May 1, 1987: After Dark on Channel 4

After Dark was a British late-night live discussion programme broadcast on Channel 4 television between 1987 and 1997, and on the BBC in 2003. Roly Keating of the BBC described it as “one of the great television talk formats of all time” and the Daily Mail as “the most intelligent, thought-provoking and interesting programme ever to have been on television”. In 2010 the television trade magazine Broadcast wrote “After Dark defined the first 10 years of Channel 4, just as Big Brother did for the second”.

Broadcast live and with no scheduled end time, the series, inspired by an Austrian TV-UK-05-01-1987programme called Club 2, was considered to be a groundbreaking reinvention of the discussion programme format. The programme was hosted by a variety of presenters, and each episode had around half a dozen guests, often including a member of the public. Guests would be selected to provoke lively discussion, and memorable conversations included footballer Garth Crooks disputing the future of the game with politician Sir Rhodes Boyson, MP Teresa Gorman walking out of a discussion about unemployment with Billy Bragg, and Oliver Reed drunkenly kissing Kate Millett during a programme that asked “Do Men Have To Be Violent?”.[5]

The show ended in 1991 but a number of one-off specials and a BBC revival followed, before the programme finally came to an end in 2003. In 2004 After Dark was characterised as “legendary” by the Open University and in 2014 as “the most uncensorable programme in the history of British television”. [Wikipedia]

Watch a trailer for an After Dark discussion on satanism with host Tony Wilson on the VHS Video vault YouTube Channel.


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