1991 in British television

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List of years in British television (table)

This is a list of British television related events from 1991.



  • 1 January –
  • 7 January – BBC 1 launches the local news programme, East Midlands Today for the East Midlands region. News coverage for the area had previously been provided by a seven-minute opt out from the Birmingham-based Midlands Today.[2]
  • 14 January – American television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is broadcast in the United Kingdom for the first time, making its debut on BBC2 as part of the DEF II programming strand.[3]
  • 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.[4] 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 magazines 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.[5]
  • 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.
  • 15 March – BBC1 airs Comic Relief 1991.[6]


  • 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.[7] 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.[8]
  • 1 April – Sue Lawley interviews Prime Minister John Major for ITV.[9]
  • 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.[10]
  • 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.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13]


  • 13 May – ITV airs an edition of World in Action making allegations of malpractice in the Irish beef processing industry. The programme leads to the establishment of the Beef Tribunal, which at the time was to become Ireland's longest public inquiry.[14][15]




  • 26 August – BBC2 airs a day of programmes paying tribute to the Lime Grove Studios, which includes a remake of the 195s soap opera The Grove Family featuring actors from the present day.[18]
  • 31 August – NICAM stereo sound introduced on BBC Television.



  • October – Cigar and pipe tobacco adverts are banned from UK television.
  • 3 October – 2 November – ITV airs coverage of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. The competition is hosted by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France.
  • 6 October – BBC1 airs "Conundrum", the final episode of the original run of Dallas. The feature-length episode imagines a world in which the soap's central character, J. R. Ewing had not existed.[24]
  • 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.







Channel 4[edit]


New channels[edit]

Date Channel
3 November The Comedy Channel

Defunct channels[edit]

Date Channel
8 April The Power Station

Rebranded channels[edit]

Date Old Name New Name
20 April The Sports Channel Sky Sports

Television shows[edit]

Returning this year after a break of one year or longer[edit]

  • 16 January – 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)
  • 14 December – Up Pompeii! (1969–1975, 1991)







Ending this year[edit]



Date Name Age Cinematic Credibility
24 March Maudie Edwards 84 actress and singer
27 March Ralph Bates 51 actor (Dear John)
4 May Bernie Winters 58 comedian
18 May Betty Alberge 69 actress (Coronation Street, Brookside)
14 June Dame Peggy Ashcroft 83 actress
Bernard Miles character actor, writer and director
6 August Arthur Pentelow 67 actor (Emmerdale)
19 December Paul Maxwell 70 Canadian actor (Coronation Street)


  1. ^ "BBC One London – 1 January 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "BBC East Midlands News". TVARK. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "DEFII The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – BBC Two England – 14 January 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  4. ^ OliverReed.net. "Ollie's TV shame". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  5. ^ 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 10 May 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "Comic Relief 1991 – BBC One London – 15 March 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Channel 4 timeline". Channel 4. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  8. ^ "Channel 4 at 25: 1991 compiled by Steve Williams, Ian Jones and Jack Kibble-White". Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  9. ^ "Television". The Spectator. 5 April 1991. p. 40. Retrieved 19 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Neighbours Episode Guide: 1126–1150". Ramsay-street.co.uk. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Wogan, Terry (2006). "David Icke interviewed by Terry Wogan". BBC. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Icke, David (2003). Tales From The Time Loop. 
  13. ^ Christy, Des (6 May 1991). "Crucifixion, courtesy of the BBC". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 
  14. ^ Coogan, Tim Pat (2003). Ireland in the Twentieth Century. Hutchinson. p. 618. ISBN 978-0091794279. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  15. ^ McCarthy, Justine (24 March 2012). "Tribunal after tribunal, yet the corruption festers on". The Sunday Times. News UK. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "Wogan – BBC One London – 22 July 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  17. ^ Cassidy, Suzanne (31 July 1991). "Pavarotti Celebrates by Singing in the Rain". The New York Times. London: The New York Times Company. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "BBC Two England – 26 August 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  19. ^ "BBC News – UK – Victims of the 'silver fox'". 29 August 2000. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009. 
  20. ^ "Bottom: Smells – BBC Two England – 17 September 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  21. ^ "Thunderbirds: Trapped in the Sky – BBC Two England – 20 September 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  22. ^ "Blue Peter to be shown on CBBC before BBC One". BBC News. BBC. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  23. ^ "50 facts about Blue Peter". BBC Press Office. BBC. October 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2016. 
  24. ^ "Dallas – BBC One London – 6 October 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  25. ^ "Rain Man – BBC One London – 23 December 1991". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016.