Channel 5 (British TV channel)

Channel 5 is a British free-to-air public broadcast television channel launched in 1997. It is the fifth national terrestrial channel in the United Kingdom and is owned by Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American media conglomerate Paramount Global, which is grouped under Paramount Networks UK & Australia division.

Channel 5
Logo used since 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom
Broadcast area
  • United Kingdom
  • Isle of Man
  • Channel Islands
Headquarters17–29 Hawley Crescent, London, England
Picture format
Timeshift serviceChannel 5 +1
OwnerParamount Networks UK & Australia
ParentChannel 5 Broadcasting Limited[1]
Sister channels
Launched30 March 1997 (1997-03-30)
Former namesFive (2002–2011)
  • Channel 5 (SD)
  • Channel 46 (+1)
  • Channel 105 (HD)
Streaming media
TVPlayerWatch live
Sky GoWatch live
Virgin TV GoWatch live
Pluto TVWatch live

During ownership by the RTL Group, it was branded as Five between 16 September 2002 and 13 February 2011. Richard Desmond purchased the channel from RTL on 23 July 2010, announcing plans to invest more money in programming and return to the name Channel 5 with immediate effect, and it was relaunched on 14 February 2011.[2][3][4] On 1 May 2014 the channel was acquired by Viacom (now Paramount Global) for £450 million (US$759 million).[5]

Channel 5 is a general entertainment channel that shows both internally commissioned programmes such as Our Yorkshire Farm,[6] The Gadget Show, The Hotel Inspector, and Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! and foreign programmes. The channel has been very successful with imports from the United States in particular, including the CSI franchise, the NCIS franchise, the first three series in the Law & Order franchise, Power Rangers, The Mentalist, Body of Proof, Once Upon a Time, Dallas, Under the Dome and sitcom Friends (also on Comedy Central UK).[7][8][9][10][11][12]



Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited was licensed by the UK's then-independent statutory regulator the Independent Television Commission (ITC) in 1995 after a bidding process that started in 1993 and lasted throughout 1994. The initial round of bidders, which included a network of Citytv stations planned by Thames Television and the Italian politician and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi[13][14] (who founded Mediaset, which owns Canale 5 and formerly owned La Cinq, which ceased operations in 1992; he retired his offer a few months later),[15] was rejected outright and the ITC contemplated not awarding the licence at all.

The difficulty with the project lay in use of television broadcast frequencies that had been allocated to RF outputs from domestic videocassette recorders. To achieve national coverage, large numbers of domestic video recorders (which output at a nearby frequency) had to be retuned or fitted with a filter, at the bidding company's expense.

The project was revived in mid-1994 when the ITC re-advertised the franchise. Tom McGrath, then-president of Time Warner International Broadcasting, put together a revised frequency plan with NTL and consulting engineer Ellis Griffiths, involving less retuning and greater signal coverage. Lord Hollick, then chief executive of Meridian Broadcasting (later United News & Media, and UBM) took up the project as lead investor as UK law prohibited Time Warner from owning more than 25%. Pearson Television, who by now owned original licence bidders Thames Television, also came on board. When McGrath left to become President of Paramount, Time Warner dropped out of the project and was replaced by the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT, known in the UK for Radio Luxembourg under CLT's former name of the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion, CLR). Other bidders for the licence included UKTV (led by Canwest and Select TV, who bid £36m for the licence), New Century Television (owned by BSkyB and Granada, who bid £2m), Virgin TV (backed by Virgin Communications) and Associated Newspapers (who bid £22m, the same as Channel 5 Broadcasting who won the licence).[16]

Wolff Olins and Saatchi & Saatchi were the main companies behind the pre-launch advertising campaign: "Give Me 5".[17] The channel would be both modern and mainstream. A logo (a numeric "5" within a circle) and visual motif (a "candy stripe" bar of colours, reminiscent of TV test cards) were used, and an attempt was made to establish a collection of Channel 5 faces; through the spring of 1997, billboards of Jack Docherty were displayed, along with other unknown characters.[17]

A series of pre-launch screens were displayed on the frequencies Channel 5 would begin broadcasting on in the months before launch as well, including a trailer for the channel and information screens.[18] After re-tuning, around 65% of the population's televisions could view the channel on launch night.

The launch

The channel's launch on 30 March 1997, Easter Sunday, at 6 p.m. featured the Spice Girls singing a re-written version of Manfred Mann's hit "5-4-3-2-1" as "1-2-3-4-5".[19][20] Presenters Tim Vine and Julia Bradbury introduced the nation to the UK's fifth (sixth including S4C) terrestrial channel with half-an-hour of previews.

