Although it is widely regarded that the BBC inaugurated the world's first public television service in 1936, the launch of DMTV - Des and Mick Television - actually took place 124 years earlier.
The pioneer who helped DMTV get off the ground was little-known inventor Des Wogie-Beard who was the first to discover that images could be transmitted over the air. However, his initial experiments, involving throwing oil paintings into the air attached to a helium balloon were not too successful.
|DMTV's first ever ident, from 1812. Many were surprised when, in 1998, Des spent huge amounts of money designing a new logo which was exactly the same as this one|
DMTV has always been a pioneer. It launched the world's first phone-in programme in 1829. Station bosses couldn't work out why they weren't getting any callers - until it was pointed out that the telephone hadn't been invented yet.
|Mr D. Jeremiah Wednesday presenting DMTV News in 1884|
Some of those 19th century programmes included The Charles Dickens Show, Oscar Wilde Interviews, the comedy show Father's Army set at the Battle of Trafalgar, and the northern sitcom Last of the Autumn Cider which is still running today. There was also the early makeover show Changing Parlours and the big money game show Who Wants to Win a Farthing?
Little else is known about the early history of DMTV. However, in 1965 the channel launched a new ident.
|The first ever version of DMTV's famous rotating 'smiling face' ident, which was introduced in 1965|
The 1960s were heady days for DMTV - in that ten years it went from a channel that absolutely no one watched, to a channel that almost absolutely no one watched. And even fewer wanted to watch.
Many famous long-running programmes were launched in the 60s, including the sports show Blandstand, the satirical review That Was The Week That Was The Week That Was The Week That Was The Week That Was The Week That Was The Week That Was and the soap Bore-a-nation Street.
The decade's most famous drama productions included The Forsyth Saga, which dramatised the life of Bruce Forsyth, and the Play for Last Week classic, Cathryn Come Home, focusing on a family's search for their lost goldfish.
In 1968 history was made as DMTV showed its first ever long distance broadcast, from the local carpet shop, a whole 28 feet from the studios. (It was the year Des bought a longer cable for the camera).
The next year DMTV made even greater history as it broadcast live pictures of man walking on the moon. Tens watched the historic moment, despite the unclear speech and fuzzy pictures - due to the fact that DMTV's broadcast was produced by sticking a camera through the window at next door's television who were watching BBC1.
|Whoops! DMTV launched its first colour ident in 1970, but due to the fact that Des couldn't afford to buy a colour television camera - or a colour television for that matter - it wasn't seen it in its full two colour glory until 1976 - when the next ident had just finished being made|
The 1970s were the classic era for comedy on DMTV. Sitcom greats included Faulty Towers, about a hotel where everything went wrong, Brrrr, It's Freezing Here, Dad! set in the Antarctic, and department store sitcom Are You Going to Buy That Book You've Been Standing There Reading for the Past Ten Minutes Or Not?
It was also a decade for memorable drama, include the seafaring saga The Straight Line and The Six Husbands of Elizabeth Taylor.
|A young Des Wednesday presenting DMTV News in 1972|
The film review programme Movie 71 was launched in 1972. Children's favourites The Wimbles of Wombledon Common made their debut in 1975, and Des'll Fix It, in which Des fixed childrens' broken toys, appeared in 1976.
DMTV courted controversy in 1977 - a pop group called The Nasty Gang, who were obviously from the rough end of town, were brought onto the early evening magazine show This Morning at the last moment and shocked viewers when they said 'fiddlesticks' for the first time ever on DMTV.
|An updated version of the 1970 ident (left) was introduced in 1976, three days after DMTV finally started colour broadcasting. It was replaced in 1986 by the channel's first computer generated ident, a static image Des knocked up on his Acorn Electron|
Alternative comedy arrived on DMTV at the start of the decade with Not the Not the Not the Nine O' Clock News, and The Old Fellows. Meanwhile, mainstream sitcom hits didn't come much bigger than Bye-de-Bye and Tony and Jean, while Only Dipsticks and Zebras scored record viewing figures of over 15.
In July 1981 DMTV carried live coverage of the wedding of the century - of Bert Cludwright from the hardware shop and Gloria Bardwick of the fishmongers.
