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E4 logo
Launched 18 January 2001
Owned by Channel 4 Television Corporation
Picture format 16:9/4:3, 576i SDTV
1080i HDTV
Audience share 1.3% (0.6% for E4+1) (March 2009, BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Sister channel(s) Channel 4, More4, Film4, 4Music
Timeshift service E4+1
Freeview Channel 28
Channel 29 (+1)
Freesat Channel 122
Channel 123 (+1)
Sky Digital Channel 136
Channel 137 (+1)
Channel 215 (HD)
Astra 2D 10729V 22000 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 143
Channel 144 (+1)
UPC Ireland Channel 112
Channel 113 (+1)
Cablecom Channel 164 (CH-D)
TalkTalk TV Channel 14
Internet television
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
TVCatchup Watch live (+1) (UK only)

E4 is a digital television channel in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, launched as a pay-TV companion to Channel 4 on 18 January 2001. The "E" stands for entertainment, and the channel is mainly aimed at the lucrative 15 - 35 age group. Programming includes US imports such as Friends, The O.C., Smallville, Veronica Mars, The Cleveland Show, Glee, The Sopranos, What About Brian?, Desperate Housewives, 90210, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Scrubs, and British shows such as Shameless, Hollyoaks, Skins, The Inbetweeners and Misfits. Some of the imports, e.g. Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty are screened on E4 up to one week ahead of their Channel 4 broadcasts. Its most successful broadcast to date was on 9 January 2003 when an episode of the hit U.S. series Friends pulled in over 2.4 million viewers.[1]



On 16 December 2004 Channel 4 announced that the subscription channel would return to digital terrestrial television. From its launch until the closure of ITV Digital it was available as a bonus subscription channel. It became part of the Top Up TV subscription scheme until 27 May 2005, when the channel became available on Freeview, with the potential to increase advertising revenue by attracting a larger audience.

E4 was also available as part of the basic Sky Digital satellite subscription channel package, due to a long term contract with BSkyB it only became free-to-air in 2008. This change happened on 6 May 2008 and the channel joined Freesat alongside with More4.

In May 2005 E4 introduced "First Look", showing episodes of popular programmes such as Hollyoaks and drama series such as Lost and Invasion in advance of transmission on Channel 4.

Logo of E4+1

In October 2005 More4 was launched to complement Channel 4's digital channels. ER and The West Wing subsequently moved from E4 to More4.

E4 launched a Republic of Ireland service in June 2002 which has become the second most popular non-terrestrial channel in Ireland with 1.1% of the audience; Sky1 is the most popular.[2].

Since 2006 E4 has sponsored the E4 UdderBELLY venue (part of Underbelly) at the Edinburgh Fringe and Brighton Festival. The venue took the form of a giant upside cow in the purple colour of E4's logo.

In July 2007 it was announced Channel 4 would be launching E4 Radio, the first of a network of channels to be broadcast on DAB radio. The station was planned for launch in July 2008 and aimed at a similar demographic to its sister television channel, [2] however this launch date was later delayed. In October 2008 Channel 4 announced it was abandoning its plans for digital radio, and thus scrapping the E4 Radio proposal.

On 14 December 2009, a high-definition simulcast of E4 launched on Sky+ HD channel 215.[3][4] Unlike the standard definition channels from Channel 4, which are free to air, and the free-to-view Channel 4 HD, E4 HD is only be available to viewers with Sky's HD Pack subscription. On 8 March 2010, Virgin Media announced that E4 HD be added in April.[5]


Most Watched Broadcasts

The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on E4, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 28 February 2010.[6]

Rank Show Episode Number of Viewers Date
1 Friends 9.02 - The One Where Emma Cries 2.46 million 9 January 2003
2 Friends 9.01 - The One Where No One Proposes 2.38 million 9 January 2003
3 Friends 9.03 - The One With the Pediatrician 1.93 million 16 January 2003
4 Friends 9.11 - The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work 1.85 million 6 March 2003
5 Friends 9.04 - The One With the Sharks 1.84 million 23 January 2003
6 Big Brother's Big Mouth 2006 Launch Night 1.68 million 18 May 2006
7= Friends 8.24 - The One Where Rachel Has a Baby Part 2 of 2 1.67 million 6 June 2002
7= Glee 1.07 - Throwdown 1.67 million 15 February 2010
8= Friends 9.05 - The One With Pheobe's Birthday Dinner 1.64 million 30 January 2003
8= Friends 9.10 - The One With Christmas in Tulsa 1.64 million 6 March 2003
9 Glee 1.06 - Vitamin D 1.61 million 8 February 2010
10 Glee 1.08 - Mash-Up 1.60 million 22 February 2010

E4 Music

In August 2005, following the close of that year's Big Brother, E4 introduced the E4 Music programming block. The slot initially ran through much of the morning/daytime schedule, though was later reduced to mornings only, with the amount of scripted comedy and drama screened in daytime increased.