The rest of the Channel 5 launch night schedule, along with the official viewing figures, was as follows:[21]

TimeShowViewers (in millions)
6 pmThis Is 5!2.49
6.30 pmFamily Affairs1.70
7 pmTwo Little Boys0.68
8 pmHospital!1.12
9 pmBeyond Fear1.70
10:30 pmThe Jack Docherty Show1.16
11:10 pmThe Comedy Store Special0.73
11:40 pmTurnstyle0.49
12:10 amLive and Dangerous0.08
4:40 amPrisoner: Cell Block H0.03
5:30 amThis is 5!0.03

Overall, an estimated 2,490,000 tuned in to see Britain's fifth free channel launch, a figure higher than that achieved by launch of Channel 4, fourteen and a half years earlier.

The first advert shown on Channel 5 was Chanel No. 5 perfume.[22][23]

Re-brand as Five (2002)

On 16 September 2002, Channel 5 re-branded to Five, in a multimillion-pound project directed by Trevor Beattie. The channel's director of marketing at the time, David Pullen, said:

This campaign set out to achieve three key objectives: to clarify the channel's creative strategy; to refresh the channel's on-screen identity; and to address the gap between the common perceptions of Five and the new reality of our programming – stimulating viewers' reappraisal of Five's programmes and brand. Channel 5 was a name; 'Five' is a brand. 'Five' as a brand reflects the evolution the channel is undergoing in programming and in becoming a more confident and distinctive viewer proposition.

On 27 February 2004, it was reported that Five and Channel 4 were discussing a possible merger. Channel 4 and Five announced in November of that year that merger plans were being called off. Early in 2009, rumours started re-surfacing about Five, Channel 4 and ITV conducting a three-way merger.[24]

Pearson Television and CLT (which by that time merged with the television businesses of Bertelsmann's UFA to form CLT-UFA) later merged, becoming RTL Group which became part of Bertelsmann and therefore owned the channel, after buying UBM's 35.4% stake for £247.6 million on 20 July 2005. The acquisition was approved on 26 August 2005. After Holleck became involved, he and McGrath brought on board Greg Dyke (later Director-General of the BBC) as interim CEO during the application and launch phase of the project.

On 18 November 2005, it was announced that Five had bought a stake in DTT's pay-TV operator, Top Up TV. It was said that the investment may lead to the development of new free and pay services on DTT, and other platforms.[25]

Following this, Five launched two new digital TV channels in autumn 2006 on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media:[26]

  • 5 STAR launched as Five Life on 15 October 2006, providing dramas, films, soap operas and popular factual and lifestyle shows. The channel previously aired pre-school shows under the Milkshake! banner. It was renamed Fiver in 2008, 5* in 2011 and eventually its current name in 2016.
  • 5 USA launched as Five US on 16 October 2006, offering drama, films, sport, comedy and youth programming from the USA. It was renamed Five USA in 2009 and 5 USA in 2011.

Desmond takeover (2011)

Five was taken over by Richard Desmond's publishing group Northern & Shell on 23 July 2010 for £103.5 million.[27][28][29] Desmond pledged to top up the broadcaster's total budget to about £1.5bn over the next five years, including new investment of £50m to £100m a year to boost programming and the equivalent of £20m promoting the channel and its shows in a marketing campaign in Northern & Shell publications.[30] The takeover was partly motivated by the opportunities for cross-promotion of Five from Desmond's newspapers (Daily Express and Daily Star) and magazines (including OK!). One commentator warned that "readers will be bombarded with references to Five. The opportunity for cross-promotion between his publications and TV channel are enormous."[31]

Upon completing his takeover of Five on 23 July 2010, Richard Desmond remarked; "I prefer Channel 5 to Five, but... we haven't met with the team yet to discuss these sorts of details".[32] The day after, Desmond's Daily Express newspaper noted that the channel's name was to change: "From today the rather vague 'Five' (Five what? Days of the week? Fingers?) reverts to the much more informative Channel 5".[2] On 11 August 2010, Desmond confirmed the restoration of the original name used from 1997 to 2002.[3] The restoration was revealed onscreen on 14 February 2011.

The relaunch also saw investment in a range of new programming with the debut of the (now-cancelled) nightly entertainment show OK! TV.[33][34] Audience figures for the relaunch were boosted with increased viewing figures for the main 5 News bulletins and improved figures for OK! TV in the 6.30 p.m. slot over its predecessor Live from Studio Five.[35] On 18 August 2011, Channel 5 relaunched Big Brother, starting with Celebrity Big Brother 8 and followed by Big Brother 12, having bought the rights to air the programme following its cancellation by Channel 4 in April 2011. The deal was worth a reported £200 million.[36] The show helped the channel's viewing figures and audience share to rise slightly year-on-year, from 4.4% to 4.5%, in 2012. It was only achieved by Channel 5 and BBC One later in 2012; all other terrestrial broadcasters fell in comparison.[37]

In 2013, Ben Frow, the channel's Director of Programming, revealed that the station would be moving away from broadcasting just American imports, by introducing shows from other countries such as Canada, Ireland and Australia to the schedules. The station has since begun screening Australian prison drama Wentworth Prison and Irish gangland series Love/Hate.[38]

Sale to Viacom (2014)

In January 2014, it was reported that Richard Desmond was looking at selling Channel 5 for up to £700 million.[39] BT, ITV, Channel 4, NBCUniversal, Endemol, Time Warner, Viacom, Scripps Network Interactive, Saban Capital Group, and a joint bid of BSkyB and Discovery Communications[40] were all bidders reportedly interested in acquiring Channel 5.

