November 1982 saw the birth of a new channel with a unique remit. Born out of years of lobbying by independents and enabled by the Thatcher government’s desire to break the broadcasting duopoly of the BBC and ITV, Channel 4 provided access for voices, opinions and creative work that had not previously been seen on UK television. By commissioning small independent producers, a network of regional workshops and reaching out to communities to speak directly to larger audiences, programmes with a completely different set of perspectives could be aired. The quality and originality of many of the resulting programmes would change the face of UK broadcasting – a celebration of difference and diversity that continues to have an effect on British broadcasting today.

We showcase work from the channel’s first 10 years, much of it now forgotten and ripe for reappraisal. Through the accompanying panel discussions and introductions, we contextualise the programmes’ ground-breaking significance and draw parallels with the channel’s current priorities and values. As the channel issues its latest provocation – ‘Here Comes Trouble’, a call for short films with radical ambition, the season will culminate in an address by Channel 4’s current Chief Content Officer Ian Katz.

Marcus Prince and Rod Stoneman, season programmers

Music and Youth

Channel 4 revolutionised the presentation of pop music and youth programmes. Join the cast and creatives of shows like The Tube to discover how.

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Channel 4: Comedy discussion and Q&A + The Comic Strip Presents: Five Go Mad in Dorset

The Channel broke the mould of television comedy, creating new stars in the process.

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Channel 4’s TV Drama Revolution + discussion and Q&A

Our panel of cast and creatives discuss what makes a uniquely Channel 4 drama?

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A Very British Coup + intro by author Chris Mullin

The British establishment join forces to topple a newly elected left-wing Labour Government in one of Channel 4’s finest dramas.

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Diversity + panel discussion and Q&A with John Akromfrah

Pioneers of diversity on television discuss their ground-breaking work including a screening of the award-winning Handsworth Songs.

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Out and Proud

A warm and humorous portrait of young lesbians, and an episode from the first networked lesbian and gay 1980s TV series.

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Access / Direct Speech

Access enabled communities of interest to define and express themselves by speaking directly, shifting the balance of power and altering the processes of mediation previously brought by ‘television professionals’.

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Channel 4: The Television Revolution

Members of the original Channel 4 Commissioning teams tell the inside story of how a revolution in broadcasting was created.

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The new channel began by “saying the unsayable”; here we look at just a few examples.

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Who Needs Channel 4? with Channel 4 Chief Content Officer Ian Katz

Chief Content Officer Ian Katz discusses his priorities for the channel with some of the channel’s major stars.

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Channel 4: Then and Now

A two-day conference exploring the historical, cultural, social and political importance of the channel.

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See our Preview of Channel 4’s Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.

Explore thousands of titles from across Channel 4’s history in our free Mediatheque at BFI Southbank.

Regional screenings and events will be taking place at these venues across the UK: Arnolfini, Bristol; Filmhouse Edinburgh; Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast; Y Drwm, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Check back here for updates.