While the UK’s Sky satellite and Virgin cable broadcasting services have been offering access to native 4K/UHD content via downloads or separate live feeds for some months now, and BT has its 4K Sport channel, no UK broadcaster has yet established a dedicated 4K entertainment channel. That’s set to change next week, though. And the winner in the race to deliver this 4K debutante is… Virgin Media.
From 8.20pm BST on Monday September 17, Virgin Media subscribers with 4K TVs and a V6 set top box will be able to watch 4K programmes (on channel 999) every day from prime time through to the ‘early hours’.
According to Virgin, the Virgin TV Ultra HD channel’s schedule will be ‘packed with blockbuster entertainment series such as Start Up with Martin Freeman; Masters Of Sex with Michael Sheen; and political powerhouse House Of Cards. As well as wildlife and nature documentaries set in Zambia and Vietnam, plus gigs from the Rolling Stones, Sting and Imagine Dragons.’
Apparently some of the channel’s shows will be appearing for the first time on UK TV; most notably Start Up, Shut Eye starring Isabella Rosselini, and The Art Of More featuring Dennis Quaid. A schedule of the highlight shows appears at the end of this article. Also, according to Virgin, all of the channel’s content will have been filmed in native 4K bar the first season of House Of Cards.
The new 4K channel follows on from Virgin’s 4K coverage earlier this year of major sporting events such as the Wimbledon finals, the football World Cup, the French Open tennis tournament, and Champions League football – as well as the addition of BT’s 4K Sports channel in August.
If you’re not already a Virgin Media subscriber and you live in an area able to receive the broadcaster’s cable service, the 4K-capable V6 receivers are, at the time of writing, available free to new customers taking one of Virgin Media’s bundles (TV, broadband, and telephone).
Virgin TV Ultra HD programme highlights:
* Start Up airs on Mondays at 10pm and stars Martin Freeman. The show explores what happens when a brilliant yet controversial tech idea gets funded with dirty money, from three entrepreneurs you would never find in Silicon Valley.
* Shut Eye airs on Tuesdays at 10pm and is a UK network premiere. It’s a darkly-comic look at the activities of storefront psychics and the underground criminal syndicate that controls them. The series stars Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice), KaDee Strickland (The Sixth Sense), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet).
* From the producers of Blue Planet and Planet Earth II, Love Nature’s The Big Dry will air Monday to Wednesday at 8pm during launch week. Set in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, this visually stunning documentary series follows the challenges the valley’s wildlife must overcome during the long dry season as they await the life-giving rains.
* The Art Of More airs on Thursdays at 10pm and is a UK network premiere. Graham Conner (Christian Cooke), a blue-collar former soldier turned auction house executive, leads a dangerous double life as he uses his secret past to beat the auction world elite at their own game.
* Masters Of Sex airs on Fridays at 10pm featuring Michael Sheen as renowned obstetrician Dr. William Masters who hires sexually liberated, single working mother Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) as his assistant in carrying out pioneering, intimate research into human sexuality.