Trisha Shetty (Editor)


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Joint venture

Key people
Darren Childs (CEO)



Area served
United Kingdom

Mass media

Television Online

London, United Kingdom

26 March 1992

UKTV httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaenthumb2

Key person
Darren Childs (Chief Executive)

Parent organizations
BBC Worldwide, Scripps Networks Interactive

TV shows
Shark Tank, Dynamo: Magician Impossible, David Attenborough's Natural C, Market Kitchen, Banished


UKTV is a multi-channel broadcaster, jointly owned by BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive. It was formed in 26 March 1992 through a joint venture between BBC and Thames Television. It is one of the United Kingdom's largest television companies.


UKTV's channels are available via digital satellite and cable subscriptions in the UK and Ireland. Dave, Drama, Really and Yesterday channels are also available in the UK on Freeview, the free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) service.

Most programmes on the channels are repeat broadcasts of BBC productions, although the entertainment channels also feature some programmes produced by other companies and UKTV have also in recent years, commissioned a tiny minority of their own exclusive programmes. The channels themselves are played out by Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services.

The UKTV channels have broadcast in widescreen since 31 January 2008, although some programmes originally made in 16:9 format are screened in the compromise 14:9 semi-letterbox format.

Origins (1992-1997)

UKTV started as a single channel, UK Gold. The original partners behind the channel were the BBC's commercial arm BBC Enterprises and the ITV contractor Thames Television, although before the launch the American cable operator Cox Enterprises stepped in and took a majority share, 65 percent, in exchange for underwriting the costs of launching the channel.

UK Gold launched on 1 November 1992, showing reruns of 'classic' archive programming from the archives of the BBC and Thames. In a sense, UK Gold succeeded British Satellite Broadcasting's Galaxy channel that had originally held these rights from the BBC.

Later on, United Artists Holding Europe stepped in as part owner, and that ownership eventually became a part of Flextech, which was controlled by the US cable company Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI). In 1993, Flextech gained its first stake in the station after acquiring TCI's TV interests 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 partitioner of new talks with the BBC.

The launch of the UKTV network (1997)

During 1996, Flextech and the BBC held talks about a partnership to launch a new range of channels under the name UKTV. BSkyB tried to compete against Flextech for the right to develop the BBC channels, but the BBC were against inviting BSkyB to participate in the pay-TV venture. It is understood that BSkyB would have sought a significant share in the planned channels, in exchange for agreeing to offer them to its 3.8 million direct-to-home satellite subscribers. It was believed at the time that if Sky intentions were spurned, BSkyB could have elected to develop competing channels in advance of the Flextech-BBC launch, particularly arts and documentaries, as a spoiling tactic.

The deal between Flextech and BBC was completed and signed in March 1997. Initially it was assumed that the new channels would be BBC-branded: BBC Showcase, for entertainment; BBC Horizon, for documentaries; BBC Style, for lifestyle; BBC Learning, for schools, and BBC Arena, for the arts, plus three other channels including BBC Catch-Up, for repeats of popular programmes within days of their original transmission, a dedicated BBC Sport channel, and a TV version of Radio 1. Flextech wanted these channels to carry advertisements, but the BBC argued that BBC-branded services in the UK should not carry advertising, as the BBC's domestic TV channels are non-commercial publicly funded in the UK by a mandatory licence fee. The BBC thought that this would undermine the rationale of the licence fee in the UK.