Prior to the launch of E4 Music, E4 was off-air during daytime for much of the year, only going on air in daytime for rolling coverage of reality shows such as Big Brother. The introduction of E4 Music led to E4 broadcasting 24/7 all year round. Initially, E4 Music would take a summer break to allow Big Brother coverage to replace it, but in later years Big Brother coverage was reduced, allowing a cut-down E4 Music to run during the summer.

In 2008, the launch of 4Music as a channel led to questions being asked about the future of E4 Music. However, E4 retained its commitment to music content, stating that E4 Music had been commissioned to run until at least the start of Big Brother in 2009.[7]

At 10am on Thursday 4 June 2009, the day before the launch of the 2009 Big Brother series, E4 Music ceased broadcasting.

Big Brother coverage

When the Big Brother reality show is being transmitted E4 devotes much of its schedule to live coverage from inside the Big Brother house; interactive features that give access to additional camera angles have also been transmitted. The channel also has Big Brother voting options, "Big Brother" spin off shows such as Big Brother Live, Big Brother's Little Brother, Big Brother's Big Mouth, Big Brother's Diary Room Uncut and Big Brother highlights repeats. Big Brother coverage is among the highest-rating programming on the channel, and comes at a time when most of the year's American imports have ended.


E4 has become somewhat notorious for its strange promotion campaigns, initially narrated by the infamous ‘voice of E4’, the late Patrick Allen. Since Allen's death in 2006, the similar voice of Peter Dickson has been used. Trailers often make use of dry humour and phrases which, at first, do not appear to make any sense. Past examples include:

  • “Big shiny films in your dinky little home!”
  • "Coming To You, Straight into Your Telly Box"
  • “Second chance Sunday — not just a bunch of repeats, honest”

Programme trailers sometimes have the narrator repeating things that characters have said, such as, in a trailer for Ugly Betty that includes one character asking Betty "Why are you crying in the bathroom?", the narrator immediately asks "Why is Betty crying in the bathroom?!". And on another occasion he says "Oh No! Kerry Katona must be double booked." commenting on a cameo by Victoria Beckham. Sometimes the narrator appears to interact with the characters of the programme, especially notable in recent trailers for Miss Match and What About Brian.

Films are usually gently ridiculed in their promotion, such as with the voice of E4 telling viewers they "probably will" guess the ending of She's All That, naming actress Kim Cattrall as "That slaggy one from Sex and the City" when advertising Big Trouble in Little China, and re-dubbing a scene from Entrapment where the two characters are running along a rooftop before being caught in a helicopters' search light with "Catherine Zeta-Jones! This is the old man police!". There is also quite heavy use of British words which have generally fallen out of circulation, such as ‘ruddy’ and ‘gaff’.

E4's continuity sends up the channel's Friends-reliant schedule - while in the past, announcements would generally be the same for example "Now it's time to relax with Friends", more recently the announcers have been more inventive with phrases such as "....after an episode of Friends we've shown so many times the tape's gone a bit wobbly" before a Series 1 episode which indeed had a distorted soundtrack. There have only been a handful of days since the creation of E4 when Friends hasn't been shown. It was announced on 10 February 2010 that E4 and Channel 4 would stop airing the programme in autumn 2011.

On one occasion when a playout-error caused part of an episode of Desperate Housewives to be repeated, continuity announcer Dominic O'Shea said, "I know we repeat ourselves a lot on E4 but that was of course a technical fault. Hopefully we'll have it fixed by the time it's repeated on Sunday,"[3] playing on the fact that many of E4's imported American drama programmes are shown at least twice for each episode.

Following the US première of Glee the first episode was aired as a sneak peek on 15 December 2009, one month before the actual première. Due to the launch of the second series of 90210 and the UK première of Glee both premièred with a "double bill" effect, the first two episodes of the second series of 90210 ("To New Beginnings" and "To Sext or Not to Sext") was screened on 5 January 2010, with the first two episodes of Glee ("Pilot" - which was already screened on 15 December 2009 as a sneak-peek and "Showmance") on 11 January 2010.


Further reading

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