The Children's Channel

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The Children's Channel (TCC)
The Children's Channel.svg
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
Scandinavia (Nordic version)
Launched1 September 1984; 37 years ago (1 September 1984)
Closed3 April 1998; 23 years ago (3 April 1998)
October 1998; 23 years ago (October 1998) (UK cable, Nordic feed)
October 2000; 21 years ago (October 2000) (Nordic)
Replaced byTrouble
WebsiteWayback Archive

The Children's Channel, also known as TCC, was a British television station in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Benelux nations (with Dutch voiceover) and Scandinavia, which was owned by Flextech. It began broadcasting on 1 September 1984.


Early years[edit]

The Children's Channel launched in 1984, almost exclusively to cable households owing to the low proliferation of domestic satellite dishes in the UK and Europe at the time, and originally operated by Starstream who were backed by British Telecom, DC Thomson, Thames Television and Thorn EMI.

"The Children's Channel is a satellite delivered service which is destined to delight children everywhere, every day of the week. Already an established success in the UK, it is available to cable operators in Northern Europe from December 1986. The Children's Channel brings together the best programmes from around the world for young people, linked into magazines with top presenters who have long experience in children's television. Content is aimed directly at school and pre-school children carefully scheduled to suit their various viewing times. From animation to drama features, The Children's Channel offers a range of entertainment that is second to none. The Channel also provides a variety of learning opportunities in language, science, computers, social studies and many other areas. A central policy of The Children's Channel is to help children become active viewers rather than passive ones, and to involve other members of the family as well."

The Children's Channel press April 1987.[1]

The channel shared its slot with The Entertainment Network, before sharing with Mirrorvision. In 1986, it started broadcasting on satellite from 5am to 3pm. In January 1987, Central Independent Television acquired a 22% stake in Starstream, within days of buying FilmFair, allowing The Children's Channel to add new programming including Paddington Bear.[2]

In March 1989, The Children's Channel started airing free-to-air on Astra 1A,[3] airing from 5am to 10am on weekdays and from 5am to 12pm on weekends, time-sharing with Lifestyle. Following the launch of the Astra 1B-satellite in 1991, The Children's Channel expanded to broadcast until 5pm each day, time-sharing with JSTV. In 1990, Flextech acquired its first stake in the company,[4][5] beating United Artists Cable International to gain a stake. In 1991, United bought its own stake in The Children's Channel and won the management contract to run it.[6] In late 1993, Flextech held talks with Tele-Communications and acquired TCI's European programming business in exchange for shares, giving TCI a 50%-60% stake in the enlarged Flextech group.[7] The deal was completed which resulted in Flextech increasing its stake from 50.1%[8] to 75%.[9]

Change of ownership[edit]

In 1992, The Children's Channel launched an evening block showing programming of greater interest to older children and teenagers. The segment, called simply TCC, aired from 5pm to 7pm, and featured a number of home-produced programmes, such as CDQ and TVFM, as well as American imports including Saved by the Bell. During the day, The Children's Channel continued targeting younger children, and a large amount of its programming output was still archive animated series from the 1980s. As time went on, the TCC block extended its hours, initially starting half an hour earlier at 4.30pm, until the focus on teen programmes eventually became more prominent across The Children's Channel, which became known as TCC all day long.

In 1993, it cut back its air hours to 6am to 5pm, allowing Family Channel to share its space with The Children's Channel, now a subscription service via the Sky Multichannels package. In 1995, The Children's Channel introduced programmes for toddlers and preschoolers called Tiny TCC.

By June 1995, Flextech completed its acquisition of The Children's Channel when it acquired the remaining 25.1% stake in Starstream for £15m.[10][11]

In mid 1996, Flextech were in talks with Fox and News Corp to sell of a 50% stake in The Children's Channel; however, extremely lengthy negotiations made it impossible to secure a deal. Flextech tried to undertake negotiations to secure a different form of investment in The Children's Channel, but decided to refocus on the teen and youth markets instead.[12] In turn, in February 1997, all the programmes targeting older children which The Children's Channel was by then airing were split off into Trouble with TCC reverted to the original name of The Children's Channel and continuing to screen programmes for younger children, running side by side with Trouble in 1997, before eventually closing down British and Irish operations both unexpectedly and silently in April 1998 at 5pm after 14 years for unknown reasons. Upon the closure of TCC UK, Cable & Wireless carried the TCC Nordic feed for a few months due to the company's anger at the closure of TCC at such short notice, while Trouble started targeting teenagers and young adults, thus fully replacing The Children's Channel after it closed down.

