Friday, 15 May 2009

A review of Freeview

Advantages: Great to have a bigger choice

Disadvantages: English programming is covered throughout UK, but regions not reciprocated

Freeview is a relief for those of us who refuse to go with Sky etc. My beef with Sky is not actually paying for their service, but I have heard from so many others that when you get a problem you better be patient with call centres - I am not. 

Freeview is a nice antidote for that feeling your friends impose on you because you haven't got Sky. 

No longer do you have to admit that you are only a pauper with the four and a half channels offered by 'council telly'. 

Now you can be proud and loud and admit to having access to forty or so channels of utter crap! 

Right, I exaggerate a little. You have the regular BBC1, BBC2, ITV(1) and Channel4. You also get Channel 5, which is great when you realise you hadn't been missing out on anything all along - yep all these years later some parts of Britain were still not getting Channel 5. I have a feeling people might have complained and got it switched off! 

What you have to look forward to, if you haven't already got a Freeview box and digital in your area, is not much different really. 

BBC3 is the BBC's outlet for new drama, talent, comedy, films, and accessible news. So this is where to look for the newer stuff if you think BBC1 and 2 are becoming stale and bland. 

BBC4 tends to output drama, documentaries, music, international film, comedy and current affairs. So in my opinio BBC3 is an extension of BBC1 and BBC4 and extension of BBC2. 

ITV has its extras too. The old ITV channel is now ITV1. On top of this you get ITV2. ITV2+1 (repeates an hour later), ITV3 and ITV4. ITV2 tends to have mainly American output. ITV3 tends to be reruns of old favourites, such as Lovejoy, Rising Damp, Taggart etc. ITV4 is 'male' oriented with cop shows, sport and other 'blokey' stuff. 

Sky3 gets a wide berth from me. so I can't say much about it. Think in terms of Britain's Roughest Pub and 'Baldy Bloke from Eastenders meets up with other Baldy Hardmen, and endless holiday adverts. 

What was once the History channel is now branded Yesterday. I really rate this channel. I would say most of this is stuff that didn't see too many ratings when originally aired on the mainstreram channel. It does what it says though - you get Yesterday. Mainly in the sense of documentaries, but you also get 'historical' drama such as Tenko. 

The Channel4 brand has also expanded, there is Channel4+1, and More4. More4 is essentially lifestyle, documentary, and arts programming and probably more like the original Channel4. Film4, once a paid for service. is now on Freeview. I understand this broadcasts from about lunchtime, through to dawn. As can be expected from Channel4, don't expect the blockbusters. Do expect 'niche' films and the ocassional foreign language film. There is also from time to time a cracking selection of oldies. 

Then there is Dave! The most stupid and ridiculous name for a channel. Apparently chosen because we all know a bloke called Dave. And this is indeed a 'blokey' channel. Expect to see a lot of that buffoon Jeremy Clarkson and his clowns that hang off his every word, i.e. Hammond and some toff whose name I don't care to recall. You will also see another toff in endless repeats of QI. 

If you thought Dave was a ridiculous name for a channel, get this! 

Dave has a '+1' channel as well called.... 

wait for it... 

Dave Ja Vu 

I reckon the bloke who thought up that name must have got the sack eventually 

I reckon the bloke who thought up that name must have got the sack eventually 

Ha Ha... do you get it 

Dave Ja Vu, you know Deja Vu.. No? Oh never mind. 

Other than the channels mentioned I don't watch any of the others, apart from BBC News and Setanta Sports, though you need a card and subscription for that. 

There is also a selction of shopping channels and naughty channels. Most freeview boxes allow you to lock these out, so you don't see them. 

My biggest criticism of Freeview is that I don't get to see any Scottish television (I am in England), or any other regional programming for that matter. There must surely be some room on the airwaves so that those living in the UK, but outwith Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, can see some of that programming.

Summary: Lots of channels for free. The way it should be as licence payers and advert watchers.

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