Because for every lucky Bath household which can currently get Freeview, there are quite a few more who can’t, unless they’re prepared to shell out for cable or satellite.
That’s because some people (including we Dixons) pick up their TV signals from the mighty Mendip transmitter, which already caters to viewers’ every digital need and will also come round to your house and cook the Sunday roast if you ask it nicely; whereas others (including we Dixons before we moved out of Walcot – sorry, Lower Camden) have to get by on the not-quite-so-mighty Bathwick mast, which at present churns out four of the five standard channels and gets grumpy if you just ask it for a cup of tea in the morning.
But now the big digital switchover is coming (even if it doesn’t reach Bath until 2010). And when it does, all of us stand to benefit from those bright, bubbly, information-rich digital channels that you may possibly have seen being promoted just the teensy-weensiest bit on the existing terrestrial networks.
However – there’s always a however – there will be some limitations.
The Bathwick transmitter will only be obliged to carry the “public service” elements of the brave new digital world, which means that for those people who live in the shadow of Alexandra Park some unavailable commercial channels may still be unavailable.
So here, for those without the benefit of 20/20 foresight, is your Official Guide To The Digital Channels You May Not Be Getting in 2010.
- Price Crash: the televisual equivalent of a dodgy-looking geezer driving into a supermarket car park, rolling up the side of his van and flogging off unbranded DVD players and cutlery sets at unbelEEEvably low prices. You’ll be amAAAzed at the bargains: you’ll also be amazed at how it always seems to be the same five people from Cleethorpes taking part in the Dutch auction. The presenters all have deep orange tans and are apparently on their way back from the sort of party you hope your daughter will never get invited to.
- TCP: Not associated with Price Crash. Oh no: much, much nicer. Sells craft kits, lavender velour trouser suits and miracle beauty products from a studio tastefully decorated with marbling and tie-backs to look like a front room circa 1987. The presenters dress to match the decor and are hoping to get onto GMTV.
- Nigel: Following the trend of giving TV channels men’s names, Nigel will offer wall-to-wall repeats of Have I Got News For You, A Question of Sport and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Viewers will find themselves whisked into a deeply confusing temporal vortex in which Tony Blair is Prime Minister, England has high hopes of winning an international sporting trophy and petrol costs less than £1.20 a litre. Special guests will include Rick Wakeman. The jokes will be of a similar vintage.
- 4KIDZ: animated fun for the under-fives. From Latvia. Bobo the Bear is sad because Snitch the Wizard has hidden the Rainbow Leaves from the Happy Tree. All very educational, and everything will be fine by bed-time. Which is at 7.00pm. As if.
- Hitz From Da Hood: this week’s top 40 R’n’B bangaz, presented by Dizzy Rimes, Busta Jam and/or Da Basement MC.
- Hoodz Wid Da Hitz: same but subtly different, with a PA from MC Dizzy and Jam Busta live in da basement.
- Teachers’ TV: On between 4am and 6am, when all teachers of this writer’s acquaintance are either fast asleep or kicking said writer for snoring. Don’t even think about recording it: not even the techiest tech teacher knows how to work the DVD.
- Top Cops: More repeats, this time of all those action series your dad wouldn’t let you watch because they were supposedly too violent. Relive the 70s stylings of The Professionals and The Sweeney. Marvel as grown men with lapels the size of Belgium say “manor” and “slag”. Gasp as the same yellow ochre Ford Capri smashes repeatedly into the same wall on the same disused airfield. Be amazed that anyone ever found Hammer House of Horror even remotely scary. Reel incredulously at the string vests of the submarine crew in UFO. Wonder if you should get out more.
Yes, there’s more choice for all in the new digital future. But in the meantime, it’s Friday, it’s five to five, it’s...
This column was first published in The Bath Chronicle on February 21 2008. Copyright Bath News & Media 2008.