The Radio Times and a Pair of Scissors

Introduction by Graham Kibble-White

First published August 2004

On July 21, 2001 five OTT contributors met up to play a game that’s trotted out regularly at the Edinburgh Television Festival – namely: Schedule The Channel.

Each contributor had been allocated a channel randomly, and their task was to come-up with a seven-day schedule that would represent their own vision of how best that channel should be run. To focus their minds more, it was decided that they’d be pitching a notional new autumn season 2001 line-up.

As far as possible, each channel had to be constructed to conform to all restrictions and stipulations imposed upon British terrestrial broadcasting. There could (and indeed should) be dealing across channels between “controllers” but these would have to be detailed upon presentation of the schedules. The controllers for each channel were as follows:

BBC1 - Graham Kibble-White
BBC2 - Jack Kibble-White
ITV - Barney Green
Channel 4 – Ian Jones
Channel 5 – Steve Williams

To insure that all of the rules were properly adhered to, two regulators were appointed; Jane Redfern and Ian Tomkinson. These regulators would also have the final say on the day, casting judgement over how well each controller had fared.

To further complicate matters (and to add to the fun) it was decided that each controller would have to incorporate three personalities/teams/production personnel into their line-up. The three would be properties that each channel has recently acquired in real life, or currently exploit heavily. A further ruling was that the controllers would have to use their “contractual obligations” in a manner that would realistically see a return on the funds invested in them (so no shoving Donna Air on at 2am to host Job Finder). The contractual obligations stacked up as follows:

BBC1 - Charlie Dimmock, Johnny Vaughan, Gaby Roslin
BBC2 - Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen, Kathy Burke, Tony Garnett
ITV - Cilla Black, Ant & Dec, Ross Kemp
Channel 4 – Richard & Judy, Donna Air, Iain Lee
Channel 5 – Keith Chegwin, Melinda Messenger, Jerry Springer

A further, final, twist in the tale was devised. Upon arriving to present their schedules, each controller would write four “wild card” scenarios – one for each of their rivals. These would be completed in secrecy and handed to the regulators to issue once all of the controllers had presented their channels. No one would have any foreknowledge of the wild cards assigned to their channel – they would have to think on their feet.

Although the channels here are presented in traditional order, the actual order in which each controller made their pitch was, again, decided at random. Hence, Steve Williams (C5) took to the floor first to present his channel. He was followed by Graham Kibble-White (BBC1), Ian Jones (C4), Jack Kibble-White (BBC2) and then Barney Green (ITV).

The results of this experiment were originally published on OTT in August, 2001. After a couple of months they were then withdrawn from the site, finally republished three years later to the day. To mark their return, our five notional controllers decided to revisit their former stomping grounds and each provided a new afterword, detailing in the light of subsequent events where they felt they’d got it right in their scheduling attempts – and where they hadn’t.

The following articles detail the construction of each channel, how they were received, the wild cards that were issued, the final regulators’ comments and those new conclusions fuelled by hindsight and three years’ worth of TV schedules.