Creator / Channel Five

Channel 5, known as Five from 2002 until 2010 before reverting to its old name, was the last national analog terrestrial television broadcaster to be launched in the United Kingdom. It went on air in late March 1997, starting with an exclusive Spice Girls video.

Britain's UHF transmitter network was originally designed to transmit four networks over most of the country. 5's frequencies had to be squeezed between the existing frequencies, often at lower power to avoid interference, and in some parts of the country its signal was weak or nonexistent. In addition, the frequency at which it was broadcast could cause interference with VCRs, leading to people around the country having to retune their VCRs. In order to increase its availability in these areas, it became the first terrestrial network to duplicate its programming on satellite. Today it is available on all digital platforms and analogue in some areas.

Unlike The BBC, ITV and Channel 4, Channel 5 was not organized by the British government. Although it uses public airwaves, and is therefore subject to public service broadcasting restrictions, Channel 5 has not had so many restrictions placed on its output as the other terrestrial channels.

The channel used to be notorious for its pornographic content after the Watershed, a reputation exacerbated by an exec who supposedly declared that the channel was about "the three F's — films, football, and fornicating". She actually said that the channel was about "more than the three F's", but was misquoted. Whether the misquote was intentional, however...

On the flipside, Channel 5 is home to the Milkshake! slot which airs Peppa Pig in the UK, and is arguably the most watched slot among preschoolers in the UK when said show was airing, giving CBeebies a run for it's money. Even after Peppa Pig ended, the repeats on the slot still draws a considerable amount of preschooler audiences to the channel.

Although some relics of this sordid past crop up every once in a while (the late night schedules are now mostly devoted to sport and Super Casino), Channel 5 is now best known as the British home of a number of U.S. crime dramas, including every component of the CSI Verse (with which it has a severe case of Adored by the Network). It's also shown Flash Forward, The Mentalist, Grey's Anatomy, 30 Rock, Law & Order (as well as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Charmed, NCIS, House, Californication, Xena: Warrior Princess, That '70s Show, Once Upon a Time and others. (However, the channel [which loves procedurals] has yet to demonstrate any real loyalty to any series which doesn't have "CSI," "Law And Order" or "NCIS" in the title - The Mentalist and Flash Forward aside (and the latter was a Short Runner anyway), most of the other shows in that last sentence were dropped before they ended, with only Charmed managing to find another free-to-air channel to finish its run.) They also picked up Angel when Channel 4 let it go after its disastrous handling of the first season left the second season buried in a graveyard slot... and handled the third almost as disastrously before burying the fourth in a graveyard slot and not bothering with the fifth. Channel Five also famously paid over the odds for Joey, a show which gave them one of their highest-ever audiences for the first episode...and then sank without trace. Channel 5 is now the home of Big Brother, having picked it up from Channel 4.

It has two digital offshoot channels, "5USA" and "5*" (Five-star). The former shows a lot of U.S. imports, while the latter depends largely on Home and Away and Neighbours (although this also airs several American series, like Gilmore Girls). And unfortunately the offshoots are also prone to cutting loose non-cop shows, such as Archer, Breaking Bad and Parenthood (although the first two did find other UK homes).

Channel 5 was formerly owned by the Radio Television Luxembourg [RTL] Group, who own a number of other European channels, but was then sold owned by British newspaper baron Richard "Dirty" Desmond's Northern and Shell, owner of the Daily Express and Daily Star, plus a few more, shall we say, "adult" satellite channels. This ownership explains the undue prominence given to Channel 5 shows by the aforementioned papers. In 2014, Desmond sold the channel for £450m (or US$760) to US-based media company Viacom (the first time ever that an American media company has owned a British free-to-air television network), who have pledged to increase the budget for original programming - the channel has only aired one drama, the semi-improvised Suspects in four years.

Should not be confused with the 1980s UK home VHS distributor of the same name.

Alternative Title(s): Channel 5