Monday, June 15, 2009

The Catastrophe of the Yesterday TV Channel in the UK

As a "professional historian" I used to really enjoy many of the programs on a channel called UKTV History. The programming was based on the huge archive of BBC history programs.

Since it "rebranded" to Yesterday, it has become a disaster. All we get is crud, apparently scrapped together, that seems dedicated to time-filling. There is often in fact more history on the various Discovery channels. The schedulers do not seem to be aware that there were other events in history than the Second World War, and non-stop series about Hitler's generals.

Plus, if drama is to be shown, there is much better stuff in the BBC archives than long tedious hours of Catherine Cookson serials. What about Fall of Eagles? What about Jane Lapatoire in the Viper's Brood about the Plantagenets? Or Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R? Or I, Claudius?

Or what about present the great PBS series on American history, e.g. the series on Baseball or the American Civil War?

What about a serious effort to show historical films with a discussion about what they mean? What about showing old Chronicle programs? Or all those well research Open University programs.

And what about having programs on at a regular time so that weekly watching is OK?

The programmers at Yesterday seem to have no imagination, and not to care.

It is a disgrace.


Steve Muhlberger said...

But Paul, it is not a history channel, but a nostalgia outlet.

Anonymous said...

well its not quite as bad as you make out they are showing some good shows Check the website

Paul Halsall said...

Steve, when I first got back to the UK I was quite impressed by UKTV History. I admit my admiration declined over time, but YESTERDAY is just awful.

And, to Anonymous, if you click through to the channel's website you will find almost all the commentators on the site share my views.

It's all very odd. The BBC archives, from which YESTERDAY draws, have some really great historical dramas, and truly wonderful documentary series (e.g. Chronicle).

It's as if the channel does not actually have a programmer. [I note that the sister channel EDEN, does a much better job of presenting the BBC's natural history archive.]