2001 in British television

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List of years in British television (table)

This is a list of British television related events from 2001.



  • 1 January – The BBC reality show Castaway 2000 comes to an end as the participants leave the island of Taransay.[1]
  • 7 January – Blankety Blank makes it Debut on ITV hosted by Lily Savage.
  • 8 January – Debut of GMTV's Inch-Loss Island, where volunteers attend a Castaway-style location in an attempt to collectively lose weight.[2]
  • 10 January – Television debut of ITV's Popstars, which will follow efforts to put together a five-piece band that will then record and release a single.[3]
  • 11 January – The Mole debuts on Channel 5. Based on an idea from Belgium, the series sees ten contestants complete a number of tasks as they are whittled down to an eventual winner who will win £200,000. However, one of the contestants is a mole, deliberately planted to work against the team.[3]
  • 12 January – Johnny Vaughan and Denise van Outen end their second stint as presenters of The Big Breakfast. The show will be relaunched with a team of five presenters from 22 January as producers attempt to reverse the programme's falling ratings.[4]
  • 15 January –
  • 17 January –
    • Prime Minister Tony Blair rejects calls to take part in US-style televised debates with opposition politicians during the forthcoming election campaign.[7]
    • Vanessa Feltz has been dropped by the BBC following the conclusion of her two-year contract with the Corporation, it is reported.[8]
  • 18 January – Channel 4 launches E4, a digital entertainment channel, at 8.15 pm.[9][10]
  • 19 January – The ITV Nightly News is shown on ITV for the last time after 2 years.
  • 20 January – BBC Two airs live coverage of the inauguration of George W. Bush as the 43rd President of the United States.[11]
  • 22 January –
  • 28 January – Carlton and Granada are holding discussions aimed at merging their internet operations to create a single online business for ITV under the brand itv.co.uk or itv.com. The current itv.co.uk is a basic information service, but the broadcasters wish to compete with the BBC.[15]



  • 1 March –
  • 4 March – A bomb explodes outside BBC Television Centre.[30] The blast is later attributed to dissident Irish Republican terrorists and it is suggested the BBC Panorama programme which named individuals as participants in the Omagh bombing was the motive.[31]
  • 5 March –
    • Anne Robinson appears as a guest on an edition of BBC Two's Room 101, in which she nominates Welsh people for inclusion in the fictional Orwellian Room 101, describing them as "irritating and annoying". Her comments provoke fury among Welsh politicians, an invitation to appear before the Welsh Affairs Select Committee as part of their investigation into Wales's overseas image, and an investigation into the incident by the BBC Board of Governors.[32] In addition, 427 complaints are received by the Broadcasting Standards Commission, and North Wales Police launch an investigation into allegations of racial hatred.[33]
    • The ITV soap Crossroads returns with a new series after an absence of 13 years.[34] Response is initially favourable, but the show is soon criticised for its confusing storylines.
  • 6 March – Shopping channel Ideal World goes off air temporarily due to a large fire at its facilities in Peterborough.[35]
  • 9 March –
  • 11 March – ITV airs the 5000th episode of Coronation Street.[37]
  • 13 March –
    • In an interview with the Radio Times, film director Ken Loach launches a scathing attack on the "destruction" of some of UK television's long-established news and current affairs programmes. In particular he describes ITV's decision to scrap World in Action as "one of the television crimes of the century".[38]
    • London's Chief Fire Officer Brian Robinson criticises the BBC for "grossly irresponsible behaviour" after the day's episode of EastEnders showed a character breaking a smoke alarm with a broom handle after it was activated in a smoke-filled kitchen.[39]
  • 14 March – ITV signs a £100 million deal with Luxembourg-based Societe Europeenne des Satellites, the company that relays BSkyB channels to the UK, to make its channels available through the Astra satellite.[40] The deal paves the way for negotiations with Sky to carry ITV as part of its digital satellite service.[41] A deal between the two broadcasters is subsequently agreed in November.[42]
  • 16 March – Comedian Jack Dee is voted winner of Celebrity Big Brother.[43]
  • 17 March – The controversial horror film The Exorcist is shown on British television for the first time when it is screened by Channel 4.[44]
  • 18 March – Hear'Say reach number one in the UK singles chart with their debut single "Pure and Simple".[45] With sales of almost 550,000, the song enters the record books as Britain's most successful debut pop single.[46] Hear'Say also becomes the first British group to simultaneously top both the UK singles and album charts with a debut release when their album Popstars reaches number one on the album charts on 1 April.[47]
  • 20 March – The BBC announces that its Saturday morning children's entertainment series Live & Kicking will be axed in the autumn because of falling ratings.[48]
  • 23 March – The Mirror reports that Brookside actress Claire Sweeney has been offered the presenting role of a new ITV series, Challenge of a Lifetime, described as a spin-off of Don't Try This at Home, after impressing producers during her recent Celebrity Big Brother appearance.[49] London Weekend Television confirms in April that Sweeney will front a 12-part series of the show.[50]
  • 28 March – Channel 5 attracts its largest audience to date as 5.5 million viewers tune in to watch the World Cup qualifier match between England and Albania.[51]
  • 30 March – Channel 5 celebrates its fourth birthday.[52]


