Media Lifeline: Channel 4

Since launch, the channel has covered minority interests with no shortage of controversy.

1982: Channel 4 has always done its bit to further the lot of minorities. This is apparent from launch in 1982, with its soap, Brookside, which tries to make us think better of Liverpudlians. There is also a bid to glamorise retired teachers, through Countdown.

1983: Its series Minipops, which features scantily clad pre-teen children caked in tarty slap, dancing provocatively and flashing their knickers while singing contemporary songs with sexually charged lyrics, proves less successful. Fearful that this would only appeal to those interested in the sexualisation of children, one enraged critic asks: "Are you people out of your minds?"

1994: Friends launches and attempts to do its bit to raise sympathy for spoiled New Yorkers. And the Ian Hislop-fronted Canterbury Tales attempted to do justice to a troubled institution led by men in dodgy costumes, the Church of England.

2007: The new millennium dawns with Channel 4 doing its bit for UK twentysomethings in Big Brother, which becomes an annual event. They're banged up in East London and allowed to escape one by one. And care in the community can be found closer to home in 2007, with a proposed strand of shows designed (we must assume) to highlight the plight of programme planners. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Wank Week is, appropriately, pulled.

2010: In an attempt to make the most of the success earlier in the year of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Channel 4 announces, at its autumn "upfront" programme presentation, that it is planning a strand of gypsy-themed programming. Channel 4 argues it's a sociological exploration of what happens when ancient traditions and modern fashions collide. In a non-confrontational manner, naturally.

Fast forward ...

2012: In its boldest move to date, Channel 4 commissions a series to raise sympathy for the plight of former senior executives at the broadcaster. Distraught that the former chief executive Andy Duncan had been reduced to working for a car dealership, despite receiving a £1.48 million pay-off, programme chiefs also agree to resurrect the annual Telethon fundraiser to protect others from suffering such a plight.

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