Challenge (TV channel)
|Launched||1 September 1993|
|Picture format||16:9, 576i (SDTV)|
~0.0% (+1) (December 2013, BARB)
|Formerly called||The Family Channel (1993–97)
Challenge TV (1997–2002)
Sky Movies Box Office,
Sky Sports F1,
Sky Sports News
|Timeshift service||Challenge +1|
Channel 164 (+1)
|Astra 1N||12304 H 27500 2/3
12304 H 27500 2/3 (+1)
|Virgin Media||Channel 139
Channel 140 (+1)
Channel 86 (+1)
|Smallworld Cable||Channel 129|
|UPC Ireland||Channel 157|
Challenge is a United Kingdom digital TV channel that mostly airs programmes dedicated to game shows. It is owned by BSkyB. The channel mostly transmits repeats of programmes acquired from UK terrestrial channel archives (e.g. BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5) and a few from around the world (e.g. NBC (United States), Nine Network (Australia), M-Net (South Africa)), with a few original productions commissioned by the channel itself, or co-commissioned with another broadcaster (usually Channel 5). Since it has been owned by BSkyB, repeats of former programmes from Sky itself have also been shown.
The station was originally called The Family Channel. From its launch on 1 September 1993 to 2 February 1997, the channel aired shows from a mixture of genres, mainly sitcoms, game shows, dramas and entertainment. The Family Channel came about when TVS was sold on 1 February 1993 to the American Company International Family Entertainment Inc. which included the ownership of MTM Enterprises. IFE subsequently launched a UK version of The Family Channel based in The Maidstone Studios and using some elements of the TVS programme archive. Flextech were a partner in the venture, taking a 39% stake in the business.1
The Family Channel did produce some UK original programming (see below), but heavily relied upon content from MTM Enterprises/TVS archive and imports from the USA. It was claimed that the channel produced more original series worldwide than any other cable or satellite network.
In April 1996, IFE sold its remaining 61% share to Flextech,23 giving them full ownership of the venture and production studio in Maidstone.4 The deal did not include any of the programme archive which included many TVS game shows, such as Catchphrase and All Clued Up, but the channel did continually broadcast these series until 2000.
Flextech plans were to relaunch the channel as Challenge during the autumn of 1996, featuring weekend and evening quiz shows and daily dramas aimed at housewives. It was delayed because of plans by Granada Sky Broadcasting to launch a rival service, called Good Life.5 Instead, on 5 October 1996, the weekend slots were rebranded as "Family Challenge Weekend" which focused mainly on game shows, with live in-vision presenters being introduced with chances to win prizes, etc. During the week, The Family Channel continued to broadcast its wide range of programmes, including dramas and comedy.
On 3 February 1997, The Family Channel was re-branded as Challenge TV and mainly focuses on gameshows taken from a variety of terrestrial and digital channel archives. Among the few non-gameshows, it has aired the short-lived US drama Dr. Vegas in 2005, and also the 1995 crime drama film Casino.
The channel was originally a primetime block from 17:00 to 00:30 and shared its channel slot with The Children's Channel (which closed on 3 April 1998) and TV Travel Shop until 1999, which resulted in Challenge being able to broadcast 24 hours a day. From 3 February 1997 to the end of 1998, between 00:30 and 06:00, the channel was branded as "Family Late" which continued to broadcast series from the old Family Channel schedule til September 1998 and then broadcast Challenge TV programming which change from the old Family Channel schedule to non-stop gameshows like the prime-time schedule.
- Prize Time (1997–1999): A slight revamp took place on 27 July 1998, which included the launch of Challenge Late (broadcasting from 21:00 to 00:30), which brought the introduction of general entertainment programmes with a quiz element instead of the traditional game show it had been known for prior.
- The Games Room (1999–2000) included hosts: Kevin Duala, Lisa Rogers, Sonya Saul and Carryl Varley.
- On 20 May 2002, the channel was renamed again, becoming Challenge?,6 with all in-vision presenters being dropped, in favour of out-of-vision links, but viewers could still send in e-mails to announcers who would read them out and in addition to this, the closing credits of a programme were shown in full instead of cutting them out. The logo used in this era looked similar to a street sign. One of the idents used involved classic board games, card games, and arcade games like Asteroids and Space Invaders. This was not used between December 2002 and February 2003.
- On 30 June 2003, the "?" part of the channel name was dropped and all live announcers were also dropped, in favour of pre-recorded out-of-vision continuity links. The animated idents used in 2003 and 2004 included a man going through a long traffic jam in a big water ball by bouncing on top of the cars, and some women revolving a table to eat some cheesecake.
- On 1 November 2004, the channel's presentation was revamped for the third time. The logo was a more simplified version of the 2002–2004 logo.
- On 28 September 2006, the presentation was changed for the fourth time. The logo and idents used in this era were more lively than its predecessor. The presentation was created by Liquid TV.