  • 2 April – ITV launches an online version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.[53]
  • 5 April – The culmination of the Who Shot Phil? storyline in EastEnders with the revelation that Phil Mitchell (played by Steve McFadden) was shot by Lisa Shaw (Lucy Benjamin).[54] To make way for the 45-minute episode in the schedules, the BBC negotiated to have the kick-off of the UEFA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Barcelona delayed by fifteen minutes.[55] The episode receives 20.05 million viewers, the highest rated EastEnders episode of the decade.[56]
  • 6 April – The Big Breakfast co-presenter Paul Tomkinson has been sacked from the show, it is reported, bosses having told him of their decision to let him go the previous day. His role on the morning's edition of the programme is filled by Mike McClean.[57]
  • 11 April – The Independent Television Commission turns down a request from Channel 5 to move its main evening news bulletin forward half an hour to 5.30 pm. However, an extended Five News and Talk planned for the run up to the general election beginning at 5.30 pm is given the go-ahead.[58]
  • 16 April – The Broadcasting Standards Commission rules that Anne Robinson's comments about Welsh people "came close to the boundaries of acceptability", but fell short of being racist.[33]
  • 17 April – The Press Complaints Commission upholds a complaint against the News of the World made by Granada Television after the newspaper sent two undercover journalists to a Christmas party for the cast and crew of Emmerdale in the hope of finding a story. The assignment had proved to be fruitless because the reporters were ejected when their identity was discovered.[59]
  • 20 April – Celador Productions, makers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, is awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for selling the ITV game show to over 60 countries worldwide.[60]
  • 21 April – David Edwards, a schoolteacher from Staffordshire and former Mastermind winner, becomes the second person to win the £1 million prize on ITV's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.[61] News of his win had leaked out before the episode was transmitted.[62]
  • 24 April –
    • Eric Richard makes his final appearance as Sergeant Bob Cryer in The Bill.[63]
    • A little over a year after it began airing US soap Days of Our Lives, Channel 5 announces that the series will disappear from its schedules from the following day; an audience of 200,000 deemed not to be high enough for the timeslot in which it has been shown.[64]
  • 25 April – Carlton and Granada announce proposals to align their television and internet assets under the ITV banner.[65] itv.co.uk will also relaunch as itv.com, allowing ITV to compete with the BBC for online users.[66]
  • 26 April – On the second anniversary of the murder of Jill Dando, the Jill Dando Institute, a teaching and research facility dedicated to crime science, is established at University College London.[67][68]
  • 27 April – Channel 4 quiz show Countdown celebrates its 3000th edition.[69]


  • 3 May – Kevin Lygo, head of music and entertainment at Channel 4, is to move to Channel 5, where he will become director of programming.[70]
  • 4 May – The BBC announces the closure of the loss-making BBC Experience.
  • 7 May – The Guardian reports that BSkyB is planning to close its interactive shopping channel Open after buying out the other partners in Open's parent company, British Interactive Broadcasting.[71][72]
  • 14 May – Channel 4 confirms that Donna Air has left The Big Breakfast. The show will now be presented by Richard Bacon and Amanda Byram, alongside various guest hosts.[73]
  • 15 May –
    • The online version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has made the ITV website the 48th most popular in the UK according to Nielsen, with half a million visits during April.[74]
    • The Smash Hits TV channel is launched.
  • 16 May – Ask Tony Blair, an election debate chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, is aired on ITV.
  • 17 May –
  • 21 May – The UK version of Survivor debuts on ITV.[77]
  • 22 May – Actors from Australian soap Home and Away will fly to the UK to record episodes in London to coincide with the show's return to British TV, it is confirmed. The series will make its Channel 5 debut on Monday 16 July.[78]
  • 23 May –
  • 25 May – When singer Elton John pulls out of appearing on Have I Got News for You at the last minute, he is replaced by taxi driver Ray Johnson (credited as 'Ray Elton John Son'), who works as a lookalike. However, Johnson is introduced to the audience as the genuine Elton John and keeps silent for the whole recording. On-screen captions between rounds provide the only clues to the deception.[80]
  • 30 May –