However, due to a pre-agreed contract signed some years before to air The Children's Channel in Scandinavia until October 2000, Flextech created an advertisement-free version of TCC known as TCC Nordic to fulfil this requirement to air until October 2000 as arranged before finally ceasing transmission. As this service was only fulfilling a contractual requirement, it was totally automated and showed exactly the same four weeks of programming on a constant loop.[citation needed]

The website stayed running until late 2005.

Tiny TCC/Living[edit]

In 1995, The Children's Channel introduced a strand for toddlers and preschoolers called Tiny TCC, which aired every morning from 6am until 9am. This block was then transferred over to UK Living on 3 February 1997 and renamed Tiny Living with its airtimes being changed to 7:00-9:00 on weekdays, and 7:00-10:00 during the weekend. Following The Children's Channel's unexpected closedown of British and Irish operations on 3 April 1998 and full replacement by then-timeshared channel Trouble the next day, the strand was finally withdrawn in 2006.


In its day, TCC created some original programming. Connect 4 and The Super Mario Challenge were popular tea-time quiz shows. Some other 'in-between' show segments included Link Anchorman, featuring Chuck the Chimp and Hopper the Penguin. All of the puppets were created and performed by Hands Up Puppets, primarily Marcus Clarke and Helena Smee. Other TV talent made an appearance or got an early break working on these series, including Konnie Huq, then awaiting news of her university place. Some of today's TV producers also got valuable early TV introducing experience on these series including Lisa Opie, Tim Lowe, Karen Ward and Mike Crosby. A live action quiz programme, Around the World in 80 Seconds, was produced for the channel in 1993-4. Hosted by Timmy Mallett as Captain Everything, schoolchildren participated in a quiz based on geography and general knowledge of particular countries, before "replaying" famous scenarios from history of their chosen country. The top team received a prize of a four-day trip to the then-new Euro Disney.

During school holidays, Ratkan aired 07:00-12:00, with It's Droibee Time off air.[citation needed]

Jack in the Box/Tiny TCC[edit]



























  1. ^ "TVARK - The Children's Channel". Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  2. ^ NEWS IN BRIEFThe Guardian (1959-2003); 6 January 1987;
  3. ^ Bains, Geoff (11 December 2008). "Celebrating 20 years of UK satellite TV". TechRadar. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  4. ^ Guardian 18 December 1999 P28 "INTERVIEW Adam Singler and Tony Illsley" By David Teather
  5. ^ Carter, Meg (8 September 1995). "Flextech scales Scottish heights". Marketing Week. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  6. ^ Hosking, Patrick (6 February 1994). "Profile: Jolly Roger is flying high: Roger Luard: The head of Flextech tells Patrick Hosking of blue skies ahead". The Independent. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Flextech Set To Acquire TCI Programming". Telecompaper. 21 December 1993. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  8. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (27 May 1993). "Flextech inks IFE deal". Variety. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Flextech Wants To Buy TCI Unit". Telecompaper. 26 October 1993. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  10. ^ "Flextech Acquires TCC, Stake in Kindernet". Telecompaper. 5 June 1995. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  11. ^ US firms invest £92m in FlextechMay, Tony The Guardian (1959-2003); 12 May 1995;
  12. ^ "Flextech calls off planned TCC sale". Retrieved 3 September 2013.
  13. ^ The Times listings, 29 September-17 November 1993 and subsequent dates
  14. ^ The Times listings, 3–24 January 1994 and 14 August-4 September 1994
  15. ^ The Times listings, 29 November-27 December 1993 and 10 July-7 August 1994
  16. ^ The Guardian listings, 17 July 1989 – 29 January 1990
  17. ^ The Times listings, 11 July-28 November 1993
  18. ^ The Times listings, 1–22 November 1993 and 12 June-3 July 1994

External links[edit]