1991 in British television
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This is a list of British television related events from 1991.
- 1 January – The Independent Television Commission (ITC) replaces the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). On the same day the 1990 Broadcasting Act takes effect, thus beginning the deregulation of British television and radio.
- 17 January – Regular programming is abandoned to bring live coverage of the Gulf War after Allied Forces launch Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. Over the coming weeks there is extended coverage of events in the Persian Gulf. ITV also broadcasts news and discussion programmes about the war throughout the night. Some broadcasting, particularly in the earlier part of the war, comes from CNN.
- 28 January – Oliver Reed appears on an edition of the late night discussion programme After Dark discussing militarism, masculine stereotypes and violence to women. Reed drinks alcohol during the broadcast, leading him to become drunk, aggressive and incoherent. He refers to another member of the panel, who has a moustache, as 'tache' and uses offensive language. After one hour Reed returns from the toilet and, getting more to drink, rolls on top of the noted feminist author Kate Millett. The show is briefly taken off air following a hoax call to the station claiming that Channel 4 boss Michael Grade is furious.
- 15 February – The COW ident is seen for the final time on BBC1, after six years in use, and the BBC2 'TWO' ident is also seen for the final time after five years in use.
- 16 February – BBC1 and BBC2 receive new idents, both generated from laserdisc and featuring the BBC corporate logo introduced in 1986. BBC1 features a numeral '1' encased in a globe, and BBC2 features eleven idents based around a numeral '2'.
- 26 February – Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein announces the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. As the war comes to its conclusion, television programming begins to return to regular broadcasting.
- 1 March – The monopoly on listings magazine ends with the deregulation of TV listings. Before today, the Radio Times published only BBC listings and TVTimes published ITV and, from 1982, Channel 4 listings. However, from today they can carry listings for all channels. Newspapers are also allowed to publish 7-day listings for the first time, having previously only been able to publish the present day's (and two days on Saturdays). A raft of listings magazines start up in the wake of the changes.
- 9 March – While a guest on the ITV chat show Aspel & Company, singer Rod Stewart takes off his shoes and tosses them into the audience.
- 1 April – Sue Lawley interviews Prime Minister John Major for ITV.
- 7 April – ITV airs the first Prime Suspect serial starring Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison.
- 8 April – The Power Station, one of the channels to have survived the BSB merger with Sky, closes down at 4am after it was decided that the American MTV would be used as the music channel on BSkyB's Astra satellite service.
- 9 April – British actor Derek Nimmo makes a cameo appearance in Australian soap Neighbours as an eccentric English aristocrat, the episode having debuted in Australia on 26 February 1990.
- 20 April – The Sports Channel is rebranded as Sky Sports.
- 29 April – On an edition of Terry Wogan's evening chat show Wogan and amid howls of laughter from the studio audience, former footballer David Icke claims that he is "the son of God," and that Britain will be devastated by tidal waves and earthquakes. He later said that he had been misinterpreted, and that he had used the term "the son of God" to mean an "aspect" of the Infinite consciousness. The interview proved devastating for him. The BBC was later criticised for allowing the interview to go ahead, Des Christy in The Guardian calling it a "media crucifixion."
- April – Channel 4's three-week Banned season features a series of films and programmes which had previously been banned from British television or cinema. The season includes network television showings of Scum, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Sebastiane. There is also a second broadcast of the controversial 1988 Thames Television documentary Death on the Rock which investigated the shooting of three members of the IRA by the SAS in Gibraltar. The season proves to be controversial and Channel 4 is investigated by the Obscene Publications Squad and referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- 20 June – An edition of BBC2's The Late Show is the final programme to be broadcast from the BBC's Lime Grove Studios.
- 30 June – Channel 4 airs the first episode of Family Pride, the first British soap to feature a predominantly Asian cast. The series is produced by Central Television and also shown on ITV in the Midlands region.
- 13 July – Bernard Wenton, performing as Nat King Cole wins the second series of Stars in Their Eyes.
- 24 July – The final programme to be recorded at the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd's Bush is aired, an edition of Wogan recorded on 18 July 1991.
- 31 July – The BBC's Lime Grove Studios close.
- 31 August – NICAM stereo sound introduced on BBC Television.
- 5 September – The actor Arthur Pentelow, who died on 6 August, makes his final on screen appearance as Henry Wilks in Emmerdale Farm. The character dies off screen on 3 October.
- 11 September – ITV screens Thatcher: The Final Days, a dramatisation of the final days of Margaret Thatcher's premiership. The film stars Sylvia Sims as the former prime minister.
