It's ITV4 4 me

At last, Freeview has a point...

I'll come clean right away. I used to watch Ultimate Force, the show in which Grant Mitchell regularly saves the world with his mates in the SAS. The first series was great. No really it was. Series two was alright. Series three was terrible. To coin a phrase, it 'jumped the shark'. And once that happened the only place you could watch it was ITV4...

Needless to say, I rarely took the opportunity to visit this Freeview outpost. In fact, at the risk of sounding like my dad, for much of the time I've owned a digibox I've hankered after the days when there were just four channels to choose from. QVC, TMF, BBC3, Nuts TV, Dave, The Teachers Channel...there's never anything worth watching. Until three weeks in July that is.

I'm addicted to ITV4. Between 7-8 every night I'm glued to the Tour de France highlights. And the weekend live bits too. During the day I try and avoid hearing what's actually happening in the race. Like the episode of The Likely Lads where they try to avoid the football score. Of course, so far it's been impossible - I work on a cycling magazine, next to Bikeradar and Cyclingnews - I can't escape what's going on. On average I last about six minutes into a stage before getting a live net feed going.

Still, even though I know what's happened I still look forward to inviting Gary Imlach, Ned Boulting and Chris Boardman into the front room of an evening. I look forward to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen answering viewers emails. Bit disappointed this year, though, that the pair seem to have been moved from the broom cupboard in which they always used to be housed. There was always a strange Morecambe and Wise-ness about Paul and Phil appearing to have a cuddle while explaining echelons...

And could it be that cycling might be weedling its way onto non-satelite telly? Obviously, there'll be plenty of bike action during the Olympics, but ITV4 will also be running TdF style highlight shows of the Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Britain this autumn. And if Ultimate Force series five is on afterwards, then maybe I'll stay tuned...

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