Tuesday, 10 April 2012

4Later




Overview:

4Later was a late night block of offbeat programming on the UK’s Channel 4. It was broadcast sporadically, Thursdays to Sundays in between the years of 1998 to 2002. Some nights of 4Later only included one or two programmes, while other nights (particularly Friday and Saturday nights) would include programming all through the night from around midnight to 5:30am.


Idents and presentation:

Each night of 4Later began with a specially made introduction. A menu would show the list of programmes coming up, then a surreal short film or animation would be shown before each programme.

One introduction used for 4Later showed footage of a mouse, as the image faded on and off, footage of a dog was shown barking. The sound of barking was morphed with other sounds and the feeling of the introduction was deliberately quite menacing, strange and sinister. This introduction can be viewed on the TV Ark website in the channel 4 1999 idents section.

After some time, the introductions for 4Later programmes were changed to a specially made CGI introduction called The Motel. Although The Motel was adult in it’s content, it was visually similar looking to the Channel 5 children’s series, Too Much TV. In fact The Motel and Too Much TV were made by the same animators. A short segment of The Motel introduced each programme on 4Later.
The Motel was a strange and surreal CGI animation used to introduce programmes on 4Later. A short segment was shown before each programme and then one last segment after the last programme. Each segment of The Motel played out a small part of a story, with a different story being played out each night of 4Later. On one occasion The Motel spoofed the U.S. prison drama, Oz. On another occasion it spoofed Jam by Chris Morris.

During this era of 4Later, the idents and break bumpers showed the image of an animated brain with the 4Later logo on it. During this era, 4Later’s night of programming would end with a TV ‘snow’ effect as if the broadcast had been interrupted, to signal the night of programming was over. The 4Later ‘Brain’ idents can be viewed on the TV Ark website in the Channel 4 1999 idents section.

After some time the interstitials were changed again. This time they focused on a character from The Motel, called Ginger Forrest and her chat show, Secrets With Ginger Forrest, broadcast from fictional channel, ‘Channel Phwoar’. Ginger Forrest was a character who’s dialogue mainly consisted of sexual innuendo. Secrets With Ginger Forrest once included the guest voices of 4Later personalities, Nigel Buckland (from Vids) and the presenters of video game review show, Bits.
To celebrate 4Later’s birthday and a night before Channel 4’s animation week, Ginger Forrest interstitials were used to introduce Friends, Frasier and South Park. Which must have been confusing to a mainstream audience. Both The Motel and Ginger Forrest were made by production company, Impossible Television.

When 4Later returned, it had another ambitious change in presentation. It returned with it’s own slogan, “Do Not Sleep”. The idents and introductions were changed again to allow viewers to introduce programmes their selves via their webcams. Some viewers were regular contributors and became familiar faces to regular 4Later viewers. 4Later viewers introducing programmes via their webcams were known as The Collective. A couple of times celebrities unexpectedly popped up via their webcams, page 3 model Joanne Guest and astronomer Patrick Moore. DJ Downfall was commissioned to make a track for 4Later called Do Not Sleep. Tiny segments of Do Not Sleep were used in the background of 4Later idents while viewers introduced programmes. And it was also used for break bumpers. (The screen used to separate programmes and commercials.) So, for example while a movie was on, before the adverts interrupted it, a break bumper would play a tiny segment of DJ Downfall’s track with the audio “do not sleep, (echoed twice) do not sleep, do not sleep”.

Sometimes 4Later complimented programming on Channel 4. For example, during Channel 4’s animation week, 4Later screened more provocative, adult animations such as Deep Sympathy and Sittin’ Pretty by Michael Grimshaw. And during channel 4’s horror weekend in which they screened the original version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Death Race 2000, 4Later screened Fear, Panic And Censorship, a one off documentary about horror film and censorship.

4Later Programming:

Vids. A cult film review show. Presented by Nigel Buckland and Stef Gardiner.

Bits. A video game review show. Presented by Alex Krotoski, Emily Booth and Emily Newton Dunn.

Eurotika! A documentary about European horror and sex films, before a Eurotika presentation film afterwards. (1999)

Exploitica. A surreal comedy series using clips of old ‘b movies’ and public information films. (1999)

Frontal. Broadcast live from the Channel 4 building, Frontal was a subversive series looking at the 'underbelly of pop culture'. Included features on culture jamming, reviews on erotica, revenge techniques, performance art and a weekly instruction on how to get high legally, including how to get high using a cactus. The pilot episode for Frontal included showing a banned music video for the song ‘Pretty When You Cry’ by Vast. Another episode of Frontal showed the music videos for ‘Plug Me In’ and Metal Fingers In My Body by the group Add N To X. Presented by James Hyman, Natasha Bell, Tim Gould, Lisa Rogers and Italian music producer Charlie Rapino. A pilot for Frontal aired in 1999. Five episodes where aired in 2000. In total six episodes were made. Although Frontal was a very unique and subversive programme, it’s short life span means that it seems to have fallen in to obscurity. Frontal was shown on Friday nights after the first series of Big Brother. A Channel 4 introduction to Frontal can be viewed on the TV Ark website. The Frontal opening sequence can be viewed on YouTube.

