GOLD celebrates its 21st anniversary today, starting life as UK Gold back in 1992 its come a long way since those early days with a host of archive programming coming and going over the two decades.
The original format of the channel saw the schedules pretty much like most mainstream channels, a mix of comedy, drama, sitcom, entertainment, music and soap – the only difference being everything on UK Gold was old.
The channel launched on the 1st of November 1992, backed by BBC Enterprises, Thames Television and Cox Enterprises.
The countdown to launch was displayed on screen via a gold pocket watch leading into a ‘golden trailer’ featuring a gold covered man couriering up golden memories, people and items ranging from Blackpool’s golden mile of beach, Bob Monkhouse and Tony Blackburn, pawnbrokers gold balls, the Golden Gate Bridge, pound coins and Gold Blend Coffee!
The original ident animation had a golden retriever dog running around with the channel logo.
A dramatic announcement, with echo sound-effect, welcomed viewers to the channel with the words ‘Good Evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the launch of UK Gold which tonight, November 1st, now goes live…’
The first programme to air was sitcom Just Good Friends from the BBC archives.
We delved into the archives of the BBC and Thames and cherry-picked the best programming so you could enjoy it again. – UKTV
In the beginning an eclectic mix of BBC and ITV programmes, many screened for the first time since their original UK transmission in the 70s and 80s, were aired ranging from full editions of classic Top of the Pops to The Two Ronnies. Other early successful reruns included Minder, George and Mildred, Bless This House, Blankety Blank, Morecambe and Wise, Les Dawson and The Equalizer.
UK Gold also used in its early years in-vision continuity making the announcers almost as popular as the shows. Glen Allen became the most famous of the presentation team, and fronted a number of mini retrospective programmes for the network. His humour and sometimes cheeky comments about the proceeding programme found him a loyal following of fans.
By 1996 popular programmes such as The A-Team, Are You Being Served?, Blake’s 7 and Bob’s Full House had proved viewers loved the golden oldies. Saga was also added to the mix as the channel began showing classic soap opera episodes from EastEnders, Crossroads, Dallas, Neighbours, Sons & Daughters and Dynasty. Less successful soaps also got an outing on the channel including Eldorado.
There was also plenty of classic drama such as Juliet Bravo, Casualty, Angels, The Sweeney, Lovejoy and When The Boat Comes In to name only a few. Where else could such a great archive mix be seen? In all honesty nowhere, nothing has ever quite captured the great mix of programming UK Gold provided.
ITV attempted a oldies station in 1996 launching Granada Plus. The channel attempted to rival UK Gold but its limited archive material never made it a match for the originator and Plus went off the air suddenly in 2004.
In 1997 Flextech bought shares in UK Gold and the BBC passed its holding to BBC Worldwide to create a 50:50 joint venture between the two companies. Later the same year the UKTV network was launched.
We gave UK Gold some friends in the form of UK Arena, UK Style and UK Horizons. – UKTV
With more channels UKTV Gold became home to classic comedy output with UKTV Drama taking over many of the shows once seen on UK Gold. UK Play, which operated for four years, took the music content.
UKTV Gold, UKTV Drama, UKTV Documentary, UKTV People, UKTV History, UKTV Style and UKTV Food evolved to become G.O.L.D, Alibi, Eden, Blighty, Yesterday, Home and Good Food – UKTV
Other channels have also been added in recent years including Dave, Watch and Really. GOLD continues to make the nation titter with mainstay golden favorites such as Last Of The Summer Wine and Open All Hours airing alongside more recent comedy classics such as Absolutely Fabulous and Mrs Brown’s Boys.
In recent times the channel has also embarked on original comedy commissions including Us and Them the channel’s first original sitcom, revived political comedy Yes, Prime Minster and comedy drama The Comic Strip Presents: Five Go To Rehab.
Happy Anniversary GOLD.
UK Gold’s 1992 Launch is featured in the clip below: