KYTV (BBC2, 1989-1993)
After the grim demise of On/ITV Digital, the service was replaced by Freeview. In December 2002 the radio station BBC7 was launched. One of my favourite features was the Comedy Club, where classic comedy shows from the BBC archive were repeated on weekdays from 10pm to midnight. This was where I first heard Radio Active, which would transfer to TV as KYTV.
Radio Active originally ran on BBC Radio 4 from 1981 to 1987 and was a parody of local radio, supposedly being “Britain’s first national local radio station”. The BBC7 repeats were the first time that I heard this show and I thought that it was great. There were lots of great parodies of various formats and adverts that were around at the time and it was delivered by a great cast.
The format transferred to TV in 1989 as KYTV and ran for three series. The TV version was essentially a parody of the earliest days of satellite TV. Sky had just launched and was little watched, and there were parodies of the various types of low-budget programmes that could be seen on the channels. In the second series KYTV merged with BSE TV, satirising Sky buying its short-lived rival BSB.
There were some great characters including the amusingly useless presenter Martin Brown, far too many other presenters called Mike, and lots of impressive spoofs of what was happening in TV at the time.
The first two series of KYTV were released on DVD, but the third and final series was pulled shortly before its release date without explanation. This is a great shame as it would be great to complete the set and it would be a suitable tribute to the work of the late Geoffrey Perkins who was well as appearing in the show was also a successful producer behind the scenes on many great TV and radio shows over the years.
I would say that Radio Active/KYTV and the cast are the 1980s equivalents of On The Hour/The Day Today. They were both terrific parodies of the culture of news and entertainment of the time, and of the five main cast members, Angus Deayton would go on to the biggest success, but all of the cast were very good and equally deserve acclaim, including the underrated Michael Fenton-Stevens and Philip Pope (who also wrote all the music on the show). It’s definitely another great show.