Sweet Talk. A late review of erotica filmed in Amsterdam. Rowan Pelling from `The Erotic Review' interviews guests drawn from Euro-intellectuals and sex professionals. Each episode included a segment in which Page 3 model Joanne Guest read out erotic literature. (1999) Production company: Freeform.

The Other Side. A weekly documentary about people and their story / journey.

The Trip. A surreal mix of NASA space footage mixed with drum and base music.

Spy TV. A programme about how technology is effecting voyeurism.

Disinfo Nation. AKA Disinformation. A conspiracy and counter culture magazine show. Season one comprised of 6 episodes. Season two comprised of 10 episodes.

Digital Sex. A show about how technology is changing our sex lives. Produced by Ricochet Films. Six 30 minute episodes were made. Included Scott Capurro reviewing Japanese erotic animation.

Pulp. A book review show.

Treasure. A programme about people’s weird collections and hobbies. One episode features a woman who collected medical paraphernalia.

Late Night Poker.

The Clangers.

Dick’s Bar. From the Zombie club in London, a 5 minute programme in which a barman gives instructions on how to mix your own cocktails.

Naked Elvis. Game show.

The Divine David Presents. (1999) Production company: World Of Wonder.

The Divine David Heals. (2000) Production company: Allied Forces.

Mirror Ball. A programme about music video directors.

Pets. A comedy puppet show.

A Taste Of The Vampire. A one-off programme looking at people who wish to be vampires. Includes footage from the Vampyria II event in Camden Palace, London. (2000) Full Gauge Productions.

Troma’s Edge TV. A magazine show from independent movie company, Troma. 20 episodes were made.

Slam. A street performance show. Showcasing street dance, skateboarding etc.

The Magic Roundabout. Shown at the end of 4Later Saturday night broadcasts. Presumably shown to add surrealism and provide light relief.

Focus North. A parody of lame daytime TV.

Onedottv. A programme about digital creativity.

Love’s Like A Dog. Named after a European soap of the same name. A game show utilising clips of strange TV. Presented by Trey Farley and Lauren Laverne. Usually included clips of Colin’s Sleazy Friends.

Fear, Panic and Censorship. A one off documentary about horror films and censorship.

Manga Erotica. A one off documentary about erotic manga. This was narrated and presented by anime expert and author, Helen McCarthy.

Dogma TV. Each episode was a self contained drama, mainly about teenagers. Possibly the most memorable episode was about two teenagers who decided they couldn’t cope with their baby. They left their baby on a beach, to be drowned when the tide came in.

Karaoke Fish Tank. Pop music videos introduced by a foul mouthed CGI fish.

Jam late night remix. A ‘remixed’ version of the dark sketch show by Chris Morris.

Man Test. Male celebrities such as Henry Rollins and Michael Winner answer questions on their masculinity.

SF: UK. A weekly show about British Sci-Fi. Later shown on the UK Sci-Fi channel.

Bad Trip. Travel documentary in which people travelling through different parts of the world kept a video diary.

Reclaim The Streets. One-off documentary about protesting in the UK.

Road Movies. Drama/factual crossover. Each episode takes a white Cadillac as its theme and features a different director each with a £12,000 budget. The 30-minute slots are split into two: the first half follows the director who, having written the movie, goes about getting it shot; the second half showcases the result. The series comprised 5 x 30 minute episodes.

Strippers. A documentary about club strippers, made by an all female team. 10 x 30 minute episodes. Produced by Ricochet Films
Cult Crazy. 6 part series about cults.
Bangkok Beats. Ambient sounds Thai style.
Sick and Twisted. Series about animation. 6 x 30 minute episodes.
Celeb TV. Synopsis unknown.
E For Edge. Synopsis unknown.
DURT. Digital Underground Remixed Television. Synopsis unknown.
Mondo Macabro. From the makers of Eurotika. Another documentary about bizarre films from around the world. (2001)


Do Not Sleep.

As well as being the 4Later slogan, Do Not Sleep was also the name given to a one off special 4Later night, broadcast live from the Sound Nightclub in Leicester Square, London. It was shown at the festive season to celebrate Christmas and the new year. It was presented by Paul Tonkinson, Emma B and June Sarpong. Although 4Later regulars were also included such as Nigel Buckland and Stef Gardiner (from Vids) Emily Booth (Bits) , and Charlie Rapino and Tim Gould (Frontal). The Do Not Sleep one off special included mini versions of 4Later programmes and live features broadcast from the club. (Such as strip poker.) Break bumpers showed people blowing up a bed. The night ended with all the presenters singing Lonely This Christmas by the band, Mud.

