The Mag (Channel 5, 1997-2000)
Let’s take a look back at another show that featured in the early days of Channel 5. When the channel launched in 1997, it was good for people like me who didn’t have satellite or cable to have some more choice. Although a lot of it wasn’t exactly going to top the ratings, there were some attempts at a wide range of programming including soaps, game shows, sport, and gosh, even some comedy.
Among the launch schedule was also an attempt at a Saturday Morning-style show that was aimed at younger viewers and ran for hours. As I was in my early-teens at this time I thought it was worth a look. It was promised to be “a radical and highly entertaining departure from the norm” and made by young people for young people. The Mag was shown live on weekend afternoons and was originally hosted by Josie D’Arby.
Now this significance of this is that Josie was poached from Children’s BBC to host the show. And in an another unlikely career swerve, for a short while she ended up on the TV comedy circuit, including being in the cast of the second series of BBC2’s Look Around You. Along with the Milkshake! strand in the morning, The Mag would be Channel 5’s commitment to programming for younger viewers, it was all very exciting.
The Mag originally ran from about 1pm-3:15pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and was the usual mix of interviews, competitions, and pop music videos, and there would also be a band in the studio who were rather fond of playing their music. If they were lucky, a celebrity guest might even turn up. There would also be a couple of spin-offs that were The Mag Plus, a few highlights shown to fill a gap in the morning, and The Mag Upfront, when they had seemingly run out of cartoons to show.
Among the features shown as part of The Mag were the great cartoon Daria (that I reviewed a while back), the not-so great sitcom USA High, and Sister Said, a documentary about a girl band’s visit to Spain. Although I doubt any of this gave the production team of Live & Kicking much to fear, I was pleased that at least Channel 5 tried something like this, and I do remember watching some of the early editions.
After a while though, as always seems to happen with these things, there ended up being several format changes and relaunches, such as the show getting increasingly shorter, the presenter line-up changing, and even the title being shortened to just Mag. It seemed that Channel 5 had some difficulty dropping the show, but after a few years it did finally vanish altogether, and it has no Wikipedia entry. At least a few other enjoyable shows including Harry And Cosh and The Tribe turned up to fill the gap.