A compromise was reached; BBC Showcase and BBC Learning, renamed BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge respectively before launch, would go ahead as BBC channels without commercials, while the deal with Flextech was passed to BBC Worldwide with a control split 50/50, thus allowing the remaining channels to carry advertisements. The 'UK' prefix was chosen for these new channels to capitalise on the success of UK Gold, as the brand by then had become a household name. The 'UKTV' network launched on 1 November 1997 with three new channels; arts channel 'UK Arena', lifestyle channel 'UK Style' and documentary channel 'UK Horizons'. UK Gold retained its name but received a new look in line with the rest of the network. Although the new network didn't use the BBC name and logo, its graphics and branding was in other aspects similar to the ones used by the BBC channels. The new graphics for the BBC and UKTV were both designed by the same company, Lambie-Nairn. Shortly before launch, it was decided the channel UK Living also owned by Flextech was to be renamed Living, instead of becoming part of the new UKTV network due to the similarity in programming between the channel and UK Style. On the same date, UK Gold celebrated its 5th anniversary.

Digital expansion (1998-2007)

With the launch of digital television in the UK brought about by Sky Digital and ONdigital in 1998, two new channels were launched to broadcast on the new platforms: 'UK Gold Classics', a sister channel to UK Gold showing older shows previously shown on UK Gold, and 'UK Play', a new comedy and music channel.

UK Gold Classics was short lived however, and relaunched as UK Gold 2 in April 1999. The new channel time-shifted the morning schedule of UK Gold from 7 pm for those who could not watch it at the original time. Popular at first, it dwindled in ratings after a few years.

To boost its popularity, UK Play was renamed Play UK and given a new look and new style of logo in November 2000, which the rest of the UKTV channels would adopt the following July. In November 2001, UK Style's food programming was moved to a new channel named 'UK Food'.

The rebranding of Play UK failed to make the channel more popular, and on 30 September 2002 it was shut down. October saw the launch of the new free to view digital terrestrial platform Freeview replacing ITV Digital, and with it the new history channel 'UK History', which was included in Freeview's license to operate the platform. UK History took many of the history-related programming from UK Horizons. In January 2003, UKTV launched a lifestyle channel for Freeview called UK Bright Ideas. However UK Bright Ideas was not created for the same reasons as UK Food and UK History to allow other UKTV channels to have more time to schedule other programming, but instead showed a mix of programming from UK Style and UK Food (and later UKTV Gardens) for Freeview viewers, in order to promote the lifestyle UKTV channels available on pay platforms.

UK Gold 2 was relaunched with a completely new schedule and style as UKG2 on 12 November 2003, taking on some output similar to what used to be on Play UK before its closure, initially broadcasting from 8 pm each night before later expanding to daytime.

On 8 March 2004, the network carried out a major rebranding scheme where all of the UKTV channels changed their prefixes from UK to UKTV. UK Horizons was split into two channels – UKTV Documentary and UKTV People.

In 2005, the last new channel under the UKTV branding was launched, 'UKTV Style Gardens', later renamed in 2007 to 'UKTV Gardens'. Like UK Food, it allowed UK Style to focus more on its more home-oriented programming.

Network rebrand

In 2007, UKTV G2 was renamed 'Dave' and began broadcasting on Freeview, replacing UKTV Bright Ideas, seen as an experiment in branding for the network. The name is said to be originated from the fact that "everyone knows a bloke called Dave", and that the name seems appropriate for a male-orientated channel.

On 11 June 2008, UKTV announced that it was beginning the process of rebranding its channels from generic, UKTV-prefixed names to individual and separate brands, after the successful launch of Dave.

The first stage of this rebranding began on 7 October 2008, when UKTV Gold was renamed G.O.L.D. (later Gold) and dropped its mixed entertainment schedule for pure comedy programming. UKTV Drama became the crime drama channel Alibi, and a new general entertainment channel called Watch was launched. It was with this rebrand that non-crime drama (such as Doctor Who and Jonathan Creek) was transferred to Watch. G.O.L.D. was on one level a continuation of the Gold name used since the channel's creation, but the letters also made up the channels new slogan: 'Go On Laugh Daily'.

2009 saw the rebranding of all of the remaining channels beginning in January with UKTV Documentary's rebrand to Eden, the name reflecting the nature programmes premiering on the channel. This was followed in February with UKTV People becoming Blighty, the new channel containing programming of the lives of the British population and the quirks of British society, and therefore explaining the slang name for Britain as the channel name. In March, UKTV History was rebranded as Yesterday, reflecting the channel's history-themed programming.