After the Do Not Sleep one off special had finished at around 05:00am, past Ginger Forrest interstitials were shown, which had been edited together to create a full 15 minute episode.

Due to the above programmes being shown late at night, most of them have fallen in to obscurity. With Channel 4 now being a much more mainstream channel, it’s possible Channel 4 want to distance themselves from these programmes due to the provocative and experimental nature of some of them.

Imported shows on 4Later:

Oz (U.S. prison drama)
American Gothic
Vengeance Unlimited
Codename: Eternity
Prey
Spy Games
Brimstone
Mortal Kombat: Conquest
Pop Up Video
Fist Of The North Star. (Anime)



Films on 4Later: (Included but not limited to)

Films shown as part of Jackie Chan season:

Police Story 2
Police Story 3: Super Cop
The Young Master

Each film in the Jackie Chan season was introduced by Nige and Stef from Vids under the title Vids Does Jackie Chan

Films shown as part of Eurotika season: (Included but not limited to)

The Shiver Of The Vampires
Female Vampire
I Am Frigid…Why?
The Awful DR Orlof
Naked Warewolf Woman
Frustration
The Devil’s Kiss
Four Times That Night
She Beast
Black Candles

Each film in the Eurotika season was shown after an episode of the Eurotika documentary and a special Eurotika introduction to each film.

Films shown as part of Godzilla season:

Godzilla
Godzilla Raids again
Ghidrah, The Three Headed Monster
Godzilla Vs Mothra
Return Of Godzilla
Godzilla Vs Hedorah
Godzilla’s Revenge

Each film in the Godzilla season was introduced by Nige and Stef from Vids, in a segment called Vidzilla.

Films shown as part of Troma Classic Movie season:

Terror Firmer
SGT Kabukiman
A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell
Surf Nazi’s Must Die
Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town
Redneck Zombies
Tromeo & Juliet

Films shown as part of Secrets of Japan season:

Tandem
The Dream Of Garuda
The Bedroom

In the Secrets of Japan season, the Channel 4 logo was changed to a Japanese 4. These idents can be viewed on the TV ark website in the Channel 4 1999 idents section.

Films shown as part of Mondo Macabro season:

Blood Of The Virgins
Awakening Of The Beast.
The Killing Of Satan.
Ammoru The Mother Goddess
Karamurat The Sultan’s Warrior
Alucarda
Secret Chronicle: Prostitution Market
The Warrior

Other films shown on 4Later:

Shadow Skill: The Movie was shown on 4Later as part of Channel 4’s animation week, just after the one off documentary, Manga Erotica.

Films shown on 4Later that weren’t shown as part of a season:

Martin (horror directed by George Romero)

4Later usually included a short animation under the title ‘Late Toon’. Late Toon was sometimes shown at the start of the night and sometimes at the end. These included: (but not limited to)

No More Mr. Nice Guy (by Brad Schiff)
Lava Lava
Gas Planet
Beat The Meatles (by Keith Alcorn)
Morris (by Ed Talfan)
Xerox And Mylar
Homiez (French animation)

Sick Night:

During Channel 4’s animation week, 4Later broadcast ‘Sick Night’. A list of all the animations shown as part of Sick Night:

Sittin’ Pretty
Quiet Please
Deep Sympathy
Guano!
Bump In The Night
There’s A Pervert In Our Pool
Expelling The Demon

4Later’s Influence:

Late Night Poker began a poker craze in Britain which continues to this day. For a short while, BBC Three allowed viewers to introduce programmes by filming themselves doing a short sketch. This is very similar to the idea pioneered by 4Later’s The Collective. Though 4Later allowed viewers a greater amount of freedom in what they said and did. Whereas BBC Three viewer introductions were confined to introductions for the particular show they were introducing. BBC Three showed a programme called ‘Mongrels’ which is very similar in concept to 4Later’s Pets. And the sardonic style of Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe is similar to 4Later’s Vids.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this, it is the most detailed outline of 4Later I have seen. I was a true 4Later fanatic I even have the bottle opener :)

    Shame channel4 got rid of it really, though I always thought that "Afterworld" really harked back to those Halcyon days when TV had a real heart.

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    Replies
    1. Hi sorry I couldn't reply before. My internet access was through the library and it wouldn't let me view comments. Thanks for your reply. I've never heard of Afterworld, what is that?

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  2. This is brilliant - thank you Chucky. So sad what has happened to C4 (and TV in general).

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