On 1 May 2014, Desmond agreed to sell Channel 5 to Viacom for £450 million (US$759 million).[5] The deal was approved on 10 September 2014 and at the same time it was announced that it was to co-commission programmes with its pay channels such as Nickelodeon and MTV.[41] On 15 April 2015, Channel 5 launched a British version of the American cable channel Spike (which would become rebranded as 5Spike, before taking on the Paramount Network name on Freeview channel 32).[42] On 1 August 2015, Channel 5's five advertising regions: London, South/Central England and Wales, Northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland were closed with Viacom considering them financially unviable. The closure of the advertising regions allowed Channel 5 HD for Sky HD viewers to swap with the standard-definition version of Channel 5 on the EPG.[43]

Under Viacom, the channel planned to increase its original programming output, increasing its budget by 10%. On 11 February 2016, Channel 5 also unveiled an overhauled brand, meant to reflect a new remit of "Spirited TV with an Emotional Heart".[44]

In December 2019, Viacom re-merged with CBS Corporation, forming ViacomCBS and making Channel 5 a sister to CBS in the United States and Network 10 in Australia. Since January 2020, the channels operate under the ViacomCBS Networks UK & Australia subsidiary (with the British CBS channels and Horror being part of a joint-venture with AMC).[45] Channel 5 received Channel of the Year honours from the Royal Television Society and Broadcast Awards in 2020, with judges for both recognising the network's expansion under ViacomCBS.[46][47]

In August 2021, ViacomCBS Networks International agreed a deal with Comcast Corporation's Sky Group[48][49][50] to launch the Paramount+ streaming service in various European markets via Sky's set-top boxes[51] and devices.[52] As there could have been the situation where a premium pay streaming service with the Paramount name was operating in a marketplace where there was a free-to-air Paramount television channel offering emergency service reality TV shows, wrestling and action B-movies, it was decided to rename the channel (which had previously merged with 5Spike) as 5Action,[53] with the change due to take place on 19 January 2022.[54] The rebrand, to realign Freeview channel 32 with that of its parent channel once again, was announced in December 2021, around the same time that it was announced that Channel 5 had joined the organisation responsible for Freeview[55] and Freesat, Digital UK, becoming the last of the UK's major Public Service Broadcasters to join the body.[56][57]

Broadcasting and reception

The British frequency plan had only allowed for four channels to be transmitted over the whole of the UK using analogue terrestrial transmitters, but the ITC identified that UHF channels 35 and 37 could provide coverage of around 70% of the UK population. These channels were used by many domestic video recorders for RF connection to television sets. Before the channel could launch, the broadcaster had to provide over-the-phone instructions or visit any home that complained, to either retune the video recorder or fit a filter to completely block the Channel 5 signal.

For many transmitters, channels 35 and 37 were 'out of group', which meant that the roof-top receiving aerials were not designed to cover Channel 5's broadcast channels. Many people either could not receive the channel at all, or required a new aerial. The broadcaster progressively added to the transmitters to improve the analogue terrestrial coverage since that time. From 23 April 1997, the channel was also provided on the analogue Astra satellite service, which enabled people outside the terrestrial reception areas to receive it via a dish.[58]

Unlike the other four analogue British television channels, the channel could not be received via analogue terrestrial broadcasts in many areas, including some parts of the south coast of England where the signal would otherwise interfere with signals from television stations in France; many areas of North East England, especially around the major Tyne & Wear conurbation; many areas in Scotland; most of Wales, most of Northern Ireland and parts of Cumbria. The channel is available on all digital platforms (Freesat, Sky satellite, IPTV and Freeview digital terrestrial, and also most cable operators). On 5 November 2008, the channel launched on digital satellite service Freesat, on the Astra 28.2°E satellites.[59]

It was the first analogue channel in the UK to use a permanent digital on-screen graphic, though this was removed in September 2002; however, the children's programming strands kept the DOG. In October 2007, the channel's logo returned to the screen.

Channel 5 is available in Switzerland on Swisscom TV and Cablecom.