1984 saw DMTV launch The Gihugeous Breakfast which saw the channel broadcast before 2.00pm for the first time ever. Complaints that it was shown when most people were having their lunch were countered by controller Des Wednesday who stated he was "never up before midday".
Other memorable 80s shows include the childrens' classic Milkman Mick, wartime police comedy 'Ello 'Ello 'Ello, and Grimewatch UK which focused on dirt across the country.
|A radical new ident was launched in 1992 as the famous spinning face was dropped, and replaced by DMTV's first ever 'sad' face, obviously unhappy at getting splattered in red paint|
The 1990s was a decade of new technology - and controller Des Wednesday was too stingey to splash out on any of it. Many viewers noticed a downturn in the quality of DMTV.
However, the decade did see some hits including comedies Blokes Behaving Extremely Well, Absolutely Rubbish and The Slow Show, the extremely light entertainment show Des's House Party and the satirical quiz I Haven't Got Any News For You.
In the late 90s accusations of dumbing down began to be levelled at DMTV, as they launched The Gerry the Gerbil Show in which household pets get into fights with each other, to the delight of the studio audience.
There was more criticism in 1998 when reports claimed that 85% of the year's budget had been spent on changing the channel's logo. "It was more like 90%," commented Des. This coincided with a marked reduction in the number of expensive quality drama productions and an increase in cheap docu-soaps (Chemist, Library, The Dustmen, Portaloo, Outside Des's Window). Des claims there was no link.
In 1999 DMTV spent 95% of the annual budget launching News 25, which has so far proved to be an unmittigated disaster.
|1998, and the launch of the digital age, saw the DMTV face enter a new era - depicted on a small party balloon flying over some fields. However, it wasn't long before the balloon found itself facing the axe, as Des came to feel that the ident had no relevance to people's lives. This comes as no surprise to viewers who feel the entire channel has no relevance to their lives|
DMTV found itself embroiled in a series of scandals in the 2000s. First of all, in an episode of the reality show Celebrity Big Bore-ther, that well known celebrity Jayne Hoodie (who works on the checkout in Sainsbury's) shocked viewers by branding fellow celebrity housemate, film star Sharon Shuttleworth (she used to develop the negatives at Boots before everyone bought digital cameras), a 'ratbag'. Following an Ofcom investigation, Celebrity Big Bore-ther has now been axed.
2006 saw the launch of DMTV Fun!!!, a quiz channel run in the small hours of the morning on which viewers were invited to phone a premium rate phone line in order to take a stab at seemingly impossible-to-answer questions. Viewers were asked, for example, to name 'Ten Hit Songs by Brother Beyond', and 'Ten Things You'd Find in a Frog'. Following an Ofcom investigation, DMTV Fun!!! has now been axed.
DMTV found itself in trouble with the regulator once again in 2007 when it was found to have used station staff to pose as quiz contestants on its radio station Des and Mick FM. Ofcom said they became suspicious when they heard listeners apparently taking part in competitions, when it is well known that Des and Mick FM doesn't actually have any listeners. Competitions have now been axed.
And there was yet more controversy when DMTV was found to have rigged all the winners in the annual DMTV Awards ceremony. Boss Des Wednesday said, "It's not fair when you're not even allowed to win all the awards at an awards show devoted solely to your own channel." The DMTV Awards have now been axed.
There isn't much left on DMTV now.
|2003 saw the unveiling of DMTV's latest idents, which controversially saw the ditching of the famous smily face after nearly forty years. In its place came a new ident set which depicts scenes of old people sitting around. The theme is 'Lethargy and Complete Lack of Movement', a concept which will resonate with all DMTV viewers, since anyone with an ounce of energy left in their body will have been able to pick up the remote control and change over to a decent channel|
DMTV entered the noughties in its worst ever position. The channel has tiny viewing figures, cheap and unoriginal programming, and has been accused of spreading its limited resources too thinly.
Controller Des Wednesday refutes all these allegations, and is putting into effect a plan to launch 42 new channels for digital viewers - click here for details. "With these channels, we hope to fulfill our viewer's expectations in all areas of the television market. Unless he's gone down the pub."
Copyright © Robert Williams 2000-2008