These seven vital shows wouldn’t have existed without Channel 4, btw
The People’s Princess of the original channels imo
Don’t worry – Channel 4 isn’t actually going anywhere. But with the news that the government will be going ahead with the privatisation proposal, it could see a 44 per cent cut in revenue. This means less money to spend on original programming, less risk-taking and more budding British filmmakers taking their business elsewhere.
There’s not a lot to say about British culture at large – but I’ve always been proud of our often-fresh, game-changing and experimental original shows, which Channel 4 has been responsible for providing us with since 1982. Without that extra 44 per cent in the budget; a number of these vital series might not have been made.
Channel 4 has been the perpetual blue-haired, septum-pierced, stick-and-poke teen with a fierce sense of allyship and courage to say exactly what’s on its mind. No topic has been off limits – AIDS, cancer, racism, self-harm, classism, Covid and sex positivity have each been tackled in gorgeously powerful ways.
Here’s a rundown of every single vital bit of TV which simply wouldn’t have existed without a publicly-owned channel (and long may it continue):
It’s A Sin
“It’s A Sin kind of went from channel-to-channel,” creator Russell T. Davies told Pink News last year. The writer pitched his AIDS-themed drama to the likes of BBC and ITV, before finally being picked up by Channel 4.
The one-off series, starring Olly Alexander and Lydia West, has been nominated for six BAFTAs and received rave reviews from critics around the country. It’s one of the standout depictions of the AIDS epidemic, truly showing the devastating human cost of the disease and government ineptitude.
This is England ’86 – ’90
Thanks to Film4 taking a chance on independent filmmaker Shane Meadows (as well as little-known actors Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham), this original comedy-drama was given a platform. Tackling tough issues like racism, sexual abuse and suicide against a grey backdrop of ’80s Britain, nothing like this had ever been done before.
After the 2006 film, This Is England went on for three more series on Channel 4.
Speaking of Stephen Graham – this horrifying Covid drama gave us a glimpse into how the virus ravaged its way through care homes, hospitals and other health facilities. We saw the growing exhaustion and disillusionment of Jodie Comer’s character, mirroring the struggle of key workers everywhere.
Jeremy Kyle Show: Death On Daytime
Nearly three years on from the cancellation of Jeremy Kyle, Channel 4 released a pioneering exposeé into the daytime chat show. Suddenly, people’s speculations were being played out before their eyes; alleged classism, overworked employees and a lax aftercare system were covered in the revealing documentary.
My First Threesome
Channel 4 has always been at the forefront of sex positivity in the UK. Your dad probably read the TV guide and said, “what a load of old shit.” But if you’re anything like me, you probably secretly watched it; notepad and pen in hand. Okay, so a lot of these shows (like Naked Attraction) aren’t done faultlessly – but we’re getting to see body types and sex positions which deviate away from unethical porny heteronormative stuff, which can only be a good thing.
During the era where the only teens we really saw on TV were pristine, Disney-influenced pop princesses; it was refreshing to see a group of British young adults taking drugs, getting drunk and having sex. While people complained and storylines could get a little depressing and far-fetched, the reality of being a kid in the UK was also undeniably mirrored in this E4 series.
Tom Parker: Inside My Head
Before Tom Parker’s tragic passing, Stand Up To Cancer commissioned this documentary, giving us an unflinching insight into what living with a terminal brain tumour is actually like. From medication to paralysis; family time to hospital trips, this really was a devastating watch.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
- So, what does the Channel 4 privatisation actually mean?
- Wait, a bit of Angry Peter Marsh’s Come Dine With Me rant was cut from the show?!
- Here’s a list of all the biggest TV stars who started out on T4
Featured image via Channel 4.