On 30 September 2009, the channel temporarily ceased broadcasting on Freeview from around 9:30 am until midday. This was due to changes to the Freeview platform, which necessitated moving Channel 5 from a commercial multiplex to a public service broadcasting multiplex. This was in order to increase the coverage of the channel from around 70% to 99% of the country by using relay transmitters: these only carried the three PSB multiplexes but did not carry the three commercial multiplexes.

On 20 September 2019 it was announced that Channel 5 had joined BritBox, a digital video subscription service created by the BBC and ITV.[60]

Subsidiary channels

Channel 5 HD

Channel 5 HD is a high-definition simulcast of Channel 5. The channel launched on Sky channel 171 and Virgin Media channel 150 on 13 July 2010.[61][62] In Summer 2015, Channel 5 and Channel 5 HD switched places, with Channel 5 HD now being located in Channel 5's original space of channel 105.

Upon the launch, only the Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away were shown in HD, with the letters HD placed in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Channel 5 HD was due to launch on Freeview during 2010 but was unable to reach 'key criteria' to keep its slot.[63] In 2011 Channel 5 HD was the sole applicant for a fifth high-definition channel slot on Freeview,[64] with the aim of launching in spring or early summer 2012.[65] On 15 December 2011, Channel 5 dropped its bid to take the fifth slot after being unable to resolve "issues of commercial importance".[66] Channel 5 said it "remains committed" to having a HD channel on Freeview in the future.[66]

In October 2013, Channel 5 HD became a subscription channel on the Sky satellite platform. Previously, it was available as a free-to-view channel, but is now only available to Sky 'Family Bundle' customers or those with the HD pack.

On 27 April 2016 Channel 5 HD test transmissions started on Freeview Mux. BBCB (CH105).

On 4 May 2016, Channel 5 HD became free-to-air, coinciding with its launch on Freeview and Freesat.

Channel 5 +1

The timeshifted Channel 5 +1 was launched on Freesat, Freeview and Sky on 6 December 2011.[67] The channel was also expected to be made available via Virgin Media during 2012,[68] eventually launching on 25 October 2012. As with other similar '+1' services, Channel 5 +1 rebroadcasts Channel 5's entire programming output on a one-hour time-delay, though the 'Supercasino' commercial gaming block is blacked out on the timeshift. The launch of Channel 5 +1 meant all three of the UK's commercial PSB services – ITV/STV/UTV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – now have one-hour timeshifts.


My5 was a channel based on the most popular TV shows that are broadcast across all of the Channel 5 network. It was originally launched as Channel 5 +24, a 24 hour timeshift of the main Channel 5 schedule, and began broadcasting on 4 February 2014, available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.[69] The channel replaced 5* +1 on Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. The channel was originally announced as 5 Later, but changed shortly before launch. 5* +1 returned on Freesat channel 132 on 16 September 2014, and launched on Sky on 4 November 2014, replacing the timeshift of BET UK.

Until 1 February 2016, two versions of Channel 5 +24 were broadcast: evening primetime content was the same on both, but the version carried to Freeview had continuous teleshopping presentations outside the primetime block, whilst the version carried to satellite and cable viewers interspersed teleshopping 'windows' with a three-hour programming block, broadcast at 10 am, 4 pm and 3 am daily, comprising replays of the previous day's Channel 5 Neighbours and Home & Away episodes and the matinée movie shown on Channel 5 the previous afternoon – this was to get around restrictions that platform operators place on the amount of continuous teleshopping that can be broadcast on entertainment-category channels.

On 10 August 2016, Channel 5 +24 was renamed My5. The channel was no longer a 24-hour timeshift of the Channel 5 schedule but showed a selection of programmes from across the network of channels, similar to 4seven. The renaming brought it in line with Channel 5's online on demand service, also called My5. On 17 December 2017, it was announced that My5 would be replaced by a new channel, 5Prime,[70] with the channel showing critically acclaimed premium content and new commissions such as The Secret Life of Owls and The Yorkshire Vet Casebook.[71] However, on 3 January 2018 it was confirmed that the launch would not go ahead until at least early spring, with the broadcaster rethinking the new channel's strategy, look and potentially changing the name.[72] The new channel was launched as 5Select on 13 February 2018, with the My5 brand being used for an on-demand service that, by 2019, also included programming from Pluto TV, Together and Spark [73]



Logo used from 1997 to 2002
One of the original idents used by Channel 5 from 1997 to 2002

The original Channel 5 logo was a numeric "5" within a circle, sometimes accompanied by "candy stripes" of five colours (an idea based around the colour bars used by vision engineers to monitor picture output). Between 30 March 1997 and 15 September 2002, Channel 5 was the only UK terrestrial channel to display a digital on-screen graphic (DOG) in the top left-hand corner. On some programmes in the channel's early years, commercial breaks were introduced by an "end of part one" sign emerging horizontally from the DOG; when the programme returns after the break, this would become a "part two" sign, which then disappears back into the DOG.