  • 7–8 June – Coverage of the 2001 general election is shown on British television. The election sees the Labour Party attain a second successive General Election victory.
  • 8 June – Tessa Jowell is appointed as Culture Secretary in a post-election Cabinet reshuffle, replacing Chris Smith.[82]
  • 9 June – ITV screens an edited version of The Dam Busters in which all references to Commander Guy Gibson's dog, Nigger have been removed, leading to criticism from the anti-censorship group Index on Censorship, who argue the cuts were "unnecessary and ridiculous" as the dog is an important part of the story. It is the second time the film has been aired with the cuts, it having originally been shown by the network in December 1999. ITV attributes the cuts to a London Weekend Television employee who did not seek approval before editing the film.[83]
  • 11 June –
    • British pop group Atomic Kitten will make a cameo appearance in Home and Away episodes to be filmed in London, it is confirmed. The storyline will feature Donald Fisher bringing his family to the UK.[84]
    • Due to poor ratings, from this date weekly episodes of Survivor are reduced from two to one, airing on Mondays at 9.00pm.[85]
  • 19 June – Channel 4 announce plans to axe The Big Breakfast in early 2002, but signal their willingness to extend the series if suitable proposals to rework the programme are developed.[86]
  • 20 June – The Queen's Speech to the new session of parliament includes plans to legislate for the creation of Ofcom, a new media regulator to replace several existing authorities. The body is conceived as a "super-regulator" to oversee media channels that are rapidly converging through digital transmission, and its introduction will see the largest shakeup in the British media since the 1990 Broadcasting Act.[87]
  • 25 June – Interactive television makes its debut during coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
  • 28 June – Wish You Were Here...? presenter Mary Nightingale announces she is stepping down from the role after two years to spend more time with her family. Nightingale also presents ITV News, something she will continue to do.[88]
  • 30 June – A power failure at the BBC Television Centre knocks out all BBC television broadcasts for around 20 minutes.


  • 3 July – Rosa Baden-Powell wins the 2001 series of MasterChef.
  • 4 July – Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1971 film A Clockwork Orange makes its British television debut through Sky Box Office.[89]
  • 11 July – ONdigital is rebranded ITV Digital.[90]
  • 12 July – Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan host their final edition of This Morning after 13 years having previously announced their intention to leave the show. They were approached by Channel 4 to host a similar show which will begin in the autumn.[91]
  • 14 July – Emma Wilkinson, performing as Dusty Springfield wins the thirteenth series of Stars in Their Eyes.[92]
  • 16 July – Australian soap Home and Away makes its debut on Channel 5.[93]
  • 21 July – ITV airs a one-off junior edition of Stars in Their Eyes.[94] The episode is aired again in August 2002 as the first edition of an expanded junior series. The episode is won by Lewis Devine performing as Donny Osmond.
  • 25 July – Charlotte Hobrough, a 25-year-old Detective Constable from Cardiff, Wales, wins the first UK series of Survivor and the show's £1million prize money.[95][96]
  • 26 July –
    • Martin Kemp, who plays Steve Owen in EastEnders will leave the soap after signing a two-year contract with ITV, it is reported. He will depart from the series in April 2002, when his contract with the programme expires.[97]
    • Channel 4 airs the controversial one-off special of the spoof documentary series Brass Eye, which features celebrities endorsing a fake anti-paedophile campaign. The programme, presented by Chris Morris attracts more than 1,000 complaints to Channel 4 by the following day, and a further 500 to the ITC. Both the ITC and Broadcasting Standards Commission launch investigations into the show.[98] Despite the controversy caused by its broadcast, the episode is shown again in the early hours of 28 July, while Channel 4 defends its decision to show the programme, saying it makes a serious point about the media's sensational treatment of paedophilia.[99]
  • 27 July –
  • 28 July – Former Spice Girl Melanie Brown makes her television presenting debut as host of ITV's This is My Moment, which returns for a full series.[102][103][104] The programme performs poorly in the ratings and is axed in February 2002.[105]
  • 29 July – The BBC announce plans for The Saturday Show, a new Saturday morning entertainment programme to replace Live & Kicking.[106] Dani Behr, former host of Channel 4's The Word and Joe Mace, who presents the BBC's TOTP Plus are subsequently chosen as its presenters.[107]
  • 30 July – After watching the spoof Brass Eye documentary about paedophiles, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell asks the Independent Television Commission to change its procedures so it can rule more swiftly on similar programmes in future.[99][108]


