After Dark (TV Series) - Start On Channel 4

Start On Channel 4

Jeremy Isaacs, the founding Chief Executive of Channel 4, wrote an account of the network's early years in his book Storm Over 4. In it he selects twenty-six programmes ('a very personal... choice'), including After Dark, which he describes as follows:

"Open-ended talk. Lifted by an astute producer... from Austria's Club 2, it began at midnight and went on till it finished. The aim, discussion between people with burning experience of the subject; e.g., the murderer and the judge. A participant might wait long to utter but in the end his turn came. Viewers could fall asleep in front of it, wake up and find the discussion just hotting up."

The programme allowed Isaacs to realise one of his longest-held ambitions. "When I first started in television at Granada... Sidney Bernstein said to me that the worst words ever uttered on TV were, I'm sorry, that's all we have time for. Especially since they were always uttered just as someone was about to say something really interesting." After Dark would only end when its guests had nothing more to say.

From late April in 1987, Channel 4 screened a Nighttime strand, a mixture of films and discussion programmes that ran until 3am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Channel 4 launched After Dark as an open ended format broadcast on Friday nights (later Saturday nights) as an original piece of programming that would be inexpensive to produce. There was no 'chair', simply a 'host', and the discussion took place around a coffee table in a darkened studio. Due to its late-night scheduling the series was dubbed After Closing Time by one critic.

The series was made by production company Open Media. The series editor, Sebastian Cody, talking about the programme in an interview in 2003, said that "Reality TV is artificial. After Dark is real in the sense that what you see is what you get, which isn't the case with something that's been edited to give the illusion of being real. Other shows wind people up with booze beforehand, then when they're actually on the programme they give them glasses of water. We give our guests nothing until they arrive on set and then they can drink orange juice, or have a bottle of wine. And we let them go to the loo."

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