One of the first things I wrote on here about was my memories of having OnDigital, which was followed by a piece about of some of the programmes I remember watching on UK Play which was my favourite channel. Tomorrow I’ll bring you some more memories of another channel that I watched a lot, this time BBC Choice.
Before that though, here are some more memories of having OnDigital. It was so exciting to finally have lots more channels. We never really considered having Sky Digital, if we did, there would have been so many channels to pick from I could never have coped with it. Because we took the offer of having an OnDigital box for free when you subscribe, we had to call a number to activate the box. There were a few deals available, and you could also get Sky Sports and Sky Movies, but they cost a lot more so we never had those.
It took a really long time to get through, but when it happened, more channels appeared, which was great. However, because of where our aerial was pointing we didn’t pick up everything that was available. It took a while to realise we’d get better reception by wiggling the aerial around and finally get everything we needed by doing an “add channels”, something that we were reluctant to do at first because we thought it’d break the box or something but we got there eventually.
It was always exciting doing an “add channels” because you never knew what would turn up. When some were found it was great, until we looked at them and they were usually just test transmissions or blank screens. Every month we used to get a magazine which featured everything that would be coming on all the channels, and we kept a few of those.
It was weird watching these channels sometimes because the ratings must have been very low, I recorded a few things but not too many, and I didn’t keep some of the tapes, so a lot of the shows aren’t preserved by me or anywhere online. And of course, OnDigital soon started to run into trouble. After a while the monthly magazine became weekly and was renamed On7, and in 2001 to try and help give the company a boost it was renamed ITV Digital. Because of this the magazine was renamed TV7. We didn’t keep any from this era unfortunately.
They didn’t even bother to update the software for the boxes so they still said “OnDigital” to the end, and as the months went by and the financial troubles worsened it became clear that having these channels wouldn’t last for much longer, so we tried to make the most of it. At the end of April 2002 ITV Digital finally went off the air. We kept the box which hardly featured any channels until the launch of Freeview later in the year.
It was a really disappointing end, but I do have lots of good memories of watching these channels, and I want to share some more with you because it is surprising just how little from this era is online, especially considering it played such a big part in my life in the late-90s/early-00s. TV has definitely changed a lot in the years since digital TV launched and was a new thing, now the switchover is complete it is the norm.