- On 3 June 2008, the presentation was revamped for the fifth time. It was also the channel's first revamp to be broadcast in the widescreen format. The logo used in this era of the channel was a simplified version of the 2006–2008 logo. Idents used involved a yellow object (e.g. a paper plane) exploding to transform into the channel's logo. The presentation used in this era were made by Mainframe Motion Shop.
- On 13 September 2011, the channel went through a revamp for the sixth time. This is Challenge's first revamp since Sky took full control of the channel on 1 February 2011. Idents include a fruit machine, a tilting puzzle, and jumbled up letters. There are also idents themed upon the conveyor belt used in the classic game show, The Generation Game, and also the classic arcade game Pong. The company that produced the presentation for this era of the channel was Cagney TV.7
- On 7 October 2013, the channel went through a revamp for the seventh time. The changes include a brand new logo, and a set of animated characters, named the "Challengers", as idents to introduce each type of show; Les Play for classics, Kitty Prize for shows involving members of the public, Cecil the Geek for science shows, Tiny for extremely physical shows (like Takeshi's Castle) and wrestling programmes, Ellie for lighter physical shows and Buzzerhead for trivia. The company that produced the presentation for this current era of the channel is Creative Nuts.8 However, some other presentation features, like the breakdown slides, as of 19 November 2013, are not finished and being aired, and the old "Technical Fault" card was reused for a breakdown on 19/11/13.9
The channel also aired some poker game shows including World Poker Tour, Celebrity Blackjack and Casino Casino, this also launched a very short-lived spin-off channel in 2006, Player (which was replaced just several months later by Bravo 2), it mainly focused on the poker-related programming that Challenge had transmitted. Challenge only aired programmes in the letterbox format (4:3), but on 3 June 2008, it switched to the widescreen format (16:9) along with all other Living TV Group channels. This was coupled with a revamped logo and a new set of idents. The channel used to have interactive features for digital cable and satellite viewers watching certain shows, enabling them to play along at home, and it used to offer many games and competitions before the start of each programme, during commercial breaks and after the end of each programme.
On 15 September 2010, it was announced that it will on an unconfirmed date close its sister channels Bravo, Bravo 2 and Channel One. Bravo, Bravo 2 and Challenge Jackpot closed on 1 January 2011 and Channel One closed exactly a month later on 1 February 2011 and Channel One's Freeview space on the Freeview multiplex was used by Challenge to launch on the platform two days later.
On 25 January 2011, it was confirmed that Total Nonstop Action Wrestling programming would start broadcasting on Challenge from 3 February 2011. It was also confirmed on the same day that the channel number for Freeview would be 46.10111212
Challenge have had various programming blocks, for example, Fully Loaded!, a former morning programming block from around 2007 which consisted of Win, Lose or Draw, Wheel of Fortune, Catchphrase and Family Fortunes.
- Alex Lovell (2002)
- Andy Crane (1996–98) – First appeared in the Family Challenge Weekend strand, and went on to present Prize Time in 1997. He also presented Say the Word that same year.
- Andrea Boardman (1997–98) – The channel's first female presenter.
- Annabel Giles (1997)
- Bradley Walsh (2002)
- Carryl Varley (1997–2002) – Launched Challenge Late in 1998, and went on to present The Games Room in 1999 and the iPlay strand in 2000. She also presented Game Central in 2002.
- Colin Murnane (1998–2001)
- Gail McKenna (1998)
- Kevin Duala (1997–2001) – Presented both Prize Time and The Games Room.
- Kieron Elliot (2001–02)
- Ian Collins (1997–9?)
- Lisa Rogers (1999–2001) – Presented The Games Room.
- Louise Brady (2002)
- Pat Sharp (1997)
- Paul Hendy (2002)
- Paul Ross (1997–9?)
- Question Mark (1997–9?) – Presented Prize Time. He also took part in Challenge TV's first original production, Karaoke Challenge.
- Sonya Saul (1999–2000) – Also presented The Games Room.
- Toby Anstis (2000–02) – Presented iPlay and Game Central.
- Yiolanda Koppel (1999)
- Yvette Fielding (1997) – Contributed to weekend in-vision continuity and hosted Karaoke Challenge.
- Jane Farnham (2003–2012)
- Jane Witherspoon (2012–present)
- Mark Ryes (2003–2011)
- Philip Sanders (2011–13)
- Trish Bertram (1999–2000)
- Kirsten O'Brien (2013–present)
Here is a list of the strands that Challenge has used since 2002:
- UK media group Flextech. (invests in UK Family Channel) (Brief Article) – Broadcasting & Cable | HighBeam Research
- Nick Allen’s Videos on Vimeo
- Sweney, Mark (15 September 2010). "BSkyB to close Bravo and Channel One". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "BARB reported channels". overnights.tv. 17 January 2011.
- "TNA set for Freeview". The Sun. 25 January 2011.
- "Challenge TV launching on Freesat". Join Freesat. 1 December 2012.