Comedy Central (UK and Ireland)
|Launched||1 November 1995|
|Owned by||Paramount UK Partnership
(Paramount British Pictures/BSkyB)
|Picture format||16:9, 576i (SDTV)
0.2% (+1) (September 2013, BARB)
|Formerly called||The Paramount Channel
Paramount Comedy Channel
Paramount Comedy 1
|Timeshift service||Comedy Central +1|
|Sky (UK)||Channel 112 (SD/HD)
Channel 127 (+1)
Channel 205 (SD)
|Sky (Ireland)||Channel 112
Channel 127 (+1)
Channel 205 (HD)
|Virgin Media||Channel 132
Channel 133 (+1)
Channel 181 (HD)
|Smallworld Cable||Channel 115|
|UPC Ireland||Channel 127
Channel 128 (+1)
|TalkTalk Plus TV||Channel 417|
Channel 446 (HD)
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
|Now TV||Watch live (UK only)|
|Sky Go||Watch live (UK and Ireland only)|
Comedy Central is a television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated. This channel is specific to audiences within the United Kingdom and Ireland. The channel is aligned with the original US version of the channel. The channel started as Paramount Channel in 1995, before rebranding as the Paramount Comedy Channel in 1997 and again as Paramount Comedy 1 before finally becoming Comedy Central on 6 April 2009.
The channel was launched as 'The Paramount Channel' on 1 November 1995 with a broadcast of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. The original schedule was a mixture of comedy and drama, as well as films from the Paramount Pictures film library, including such eclectic offerings as Beauty and the Beast, several anime productions acquired from Manga Entertainment, and authentic Paramount archive programming like The Magician. It originally aired every evening after Nickelodeon's closing at 7:00 pm until around 4:00 am, with a testcard featuring a chicken crossing the road and holding up traffic airing during downtime until Nickelodeon started up at 6:00 am.
On 1 September 1997 'The Paramount Channel' became 'Paramount Comedy Channel' a channel dedicated solely to comedy.
With expansion of Sky Digital on 4 February 2001 the channel no longer shared air time with Nickelodeon and started broadcasting with a daytime schedule beginning broadcasts at 09:00. On 1 July 2002, the channel renamed itself as 'Paramount Comedy'.
On 17 February 2009, it was confirmed that Paramount Comedy 1 would become Comedy Central from 6 April 2009 in the UK and Ireland. The channels repositioning gave it greater scope of introducing new programming direct from Comedy Central U.S. and additional programmes from other U.S. broadcasters. These new shows included: Two and a Half Men, Scrubs, The Office, The Sarah Silverman Program and South Park, where they air new episodes about a week after their U.S. airing. Since season 13, Comedy Central has aired new episodes of South Park two days after they aired in the U.S. (i.e., the episodes air on Comedy Central US on Wednesdays, and air on the UK counterpart on Fridays.)
After no longer having to timeshare with Nickelodeon, the station increased its broadcasting hours, and was joined by Paramount Comedy 2 (later rebranded as Comedy Central Extra) on 1 September 2003.
A high-definition version, Comedy Central HD, launched on 9 August 2010 on Sky channel 222. On 1 September 2010 the channel also became available on Virgin Media channel 133. Comedy Central HD broadcasts high-definition programming including Two and a Half Men, 30 Rock and South Park, in addition to new UK commissions. Virgin Media will also make some popular Comedy Central HD programmes available on demand.
A second timeshift, Paramount Comedy 2 +1 (now Comedy Central Extra +1) was launched on Sky channel 159, on 5 November 2007. Nicktoons Replay did timeshare with the channel between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm. However, the channel closed on 2 October 2012 and was replaced with a one hour timeshift version of Nick Jr.
Comedy Central in Ireland
Comedy Central has an alternative Irish feed of the same channel available on Sky, UPC Ireland and Magnet Networks. The feed launched in May 2006, advertising on this channel is over seen by Sky Media Ireland. The domain name comedycentral.ie also redirects to comedycentral.co.uk. An additional Irish commercial feed of the timeshift service, Comedy Central +1, was also launched shortly after the parent channel's rebranding on 6 April 2009.
Comedy Central shares its free analogue cable TV frequency with Nickelodeon. This channel operated by UPC provides Nickelodeon from 5am to 7pm and Comedy Central through the night. It is available on analogue encoders throughout the cable TV network without a subscription.
Comedy Central is well known for bringing popular American shows to the UK, such as Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, South Park, Friends, Scrubs, King of Queens, Two and a Half Men, Sex and the City and Everybody Hates Chris. In the past it aired others such as Trailer Park Boys, Happy Tree Friends, Drawn Together, Burberry and Seinfeld.
The channel prides itself on its stand up content with 40% of all programming on Comedy Central being stand up with talent such as Lee Evans, Jack Dee and Al Murray. This wide array of programming (which is also reflected in live events supported by the channel: Edinburgh and Beyond, Comedy on Tap and Paramount Comedy Festival, Brighton) attracted Magners as a sponsor of all stand up content on Comedy Central and their live events.
