Sky One

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Sky One
Sky One - Logo 2020.png
All the good stuff
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SD feed)
Timeshift serviceSky One +1
OwnerSky Group (Comcast)
Launched26 April 1982; 39 years ago (26 April 1982)
Closed1 September 2021; 3 months ago (1 September 2021)
Replaced bySky Showcase (channel)
Sky Max (programming)
Former names
  • Satellite Television (1982–1984)
  • Sky Channel (1984–1989)
  • Sky 1 (1996–1997, 2008–2017)
(at time of closure)
Virgin Media (UK)Channel 109 (HD)
Channel 110
On Demand
Virgin Media (Ireland)Channel 114 (HD; TV 360)
Channel 714 (SD; TV 360)
Channel 114 (SD; Horizon)
Channel 143 (HD; Horizon)
WightFibreChannel 9
SkyChannel 106 (HD)
Channel 206 (+1)
Channel 806 (SD)
On Demand
TalkTalk TVChannel 301
BT TV (via Now)Channel 340
Channel 355 (HD)
Streaming media
Sky GoWatch live
NowWatch live
Virgin TV Anywhere (UK)Watch live (UK only)
Virgin TV Anywhere (Ireland)Watch live (Ireland only)

Sky One was a British pay television channel operated and owned by Sky Group (a division of Comcast). Originally launched on 26 April 1982 as Satellite Television, it was Europe's first satellite and non-terrestrial channel.[1] From 31 July 1989, it became Sky One and broadcast exclusively in the United Kingdom and Ireland as British Sky Broadcasting's flagship channel, being the most watched television service in history.[2][3] It existed until 1 September 2021, when it closed down as part of a restructuring with its EPG position taken by Sky Showcase and much of its content library moved to Sky Max.[4][5][6]

Sky One included some very popular broadcasts both the original programmes such as An Idiot Abroad, Brainiac: Science Abuse, The Russell Howard Hour and many imported from North America – including: 24 (seasons 2–9, and its spinoff Live Another Day), Battlestar Galactica, Last Resort, Revolution, Bones (seasons 1–6, first half), Caprica, Fringe, Modern Family, Glee (seasons 3–6), House (seasons 5–8), Lie to Me, Lost, Prison Break (seasons 3–4), The Simpsons, Stargate (SG-1, Atlantis and Universe), Touch, About a Boy, The Middle, You, Me and the Apocalypse and The Blacklist: Redemption. Other American imports include CBS military/action dramas, science-fiction and DC Comics superhero shows, Prodigal Son and The Blacklist (seasons 4–8).


Satellite Television Limited[edit]

Sky One started on 26 April 1982 as Satellite Television Limited,[7] and was Europe's first ever cable and satellite channel, originally broadcasting from the Orbital Test Satellite aimed at cable operators all over the continent. At first, the station struggled financially due to disappointing ratings in the countries in which it was officially available, which in turn led to insufficient advertising revenue and increasing difficulty in covering the high transmission costs.

On 27 June 1983, the shareholders of Satellite Television agreed a £5 million offer to give News International 65% of the company.[8][9] Rupert Murdoch extended the broadcast hours and the number of countries the station broadcast to including the United Kingdom on 16 October of that year.[10]

Sky Channel/One[edit]

Sky Channel management 1984: Patrick Cox, Gary Davey and Malcolm Tallantire

On 16 January 1984, Satellite Television Limited was renamed Sky Channel, incorporating a large number of American imports in its schedules also increased the quantity produced of home grown programmes, including a number of new music shows with Gary Davies, Tony Blackburn, Linda de Mol, Pat Sharp, David "Kid" Jensen, and Anthea Turner presenting programmes such as Euro Top 40, and UK Top 50 Chart. New children's programmes like Fun Factory and The DJ Kat Show, many of which came not only from Sky's own studios in London (having already abandoned the Molinare facilities by then), but also included programmes produced in the Netherlands by John de Mol's production company.

On 8 June 1988, Murdoch announced his plans to expand Sky's four channels, thus creating the Sky Television Network.[11] On 5 February 1989, the service (Sky Channel, Sky News, Sky Movies and Eurosport) was launched as prime-time broadcasts to European cable operators ended being replaced by Eurosport, a joint venture between Sky and the European Broadcasting Union aimed at a pan-European audience (like Sky Channel had been up to that point for a time afterwards, some of Sky's previous pan-European programming continued to be broadcast before Eurosport's start-up, under the branding of Sky Europe).