This was closely followed in April by the re-brand of UKTV Style to Home, the new channel retaining the previous DIY shows and home makeovers and also including the programming from UKTV Gardens; however, this programming would follow a few weeks later in May, when UKTV Gardens was closed. Its channel slot was taken by Really, a new female and reality channel, similar to Virgin Media's then named Living. The name Really was used because of the shocking nature of some of the programmes.

The final channel to be rebranded was UKTV Food, on 22 June 2009 as Good Food, to tie in with the BBC magazine of the same name. In June 2009 a final minor tweak to these new brands occurred when, for promotional purposes, trailers began to use the same style and all channels began to use a circle-shaped variation of their logo to show that they were part of one network, making cross-channel promotion easier than previously.

On 14 June 2011, UKTV announced it would be launching Really on Freeview channel 20 on 2 August 2011. This resulted in the timeshift channel Dave ja vu broadcasting reduced hours of 02:00–04:00 on Freeview only to keep the EPG number available for future use. Really was the third of UKTV's ten brands to launch on Freeview.

Scripps Networks Interactive acquisition

Virgin Media were in talks, with a number of interested parties, to sell its 50% stake in UKTV. Bidders included Scripps Networks Interactive, Discovery Communications, ITV plc, and Channel 4. Channel 4 was the least interested party, and Discovery had made offers that had been rejected. BSkyB was also said to be interested. BSkyB have worked with BBC Worldwide before, as BBC Worldwide hold distribution rights to many of Sky's original commissions. BBC Worldwide held first refusal rights and could exercise control over who bought the stake.

On 15 August 2011, Virgin Media agreed to sell its 50% stake UKTV to Scripps Networks Interactive in a deal worth £339m. Scripps paid £239m in cash, and about £100m to acquire the outstanding preferred stock and debt owed by UKTV to Virgin Media. Completion of the transaction was contingent on regulatory approvals in Ireland and Jersey, which was received on 3 October 2011. Related to the transaction, Scripps Networks Interactive and BBC Worldwide are negotiating an agreement whereby, after completion, BBC Worldwide would have the option, via a combination of cash and a package of digital rights for UKTV, to increase its shareholding from 50 percent to a maximum of 60 percent. Scripps Networks Interactive's existing voting rights and Board representation would be unaffected by this proposed arrangement, which would be subject to BBC Executive and BBC Trust approvals.

BT Vision deal

On 22 March 2012, it was announced that BT Vision would offer UKTV original content on-demand from later in the day. As part of the deal, UKTV started streaming linear channels to BT Vision set top boxes in late 2012. The first three were Watch, Gold and Alibi and it intends to launch further channels, such as Good Food, Eden and Home. Dave, Really and Yesterday will likely not launch on the service as they are already available on Freeview, which is available through the hybrid IPTV/Freeview BT set-top boxes.

UKTV corporate rebrand 2013

UKTV announced on 18 March 2013 that it will reintroduce its company brand in celebration of its 21st year. The UKTV logo re-design went live across the identities of their channel network and programmes on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 for its 21st birthday.

Commercials on UKTV channels

In 2003, UKTV announced plans of an experiment which examined the effect of different break patterns on advertising. UKTV teamed up with a number of advertisers to measure the effect of reductions in advertising spots, programme trailers and the number of breaks overall.

In February 2004, UKTV reduced the length of its ad breaks in a bid to retain viewers and attract advertisers after results of its research show that shorter breaks produce higher advertising recall levels. From 8 March, Its junctions were limited to a maximum of five minutes, with three-and-a-half minutes of commercial plus one-and-a-half minutes of promotional material, instead of a standard seven-and-a-half minutes. UKTV's move was similar to a solution suggested by PHD executive strategy director Louise Jones at 2003 Marketing Week TV United Conference, with a view to cleaning up breaks. Her proposal was for broadcasters to reduce spots by 20 per cent and to charge a corresponding price increase for them; the theory being clients would not have to boost their media spending, thus improving UKTV hopes a reduction in the length of break junctions would help it to keep viewers and provide advertisers with improved cut-through.