On 14 April 1997, Teletext reported that 70% of viewers who took part in a poll were in favour of removing the DOG. Channel 5 refused to remove it though they did state since launch, the DOG had been toned down. Channel 5 explained their reasons for keeping the DOG on screen, in an interview on 30 March 1997, they explained that:[74]

Five's candy stripes are intended to join the Nike tick, the Levi's tab and the three Adidas stripes as signifiers of belonging...

Brand identity is the new holy grail of marketing... Product recognition is the winning move in the new consumer system. Five is being sold like a car or a running shoe. Not surprisingly it will be the first of our terrestrial channels to wear its own label on the outside...

"Consumers are very brand-conscious these days..." "...and we are definitely describing ourselves as a very modern channel. It would be curious to launch an old-fashioned channel without an image in the era of Next, Levi's and Nike.

On 6 September 1999, Channel 5 launched its new 'celebrity' idents, making the candy stripe more frequently used in idents and graphics, most notably in a hole in the backdrop of the idents. The set of idents were refreshed on 11 September 2000, as well as new idents from 4 March 2002, featuring the logo on coloured backgrounds by going widescreen. These idents were used until a major rebrand on 16 September 2002.


Logo used from 2002 to 2008

In 2002, Channel 5 took the decision to drop the word 'Channel' from its name and refer to the channel as 'five'. A new look launched on 16 September 2002 featuring live action footage with the new logo sliding in from the left of the screen. The new idents would sometimes be accompanied by pieces of chart music, such as Children by Robert Miles. The new look made frequent use of the Helvetica typeface. The informal name "Five" was used in early continuity announcements and idents containing a lower case 'five' had been used on the channel from the launch.

The final set with this logo was launched on 23 May 2006, based on four letter words such as Hope, Fast and Love. The idents at first did not feature the logo,[75] but the idents were revised on 2 January 2007 to include the word Five again.[76]


Logo used from 2008 to 2011

On 6 October 2008 at 9pm, Five aired a new look, replacing the lower-case "five" logo with an upper-case "FIVE" in a circle occasionally with pink, turquoise and purple light effects. The rebrand was conducted by DixonBaxi, and according to them, the new look was "more vocal, expressive and creative." The relaunch included a mix of live action and CGI idents; some of these included supermarket trolleys, the Food Chain, Invisible Superheroes and Drawings.

The look was refreshed in July 2009, making the logo notably larger. As part of the refresh, special idents were made for popular shows such as The Mentalist, Paul Merton in Europe, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Gadget Show and FlashForward with the 2008 set being withdrawn except for the 'news safe' CGI idents. In February 2010, an additional ident was introduced, featuring a CGI aurora forming the logo tilted on its side. This was used at closedown and, sometimes, before news bulletins.


Logo used from 2011 to 2016

After the takeover by Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell, major changes and considerable financial investment were promised by the new owners, alongside a return to the 'Channel 5' moniker.[77]

In October 2010, Desmond revealed the station's new look and confirmed its official on-screen identity as "Channel 5" during a press launch.[78] Desmond promoted these changes in his tabloid newspapers, the Daily Express and Daily Star.[79] There is also cross-promotion between Northern & Shell's newspaper and magazine titles with their websites promoted on the Channel 5 website. In 2010, afternoon movies on Channel 5 were sponsored by the Daily Express.

The new logo for Channel 5 replaced the "FIVE" logo on 14 February 2011.[80] The logo is a "5" in a red circle; the extended version of the logo has the word "CHANNEL" in upper case font to its left. The launch DOG revived the "5" motif, originally as a transparent '5' cutout in a bright grey circle. From 18 February 2011, the DOG was modified to a white semi-transparent '5' on a faint grey circle. The DOG was later returned to the transparent '5' cutout in a bright grey circle. On 5 March 2013, the DOG was moved into the 16:9 safe area, along with the rest of their channels.

A range of new idents for Channel 5 were launched in February 2011 incorporating the "5" motif featuring live action and CGI elements. They echo the predominantly red colour scheme of the channel's new corporate image, each based in a spacious studio with a large screen as the backdrop for the action. "Drums" features a drummer against a backdrop of animated shapes with the "5" appearing on a screen behind. In "Equaliser", a "5" contained in a cube emerges from a graphic equaliser display. "Imagination" features a battle between a toy dinosaur and robot figure with the "5" logo imposed in neon lights (outlined). "VIP" features a model walking on a red carpet formed from the big screen with the logo formed out of the camera flashes. "Car Chase" features a police car chasing another car which eventually crash 'through' the big screen with the logo being on the side of the police car. A generic ident with the Channel 5 logo pulsating on the studio screen was introduced in April 2012.[81] Several special idents have also been used for The Hotel Inspector, The Walking Dead, Impossible?, Big Brother, The Bachelor, Europa League, The Mentalist, Tamara Ecclestone: Billion $ Girl, It's All About Amy, How to Take Stunning Pictures, and The Gadget Show: World Tour also based around the same theme of the studio and screen.[82] Programme preview cards feature the font "Gotham" in upper case. Break bumpers featured the "5" logo in the left-hand corner of the screen with a pattern of circles radiating out from the logo in an alternating red and black colour scheme.

