Friday, April 08, 2011
Retro Friday: When Channel 9 Was Turned Over to the British
A lot has been written over the past few years about British TV imports in America. Channels like BBC America and shows such as "The Office" (and its U.S. remake) have served as proof that there's an appetite on this side of the pond for content created in the U.K.
And yet, it's truly not a new trend. Some of the best U.S. comedies of the 1970s ("All in the Family" and "Three's Company" among them) were based on British formats. "Benny Hill" was a late night syndicated staple. PBS, back when people actually watched PBS, made much of its name on imported British drama.
And here in Los Angeles, the appetite for British programming was so strong that in June 1979, KHJ Channel 9 (now KCAL) turned over a week of its primetime airwaves to the Brits. Thames TV, which was then the most prolific producer of British fare, programmed a full week of Channel 9 -- right down to the 10 p.m. newscast, which was made over for the week to emulate British-style news. (I can't imagine any TV station being willing to mess with its programming like that today, even in the summer.)
Back in 1979, KHJ/Channel 9 was owned by RKO, which also had done a similar thing on its station in New York, WOR/Channel 9 (now WWOR). Here, in another installment of "things I found in an old issue of TV Guide," are the ads from Channel 9's week-long experiment as "Thames 9":