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2003 in British television


2003 in British television

This is a list of British television related events from 2003.


  • 1 January – The Studio closes after nearly two years on air.
  • 2 January – BBC One airs Dot's Story, an EastEnders spin-off telling the story of Dot Branning's experiences as a wartime evacuee.
  • 6 January – Scottish and Grampian adopt the ITV celebrity idents package (introduced in October 2002), albeit with their own logos attached and with idents featuring a lot more Scottish personalities alongside those of ITV1.
  • 11 January – Girls Aloud singer and former Popstars: The Rivals contestant Cheryl Tweedy is involved in an altercation with a nightclub toilet attendant, Sophie Amogbokpa, in "The Drink" nightclub in Guildford. She is subsequently charged with racially aggravated assault (after allegedly calling Amogbokpa a "jigaboo"[1]) and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
  • 13 January – ITV soap Crossroads is relaunched under the stewardship of producer Yvon Grace, and with a decidedly camp feel. However, Grace is criticised by fans for her ambivilence towards unresoled storylines from the 2001–2002 run.[2]
  • 15 January – Launch of Ftn and UK Bright Ideas.
  • 3 February – UK screening of the Martin Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson on ITV1.[3] The revelations of Jackson's controversial personal life in the programme is one of the many factors that leads to his trial for child molestation.
  • 9 February – After a long delay, BBC Choice is replaced by BBC Three. The opening night is simulcast on BBC Two.
  • 9–10 February – ITV screens the controversial two-part drama The Second Coming, set around the return to Earth of Jesus Christ in modern-day Manchester.[4][5]
  • 12 February – In the weeks leading up to the Iraq War, the BBC screens a series of programmes examining the case for and against war. The centrepiece of this is Iraq Day: The Case For and Against War, a 90-minute programme on BBC One on 12 February. Presented by Peter Snow. the programme analyses the possible implications of a war in the Middle East and attempts to gauge public opinion on the subject with a viewers poll.[6]
  • 22 February – After an absence of many years After Dark returns to British television.
  • 24 February – 19.43 million watch [1]
  • 3 March – Channel 5 airs Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See, the "rebuttal video" issued in response to the Martin Bashir documentary Living with Micharl Jackson.
  • 20 March – As the 2003 invasion of Iraq begins many broadcasters abandon regular programming to provide up to date coverage of unfolding events.
  • 22 March – ITN journalist Terry Lloyd is killed while covering the events of the Iraq War after he and his team of two cameramen and an interpreter are caught in crossfire during fighting near the Shatt Al Basra Bridge in Basra,[7] between US and Iraqi forces. His body and that of his Lebanese interpreter, Hussein Osman, are recovered and it is later discovered they were both shot by United States forces.[8]
  • 31 March – Carlton Cinema, a movie channel is axed by Carlton.
  • 7 April – Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court lasting seven weeks the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? contestant Charles Ingram, his wife Diana Ingram and Tecwen Whittock are convicted by a majority verdict of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception". The Ingrams are each given 18-month prison sentences suspended for two years, each fined £15,000, and each ordered to pay £10,000 towards prosecution costs.[9] Within two months of the verdict and sentence, the trial judge orders the Ingrams to pay additional defence costs orders, Charles £40,000 and Diana £25,000.
  • 2 May – The BBC announces that the character of Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) will return to EastEnders later this year, 14 years after departing in an episode where the character was believed to have died as a result of being shot.
  • 12 May – Former cricketer Phil Tufnell wins the second series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here!.
  • 24 May – Jemini, the UK's entry for the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest receives Britain's worst Eurovision result after failing to attract a single point.[10]
  • 29 May – POP launched in the UK (2003–present)
  • 30 May – ITV1 broadcasts the final episode of Crossroads after the series was axed due to declining ratings. The finale sees hotel boss Angel Sampson (played by Jane Asher) waking up to find she is a supermarket checkout girl and that her tenure as boss of the Crossroads Hotel was all a dream.[11]
  • 11 June – The shopping channel is launched.
  • 28 June – The game show Judgement Day premieres on ITV, hosted by Brian Conley. It is cancelled after two episodes due to very low ratings, the second quickest cancellation in UK TV history; the first was Heil Honey I'm Home! in 1990, cancelled after one episode.
  • 20 July – The BBC confirms that Dr David Kelly, found dead from suspected suicide two days ago, was the main source for a controversial report that sparked a deep rift with the government.
  • 13 September – BBC One airs Perfectly Frank, an EastEnders spin-off episode featuring the character Frank Butcher establishing a nightclub in Somerset.
  • 25 September – The Daily Telegraph newspaper is first to announce the return of popular sci-fi drama series Doctor Who after a 14-year break.[12]
  • 29 September – Den Watts makes his return to EastEnders.
  • 5 October – Coronation Street shows its first gay kiss.
  • 5 October – Psychological illusionist Derren Brown controversially plays Russian roulette live on Channel 4, though with a slight delay allegedly in case the stunt went wrong. The stunt is later revealed to have been a hoax.[13]
  • 20 October – Cheryl Tweedy is found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm after claiming self-defence during her trial, but cleared of racially aggravated assault.[14] She is sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay her victim £500 in compensation, as well as £3,000 prosecution costs.[15]
  • 23 October – Longtime broadcaster on the BBC and ITN, and latterly news anchor on Sky News, Bob Friend retires.
  • 30 October – ITV screens a special live episode of The Bill to mark the show's 20th year.
  • 4 November – Channel 4 airs the final episode of Brookside, ending a run of 21 years.
  • 11 November – BBC current affairs series Panorama, launched in 1953, becomes the first UK television show to reach its 50th anniversary on air.
  • 23 November – 40th anniversary of the first broadcast of Doctor Who
  • 27 November – The BBC unveils a revamped version of its news channel in an attempt to make it appear more dynamic to viewers. Changes include a new studio set and redesigned branding and graphics.[16]
  • 28 November – Some of the BBC's radio and television services, including BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Five Live and BBC News 24, are blacked out by a power cut and a fire alert.[17][18]
  • 8 December – BBC News 24 is relaunched with a new set and titles, as well as a new Breaking News sting. Networked news on BBC One and Two remains with the same titles though the set was redesigned in a similar style to that of the new News 24. The relaunch had been scheduled for the previous Monday (1 December), but was delayed due to a power failure the week before which had disrupted work on the new set.[17][18]
  • 17 December – BBC Scotland will not pursue the idea of a Scottish Six news programme following a major review of output which indicated a majority of viewers are satisfied with the status quo.[19]
  • 25 December – Sleepless in Peckham, the final episode of Only Fools and Horses is aired on BBC One.
  • Unknown – Tabloid television station L!VE TV is relaunched on Sky Digital.
  • Unknown – The Simpsons 300th episode airs on Sky1.