This logo was retired from use on 10 February 2016; a virtually identical logo would later be used by ABC affiliate WEWS-TV beginning in September of that year, albeit in a blue colour.


On 11 February 2016, Channel 5 launched a new logo across all of its properties—a segmented 5 which can be rendered with various designs and animations, alongside a new series of "cinematic" idents, and break bumpers with text messages on them. The new branding was meant to signify a more upmarket and "creative" positioning for the broadcaster; vice-president of marketing Jo Bacon explained that "Our core proposition is Spirited TV, with emotional heart, reflecting the diverse, lively, colourful and creative content that has been the driving force behind our new strategic approach." Critics noted similarities between 5's new logo and that of competitor Channel 4. However, Bacon contrasted Channel 4, explaining that "our content allows millions of normal people access to diverse entertainment with no fuss. We are a playful challenger brand and can appeal to all audiences. The rebrand is a big opportunity to really redefine the DNA of the Channel 5 brand and how it is perceived." 5Star and 5USA also adopted the new logo, while the catch-up service Demand 5 was renamed My5.[44][83]

The idents were replaced on 26 February 2020 with a new set focusing more on the logo on coloured backdrops mainly pink, green, orange, blue, teal and black.

Audience share

Below are the official audience shares in percent for Channel 5 since its launch in 1997. Data provided by BARB.[84] The channel consistently is the fifth most watched channel in country, usually being beaten by main rivals BBC One, BBC Two, ITV and Channel 4.

Audience share rose consistently for the first seven years of broadcast, reaching a peak of 6.6% in 2004. Two years later the audience share had dropped to under 5.0%. In 2012, the audience share rose to 4.5%, the first yearly rise for the channel in audience share since 2009. In July 2013, Channel 5 overtook Channel 4 when taking into account consolidated shares, for the first time. As of 2020 (the last full year published by BARB), the channel averages 4.1% of the total audience share.

Year Audience share


Channel 5, like all the public service broadcasters, broadcasts a wide variety of programmes. The channel mainly broadcasts documentaries and drama with a few entertainment programmes, reality television and quiz shows in the schedule. In the early days, the channel was known for a high number of imported American dramas, including the broadcast rights to NCIS and CSI spin-offs, NCIS: New Orleans and CSI: Cyber, all of which Channel 5 had acquired by October 2014.[97] By 2021, the rights to these shows had either expired or these titles were moved over to Channel 5's sister channels as the channel decided to focus its drama budget on its 'Original Dramas'.

The channel broadcasts some sports events not covered by other broadcasters, but is notable for having been for several years the only terrestrial channel to show cricket, in the shape of highlights of England's summer test matches and one-day games. It also broadcasts its own news service, which is currently produced by ITN but was produced between 2005 and 2012 by Sky News.[98]

The channel frequently sticks to a regular schedule during the day, which during the 2010s included a phone-in chat show at 9:15am (currently Jeremy Vine, which replaced The Wright Stuff in 2018), TV movies in the afternoon, after the Australian soap, Home and Away. 5 News programmes goes out between 5pm and 6 pm.

Flagship programmes for the channel include shows about farming, trains and royalty such as Our Yorkshire Farm,[99] Springtime On The Farm[100] and World's Most Scenic Railway Journeys.[101] Saturday night royal documentaries have been a ratings winner for Channel 5, with programmes about past members of the British Royal Family also getting good viewing figures, with a programme about King George V (whose reign was from 6 May 1910 until 20 January 1936) achieving a rating of 1.4 million viewers when it was first broadcast.[102]

The channel has picked up a number of formats in the last 20 years that have been previously broadcast on other channels. These programmes have included titles such as Celebrity Big Brother (ex-Channel 4, becoming shared between Channel 5 and MTV), Blind Date (ex-ITV) and the nightly quiz show Eggheads[103] (previously broadcast on BBC Two). In the early 2000s it was also the home of Fifth Gear, a continuation of the original incarnation of the BBC show Top Gear with ex-presenters Quentin Willson, Tiff Needell, and Vicki Butler-Henderson, presenting the consumer advice series on Channel 5,[104][105][106] whilst the BBC version of Top Gear became more of an entertainment car show.

Children's programming begins at 6 am every day with Milkshake! showing children's programmes includes Thomas and Friends, PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom, Little Princess, Fifi and the Flowertots, Roary the Racing Car Fireman Sam and many more.[107]

In 2021, Channel 5 scheduled a number of music documentaries and countdowns on Friday nights, with shows such as Greatest Hits of the 80s,[108][109][110] The Story of Songs[111] and Britain's Biggest 90s Hits[112][113][114] made by Viacom International Studios UK, the British production arm of owner ViacomCBS.