UKTV's channels are available via satellite and cable in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the UK, on digital terrestrial television, Yesterday, Dave, Really, Drama and Home are available on the Freeview platform, and selected parts of Gold, Home and Good Food were available through the now defunct Top Up TV service. The logo on the UKTV branded channels has also now been replaced by a new design, shown on the right.

W (Formerly Watch) is currently the flagship channel operated by the network. It is a general entertainment channel from UKTV that launched on 7 October 2008. Programmes such as Total Wipeout USA and Torchwood are aired. From launch until 2010, the official 'mascot' was Blinky the eyeball, who is seen on the idents, logo and website. From 2012, there has been a rebrand which includes smoke, hairballs, crystals and liquid fly out of the logo.

Gold is the comedy channel operated by the network. UK Gold launched on 1 November 1992 as a joint venture between Thames Television and the BBC to show reruns of their classics archive programming, UKTV Gold and its sister stations are now part of the UKTV network, owned jointly by Virgin Media and the BBC. The output of the channel is mainly British comedy programmes and sometimes feature-length films. These are a combination of internally produced shows and repeats of shows from the BBC and ITV archive. Although in recent years original programmes have aired on the channel and the US version of Dancing with the Stars has had its first UK airing on the channel. But in doing with this the channel has been criticised by some, 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. It was rebranded to G.O.L.D. in October 2008 as a comedy channel, with the name becoming simply Gold in 2010.

Home was launched as UK Style on 1 November 1997 with the main output focused on home improvements, DIY shows and Gardening Programmes that are a combination of internally produced shows and repeats of shows mainly from the BBC archive. Before the launch of Good Food (then known as UKTV Food), it also showed many cookery programmes, however these now all reside on the channel Good Food. It is one of the key UKTV channels, and is very well known. On 1 March 2016, it joined Freeview.

Eden and Eden +1 (formerly UKTV Documentary and +1) was launched on 8 March 2004, and focuses on documentaries such as Planet Earth.It is on Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk TV, but not Freeview or Freesat. Its slogan is One amazing world, one amazing channel, and the logo is swirled in a circle. The unveiling of the Eden rebrand was 9 October 2008 but the actual relaunch was 26 January 2009.

Really launched on 19 May 2009. The channel focuses entirely on Reality and Lifestyle shows, which were previously broadcast on UKTV Style (Now 'Home'). In February 2005, UKTV Style Gardens was launched moving all gardening content from UKTV Style to the new channel. It lost recognition to UKTV Style in early 2007 when it adopted the more generic name UKTV Gardens, It is now closed, and Really is in its place. It is available on Sky and Virgin Media. The Idents are a pop art comic design, with 4 idents, Changing Room, Cafe, Surgeon and Park Bench. The channel doesn't have a timeshift, nor does Drama.

Dave was launched by UKTV, on 15 October 2007, and the first without the UKTV or any UK branding. It was announced in September 2007, that UKTV G2 would relaunch and be renamed to Dave. UKTV said the name of the channel was chosen because "everyone knows a bloke called Dave". The rebrand included the channel being available free-to-air on digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, replacing UKTV Bright Ideas which only averaged 0.1% of the audience share. The move to Freeview saw Dave launch in the bandwidth previously used by Yesterday (Previously known as UKTV History) which now uses the time limited (07:00–18:00) bandwidth once occupied by UKTV Bright Ideas. Dave is available daily, from 7 am to 3 am, on all platforms. It calls itself "the home of witty banter" and now uses Ralph Ineson and Phill Jupitus as announcers.