Initially, a new raft of shows were created for the channel including the daily talent show Sky Star Search, game shows (Sale of the Century was based more off the 1980s American version and The Price Is Right), weekly documentary series Frank Bough's World, daily late night talk show Jameson Tonight, agony aunt advice show A Problem Shared and Sky by Day,[12] Sky TV's variation on ITV's more popular This Morning, hosted by former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn (who had moved to commercial radio by then) and former Magpie presenter Jenny Hanley as the show aired a mix of entertainment, gossip and fashion.

The "New Sky Channel" as it was dubbed prior to 5 February 1989 launch in on-air promotion, continued to broadcast its signature children's programmes (The DJ Kat Show and Fun Factory) and expanded its early afternoon daytime programming with five back-to-back soaps (The Sullivans, Another World, General Hospital, As the World Turns and Loving) while reducing music programming to only one or two hours per day.[13] Classic sitcoms (The Lucy Show and Family Affair) and more recent comedies (Three's Company and Family Ties) as well as put on the schedule along with dramas (The Streets of San Francisco, Trapper John, M.D., Emergency!, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Voyagers! and Eight Is Enough) were included. Sky Channel also aired classic movies, made-for-TV movies and miniseries (beginning with Spearfield's Daughter on its first night). Dolly Parton's recent variety show Dolly, popular Australian science and technology show Beyond 2000, the Nescafé UK Top 50 chart show, Sunday morning religious programme Hour of Power, hour-long weekend edition of celebrity news magazine Entertainment Tonight and telecasts of World Wrestling Federation rounded out Sky Channel's weekend schedule.[14][15] Special event programming included late night live telecasts of boxing matches and various music concerts (such as Bon Jovi and Bros in August 1989).

On 31 July 1989, the channel was renamed Sky One and closed in most European countries, broadcasting only to the United Kingdom and Ireland. During September of that year, Sky One began to air more recent programming as an early success being Moonlighting (which the BBC had previously screened but not repeated), ALF and Wiseguy, also aired the British television premiere of a new drama series 21 Jump Street. Back-to-back soaps (Rich Man, Poor Man and Falcon Crest) as well as action shows (Riptide and Hunter) were also added to its prime time schedule.[16] A number of Australian drama series mainly include Against the Wind, Boney, A Town Like Alice, Barrier Reef, Return to Eden and children's programmes such as Skippy the Bush Kangaroo also aired on Sky One. In 1990 and early 1991 (prior to the launch of Sky Sports), Sky One broadcast numerous live cricket telecasts during which it pre-empted its regularly scheduled programming.

Following the merger with British Satellite Broadcasting's Galaxy on 2 November 1990, Sky One also picked up new sitcoms (Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Growing Pains, Murphy Brown, In Living Color, Wings and Designing Women), dramas (China Beach and Hill Street Blues), reruns of classic sitcoms (Bewitched and The Addams Family), a new animated series Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was added to children's programmes, and daily dating game show Love at First Sight was presented by Helen Brumby and Bruno Brookes. Following the 1990 daily repeats of Star Trek and Lost in Space, Sky One picked up a number of science-fiction shows which became a crucial part of its evening line-up such as the UK premiere of Alien Nation, also added reruns of V (1983 miniseries, The Final Battle and the television series) and Battlestar Galactica in 1991. After the 1992 airing of The Flash, Sky One also picked up Star Trek: The Next Generation which had previously aired on BBC2 began a long twice per day run of the franchise in a late afternoon and a late evening timeslot on Mondays to Fridays.

A staple of Sky One prime time schedule in its early years were glossy American miniseries such as Roots, Shōgun, Masada, The Thorn Birds, North and South and Lonesome Dove, which aired mostly in two-hour installments each week Sundays to Tuesdays. As the format was beginning to fade in the United States, the miniseries were reduced to two nights in late 1992 and then rescheduled to Tuesdays and Wednesdays in early 1994 under its new title called Midweek Drama, before being dropped altogether shortly after that and reappearing only as special event programming. In 1993, Sky One finally replaced its long-running Sunday night drama 21 Jump Street with exclusive premiere of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and later Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Sunday night timeslot was ultimately given to new episodes of the hit teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 which was later paired off with its spin-off Melrose Place. After many years in the clear on 1 September of that year, Sky One was encrypted as part of the new Sky Multichannels subscription package, and could no longer be viewed outside Britain and Ireland without exporting a box, or receiving it over cable (although it had already been encrypted for a while since its original launch and first went in the clear in around 1987).