In September 2021, Ofcom approved the removal of Channel 5's 6.30pm news slot by in order for the channel to schedule Neighbours at 6pm and Eggheads at 6.30pm (with a new hour long 5 News programme going out at 5pm).[115][116][117] These changes saw the early evening repeat of Home and Away moved to 5Star, with the Australian soap only broadcast on the main channel at lunchtime. The first hour long-version of 5 News at 5 was broadcast by Channel 5 on 8 November 2021, with the programme still produced for the channel by ITN. 5 News at 5 is presented by Sian Williams and Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije, and has a live reporting team across the UK.[118]

Also at the start of November 2021, P. D. James adaptation Dalgliesh debuted on the channel with four million viewers, while Our Yorkshire Farm achieved a rating of 3,260,437. On Saturday nights, the network's other new drama The Madame Blanc Mysteries was drawing in over two million viewers to the channel.[119]

In February 2022, Channel 5 confirmed funding for Neighbours would be stopped with the production shutting down and the last episode aired 29 July 2022.[120][121][122][123] As Paramount Global's 10 Peach scheduled the last episode for 7.30pm on 28 July 2022 in Australia,[124][125][126][127] Channel 5 brought back the broadcast[128] of the final episode[129] a few days to 29 July 2022, with The Finale[130][131] becoming part of a Neighbours night alongside the Viacom UK[132] programmes Neighbours Made Me a Star: From Ramsay St to Hollywood[133][134] and Neighbours: All the Pop Hits & More, Especially For You.[135][136] In addition, the 'Spirit of Queensland' episode of the channel's Bill Nighy narrated luxury train travel series was held back a week[137] with the Al Andalus train journey from Seville[138] taking its place on 22 July and the Brisbane to Cairns trip's title amended to Australia's Most Scenic Railway Journeys to fit in with the Neighbours theme night on 29 July 2022.

On 7 September 2022, a two-part day-by-day documentary with Xand van Tulleken and Raksha Dave[139] called The Great Smog of 1952 started with the second episode scheduled for the following night. With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the concluding part was dumped from the schedule after the channel went into a rolling royal documentary mode for the rest of the night. Their schedules for the following days were then amended to take out a number of thriller films, the over-night casino slots and documentaries which may have featured members of the Royal Family, like a forthcoming episode of The Cotswolds and Beyond with Pam Ayres,[140][141][142] replacing these programmes with a range of their travel documentaries.[143] The second part of The Great Smog of 1952[144][145] was re-scheduled for 13 September 2022, with the documentary and a repeat of Paramount Pictures' award winning romantic drama film, An Officer and a Gentleman,[146][147] replacing a double bill of murder investigations. Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, The Yorkshire Vet and the last episode of The Pyrenees with Michael Portillo were kept in the schedule as previously listed, going out in hourly slots between 7pm and 10pm.

Even though the channel are known for their royal documentaries, on the day of the funeral Channel 5 decided to go with a counter-alternative schedule to all the royal coverage due to be shown on the BBC, ITV and Sky, with their regular Home and Away episode and Jeremy Vine dropped to make way for family friendly productions like The Emoji Movie, The Adventures of Paddington and Stuart Little.[148][149][150]

In November 2022, Channel 5 confirmed that one of their recent hits, Our Yorkshire Farm, would not be returning to the channel in its original form, with a three-part spin-off programme called Beyond The Yorkshire Farm: Reuben & Clive due to be launched on the channel on 6 December 2022. This series will show the father and son farming duo launching a digging business venture which sees them in the Cumbrian village of Langwathby digging out a series of ponds.[151][152]

Most watched programmes

The following is a list of the twelve most watched broadcasts on Channel 5 up to 5 March 2021, based on Live +28 data supplied by BARB.[153]

RankProgrammeUK viewers
1The Drowning
1 February 2021
2Euro 2000 Qualifier: Poland v England
8 September 1999
3World Cup Qualifier: Albania v England
28 March 2001
4The Drowning
2 February 2021
5All Creatures Great and Small
1 September 2020
6Independence Day
7 September 1999
7The Drowning
4 February 2021
8Celebrity Big Brother
18 August 2011
9All Creatures Great and Small
15 September 2020
10All Creatures Great and Small
6 October 2020
11The Drowning
3 February 2021
12The X-Files
8 February 2016

5 Text

From 1997 to 2011 Channel 5 operated its own analogue teletext service providing a basic range of programme listings, film summaries and programme previews of Channel 5 content. The service was provided by Sky Text until 2002 when Teletext Ltd. took over as provider of Channel 5's teletext service.[154] The service was withdrawn due to the digital switchover and the shift to internet and social media.