BBC Television Service

Date Debut
January The Politics Show begins on BBC One and Two
8 January The Daily Politics begins on BBC Two.
12 January This Week begins on BBC One.
4 February Posh Nosh premieres on BBC Two
18 May State of Play, a six-part serial, directed by David Yates and written by Paul Abbott, begins its run on BBC One, concluding on 22 June.
9 June Comedy Connections premieres on BBC One.
11 September QI premieres on BBC in UK.
16 September Little Britain premieres on BBC in UK.
11 November Rich Hall's Fishing Show premiers on BBC Four.

ITV (Including ITV1 and ITV2)

Date Debut
January Diggin' It replaces Diggit
19 January The Royal, a spin off Heartbeat
3 May MIT: Murder Investigation Team, a spin off of The Bill

Channel 4

Date Debut
19 September Peep Show
Unknown Born to Be Different


Date Debut
January Beyblade premieres on Channel 5 in the UK from the end of 2002

Nickelodeon UK

Date Debut
Unknown All Grown Up! debuts as a sequal of Rugrats

Television shows

Returning this year after a break of one year or longer

16 October – Superstars returns to BBC One (1973–1985, 2003–2005).

Changes of network affiliation

Show Moved from Moved to
Robot Wars BBC Two Five
Don't Try This at Home ITV Challenge


New channels

Date Channel
15 January Ftn
UK Bright Ideas
9 February BBC Three
29 May Toon and Tunes
8 September Toonami
Pop Plus
16 December VH2

Defunct channels

Date Channel
9 February BBC Choice
31 March Carlton Cinema
8 September CNX

Rebranded channels

Date Old Name New Name
June Toon and Tunes Pop

Ongoing since past years or decades







Ending this year



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