output was still archive animated series from the 1980s. As time went on, the TCC block extended its hours, initially starting half an hour earlier at 4.30pm, until the focus on teen programmes eventually became more prominent across the whole channel, which became known as TCC all day long.
In 1993, it cut back its air hours to 06:00-17:00, allowing newly-launched sister channel Family Channel to share its channel space with both channels now a subscription service via the Sky Multichannels package. Two years later, the channel introduced programmes for toddlers and preschoolers called Tiny TCC (see below).
By June 1995, Flextech completed its acquisition of The Children's Channel when it acquired the remaining 25.1% stake in Starstream, (parent firm of TCC, from DC Thomson, Thames Television and Richard Wolfe) for £15m.
During the summer of 1996, Flextech were in talks with Fox/News Corp to sell of a 50% stake in the channel; unfortunately, extremely lengthy negotiations made it impossible to secure a deal. Flextech tried to undertake negotiations to secure a different form of investment in The Children's Channel, but decided to refocus on the teen and youth markets instead. In turn, on 3 February 1997, all the programmes targeting older children (mainly teenagers) which The Children's Channel was by then airing were split off into their own separate television channel called Trouble with TCC reverted to the original name of The Children's Channel and continuing to screen programmes for younger children, running side by side with Trouble for nearly a year, before eventually closing down British and Irish operations both unexpectedly and silently on 3 April 1998 at 17:00 for unknown reasons. Upon the closure of TCC UK, the cable operator Cable & Wireless carried the TCC Nordic feed for a few months due to the company’s anger at the closure of TCC at such short notice, while Trouble started targeting teenagers and young adults, thus fully replacing The Children's Channel after the latter closed down.
However, due to a pre-agreed contract signed some years before to air the channel in Scandinavia until October 2000, Flextech created a commercial-free version of TCC known as TCC Nordic to fulfil this requirement to air until October 2000 as arranged before finally ceasing transmission. As this service was only fulfilling a contractual requirement, it was totally automated and showed exactly the same four weeks of programming (including show trailers) on a constant loop.
In 1995, The Children's Channel introduced a strand for toddlers and preschoolers called Tiny TCC, which aired every morning from 6am until 9am. This block was then transferred over to UK Living on 3 February 1997 and renamed Tiny Living with its airtimes being changed to 7:00-9:00 on weekdays, and 7:00-10:00 during the weekend. Following The Children's Channel's unexpected closedown of British and Irish operations on 3 April 1998 and full replacement by then-timeshared channel Trouble the next day, the strand was finally withdrawn in 2006.
The mascot for the channel was a huge cuddly Wigasaurus called Tiny. He had his own show called Tiny and Crew! in which he learned new things about life. Tiny had a fixed age of just 5 years in the show. He could speak no English and was joined by Dog, who loved nothing more than bones and playing hide and seek and Arabella, a frog who would sometimes come across a little bossy but loved to try new things. The buddets were flowers who were known for their singing. Tiny was later joined by presenters Sarah Davison and Sophie Aldred, then-in 1999-a lifelike doll named Tammy (Tam). The last series was created two years later.
In its day, TCC created some original programming. Connect 4 and The Super Mario Challenge were popular tea-time quiz shows. Some other 'in-between' show segments included Link Anchorman, featuring Chuck the Chimp and Hopper the Penguin. All of the puppets were created and performed by Hands Up Puppets, primarily Marcus Clarke and Helena Smee. Other TV talent made an appearance or got an early break working on these series, including Konnie Huq, then awaiting news of her university place. Some of today's TV producers also got valuable early TV introducing experience on these series including Lisa Opie, Tim Lowe, Karen Ward and Mike Crosby. A live action quiz programme, Around the World in 80 Seconds, was produced for the channel in 1993-4. Hosted by Timmy Mallett as Captain Everything, schoolchildren participated in a quiz based on geography and general knowledge of particular countries, before "replaying" famous scenarios from history of their chosen country. The top team received a prize of a four-day trip to the then-new Euro Disney.
During school holidays, Ratkan aired 07:00-12:00, with It's Droibee Time off air.