This press release, produced in 2000 by the Marketing department, gives a rough idea of the history of Channel Z to date.
'Channel Z Television was formed in 1998 by the visionary genius Sir Art Chorlton, who was knighted in 1996 for his lifelong service to the garden centre industry. He chose to build the studio in Milford, Derbyshire, the part of the country where he had often visited, after being evacuated there as a young boy of eight during the second world war. ’I always retained great affection for Milford’, said Sir Art recently. ’It was the place that inspired me as a child.’
'Before leaving the industry to form Channel Z Sir Art Chorlton was Managing Director of a national chain of garden centres called ‘Let’s Grow Things‘. It was always his dream to form a successful satellite television station and that dream is still intact. Channel Z came into being as a result of discussions in 1997 between Sir Art and Geoff Smith, head of PDT Broadcasting Inc.
'Their first appointment to the fledgling station was Michael Macintyre, whose once brilliant management career was in the doldrums. He was appointed Station Chief in May 1998, two months before the station went on the air. His wife Ellen Macintyre was appointed Head of Programmes at the same time. Ellen’s career spans fifteen years in programme making with ‘Pets Don’t Tell’ and ‘Bag Of Surprises’ two of her best known creations for terrestrial television. It was the first time that either had worked in satellite broadcasting.
'Before working at Channel Z Michael has spent nearly sixteen years working in the leather industry, with a particularly keen interest in suede. He cites among his favourite television programmes, ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and ‘Gardeners Question Time‘. Both Michael and Ellen are committed 120% to making Channel Z Television a huge success, with Michael quoted in one broadsheet as declaring enthusiastically: ‘I am committed 120% to the success of our darling flagship station, if that is possible.’
'Ratings were slow to build up initially, with only five people watching the first transmission on 16th July 1998. Indications suggest that these first viewers had tuned in quite by accident. The first programme to be broadcast was a quiz show - ‘Happy Gang‘, hosted by the irrepressible Lester Bennett. ‘Happy Gang’ was axed after three days. In its stead came the weekday early evening soap ‘Turbulence‘, which has gone on to become one of Channel Z’s top-rated programmes. ‘Turbulence’ charts the every day ups and downs, lives and loves, heartaches and heartbreaks of a dedicated team of air traffic controllers. Research has shown that the soap, or daily serial as we like to call it, is most popular with those who are housebound or infirm. It also scores very highly with the under fives, who apparently are particularly keen on the theme music ‘Flying Away’. Another popular show, during its recent three month run, was the frenetic daytime quiz ‘Regretfully Speaking’, starring that bounder in a big suit Tony Chance-Hero. Contestants battle each other through a number of arduous literature based rounds. Only one can emerge the victor - and to the victor the spoils! The winning contestant receives a trip for two to the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where they will be the honoured guests for the day of the Right Reverend Keith Stiles and Professor Jonathan Handy KBE.
'The station is currently undergoing a massive increase in funding to bring more quality programmes to your screens - so watch this space!'
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