  • 9 August – Lecturers at Teesside University have claimed that the raft of detective dramas on television has led to a surge of interest in a new course teaching forensic investigation and crime scene science offered by the university.[109]
  • 10 August – The BBC introduces a fourth weekly episode of EastEnders, to be broadcast on Fridays at 20:00. This causes some controversy as the first episode clashes with Coronation Street, which has been moved to 20:00 to make way for an hour-long episode of Emmerdale at 19:00. In this first head-to-head battle, EastEnders claims victory over its rival.[110]
  • 11 August – ITV in England and Wales changes its name to ITV1, due to the growing number of other ITV services, including ITV2, ITV Digital, and the ITV Sport Channel, which launches on the same day.[111]
  • 15 August –
    • Unveiling its autumn schedule, the BBC announces that 10-part World War II drama, Band of Brothers will air on BBC Two, instead of BBC One as originally planned. The broadcaster says the decision to move the series is to allow "an uninterrupted 10-week run", and not because it was considered not to be mainstream enough.[112]
    • Ruth England is named as the new presenter of Wish You Were Here...?, replacing Mary Nightingale.[113]
  • 16 August – Former model Twiggy Lawson and 70s pop singer Colleen Nolan are chosen to take over from Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan as presenters of This Morning. They will host the show on a rotation basis with Fern Britton and John Leslie.[114]
  • 18 August – ITV's The Premiership goes on air with much fanfare at 7 pm.[115] ITV had won the television rights to show FA Premier League highlights the previous year,[116] and had decided to air the show at a time when they thought that football fans and family alike could watch it together.[117] A later edition of the show goes out at 11 pm providing extended highlights. The hugely controversial move proved unpopular with viewers and the following week ITV suffered their worst Saturday night ratings for five years.[118] After two months, figures had not greatly improved and in October the early evening slot was demed to have been a failure and was axed.[119]
  • 22 August – Pay-per-view service ONrequest rebrands as ITV Select.[120]
  • 24 August – A special edition of the BBC One garden makeover programme Ground Force sees Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock and Tommy Walsh design and create a memorial garden for Jill Dando in her home town of Weston-super-Mare.[121][122]
  • 29 August – American illusionist David Blaine appears on GMTV, where he is interviewed by presenter Eamonn Holmes, but refuses to speak and instead gives Holmes the "evil eye". Holmes has subsequently cited this interview as the most awkward moment of his professional career.[123][124]
  • 30 August – ITV will reduce its number of weekly episodes of Crossroads from five to four, dropping its Friday episode from the week beginning 10 September. The move is to make way for a new interactive game show, The Biggest Game in Town, which will air on Fridays, and also be part of the channel's daily lunchtime schedule.[125][126][127]


