|Launched||12 June 1995 Original (1)
2003 relaunch (2)
|Closed||31 October 1999 (1)
28 February 2006 (2)
|Picture format||4:3, 576i (SDTV)|
|Replaced by||Babeworld (2)|
L!VE TV was a British television station that was operated by MGN on cable television from 12 June 1995 – 31 October 1999. It was later revived for Sky from 2003. In 2006, the new L!VE TV's name was changed to Babeworld to reflect the channel's gradual change of focus towards "adult material".
First incarnation (1995-1999)
The channel was proposed by David Montgomery as MGN's foray into pay television. At its launch in 1995, the station was headed by Kelvin MacKenzie with Janet Street-Porter as managing director and a team of young presenters, dubbed as "Tellybrats", who were new to TV. Street-Porter created a schedule based around three blocks of live broadcasting each day from its base on the 24th floor of London's Canary Wharf building. The output was orientated towards a rolling mix of celebrities, interviews, reviews, lifetyle features and reports from events and happenings across the UK. Street-Porter left after five months due to clashes with MacKenzie over content and was replaced with Mark Cullen. MacKenzie went on to create programmes that received much media coverage but low viewer figures.
Among its programmes were Topless Darts, produced by future Times journalist Sathnam Sanghera with commentary by comedian Jimmy Frinton, the surreal talent show Spanish Archer, Talgarth Trousers, (a comedy sketch show) and Canary Wharf, a soap opera, which used the station's offices in the Docklands as a set. Other features were the weather, read in Norwegian by a blonde model (Eva Bjertnes or Anne-Marie Foss) wearing a bikini, Britain's Bounciest Weather with Rusty Goffe (known, although uncredited, for his appearance as an Oompa Loompa in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) who due to his small stature bounced on a trampoline while doing the forecast (bouncing higher the further north he was talking about), Tiffany's Big City Tips, in which model Tiffany Banister gave the financial news while stripping to her underwear, Painted Ladies, which involved topless girls "painting" on large sheets of paper with various body parts and the News Bunny, a person in a rabbit suit who stood behind a newsreader making gestures and expressions for each item.
A typical early show was a two-hour afternoon piece based on viewers' wedding videos. By the second week only one had been sent in, and on phoning the participants to have a live commentary, the presenters were informed that the couple were too busy shopping.
Considered cheap and always accused of poor taste, the channel never captured more than 1% of the British television audience under MGN, and at its worst was losing around £7 million a year. It was often described as "tabloid television", in part due to its control by MGN and the fact that MacKenzie had been editor of The Sun.
Shortly before its demise in 1999, it was said the channel would bid for rights to show the English Premiership, but given the size of the financial commitment required, it is likely that it was merely a publicity stunt. By this time, the channel had increasingly moved to showing soft porn.
The station's broadcast finished on 31 October 1999 at 6pm with a caption over a black and white still of the station's cast and crew in the studio:
"L!ve TV: 15 August 1995 – 31 October 1999"
The date displayed was incorrect as the station had launched on 12 June 1995.
Second incarnation (2003-2006)
In 2003, L!VE TV returned as a free channel on Sky, first on EPG 274, then on 214. Its content was almost entirely archive from L!VE TV. Then in 2004, following competitor channels, its risqué archive of late-night offerings were supplemented with banners advertising adult text messaging.
Towards the end of 2005, the evening and late night were turned over to promoting adult text and phone-in services, involving models stripping to entice viewers into phoning or texting the studio. This was under the pretence that the viewer would get to talk to a studio guest.
By February 2006, content had dwindled to little more than these shows and it was moved to the adult section of Sky's EPG on 28 February 2006. Two days later, the name changed to Babeworld, ending links to the MGN operation.
A fore-runner to L!VE TV was the cable and satellite channel Wire TV, a far cry from the wild programming to follow on L!VE TV. Regular presenters were Femi Oke, Mike Morris and Fenella George, backed by guest presenters including Chris Stacey, who hosted quiz show EastEnders v Corrie for L!VE TV shortly before its demise.
The entire L!VE TV archive and the rights to the channel's programming were sold on eBay in May 2013. On 3 June 2013, the winner of the sale was revealed to be ETV Productions, who bought the entire programming archive for £14,100. ETV Productions had previously worked with other television companies and channels such as the BBC and Channel 5.
- Iain Weaver (17 February 2010). "UK Gameshows: Topless Darts". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
- Ashley Hames, "Sin Cities", Tonto Books, 2008, ISBN 0-9556326-0-9, p.33
- Melanie Rickey (5 December 1998). "Fashion: On the street - Ladies' night". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
- Quentin Falk, Ben Falk, "Television's Strangest Moments: Extraordinary But True Tales from the History of Television", Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005, ISBN 1-86105-874-8, p.236
- L!VE TV: Talking topless darts. BBC News Online. 22 October 1999. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
- Chris Horrie, Adam Nathan, "L!ve TV: tellybrats and topless darts : the uncut story of tabloid television", Pocket Books, 1999, ISBN 0-671-01574-5