Up Yer News (BSB Galaxy, 1990)
British Satellite Broadcasting is one of the more interesting stories in the history of British TV. It was designed to be a rival to Sky, and it was considered to have the superior technology, and the superior programming. But it struggled to get on air, and by the time it did, Sky was already well established, and BSB ended up closing just before the end of 1990.
I never had a squarial (as they were called), and I don’t know anyone else who did (although I did find a BSB advert break on an old tape once, I’ve no idea who recorded it, but it was proof that someone somewhere was out there watching). The history of BSB has been well documented elsewhere, but it consisted of five channels, promising films, sport, entertainment, and so on, at any hour of the day that people wanted it.
For a while I have been interested in trying to see some of their shows, and I wondered if they had ever made any comedy or game shows, and recently I found something on YouTube that I felt was worth reviewing. The main BSB channel was called Galaxy, and at around 9pm every weeknight it would feature a satirical look back at the day’s events (BSB’s news service was fairly threadbare, and this must’ve stretched it some more).
Up Yer News was 15 minutes long, and it beat Have I Got News For You (which launched later in the same year) to the post with its mocking of the great and the good on a regular basis whilst also aiming to be a fresh and lively news package. I don’t know if it went out live, but as it was a topical show it clearly had to be put together very shortly before transmission.
One of the most interesting things about Up Yer News was that it featured the best of the up-and-coming comedy talent, including Robert Bathurst, Jo Brand, Mark Heap, Alistair McGowan, Sandi Toksvig, and many others, who took part in sketches and offered their views on current affairs. Just about everyone who appeared would go on to bigger things.
And Up Yer News was also significant as among the contributors were just about everyone who would go on to be a major player in On The Hour and its TV sequel The Day Today, widely regarded as the best satirical comedy shows of the 90s. Seeing that Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Chris Morris and so on perfected their style here and went on to further success means that this show should be more acknowledged than it is.
It seems that being shown five nights a week (along with a weekend repeat) means that Up Yer News ended up running out of steam rather quickly, and it ended when BSB closed altogether, but it did feature a lot of comedy talent’s earliest TV appearances, but I don’t know if they’re been preserved as BSB’s archive is reported to be in a right old state. Maybe the few editions online are all that survives now.