- 13 September – The documentary The Leader, His Driver and the Driver's Wife is aired on Channel 4. It is set during the final days of the apartheid regime in South Africa, particularly centring on Eugène Terre'Blanche, founder and leader of the far-right, white supremacist political organisation AWB. In 1992, Channel 4 faces its first libel case by Jani Allan, a South African journalist, who objected to her representation in the documentary.
- 17 September – Comedy series Bottom starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson debuts on BBC2.
- 22 September – Sponsorship of ITV programmes is first allowed.
- 26 September – Children's TV series Brum debuts on BBC1.
- 3 October – 2 November – ITV airs coverage of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. The competition is hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France.
- 14 October – BBC World Service TV launches its Asian service.
- 16 October – The ITV franchise auction results are announced and take effect starting midnight GMT on 1 January 1993. It will see many notable names going off air after losing their franchises, including Thames Television, TVS, Television South West, TV-am and ORACLE Teletext.
- October – Cigar and pipe tobacco adverts are banned from UK television.
- 15 November – BBC World Service Television begins broadcasting via satellite to Pearl River Delta a subsidiary of STAR TV and owner by News Corporation a congromerate of Rupert Murdoch member of Hutchison Whampoa.
- 17 November – Debut of Biteback, a monthly programme that gives viewers a right-to-reply on issues raised by BBC content. It is presented by Julian Pettifer.
- 3 December – Channel 4 screens the controversial documentary The Holy Family Album as part of its Without Walls series.
- 16 December – ITV's Central region airs the final episode of Prisoner: Cell Block H, making it the first ITV region to complete the series.
- 25 December – In an unusual move, the Royal Christmas Message is integrated into the first of the day's episodes of Coronation Street on ITV. Character Alf Roberts sat down in front of his television, 'watched' the speech in its entirety, and the episode resumed.
- 3 January – The Brittas Empire (1991–1994, 1996–1997)
- 8 January – Spender (1991–1993)
- 12 January – Joking Apart (1991, 1993)
- 30 April – Big Break (1991–2002)
- 31 August – The House of Eliott (1991–1994)
- 3 September – 2point4 Children (1991–1999)
- 26 September –
- 23 November – Noel's House Party (1991–1999)
- 1 January – Mr. Bean (1991):
- 7 April – The Darling Buds of May (1991–1993)
- 7 April – Prime Suspect (1991–2006)
- 3 May – Second Thoughts (1991–1994)
- 17 May – A Perfect Hero (1991)
- 10 June – Soldier Soldier (1991–1997)
- 6 September – Victor and Hugo (1991–1992)
- 11 September – Thatcher: The Final Days (1991)
- 17 October – Captain Zed and the Zee Zone (1991–1992)
- 25 December – Brown Bear's Wedding (1991)
- 23 March – Clarissa Explains It All (1991–1994)
- 11 August –
Returning this year after a break of one year or longer
- Unknown – Up Pompeii! (1969–1975, 1991)
- Unknown – Van der Valk (1972–1973, 1977, 1991–1992)
- 10 April – The Two Ronnies for a 20th Anniversary special (1971–1987, 1991, 1996, 2005)
- 16 September – Postman Pat (1981, 1991–1994, 1996, 2004–2008)
- Come Dancing (1949–1998)
- Panorama (1953–present)
- This Week (1956–1978, 1986–1992)
- What the Papers Say (1956–2008)
- The Sky at Night (1957–present)
- Blue Peter (1958–present)
- Grandstand (1958–2007)
- Coronation Street (1960–present)
- Songs of Praise (1961–present)
- World in Action (1963–1998)
- Top of the Pops (1964–2006)
- Match of the Day (1964–present)
- Mr. and Mrs. (1964–1999)
- Call My Bluff (1965–2005)
- Jackanory (1965–1996, 2006–present)
- The Money Programme (1966–present)
- The Big Match (1968–2002)
- Rainbow (1972–1992, 1994–1995)
- Emmerdale (1972–present)
- Newsround (1972–present)
- Last of the Summer Wine (1973–2010)
- That's Life! (1973–1994)
- Wish You Were Here...? (1974–2003)
- Arena (1975–present)
- Jim'll Fix It (1975–1994)
- One Man and His Dog (1976–present)
- Grange Hill (1978–2008)
- The Paul Daniels Magic Show (1979–1994)
- Antiques Roadshow (1979–present)
- Question Time (1979–present)
- Children in Need (1980–present)