On 1 October 1998, Sky One's digital feed launched with Sky Digital. Sky One was one of the four last remaining channels on the analogue platform when it was switched off at midnight, 27 September 2001.[17] In 2000, a dedicated feed of Sky One for Ireland was launched for most of this Irish feed's existence, the only difference between it and the United Kingdom feed has been differing commercials and programme promotions. In June 2003, the channel started broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen.[18] However, all television commercials were broadcast in 4:3 until 21 November 2005,[citation needed] because they were played off the same servers for all Sky channels, many of which were not broadcast in widescreen.

On 25 August 2012, it was announced by Stuart Murphy, director of Sky entertainment channels, that a one-hour timeshift of Sky One and Sky Atlantic would launch in the autumn of 2012, with the former launching on 12 November 2012. The timeshift channel offers most of Sky One's programming, however The Simpsons is not broadcast because BSkyB is prohibited from doing so under the current terms of their licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. An on-screen message instead appears redirecting viewers to Sky One. As of 2017, The Simpsons is available to watch on the timeshifted channel.[19][20]

For New Year's Day 2014 (1 January), Sky One was temporarily renamed as Sky Onesie meaning "to encourage viewers to snuggle up in front of the television wearing onesies, in a bid to recover from the previous night's celebrations".[21] Since 2017, Sky One has broadcast some sports coverage includes a partial simulcast of Soccer Saturday, highlights of, and occasional live coverage of, Formula One motor racing and the occasional live football match. The summer of 2019 saw Sky One show highlights of the 2019 Cricket World Cup and live coverage of England's matches in the 2019 Netball World Cup.

At the time of closure, it was available via digital satellite on Sky, digital cable on Virgin Media, IPTV on TalkTalk TV and online via Sky Go and Now. In the Republic of Ireland, the channel was available via Sky Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Eir Vision. On 28 July 2021, it was announced that Sky One would be retired, and replaced with a new channel called Sky Showcase was intended to content from across Sky's services with many of Sky One's existing general entertainment and original productions moving to another new channel, Sky Max as itself later shut down on 1 September of that year,[5] with Prodigal Son being its last programme.

Sky Two and Sky Three[edit]

The success of this channel led to the launch on 1 September 1996 of a companion service, Sky 2; however, it was not a success and was closed down on 31 August 1997, one day short of a year after it launched. Sky 1 went back to being called Sky One. In contrast to the Sky Two that was later relaunched, this channel featured even more first-run programmes and it broadcast only at night between 7.00pm and 6.00am.

In 2002, the channel was relaunched as Sky One Mix. On 21 September 2004, Sky One Mix was subsequently renamed Sky Mix. On 31 October 2005, Sky Mix was renamed as Sky Two with the launch of a second sister channel Sky Three. Currently, Sky Two is known as Sky Replay and Sky Three is now called Pick.


To coincide with the launch of Sky HD, Sky One HD began broadcasting on 22 May 2006. The channel is a simulcast of Sky One and screens high-definition versions of some of the channel's programming, which include Lost, Bones, 24, WWE SmackDown, Fringe, Prison Break, House, and most recently new episodes of The Simpsons. Programmes that are not available in HD are "upscaled" (although Sky One showed its widescreen version of the television show Malcolm in the Middle, unlike most American broadcasts, since the film was originally filmed on Panavision widescreen film but cropped to full-screen by most broadcasters. This airing of the show preserves the film's appearance without stretching or upscaling, although some scenes were compromised for widescreen and had to be upscaled).

Sky stated that they intended to increase the amount of HD content they show, and hoped that by the end of 2008, two-thirds of all prime time shows, and 90% of their own original commissions, would be in HD.[22] A new logo was introduced along with the rebrand on 31 August 2008.

On 1 October 2010, Sky One HD launched on Virgin Media channel 122, with Sky Two moving to channel 123 and Sky Three (now Pick) moving to channel 180 on 22 September 2010, to make way for the new service.[23]

Virgin Media dispute[edit]

On 1 March 2007 at midnight, Sky's basic channels – which included Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Three, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Travel and Sky Travel Extra – were removed from the Virgin Media cable television services after a dispute from BSkyB. This was due to the expiry of their previous carriage agreement and the companies' inability to reach a new deal.[24][25] Virgin issued legal proceedings against Sky over the dispute in April 2007.