  • 1 September – Northern Ireland air stewardess Ellie Barr wins the final edition of ITV's This Is My Moment, and a £135,000 prize, after impressing viewers with her rendition of Ralph McTell's "Streets of London".[128][129]
  • 2 September – .tv (formerly The Computer Channel) closes due to low ratings.
  • 3 September –
  • 5 September – The actors' union Equity criticises ITV's Soapstars as demeaning to its members.[134]
  • 6 September –
    • Stars from The Royle Family and Coronation Street help to launch "Excuses Kill – Get a Smoke Alarm", a government campaign to fit smoke alarms.[135]
    • The Independent Television Commission orders Channel 4 to broadcast an apology over the controversial special edition of satirical series Brass Eye that featured celebrities giving their backing to a spoof anti-paedophilia campaign and attracted a raft of complaints from viewers. The ITC rules that Channel 4 breached the guidelines by failing to give sufficient warning about the programme's nature, and not doing enough to avoid causing "gratuitous offence". The ITC's findings are supported by the Broadcasting Standards Commission.[136][137]
  • 10 September –
    • The BBC unveils more details of The Saturday Show, which will compete with ITV's SMTV Live by having a more grown up feel to it.[138] The programme debuts on 22 September, but with an audience of 800,000, the first edition fails to match the 1.9 million tuning into its ITV counterpart.[139]
    • During a recording of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? contestant Charles Ingram wins the £1,000,000 prize. However, the payout is later suspended when he is accused of cheating by having his wife, Diana, and an accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, cough when host Chris Tarrant read out the correct answers.[140]
  • 11 September –
    • Viewers around the world witness a terrorist attack on the United States, and the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City, live on television. Most broadcasters abandon regular programming to provide up to date coverage of unfolding events. ITV1 scheduled programmes are switched to ITV2 for the remainder of the day, while Channel 4 is later criticised for its slow response after it continues showing the day's afternoon film That Hamilton Woman for over an hour after other networks have been covering the terrorist attacks.
    • ITV rejects claims that Twiggy has been demoted as the main presenter of This Morning after reports television insiders had criticised her presenting style as wooden. She will now take turns with Colleen Nolan anchoring the show alongside John Leslie.[141]
  • 13 September – An edition of the political debate show Question Time devoted to the political implications of the 9/11 attacks, features many contributions from members of the audience expressing strong anti-American views. The BBC receives more than 2,000 complaints in the show's aftermath and later apologises to viewers for causing offence, stating that the edition should not have been broadcast live, but rather should have been recorded and edited.[142]
  • 14 September – National memorial service held at St Paul's Cathedral for the victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks. The service is televised by all major television networks.
  • 17 September – Channel 4's The Big Breakfast is criticised by the Independent Television Commission after presenter Richard Bacon made jokes about Alzheimer's disease during a newspaper review of an article discussing a new vaccine against the illness.[143]
  • 21 September – BBC One and ITV are among broadcasters worldwide to air a live feed of America: A Tribute to Heroes, a two-hour telethon from the US to raise money for the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The telethon features stars of film and music, and is aired across 35 television networks in the US, and over 200 countries worldwide.[144] The event is repeated by BBC One on 23 September.[145] The telethon raises $150m (£103m), which will be donated to the United Way's September 11 Fund.[146]
  • 24 September – Countdown starts its new 15-round format and 45 minute running time.
  • 27 September – Former company director Robert Kempe Brydges has become the latest £1 million winner of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, it is reported. The edition including his win was recorded on 25 September and is aired on 29 September. He is the fourth person to answer a £1 million question correctly.[147]
  • 29 September – Jason Hain, Dee Whitehead, Mark Jardine, Elspeth Brodie and Ruth Abram are announced as the winners of ITV1's Soapstars. They will play a new family in Emmerdale.[148]
  • 30 September – The Mail on Sunday reports that Twiggy Lawson has been axed from This Morning because of falling ratings.[149] ITV confirms on 2 October that she will not be seen on screen again, having presented her final show on 28 September.[150]