The channel also prides itself on supporting new comedy talent. The channel was instrumental in the early careers of comedic talent such as Sacha Baron Cohen, Dom Joly, Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Most recently, the channel has been involved in commission a strand called Shortcuts, an on-air and online venture to promote new comedic talent.
In the past, it has frequently had a large back catalogue of Channel 4 comedies in its schedule, such as Father Ted, Spaced, Drop the Dead Donkey and Paul Merton: The Series, and some BBC classics such as The Young Ones, Monty Python's Flying Circus and Not the Nine O'Clock News. Some of these programmes continue to be aired today, and recent acquisitions include Not Going Out and The Kenny Everett Television Show.
Comedy Central has recently shown new episodes of Mike & Molly, Two and a Half Men, Scrubs, The Sarah Silverman Program, 30 Rock, The Office: An American Workplace, Everybody Hates Chris and South Park. Comedy Central recently acquired the rights to Friends, which previously aired on Channel 4 and E4, but marked the first time for Friends to be shown in HD in the UK. The series began airing on 1 October 2011.
In October 2011, Threesome, a narrative comedy series and Comedy Central's first original scripted comedy began. The series starred Emun Elliott, Irish actor Amy Huberman and Stephen Wight, was written by Tom MacRae and produced by Big Talk Productions.
In May 2012 it was announced that Comedy Central is to make a major push into original comedy content, with more than 20 new projects at various stages of development, and 10 scripts already ordered. Executive, Sarah Farrell, told trade magazine Broadcast, "This time next year, we will be doing as many of those projects as we possibly can. We are looking for things that are big, broad and accessible, with the laugh-out-loud factor that comes from big jokes and set pieces." She also noted that they are now "fully committed to the plans."
The process was being micro-managed by Paramount bosses in New York, but with the announcement of such projects and Threesome's success, UK executives have been given greater control. Farrell also indicated that if the already commissioned second series of Threesome is popular, then "a third run could be up to 22 episodes in length."
As of May 2012[update] details about most of the new projects are not publicly available, though the magazine Broadcast reported minor details of a proposed single-camera sitcom about a graduate who moves back in with his parents. A pilot episode of Big Bad World, which is written by Joe Tucker and Lloyd Woolf is reportedly being produced by Objective Productions and by the team behind Peep Show. Tristram Shapeero, who had been working in the US and whose credits include Happy Endings, Green Wing, Community and I'm Alan Partridge, will direct, with Andrew Newman and Ben Farrell executive producing. Five further scripts are already complete, should the pilot be seen in a positive light by Comedy Central bosses.
Comedy Central's move into original productions did not come without problems, as it was announced in April 2012 that Pete Thornton, the channel's comedy commissioner, had resigned to return to the BBC comedy department as its Creative Head of Comedy, and would oversee Comic Relief 2013. Comedy Central are one of several UK digital channels to work on increasing their original comedy output, with BSkyB investing in new British comedy programmes, and UKTV channels Dave and Gold also producing more of their own content.
The channel frequently airs weekend marathons which consist of one or two shows being on-air for the majority of the day. They often contain loose themes and are on occasion sponsored, such as the "He Ain't Funny, He's My Brother" marathon which ran on the night of 24 November 2007. This night consisted of episodes from shows with a strong brother relationship theme and was sponsored by the film The Darjeeling Limited to promote its nationwide release.
Comedy Central also broadcasts films, including South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Dumb and Dumber, Jerry Maguire, The Mask, White Chicks, Scary Movie 3, Teen Wolf, 13 Going On 30, Bad Boys, Bad Boys 2, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me and Happy Feet.
The channel has begun showing movies on a regular basis, typically from 10:00 pm onwards.
Until late 2011, Comedy Central and Comedy Central Extra continued to air in 4:3 in standard-definition, although many shows had already converted to 16:9 widescreen format, they were cropped to remain in a full-frame screen and later some were letterboxed. The shows on Comedy Central HD air in 16:9, though those in 4:3 are pillarboxed to fit the frame of widescreen. This practise was extended to the standard-definition channels when they began broadcasting in widescreen.
- "Paramount to expand from 4 Feb". The Airwaves. 17 December 2000. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
- Wilkes, Neil (17 February 2009). "Paramount Comedy to become Comedy Central". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "MTV confirms Comedy Central HD launch". Digital Spy. 5 August 2010.
- "Comedy Central HD to launch on Virgin Media". Virgin Media. 5 August 2010.
- "Live Gigs". Paramount Comedy. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008.
- "Friends get marching orders from Channel 4". BBC News. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Comedy Central UK orders 'Threesome'". Digital Spy. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "Comedy Central pushing further original UK projects". British Comedy Guide. 3 May 2012.