UK's Baby Boomers get their own TV channel

By Jonathan Brown

Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry, 64, is set to be one of the presenters on Vintage TV. Photo / Supplied
Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry, 64, is set to be one of the presenters on Vintage TV. Photo / Supplied

It is the generation that has had it all: five decades of peace and prosperity, technological and social revolution bringing longer and more fulfilled lives, followed by fat pensions.

Now, when they are tired of roaring about on their new motorbikes, working out at the gym or renovating their farmhouses, the UK's baby-boomer generation will be able to relax with its own television channel.

Vintage TV, which is due to begin broadcasting in September, is aimed at the over-fifties. It will focus on culture and music from the post-war rock'n'roll years - from the Berlin airlift to the fall of Mrs Thatcher.

The presenters lined up for Vintage, which will be available to 10 million viewers via Sky and Freesat, include veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, 61. The Who singer Roger Daltrey, 66, Blondie's Debbie Harry, 64, Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 61, are also set to appear.

One of the innovations on the 24-hour channel will be newly commissioned videos for 500 hits that were in the charts before they became a compulsory accompaniment for the MTV generation in the 1980s.

The creators of Vintage said the programming would provide a "destination" for the fifty-somethings who find their interests squeezed by broadcasters looking to attract younger viewers.

David Pick, the founder and head of Vintage TV and a former lawyer for music giant EMI, said his target demographic constitutes 42 per cent of the population and is growing rapidly. He said he wants the output to reflect the longer and more active lives enjoyed by millions of older people.

"Fifty is nothing. Now people are more appreciative and they have more chances to do more and more things. Many of them have greater disposable incomes, their children will have finished their educations and though they are most likely to be still in work, they have much greater choice and opportunity in their lifetimes," he said.

The channel has caught the attention of advertisers, and music companies are keen to exploit their lucrative back catalogues. As well as music videos, Vintage will feature classic musicals and films with strong music content, such as The Commitments.

A new show based on The Antiques Roadshow for music collectors and the revival of archive series of The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Tube and the South Bank Show are also being lined up.

The over-sixties view the greatest number of hours of television each week and are likely to enjoy double the length of retirement they did 50 years ago, with men drawing their pensions for more than 15 years on average and women for 22 years. Pensioners are worth £3bn a year to the travel industry and take as much exercise as the average 25-year-old did in the 1950s.

But Mr Pick said older people should not feel patronised and that younger viewers were equally welcome.

"I would move away from the idea that we are targeting them. We are offering them an opportunity to experience the music they grew up with through their youth," he said.

- INDEPENDENT

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