Channel 5 on Pluto TV

As of December 2021, Channel 5 has a number of channels streaming 24 hours a day on ViacomCBS' free TV app Pluto TV.[155][156] The channels include:

  • 5 Building Britain[157] (with titles including Michael Buerk's documentary Building Victorian Britain: The Great Stink and George Clarke's Build a New House in the Country)[158]
  • 5 Cops (the UK version of Pluto's Spike TV's Cops 24/7 channel,[159] featuring episodes from Police Interceptors)[160]
  • 5 Destination Britain[161] (programmes include Walking Britain's Lost Railways with Rob Bell and Britain By Bike With Larry & George Lamb)
  • 5 GPs[162] (with back-to-back episodes of GPs: Behind Closed Doors)[163]
  • 5 Cruising with Jane McDonald (Back-to-back episodes of the Jane McDonald travel show, broadcast on the channel between 2017–2021)[164][156]

5 on The Farm

5 on The Farm[165] is Channel 5's own festival which first took place at Cannon Hall Farm[166] in Cawthorne, South Yorkshire[167] on August Bank Holiday Weekend in 2021.[168][169] The three-day event was based around Channel 5's ...on the Farm series (featuring series regulars Rob and Dave Nicholson, chef Tim Bilton as well as presenters Adam Henson, Helen Skelton, Jules Hudson and JB Gill) with appearances from people featuring in a range of Channel 5 programmes associated with farming, food and animals. These people included Peter Wright and Julian Norton from The Yorkshire Vet, Reuben and Amanda Owen from Our Yorkshire Farm, Ben Fogle from New Lives in the Wild, Graeme Hall from Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly and Stefan Gates from Secrets of your Supermarket Food. The festival also has an area for children branded as the Milkshake! Meadow which (in 2021) featured presenters Derek Moran, Jen Pringle and Kemi Majeks[170][171] alongside characters from Milkshake! including Peppa Pig, Milkshake! Monkey and Fireman Sam.

Criticism of the channel

In a Radio Times interview with Mark Lawson,[172] Channel 5's director of programmes Ben Frow gave answers to some of the regular criticisms viewers had over the past few years about scheduling. Firstly, Channel 5 is known for giving programmes numerous programme titles, with the listing in the Radio Times not matching the EPG or the actual programme title. Secondly, a six-part series can be launched in a regular slot and then be dropped from the schedule after a few weeks (with the third series of Rob Bell's Building the Impossible[173][174][175] actually dropped after one episode and replaced in its 9pm slot by the repackaged The Dalgliesh Mysteries).[176] Frow apologised to all the Radio Times readers who were annoyed by these regular occurrences, but explained that when listings go to press he does not know what the competition from other channels might be and so may have to retitle a programme to make it stand out on the EPG or temporarily remove that show from the schedule until there is a better place for it. For example, the programme Billion Dollar Holiday City[177][178] which turned up in the Channel 5 schedule on 17 July 2022 before new episodes of holiday series Bargain-Loving Brits by the Sea and The Cruise[179] was a revised and retitled version of late-night programme Secret World of Las Vegas: 24/7[180][181] which originally was broadcast by the channel in 2019, and put into production as Vegas 24:7 by Viacom Studios UK (now VIS UK).[182]

On 22 June 2022,[183] Paramount Plus launched in the UK, with Channel 5 showing the first episode of streaming series Halo on that night as a 'taster'.[184] However the marketing around this episode made it look like it was a new free-to-air series that was going to continue on the channel and on Paramount Plus every week, which resulted in the first of a number of Feedback letters to the Radio Times[185] about the practice of 'taster TV'. This time the viewer complained that this was just a 'puff piece' to get people to subscribe to a paid service and thought the practice might be against the channel's PSB commitments, while in the magazine's 20–26 August 2022 issue,[186] after one-off starter episodes of Halo, La Brea and The Box[187] had been shown on the channel, a piece of viewer criticism headlined "Taster TV is no good to me" was highlighted as the magazine's Letter of the Week.

Queen Elizabeth II funeral controversy

On 19 September 2022, the funeral of Elizabeth II was occurring. BBC One, BBC Two, and ITV broadcast the funeral, while Channel 4 broadcast a documentary about Elizabeth. However, Channel 5 played the 2017 film The Emoji Movie instead of the funeral. The move had mixed reactions. Some mocked the channel and insulted it for disrespecting a former member of the Royal Family.[188][189] Other people online actually praised the channel for airing child friendly alternatives during a dark day in the nation.[190] Other kid movies were aired on the channel, including the 1999 film Stuart Little. Channel 5 has yet to comment.

See also


  1. 1080p25 sometimes only on Freeview.
  1. As of December 2021.
  2. As of June 2022.


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