MHPPick of the Continuity Announcements

The Birth of Channel 5

Channel 5, Britain's first new terrestrial channel for 15 years, and the last analogue service, launched on 30th March 1997 at 18:00 BST.

The images on this page chart the birth of a new television service.

This was broadcast from Channel 5 Croydon on Sunday 26th January 1997 from 09:00 and was the first sign of channel 5 in London.

It was accompanied by a single continuous (mono) test tone and no teletext/PDC. Clearly this is a locally generated image at the transmitter.

Croydon Test 2 2nd Feb This was broadcast from Channel 5 Croydon on Sunday 2nd February from 09:45. It was accompanied by a looped recorded announcement, in NICAM stereo. PDC and one page of Teletext was also broadcast.

C5 Announcement

Downloadable version (57K)

The new "wavy flag" caption used at Croydon from 25th February 1997. This was broadcast for 6 and a half minutes before three and a half minutes of trailer.
Same caption, different transmitter,
different telephone number.
The announcement is the same as before.

Channel 5's digital transmission system allows 4 pseudo-regions to transmit four different feeds at the same time. This is now used to show different advertising in different regions, but pre-launch, it allowed different telephone number to be displayed at different transmitters. This made the job of identifying who was receiving what a little easier.

A promo for Channel 5's first major sports event.
Give me News...

Kirsty Young presents a refreshingly different news service.

All three images are from the trailers broadcast for about a month, from 25th Feb until around 22nd March.. It was a snazzy fast moving snapshot of what you might be able to see from Channel 5 from Sunday 30th March.
A few bloopers.

This is the VT clock used before the trailer promotion.
As suspected, there are two versions, one with a telephone number ending in 327, the other ending 328.

It has been explained to me that "Reduced Chroma VSN" means, in layman's terms "Less Bright Version". Lot's of fully saturated colours don't go down well in digital transmission suites.

This appeared for a brief time whilst we assume some equipment was being rebooted.

It has been reported that BLT Technology supplied the MPEG-2 encoding equipment used by Channel 5 to feed their distribution system.

Bit of a mix up here, from 26th March, this appeared briefly along with some colour bars.

The magenta and black is actually a valid test signal known as a 'pathological' test, providing the most challenging signal to send along 270Mbit/s serial
digital video links.

This appeared for a while on 26th March, an animated five logo. Click on the image to see it animated (500K) Animated Logo
Another new caption, this first appeared 26th March in the evening. The recorded announcement has also changed, to give two phone numbers and advises that if you aren't suffering interference then you don't need to be retuned.
The Spice Girls launched Channel 5 on Sunday at 6pm. This is taken from the extended promo shown in the last week before launch.
The final countdown
C5 is launched...
with an exclusive video from the Spice Girls

Listen online (28.8K+ connection)

Download for later (229K)

Unfortunately C5 has an annoying little logo in the corner of the screen. They turned the brightness down after a couple of weeks, but it is still there.
The first programme was basically 30 minutes of trailers for forthcoming programmes, an introduction to Channel 5.
The first advertisement, as previously reported, was for Chanel No.5
Among the specially commissioned adverts for the launch was one for Kelloggs cornflakes, which cleverly made the point that it was around for the start of ITV and Channel 4 and now Channel 5. Unfortunately they chose to fake the voice-overs for the beginning of ITV and Channel 4.

And that's it. Channel 5 completed their second phase roll-out of transmitters in September 97 and October 97 saw the launch of their full teletext service. The MPEG-2 satellite distribution system proved unreliable in thunderstorms as Channel 5 transmissions were lost on the 6th June 97. Freeze frames and digital "speckling" ruined the film that night, with frozen images stayed on screen for up to fifteen minutes at a time. In London, Channel 5 have now installed a land based feed to the Croydon transmitter.

If you have memories or material from early Channel 5, let us know by posting a message to mhp-chat

Recommended Links
An unofficial Channel 5 site is under construction and a link will appear here soon.

Unfortunately the official Channel 5 website closed down some months after launch.

Meanwhile both Andrew Wiseman and Mike Brown have Channel 5 pages.


Pick of the Continuity Announcements

Last Updated 06 Apr 2000