  • 1 October –
  • 2 October – With the following day's Channel 4 schedule including another showing of That Hamilton Woman, the film it was screening on the afternoon of September 11, Mirror TV critic Jim Shelley uses his Shelley Vision column to criticise the channel's slow response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.[154]
  • 5 October – The World War II epic Band of Brothers makes its UK television debut.[155]
  • 6 October –
    • A Match of the Day special covering England's World Cup qualifier match against Greece is watched by 6.8 million viewers, gaining a 57.1% audience share and beating ITV's Saturday afternoon lineup.[156]
    • Challenge of a Lifetime debuts on ITV1.[156]
    • The UK version of Pop Idol debuts on ITV1.[157]
  • 7 October – ITV airs Anybody's Nightmare, a dramatisation of the case of Sheila Bowler, a woman wrongly convicted of the murder of an aunt.[158]
  • 11 October – ITV's London Weekend Television says it is considering the future of one of its entertainers, Michael Barrymore after he was cautioned by police for possession of cannabis and allowing it to be smoked at his home. The caution follows an investigation into the death of a 31-year-old man at a party at Barrymore's property earlier in the year.[159] The broadcaster announces on 20 November that a new series of My Kind of Music has been commissioned for early 2002.[160] But following an inquest into the death which records an open verdict, ITV announces in September 2002 that it will not be commissioning any more programmes from Barrymore.[161] The case is reopened in December 2006 and Barrymore is subsequently questioned about the incident along with two other men, but the Crown Prosecution Service advises in September 2007 that nobody should be charged over the death.[162]
  • 14 October – An advert on the back pages of several Sunday newspapers appeals for potential participants for a new BBC series titled The Experiment, which will attempt to recreate the controversial Stanford prison experiment of 1971, a psychological study that sought to study the effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard on a group of students, and which its creator had said should never be repeated because of the adverse effect on those who took part.[163] In January 2002 it is reported that the project, which had been due to last ten days, was finished early after the behaviour of those involved began to degenerate, a similar fate that befell the original experiment. However, psychologists say they have gathered a lot of useful data about the understanding of power and powerlessness.[164]
  • 30 October – Michael Barrymore speaks publicly for the first time about events preceding the death of a man at his home in an interview with journalist Martin Bashir for ITV1's Tonight with Trevor McDonald.[165]


  • 2 November – Jenny Richards, a young mother from Newport, Wales wins the first series of Channel 4's Model Behaviour. Her prize is a 12-month contract with Premier Model Management.[166][167][168]
  • 5 November –
    • BBC 2W, a new digital channel for Wales, is launched.[169]
    • Fern Britton returns to This Morning' following her maternity leave, and will alternate presenting it with John Leslie and Colleen Nolan. Her return leads to the programme's first increase in audience figures since the departure of Richard and judy.[170]
  • 6 November – Launch of ITV's latest soap, Night and Day about the lives of six families living in a street in Greenwich. Three weekday episodes are aired on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as a late night edited for adults version on Thursdays. The programme's theme tune, Always & Forever is sung by Kylie Minogue. The series is unusual for UK soaps in that it contains background music.[171]
  • 7 November – The soap family assembled by ITV's reality series Soapstars make their debut in Emmerdale. Originally contracted to appear in the series for three months, their contract is extended by a further three months.[172]
  • 12 November –
    • Figures released by the Independent Television Commission show a decline in the percentage of viewers watching ITV, down from 29.6% in 2000 to 28% in 2001. Audiences for BBC One and Channel 4 have also dropped, while BBC Two's audience share increased slightly.[173]
    • The running time of ITV's This Morning is reduced by 30 minutes, making it a 90-minute programme.[174]
  • 14 November BBC Two announces that the current 1991 idents. are to be axed and be replaced by a new set of four computer generated idents on 19 November 2001.[175]
  • 17 November – From today The Premiership is moved from its original 7 pm slot to a permanent later time of 10:30 pm,[119] with repeats shown early on Sunday mornings. The last 7 pm show had aired the previous Saturday (10 November).
  • 19 November –
    • BBC Two introduces a new set of four computer generated idents at 7.00 am, replacing the previous set of over 20 (four of which dating back to 1991). ITV2 rebrands on the same day.
    • Helen O'Rahilly, a BBC producer and former Director of Television Production at RTÉ is appointed as the first Channels Executive for BBCi.[176]
    • The BBC announces details of two forthcoming digital channels for children to be launched in Spring 2002. CBeebies will be aimed at preschool children, while CBBC will offer programming for a slightly older audience. The digital channels will have a budget of £40 million.[177][178]
  • 24 November – ITN reporter Andrea Catherwood is injured in the knee by shrapnel when a Taliban prisoner explodes a concealed grenade that kills himself and two other men close by. Catherwood was reporting from Mazari Sharif where she was watching captured Taliban prisoners disembarking from lorries.[179]
  • 26 November – Richard & Judy debuts on Channel 4.[180]
  • 27 November –
    • The Independent Television Commission is investigating W H Smith's Christmas advertising campaign featuring a family of fat people from Newcastle upon Tyne after criticism and complaints that it is offensive to Geordies.[181]
    • ITV dismisses media reports that its dilemma-based quiz show Shafted has been axed after three episodes. The programme, aired in the Monday night ITV1 schedule at 8.30pm is replaced by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? because it was affecting audience figures for the drama Cold Feet, which goes out afterwards, but an ITV spokeswoman says the show will return for an uninterrupted run in the channel's winter schedule.[182][183] The show did not return, however, and in 2006 was included as one of the worst British television shows of the 2000s in the Penguin TV Companion.[184]
  • 29 November – ITV signs a £500,000 deal with Euro Disney for it to sponsor the broadcaster's New Year programming on 31 December and 1 January.[185]


