Twenty-five years is a lifetime on television. Rewind to 1997 and you’ll find a fledgling Channel 5 that has just joined “the big four” in broadcast television, Magnus Magnusson was still sitting in the host’s chair on Mastermind, and Jonathan Creek, Cold Feet and the Teletubbies have just made their debut. (and, in the latter case, also rivaling the Spice Girls for the coveted No. 1 Christmas spot on the music charts). A quarter of a century later, the television landscape is almost unrecognizable, although Midsomer Murders, another child of ’97, continues unabated, even if one DCI Barnaby is swapped for another.
It was a year that ushered in a huge shift for small-screen entertainment with the start of what has since been dubbed the “golden age” of television, sparked in the US by the release of shows as groundbreaking as HBO’s Oz and The Sopranos and promoted on this side of the pond by the bold storytelling of BBC’s Spooks and State of Play, Channel 4’s Queer as Folk and many more. It was a reinvention of what television could look and feel like, and a re-examination of the stories it could tell.
It was also the year that radio schedules went online, with RadioTimes.com celebrating its 25th birthday in 2022, our anniversary coming a year before the magazine’s centennial (we’ll get there!). The website’s mission statement is the same now as it was then: our goal is to serve as an essential digital companion to your entertainment experience, but like the programming we cover, radiotimes.com has changed and transformed dramatically over the years. We diversify, we take risks and we are always looking to improve and increase our offer to readers.
In 1997, we began predominantly as a TV listings service, and we continue to offer the best listings in the industry, with our recently revamped TV guide grid to accommodate streaming selections, with new updates also allowing for more customization and providing a better user experience.
Over the years, the site has evolved and expanded to include a diverse editorial product along with valuable programming data and recommendations. radiotimes.com Today is the home of breaking news that sets the entertainment agenda, with our exclusives being regularly reported, discussed and dissected on TV and radio, as well as elsewhere online.
Who can forget the fervor that resulted from our interview last year with Amanda Stavri, ITV Editor-in-Charge, Factual Entertainment, where the “logistical difficulty” of including LGBTQ+ contestants in ITV2’s hit Love Island was discussed? In the past six months, we’ve also broken the news that The Handmaid’s Tale has gotten a sixth season renewal, as well as plans for a second season of The Tourist starring Jamie Dornan, and we’ve gotten insider information on the return of James McAvoy His Dark. Materials and Daredevil. stars in Charlie Cox’s return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We also host a wide range of thought-provoking opinion pieces and commentary, some written by our own award-winning editorial team, others written by outside experts and industry bosses, many of whom also contribute to our annual TV 100 list. an annual celebration of television’s most powerful players. (In case you were wondering, this year’s No. 1 spot went to Russell T Davies, who reflected on the success of It’s A Sin and previewed his next project, ITV’s Noelle Gordon biopic Nolly, and his then imminent return to the worlds of Doctor Who.)
Working in conjunction with the magazine, we seek to complement our print counterpart’s output with a more reactive multimedia approach: Since 2013, our interviews with the biggest names in television and film have amassed more than 60 million views on YouTube, and More recently, we’ve diversified our offering again to include tech and gaming coverage, and this content has proven to be among the most read on the site following its launch in 2021. radiotimes.com continues to aim to be that essential digital companion to your entertainment experience, always keeping pace as that experience changes and expands. We have changed as you have changed, and we will continue to do so as you do.
As we move from the oft-quoted “water cooler moment” to a world of multiple screens and television’s biggest moments being chewed up and unpacked as they happen, our hundreds of thousands of followers across multiple social media platforms : Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they’ve given us the power to react, engage, and actually spark the biggest discussions around entertainment.
In more recent years, our TV Champion tournament, a Twitter contest that asked readers to vote for their favorite face from a host of different genres, from soap operas to science fiction, has attracted tens of millions of individual votes, not to mention countless additional social posts from David Tennant fans, Outlander obsessives, and many other highly engaged fans we serve.
The move from the five terrestrial channels (one is still a relative novelty!) of 25 years ago to a much larger, and still growing, group of broadcast channels and services has also, of course, meant that the speech in line about entertainment has expanded and diversified. in a way we couldn’t have predicted back in 1997. We’re a long way from new episodes of your favorite shows being seen at the time and pace dictated by a small group of broadcasters.
There are more shows to watch now than at any time in television history and while box office success figures overnight for hit dramas including Line of Duty, sports tournaments like Euro 2020 and more recently , the national event that was Queen’s Platinum Jubilee proves that date-to-watch programming is alive and well, audiences now have the option to set their own times and enjoy those shows at a time that suits them best.
It’s a very exciting time to be part of that audience – the only real challenges are identifying what’s really worth watching amongst the torrent of television being presented to us, and keeping track of exactly what’s available and when, for fear of miss it That’s where we come in, with that wealth of choice that means the service we provide – a one-stop online hub for TV listings, reviews and recommendations, exclusive news and insightful interviews that always put the reader first – fosters a sense of of community and welcomes a spirited exchange of views, it will hopefully be more valuable than ever.
To celebrate our anniversary, RadioTimes.com wants you to help us crown the best television show of the last 25 years. Our expert team of TV enthusiasts have put together a list of 25 series that premiered between 1997 and 2022 and wowed audiences, but you get the deciding vote on which one ends up at the top of the pile.
To nominate your favorite from our list, head over to radiotimes.com/tvtop25 now.
The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for just £1. For more from TV’s biggest stars, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.