At the beginning of March 2008, the two companies were reported to have resumed discussions over the dispute. Virgin chief executive Neil Berkett was reported as saying they had "continued interest in securing Sky basics back on our platform". The resumed talks had followed shortly after both Virgin and BSkyB had launched appeals against a recent Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling on BSkyB's 17.9% stake in ITV plc.[26][27]

On 4 November 2008, a carriage deal between BSkyB and Virgin Media was reached and BSkyB's channels were available on Virgin's cable service from 13 November of that year.[28][29] The Sky basic channels were spread across each tier of Virgin's cable television service: Sky Three and Sky News were made available in the lowest M tier; Sky Sports News joined the M+ tier; Sky One and Sky Two were made available in the L tier; and Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 joined the XL tier.[29]

Continuity announcers[edit]

Bruce Hammal was the station's continuity announcer from 1984 to 1997. Absolute Radio DJ Claire Sturgess has been a "voice" of Sky One since 1998, and was the sole announcer from 2001 until 2005. As one of Sky One's four announcers, her voice-overs are pre-recorded once a week and played out by an automated system.[citation needed]

Live continuity announcements air each evening. In 2009, they were voiced by announcers Dave Kelly, Faye Bamford and Philippa Collins. In 2010, three new continuity announcers were hired, Katie Morton, Katie Hudson and Paul Daniels, replacing all the previous announcers. In 2011, two new part-time announcers were hired.[30] During the day, pre-recorded announcements air, promoting shows from all the different Sky channels.[31]



1980s and 1990s[edit]

Sky commissioned many homegrown programmes since it first started broadcasting back in 1984, but it was not until 1989 when content went beyond music and children's shows.

During the early years in commissioned some new game shows including:

The channel commissioned a number of home grown programmes (for example, dramas such as The Wanderer, Springhill, Dream Team and Space Island One) while expanding its small number of Australian television series, notably include:

2000s and 2010s[edit]

Sky One focused in science-fiction and other series in the 2000s which did not have a lot of successes, including:

Sky One also screened reality television shows such as:

The channel received relative success with scientific shows such as:

Sky One commissioned a two-part Terry Pratchett's Hogfather series for Christmas 2006, this proved to be successful and so in 2008, Sky brought out an adaptation of The Colour of Magic and its second half The Light Fantastic. In 2010, Sky One also released Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, the 33rd book in The Discworld series.

Sky One had also re-commissioned a number of earlier game shows including Blockbusters, which brought the series back once again between 30 October 2000 and 23 March 2001 was produced by Grundy (now owns the format) and presented by Liza Tarbuck, but did not capture the same degree of popularity as the Bob Holness incarnation. The most recent game show was from Mark Burnett, Are You Smarter than a 10 Year Old?, based on a United States format. On 30 January 2008, Sky One announced plans to bring back the British 1990s combat-based game show Gladiators, which was subsequently cancelled in 2009.[32] They also showed the sketch show Harry Enfield's Brand Spanking New Show.

In 2010, Sky One focused on commissioning several quite long-running or well known comedy infused shows, starting with A League of Their Own, An Idiot Abroad and Little Crackers. In 2011, Sky One premiered supermarket sitcom Trollied, which had broadcast six series and over 50 episodes, becoming Sky One's longest running comedy series. Not all shows were well received, at least by its home country audience, including Parents which was broadcast in 2012 and was not popular, leading Sky not to commission it for a second series. Moone Boy, a series written by and starring Chris O'Dowd, first screened in 2012, became an instant hit internationally. It lasted three series, and ended in 2015.

In 2017, Sky One stopped showing factual content and moved to showing more comedy and drama programmes as well as selected sports coverage.


American pop group E.Y.C. interview on the Coca-Cola Hit Mix weekly show
British singer Matt Goss on the music brand which would simultaneously broadcast on Sky One and Sky Two's Hit Mix (Long Play)

In 1994, Sky One started their own music show called The Coca Cola Hit Mix (also known as The Hit Mix) hosted by Terry Christian,[33] featuring music news and guests at the time.[34] The show featured regular competitions, phone-ins with guests and other features. This later evolved into a late night broadcast called Hit Mix Long Play which would broadcast simultaneously on both Sky One and Sky Two playing music videos from various genres; the show also featured themed topics such as "Step by Step" which would feature music videos with stairs in the song or video when the scheduled programming had finished. This became a popular part of the brand and would often have exclusive first play on new releases that week.[citation needed]

A later expansion of the music brand would be Sky One's Morning Glory show which would feature music videos in the early morning before the scheduled programming would start, which also featured various themes as well as caller requests.[citation needed]


Sky One occasionally screened films, which were shown with advertisement breaks, unlike films on several premium movie channels, for example Sky Cinema and its sister services.

