|Launched||12 June 1995 original (1)
2003 relaunch (2)
|Closed||5 November 1999 (1)
28 February 2006 (2)
|Owned by||Mirror Group Newspapers|
|Picture format||4:3, 576i (SDTV)|
|Replaced by||Babeworld (2)|
L!VE TV was a British television station that was operated by Mirror Group Newspapers on cable television from 12 June 1995 until 5 November 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".
L!VE TV was proposed by David Montgomery as MGN's foray into pay television. Mirror Television, a Mirror Group plc subsidiary, bought Wire TV  which included sports content shown at certain times during Wire's output. Sports programming on Wire had been expanded when several sporting rights were acquired, such as Vauxhall Conference football, the live broadcast rights to screen Lennox Lewis's WBC title fights and the 1996 Cricket World Cup as well as other sporting coverage following a deal with Chrysalis Sport. Mirror Group planned to turn Sportswire into a separate channel to operate alongside the proposed L!VE TV, which would replace Wire. Wire was closed at the end of May 1995 but the proposed Sportswire channel came to nothing, leaving Mirror Television with just L!VE TV.
First incarnation (1995–1999)
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, lifestyle features and reports from events and happenings across the UK. 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.
Three months after going on air, Street-Porter left due to clashes with MacKenzie over content and MacKenzie went on to create programmes that received much media coverage but low viewer figures. These included 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. Considered cheap and always accused[by whom?] 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[by whom?] as "tabloid television", in part due to its control by MGN and because MacKenzie had been editor of The Sun.
At the end of 1995 and during 1996 the first local L!VE TV channels were launched. These channels featured both local content and programming from London. Around 20 stations had been planned to launch by the end of the 1990s but only a small number made it to air.
Shortly before its demise in 1999, it was said[by whom?] that the channel would bid for rights to show FA Premier League football, but given the size of the financial commitment required, it is likely that it was merely a publicity stunt. However, Mirror Television had been a serious contender in 1996 and had formally entered the bidding process with Carlton Television but they were beaten by Sky Sports.
The station closed on 5 November 1999 at 6 pm 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 – 5 November 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 was 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.
- Mirror Group buys cable TV channel, The Independent, 16 February 1995
- Sporting push for UK cable-only channel Screen Digest, 1 March 1994
- L!VE TV: Talking topless darts. BBC News Online. 22 October 1999. Retrieved 18 April 2008.
- Iain Weaver (17 February 2010). "UK Gameshows: Topless Darts". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
- 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 12 September 2010.
- 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
- "Details about Exciting Opportunity to buy your own Cable TV Archive - LIVETV ***NO RESERVE***". ebay.co.uk.
- "Live TV Prospectus ebay.pdf". Google Docs.
- David Steer (3 June 2008). "L!VE TV Launch". Retrieved 15 March 2017 – via YouTube.
- Paul Carmichael (31 August 2016). "Trouble at the Top - Nightmare At Canary Wharf (L!VE TV)". Retrieved 15 March 2017 – via YouTube.
- 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