Long/occasionally rambling post ahead but these are all the memories that immediately come to mind!
Got Cable & Wireless in September 1998, which became NTL a couple years later and we stuck with it until upgrading to digital in September 2001. We could only afford a limited amount of channels at first (you paid by "packs" I think - Entertainment Pack, Kids Pack, Movies Pack etc) but by Feb '99 I'd persuaded my parents to buy the kids channels, and by the time we got digital we had pretty much all of them except the movie and sport channels. I remember 72 being the channel number limit - Channel One London had
closed when we got cable, and so it eventually skipped to channel 2 which I think was The Box. Terrestrial channels were somewhere around the 30s-early 40s.
From around channel 60 onwards things got quite odd from what I remember, a few foreign channels and something that started out as 'The Local Channel' and eventually became some sort of youth/kids local network called YCTV, which appeared to be from London and mostly just showed various student animations and short films done by schools around the area - along with the occasional extremely low-budget advert for a newsagents in Harlesden or something. The whole thing seemed to be filmed on domestic video-recording equipment and was often a bizarre watch, can't imagine any of it existing in any sort of archive today.
I remember a "trick" where if you switched to a channel you didn't have for a second and then switched back, you were able to hear about a second of the missing channel's audio before the TV Today guide appeared - if you kept switching back and forth as quick as you could you'd get almost uninterrupted audio, meaning I was able to "hear" channels I didn't have - before we got the likes of Cartoon Network this was hugely exciting to hear the audio of whole TV shows you'd never seen before! Seems hilariously archaic now but in the pre-internet days it felt like a big thing to hear the sound of all these mystery channels, particularly as just a couple years earlier we'd only had the four.
Somewhere in a (rapidly decaying) part of the house are video tapes from 1999-2000 which feature some old Cable & Wireless/NTL channel guide footage, recorded on various weekend and half term holidays when I was bored, including messages explaining future downtime as digital cable was due to be installed - I think I also recorded a few "switchoffs" where the channel would end its programming for the day, the picture would flicker and then cut to black/the TV guide, including a long-gone shopping channel called 'Shop!' which ended around 7pm or so. One day in summer 2000 I recorded myself going through every channel, which I suppose would be interesting now - if I ever get all the old VHS/DVD recorders reconnected I'll upload it. Never thought any of that would be worth any interest but I guess it's quite nostalgic now!
One thing I'd
like to hear again is the old C&W TV Today music they'd play over the channel guide, particularly around September/October 1998. From what I remember they'd occasionally advertise the CD album for sale that had all the tracks they used, all I remember is that it was called "Cities" or something similar? Haven't heard it in almost twenty years and wonder if hearing it again will take me back to waking up in the early hours of the morning to catch a 6am showing of The Simpsons, which in those days Sky One would play on startup - usually edited less than today's 6pm showings of the same episodes on Channel 4!
Member since 26 May 2001