American imports[edit]

The channel became known for its first-run American imports such as: Seinfeld, Rescue, Unsolved Mysteries, Mad About You, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and South Park, as well as some older programmes included Hill Street Blues, Kung Fu, M*A*S*H and Lucille Ball's various comedy series. It relies heavily on screenings for this network as they coming from Rupert Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting Company with other shows like The X-Files, Cops, Millennium, King of the Hill, Futurama and Malcolm in the Middle. Another early and long-running fixture was Married... with Children ran all through the 1990s, but in the early 2000s as the show suddenly disappeared from its regular schedule and has not been screened on any Sky channel since.

Sky One was also the original home to the UK's first-run showings of ER and Friends for series 4–6 of both shows (Channel 4 had shown series 1–3 first), giving Sky One some of the highest ratings for any satellite channel. In 2000, 2.8 million viewers watched an episode of Friends, the highest-rated show on this network. However, when Channel 4 launched their own digital sister service E4 they outbid Sky One for exclusive first-run rights to both shows.[35] However, Sky One still held the repeat rights for the early series of both shows for several years. Since 2011, Friends has been shown on Comedy Central.[36]

World Wrestling Entertainment[edit]

Sky One previously broadcasts World Wrestling Entertainment programming before it was moved to Sky Sports. However, it did continue to broadcast an edited one hour version of Raw on Sunday mornings before its all programmes moved to rival network BT Sport.[37]

The Simpsons[edit]

On 2 September 1990, Sky One launches its hit American animated series The Simpsons which became an signature show and aired continuously on the channel for 31 years until it was ceased in 2021 (as well as the Sunday morning religious programme Hour of Power was another to remain the schedule during most of its run), it had a long association within the series from its early years and remained the exclusive British broadcaster until it showed terrestrially on the BBC between 23 November 1996 and 7 May 2004, having lost the rights to Channel 4 in February 2002.[38]

On 17 March 2009, Sky One broadcast the 20th season episode "In the Name of the Grandfather" for the first time – five days before its original US airing – to be shown in the United Kingdom as gathered over one million viewers. Sky One had also aired episodes within three days after its US first-run, including "Judge Me Tender" on 27 May 2010.

Star Trek[edit]

Sky One obtained the first-run rights for Star Trek in 1990, prior to that had been with the BBC (as well as the unseen pilot) broadcasts every episode of the series to date.

The Next Generation was initially run between 5 October 1992 and 16 August 1993, which is shown five nights a week at 5.00pm starting with "Encounter at Farpoint" and the series then running all the way up to "Timescape", it also acquired reruns to these episodes from the first three seasons previously aired on BBC2 – with the exception of "The High Ground" that broadcasts on 29 November 1992 as the Irish reunification line was edited out – and a feature-length version of "Unification" was shown on an exclusive movie channel rather than as part of this entire run. The whole series was showing again whether "Descent" was held over to act as the premiere to the seventh season on 31 July 1994, which was run every Sunday evenings at 7.00pm once it had completed production and was available to be shown before the last-ever episode aired on 29 January 1995.

Sky One also bought the first-run rights for other Star Trek shows that include:

The episodes of these later series were shown as they were in the United States with repeats between new ones, however soon held back broadcast the entire series at once, as well as various science-fiction shows that would fill the gaps including Stargate SG-1 and Andromeda. It was moved to Sky Two for a short time, until the channel was ceased on 31 August 1997 due to poor ratings. Monday nights at 8.00pm was the traditional time for the series, however at the start of the fourth season of Enterprise was moved to Tuesdays within the place also taken by The Simpsons, which lasted until the final episode was broadcast on 2 August 2005.

Most watched[edit]

Sky One share of viewing 1992–2008. Peak was 9.5%, July 1993, current 0.9%.

The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on Sky One, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 30 November 2020, within the number of viewers does not include repeats:

Rank Show Episode Number of
1 Friends: The Reunion 5,300,000 27 May 2021
2 Friends 6.01 – "The One After Vegas" 2,860,000 13 January 2000
3 An Idiot Abroad 2.01 – "Desert Island" 2,659,000 23 September 2011
4 2.07 – "Climb Mount Fuji" 2,656,000 4 November 2011
5 Terry Pratchett's Hogfather "Part One" 2,647,000 17 December 2006
6 Friends 5.01 – "The One After Ross Says Rachel" 2,410,000 7 January 1999
7 5.15 – "The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey" 2,320,000 15 April 1999
8 An Idiot Abroad 2.08 – "Karl Comes Home" 2,302,000 11 November 2011
9 The Simpsons 17.15 – "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife" 2,301,000 23 April 2006
10 An Idiot Abroad 3.03 – "China" 2,260,000 14 December 2012


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External links[edit]