- 'Allo 'Allo! (1982–1992)
- Wogan (1981–1992)
- Brookside (1982–2003)
- Countdown (1982–present)
- Timewatch (1982–present)
- Right to Reply (1982–2001)
- Good Morning Britain (1983–1992, 2014–present)
- First Tuesday (1983–1993)
- Highway (1983–1993)
- Blockbusters (1983–93, 1994–95, 1997, 2000–01, 2012)
- Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (1984–present)
- Wide Awake Club (1984–1992)
- Spitting Image (1984–1996)
- The Bill (1984–2010)
- Busman's Holiday (1985–1993)
- EastEnders (1985–present)
- The Cook Report (1985–1998)
- Crosswits (1985–1998)
- Telly Addicts (1985–1998)
- Comic Relief (1985–present)
- Boon (1986–1992, 1995)
- Every Second Counts (1986–1993)
- Lovejoy (1986–1994)
- Beadle's About (1986–1996)
- The Chart Show (1986–1998, 2008–2009)
- Casualty (1986–present)
- All Clued Up (1987–1992)
- Going Live! (1987–1993)
- Watching (1987–1993)
- The Time, The Place (1987–1996)
- Allsorts (1987–1995)
- Going for Gold (1987–1996, 2008–2009)
- Chain Letters (1987–1997)
- ChuckleVision (1987–2009)
- After Henry (1988–1992)
- Park Avenue (1988–1992)
- Count Duckula (1988–1993)
- You Rang, M'Lord? (1988–1993)
- You Bet! (1988–1997)
- Playdays (1988–1997)
- London's Burning (1988–2002)
- On the Record (1988–2002)
- Fifteen to One (1988–2003, 2013-present)
- This Morning (1988–present)
- The Channel 4 Daily (1989–1992)
- Absolutely (1989–1993)
- KYTV (1989–1993)
- Press Gang (1989–1993)
- Birds of a Feather (1989–1998, 2014–present)
- A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989–1995)
- Desmond's (1989–1994)
- Mike and Angelo (1989–2000)
- The Simpsons (1989–present)
- 8:15 from Manchester (1990–1992)
- The Mary Whitehouse Experience (1990–1992)
- No Job for a Lady (1990–1992)
- The Piglet Files (1990–1992)
- Families (1990–1993)
- Spatz (1990–1992)
- The $64,000 Question (1990–1993)
- Jeeves and Wooster (1990–1993)
- Waiting for God (1990–1994)
- Mr. Bean (1990–1995)
- The Crystal Maze (1990–1995)
- The Dreamstone (1990–1995)
- Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995)
- Turnabout (1990–1996)
- The Upper Hand (1990–1996)
- Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–1998)
- Stars in Their Eyes (1990–2006)
Ending this year
- 11 February – About Face (1989–1991)
- 5 March – Rod, Jane and Freddy (1981–1991)
- 7 April – Brush Strokes (1986–1991)
- 31 May – Tricky Business (1989–1991)
- 4 June – Chancer (1990–1991)
- 22 July – Everybody's Equal (1989–1991)
- 28 August – I Can Do That (1988–1991)
- 3 September – Clockwise (1989–1991)
- 31 October – 4 Square (1988–1991)
- 3 November – Bread (1986–1991)
- 18 November – Naked Video (1986–1991)
- 26 December – Bergerac (1981–1991)
- 21 January - Craig Roberts, Welsh actor (The Story of Tracy Beaker)
- 14 February – Charlie G. Hawkins, actor
- 17 February – Bonnie Wright, actress
- 28 February - Sarah Bolger, actress
- 27 April – Rebecca Ryan, actress
- 5 September – Skandar Keynes, actor
- 14 October – Shona McGarty, actress
- 24 March – Maudie Edwards, 84, actress and singer
- 27 March – Ralph Bates, 51, actor
- 4 May – Bernie Winters, 58, comedian
- 14 June
- 6 August – Arthur Pentelow, 67, actor
- OliverReed.net. "Ollie's TV shame". Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
- Carnody, Robin (July 2000). "The Good New Times ... The Bradshaw of Broadcasting: 1980s – 2000: Robin Carmody on Radio and TV Times". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
- "Television". The Spectator. 5 April 1991. p. 40. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- "Neighbours Episode Guide: 1126-1150". Ramsay-street.co.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Wogan, Terry (2006). "David Icke interviewed by Terry Wogan". BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- Icke, David (2003). Tales From The Time Loop.
- Christy, Des (6 May 1991). "Crucifixion, courtesy of the BBC". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group).
- "Channel 4 timeline". Channel 4. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "Channel 4 at 25: 1991 compiled by Steve Williams, Ian Jones and Jack Kibble-White". Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "BBC News – UK – Victims of the 'silver fox'". 29 August 2000. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009.