The wide range of television channels and streaming services available to the young people of today means that kids are very unlikely to believe that we once had just just three ‘sides’ to choose from. Thankfully, in November 1982 BBC1, BBC2 and ITV were joined by Channel 4, a new station which introduced us 80s kids to a mature world of programming that up until that point we could never have dreamed of.
From saucy European naughtiness to crazy Friday night chat shows, below are ten Channel 4 programmes from the 90s that we absolutely loved watching as teenagers.
10. The Adam and Joe Show
Bringing us hilarious real-life pranks, over-the-top comedy characters and remakes of movies starring their collection of toys, The Adam and Joe Show was a 90s Channel 4 classic that sadly only ran for 22 episodes.
The school friends continued their partnership when they worked together as radio DJs, but Joe Cornish is now working as a film writer and director, whilst Adam Buxton hosts a popular podcast.
It has recently been revived for a modern audience, with Sir Trevor McDonald replacing the late Sir Patrick Moore as the titular GamesMaster, but no one could ever replicate the digital magic that this video game-based TV show provided us with during its 90s heyday.
GamesMaster was set in a different, fictional location in each series, and it originally aired between 1992 and 1998, with original presenter Dominik Diamond being replaced by Dexter Fletcher at the start of series three.
Our parents would likely have been extremely shocked by some of the controversial content we witnessed on Eurotrash, a show that was presented by Antoine de Caunes and the French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Aired late night, the long running series showcased all the weirdest and rudest cultural phenomena from the continent.
Eurotrash proved to be a big hit, attracting an audience of up to 3 million each week, which made it Channel 4’s most popular show during the mid-1990s.
7. TFI Friday
A steady stream of genuinely great guests, modern music acts and childish games meant that we made sure never to miss a single episode of TFI Friday. The show’s provocative content made it particularly must-see; originally broadcast live, the show got in trouble after a succession of guests (most infamously Shaun Ryder) said the F-word before the 9pm watershed.
After that, TFI Friday was pre-recorded and went out twice on Friday evenings – once at 6pm, then again after 11pm – and the later broadcast didn’t censor the ruder parts. Guess which version we always tuned in for!
6. The Big Breakfast
We jump from one end of the day to the other as we remember what has to be the greatest TV breakfast show of all time. Starting in 1992, The Big Breakfast presented a light-hearted, casual and frequently silly take on early morning TV that was far removed from the more formal breakfast shows on BBC1 and ITV.
Initially presented by Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin, The Big Breakfast was presented by many different TV personalities during its decade-long run including Johnny Vaughan, Denise van Outen, Zoe Ball and Kelly Brook.
5. The Crystal Maze
If you had told us that we would become enamoured with a TV show that largely consisted of individuals panicking after being locked in a small room, we would probably have thought that you were a few crystals short of a dome, but The Crystal Maze very quickly became one of our very favourite game shows.
A game show like no other, The Crystal Maze took contestants and viewers on a time-hopping adventure with all manner of challenges along the way. The show has been revived in recent years, but give us the original series with Richard O’Brien any day.
4. The Word
Originally presented by Terry Christian alongside the likes of Mark Lamarr and Dani Behr, The Word was another controversial late night live show notable for pushing the boundaries of taste and decency – but it was also famous for giving a lot of 90s musical legends their big break.
Nirvana performed Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time outside the United States on the show, whilst it also saw the debut of Oasis, who rocked onto the scene with a great rendition of Supersonic.
3. Football Italia
The arrival of Sky Sports in the early 90s meant a lot of football suddenly disappeared from terrestrial TV. To help fill this void, Channel 4 bought the rights to Italian football, as the country was responsible for some of the most exciting work in the sport at the time.
The popularity and quality of ‘Serie A’ may have taken a dive over the last couple of decades, but our memories of watching Football Italia on a Sunday afternoon, particularly its memorable theme tune and suave presenter James Richardson, are unlikely to ever say “arrivederci”.
2. Brass Eye
A satirical portrayal of current affairs news programmes, Brass Eye was the brainchild of Chris Morris, who wrote and presented every single one of its seven hilarious episodes. It was in a similar vein to Morris’ earlier BBC2 series The Day Today, but at Channel 4 things were allowed to get a whole lot more provocative.
The show may have courted a large amount of controversy, but whether it was exploring the subjects of drugs, science or crime, Brass Eye was a genuine must-watch.
1. Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush
The third Channel 4 show on our list to be presented by Chris Evans, Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush was a chaotic game show that gave contestants the opportunity to win tickets to an exotic holiday destination.
The show was originally rejected twice by Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade, who referred to it as being “like amateur’s hour,” but Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush ended up being a big hit.