With the potential loss of BBC3, it’s not a great time for youth oriented television. Yet June Sarpong and Rick Edwards still remember a former, fallen youth flagship: T4.
Appearing on a youth TV panel at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, the former hosts of the music strand took the chance to grill Dom Bird, head of formats for Channel 4.
Although he had left by the time T4 was cancelled in 2012, Edwards (who is also a host for BBC3) said he was getting superstitious: “There’s a slight feeling that I might be a curse. I’m really sorry.”
The youth strand was replaced by Sunday Brunch, or “a cooking show for old people” as Sarpong described it. But Bird had some tough truths about the reasons for the cancelation:
“Controversially I think that the Sunday Brunch share of 16-34 year olds is higher than it was for T4,” he explained. Even Edwards had to admit he “really enjoyed” the cookery show, explaining that at 35 years old, “I am the target audience.”
Bird detailed the thinking behind decommissioning the 14 year old youth-oriented slot. “There’s no question it was a brilliant, brilliant brand, people loved it [but you had] to recognise that the audiences weren’t there, people weren’t watching it. The reality was T4 existed in a world before E4.”
“I believe it was demonstrably correct to decommission T4, because as brilliant as it always was, it was less relevant in that digital landscape, because we had other things to serve that audience better.”
With its irreverent mix of comedy, music and programming, T4 launched the careers of many television presenters, including Simon Amstell, Alexa Chung and Dermot O’Leary.