  • 1 December – Ant & Dec present their final editions of SM:tv and CD:UK, having decided to leave the programmes to concentrate on developing their primetime television careers.[186]
  • 8 December – The S Club 7 single "Don't Stop Movin'" is voted the 2001 Record of the Year by ITV viewers.[187]
  • 9 December –
  • 12 December – BBC Director of Television Mark Thompson is named as the new Chief Executive of Channel 4, succeeding Michael Jackson in March 2002.[189]
  • 13 December – Lynette Lithgow, 51-year-old former BBC newsreader, is found murdered with her mother and brother-in-law at the family home in Trinidad.[190][191] Lester Pitman and Daniel Agard, the latter a relative of the family, are subsequently charged, and in July 2004 are sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted of the murders.[192] A retrial is subsequently ordered for Agard,[193] while Pitman's death sentence is later commuted to one of 40 years.[194]
  • 17 December –
    • Former Culture Secretary Chris Smith has taken up a consultative role with Disney Television, his office confirms.[195]
    • The original Top Gear airs for the last time. It is relaunched in its current format the following year.
  • 19 December – BSkyB has signed a deal with Channel 5 that will allow its breakfast show, Sky News Sunrise to be shown on the channel from 6.00am to 6.30am on weekdays, and 7.00am to 8.00am at weekends. The programme will appear on Channel 5 from 7 January 2002, and will be the first time Sky News content has been seen on terrestrial television.[196]
  • 20 December – A joint venture between BSkyB and Princess Productions has been awarded the contract to produce a replacement breakfast programme for Channel 4 when The Big Breakfast is axed in March 2002.[197]
  • 22 December –
    • Pop Idol contestant Rik Waller withdraws from the knockout stage of the competition because of a throat infection, having been allowed to sit out the previous week's show in the hope he would recover. His place is taken by Darius Danesh, who was third in the same qualifying heat as Waller.[198]
    • The pilot for Harry Hill's TV Burp is aired on ITV1. The first full series is shown from November next year.
  • 25 December – Only Fools and Horses returns for the first of three Christmas specials after previously ending in 1996 for the shows 20th anniversary. The special (If They Could See Us Now) gets 21.34 million viewers, the UK's highest rated show of the entire decade of 2000–2009.[56] Other Christmas Day highlights on BBC One include Toy Story, the first part of a two-part dramatisation of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and Sliding Doors.[199]
  • 29 December – That evening's episode of Blind Date sees contestant Hannarle Davies from Essex propose to Mark Ackerell from Buckinghamshire after they fell in love on their date to Vienna, Austria.[200]


BBC One[edit]

BBC Two[edit]

ITV (Including ITV1 and ITV2)[edit]

Channel 4[edit]

Channel 5[edit]


New channels[edit]

Date Channel
18 January E4
1 May MTV Hits
15 May Smash Hits
11 August ITV Sport Channel
5 November UK Food

Defunct channels[edit]

Date Channel
17 March SceneOne
31 March BBC Choice Northern Ireland
BBC Choice Scotland
BBC Choice Wales
1 May MTV Extra
27 July S2
2 September .tv
30 November TasteCFN

Rebranded channels[edit]

Date Old Name New Name
11 August ITV ITV1

Television shows[edit]

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Date Programme Moved From Moved To
7 January Blankety Blank BBC One ITV1
16 July Home and Away ITV1 Channel 5

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







Ending this year[edit]



Date Name Age Cinematic Credibility
1 February Jack Milroy 86 Scottish comedian
11 April George Hersee [202] 76 BBC engineer who designed Test Card F
Harry Secombe[203] 79 singer and comedian
2 May Ted Rogers[204] 65 comedian and host of 3-2-1
27 June Joan Sims[205] 71 actress
13 November Peggy Mount 86
14 November Charlotte Coleman[206] 33
11 December Lynette Lithgow[207] 51 newsreader and journalist
26 December Nigel Hawthorne 72 actor (Yes, Prime Minister)

See also[edit]


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