Alibi is another channel operated by UKTV and as the name suggests its main focus is on showing crime dramas mainly from the BBC and ITV archives. Originally launched as UK Arena on 1 November 1997, as an arts channel, it was renamed as UK Drama in 2000 and so shifted its focus on dramas after some disappointing initial ratings. On 2 May 2006, a new timeshift service called UKTV Drama +1 was launched, to replace UKTV People's timeshift channel. It has now renamed Alibi in October 2008 and is now fully focused on crime dramas, with a murder theme and a 'gripping' logo design appearing on-screen from October 2008. The logo has 3 colour variations and a fresh set of idents. It is on Sky and Virgin Media.

Yesterday is the history channel from the UKTV network. Previously known as UKTV History until 2 March 2009, it launched on 30 October 2002, to coincide with the launch of Freeview. Yesterday's main focus are on programmes with historical topics and biographies, as is to be expected, nature and wildlife and some historical fiction, often from the BBC archives. Hours on Freeview had previously been cut when Dave launched, with transmissions finishing at 18:00, but were restored on 1 June 2010.

Good Food launched on 5 November 2001 and broadcasts a range of food and cookery programmes, similar to that of the content of BBC Worldwide's BBC Food service. Initially most of the channels output was aired on Home until Good Food was introduced. The Good Food website originally devised and launched by Ian Fenn and Ally Branley provides a number of services including information on programmes shown on the channel, recipes, message boards, and a wine club. Recipes come from the various shows on Good Food and some include videos taken from the demonstrations. In September 2006 Good Food's website overtook the BBC Food site in popularity for the first time, achieving a 10% market share, against the 9.63% the BBC Food site dropped to, having held the top spot since it began. It is named "Good Food Channel" on the UKTV website due to the fact that there is a magazine named Good Food.

Drama launched on 8 July 2013 and is positioned as a home for British dramas from the last 40 years. The channel became the fourth UKTV channel to launch on Freeview, after Yesterday, Dave and Really.

October 2013 saw catch-up services for Watch, Gold Dave and Alibi appear on Sky Go, all UKTV channels launched on Eircom's eVision TV service and Gold was launched on NowTV. The following month all channels went on to appear on Virgin TV Anywhere.


In June 2014 UKTV launched its first digital-only brand, a catch-up service, UKTV Play. Launching on iOS in August, on PC, YouView and Virgin Media in November and on Android devices in February 2015. The interactive service features content from the channels Dave, Yesterday, Really and Drama.

Former channels

UKTV has also had many former channels which have been replaced by others. UKTV G2 was replaced on all platforms except Freeview by Dave, which still carries all the same programming on 15 October 2007. Originally named UK Gold Classics, it was launched when UK Gold began to move towards newer programmes instead of older ones. From 2 April 1999, it was renamed to UK Gold 2, and screened morning programmes from UK Gold time-shifted to the evening of the same day. It was again relaunched with a completely new programme line-up and renamed UKG2 on 12 November 2003. Along with the rest of the UKTV network, the "UK" prefix was changed to "UKTV" on 8 March 2004 and therefore the channel name changed to UKTV G2. The output of the channel was mainly comedy from the BBC with some shows produced in house. A fair amount is similar to the comedy output of Play UK before that channel's closure. UKTV Gardens closed down in May 2009, in favour of Really.

Another channel, UK Arena, closed on 31 March 2000 due to insufficient ratings, relaunched – originally with the same graphics – as UK Drama. As said before initial ratings were disappointing and it was decided to relaunch the channel as UK Drama, with a focus on showing dramas rather than general arts programme. Along with the rest of the network, the "UK" prefix was changed to "UKTV" on 8 March 2004. The channel's main focus was on arts programming.

