Sunday, 12 February 2012

Oscar Gold

There's many who subscribe to the view that satellite TV channel UK Gold went into a decline as the channel actively chased ratings with more modern populist programming, whilst clogging up its schedule with a plethora of TV shows and movies from across the pond. Indeed, when the BBC and Thames Television joined forces to launch the venture in late 1992, they promised viewers "Classic British Television On Satellite".

Well, I guess it all depends on how you define classic British television. On the channel's first full day on-air, the schedule included the American animated series Defenders Of The Earth, the very first episode of Dallas, the Canadian teen drama Kids Of Degrassi Street and Australian soap operas Sons And Daughters and Neighbours. These were soon joined by Dynasty, Knots Landing, The Sullivans, Lassie and many others. The memory cheats?

So it would have been no surprise to viewers in March 1994 that Gold had acquired the rights to broadcast that year's Academy Awards Ceremony...

The Doctor Who story Horror Of Fang Rock received its first omnibus screening on the morning of Sunday 13th March 1994, introduced by resident announcer Glen Allen. Shortly before the Rutan scout fell down to Pebble Mill to kill off the entire supporting cast, Gold promoted their season of Oscar-winning movies scheduled to accompany the 66th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony, which was shown in full on the evening of Tuesday 22nd March 1994 (7.00-10.00pm); this was quite a coup for the channel, as BBC1 could only show highlights of the ceremony that evening (from 9.30-11.30pm).

Then, as if to reassure fans of homegrown television, this was immediately followed by a quick look at some of the classic British shows making their UK Gold debut in 1994, namely The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Man About The House, Robin's Nest, Filthy Rich and Catflap, Hannay and Callan. Phew.

We then skip forward a week to the very end of The Sun Makers, shown from 10am-midday on Sunday 20th March 1994. Yes, you read right, The Sun Makers - for reasons unknown, the first four stories of season 15 was screened out of their original transmission order! If you want to know what the order was, check out WhoGold's comprehensive Air Dates guide. Plug plug. Thankfully, they managed to get things back on track for Underworld (groan). During the closing credits, the continuity announcer reminded viewers Who would be back at 11.55pm the following evening (the episode in question was the final part of The Pirate Planet).

Meanwhile, UK Gold remained in the throes of Oscar fever, heavily promoting the season, running a competition and even roping in TV legend Bob Monkhouse to help out! Dear old Bob popped up to tip Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor (I hope he didn't put any money on it, because it was Tom Hanks who took the award that year, for his stunning performance in Philadelphia). You can check out those promos, and an additional one for The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, in the video above - actually, I bet you already have, haven't you?

Many thanks to Mike in Huddersfield for supplying the VHS tape. And thank YOU for visiting, and be sure to come back in two weeks time for more WhoGold...

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