Network 7 logo from Series 2
|Created by||Jane Hewland, Janet Street-Porter|
|Directed by||Matt Forrest, Andrew Gillman|
|Presented by||Magenta Devine, Sankha Guha, Tracey MacLeod|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||44|
|Executive producer(s)||Keith MacMillan, Jane Hewland|
|Running time||2 hours|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Original release||3 May 1987 – 23 October 1988|
Network 7 was a short-lived but influential youth music and current affairs programme screened on Channel 4 over two series in 1987 and 1988. The series was created by Jane Hewland and Janet Street-Porter, who was also editor of the first series.
Network 7 was broadcast live on Sundays from noon until two o'clock and was conceived of as a 'channel within a channel', something young people could roll out of bed and watch the morning after the night before. Its mission statement was "News is Entertainment. Entertainment is News." It was known for its heavily self-branded, frenetic visual style with wild camera work, rapid cuts, very short items and "blipverts" - a dense combination of innovative graphics, and pop video style visuals explaining everything from Third World debt to bulimia.
Much of Network 7's innovative style can be seen as being inspired by a combination of elements such as the aesthetic of the Max Headroom drama 20 Minutes into the Future and the studio-based anarchy of Tiswas. The show's logo and distinctive brand and graphics (that predicted a desktop computer style) were designed by Malcolm Garrett's design studio Assorted iMaGes.
The show took place in a specially built 'caravan city' in Limehouse Studios, a deserted banana warehouse on the site of what is now One Canada Square. Presenters included Jaswinder Bancil, Magenta Devine, Sankha Guha, Eric Harwood, Murray Boland, Tracey MacLeod, Sebastian Scott, and Trevor Ward. Most presenters had previously worked in either television or journalism in a smaller capacity, but they all got their first major TV exposure on the show. Charlie Parsons was a presenter and also part of the production staff. He later set up the production company Planet 24, which produced The Word and The Big Breakfast with his partner Waheed Alli.
Network 7 challenged the idea that youth programming could only be a niche concern in the television business. The series won a British Academy [BAFTA] award for Originality for Hewland and Street Porter in 1987. The series has been credited with changing the language of factual television and giving a start in the industry to some of UK TV's leading programme makers.
Regular Programme Segments
True or False showed a pre-recorded bizarre real-life story, and the following week revealed whether the story was true or false. In Series 2 viewers could voice their guesses via a phone poll.
Film On 7 showed a short one-minute film made by students at London International Film School.
The series premiered with a feature on cloning cashcards, where presenter Sankha Guha cloned a card and used it on live television to take money out of an ATM outside the Bank of England, going in depth on how it was done using a video recorder and strips of tape.
A report on how a child in Japan had made several withdrawals totalling tens out thousands of dollars using a candy bar wrapper, although Network 7 refused to mention which brand had been used.
A live satellite link-up to Ed Byrne, a man on death Row in the USA charged with murdering his girlfriend. Viewers voted whether they thought he deserved to live or die, and a presenter revealed the results to him at the end of the show (55% favoured death).
A spoof of Network 7 (renamed 'Network') appeared in Episode 4, Series 2 of French and Saunders.
Spitting Image featured a Network 7 spoof entitled 'NAF 7' where an interviewer asked God to sum up the meaning of life in 9 seconds. (Series 5, episode 2.)