Play UK, another UKTV channel closed in 2002 due to low ratings after the closure of ITV Digital which a substantial amount of its viewers came from. The channel was launched on 10 October 1998 and was aimed at playing, for most of the time, music in the morning and afternoon while broadcasting comedy in the evening. It broadcast all day on the digital platforms but on the Sky Analogue platform (on the Astra 19.2°E satellites), it also broadcast between 1 am and 7 am when UK Horizons wasn't broadcasting. It closed for a number of reasons spanning from the closure of ITV Digital to how it could not compete with MTV. Play UK's comedy programming was moved to UKTV Gold. UK Gold 2, formerly UK Gold Classics, closed in 2003 became UKG2 and later UKTV G2 and then Dave.

UK Horizons closed in 2004 to create UKTV People and UKTV Documentary. The channel was mainly based on showing BBC documentaries and other factual programmes. Most programmes were abridged for commercial timing purposes. It took its name from the BBC series Horizon, which formed a staple of its output in the early years. It was launched on 1 November 1997 along with UK Arena and UK Style. It also produced extended versions of top BBC brands such as Top Gear and Tomorrow's World. The launch editor was Bryher Scudamore and the deputy editor Eddie Tulasiewicz. UKTV People +1 closed in 2006 to create UKTV Drama +1.

UKTV Bright Ideas closed in 2007 on all platforms for the relaunch of UKTV G2 as Dave going onto Freeview. Previously known as UK Bright Ideas and originally UK HomeStyle the channel broadcast a variety of programmes, often originally aired on UKTV Style, UKTV Food and UKTV Gardens, and are thus mainly cookery, DIY and gardening. However, in January 2005, it began showing programmes branded by UKTV Sport, presumably to increase potential audience figures by extending the programme to Freeview viewers. Bright Ideas was launched on 15 January 2003 initially for the Freeview digital terrestrial television platform, but later expanded. In September 2007 UKTV announced that UKTV Bright Ideas would be replaced on Freeview by UKTV G2, renamed Dave, as of 15 October 2007 due to low viewing figures of around 0.1% of the audience share. It ceased broadcasting on all platforms on 14 October 2007 at 6 pm.

Also note that there was a channel called UK Living that was originally affiliated with the UK Gold but did not become part of the UKTV network, instead transferring to Flextech to be operated as a wholly owned company, and it changed its name to LivingTV before the UKTV network launched. Also an analogue teletext service known as GoldText was available on UK Gold, but has since closed down.

Blighty closed on all platforms on 5 July 2013, three days ahead of the launch of Drama. The channel originally launched as UKTV People on 8 March 2004, replacing UK Horizons, which closed the day before. The output of Blighty was some factual programming of a lighter nature, such as Top Gear and docusoaps like Airport, and from February 2009, "British" shows like "My Brilliant Britain". However, the majority of the channel's programming was abridged by the BBC for commercial timing purposes, a policy that some critics consider hypocritical. The channel was available on Sky and Virgin Media. However, it was not available on Freeview, despite the majority of the programmes being made by the BBC.

Operating names

In the production logo screen at the end of UKTV's original commissions, for the channels Watch, Gold and Dave the name UK Gold Services Ltd. is used instead of UKTV, as all 3 channels spawned from the original UK Gold channel. For the remaining channels, Alibi, Drama, Eden, Good Food, Home, Really and Yesterday, the name UKTV New Ventures Ltd. is used instead of UKTV.

HD channels

UKTV launched its first HD channel; Good Food HD on 31 August 2010. The channel was originally available exclusively on Sky channel 283.

A second HD channel; Eden HD launched on 4 October on Sky channel 559. Both channels are high-definition simulcasts of their standard definition counterparts.

UKTV announced on 29 July 2011 that they would be launching three new HD channels, Dave HD and Watch HD launched in October 2011, and Alibi HD launched in July 2012.

As part of Virgin Media's deal to sell its share of UKTV, all five of UKTV's HD channels were also added to Virgin's cable television service by 2012. Eden HD and Good Food HD were added on 7 October 2011, followed by Dave HD on 10 October and Watch HD on 12 October.


UKTV Wikipedia

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