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When is a UK TV premiere not a premiere? How PR quickly changes history


As fears of fake news and misinformation grow, here's an example of how easy it is to inadvertently change the past...

It's fairly unknown to UK viewers, but for millions of viewers in Europe, notably in Germany, a black and white comedy sketch from 1963 forms a habitual part of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Dinner for One, featuring Grimsby-born Freddie Frinton, has even been regularly shown on Australian and South African television over the years.

So much ado was made in November, when it was announced that Sky Arts would be showing the sketch for the first time on British television.

In recent days, articles about the long-awaited 'debut' have been published from outlets including the i Newspaper, BBC News and the Grimsby Telegraph - all pointing out how the programme has never been shown in the UK on TV before.

The trouble is that it had been broadcast on UK television before. A small station, but albeit enough to qualify as a showing on a UK television channel: A year ago Dinner for One was shown at multiple times on Grimsby and Hull's local TV channel Estuary TV, broadcast across the area on Freeview channel 7 and Virgin 159. Sadly, in August 2018, it was announced that Estuary TV was to replaced by That's TV Humber ending any hopes of a repeat performance of Dinner for One this year on the channel.

The Freddie Frinton tribute profile on Facebook, spreading the news... a year ago.


While New Year's Eve 2018 was the first time the sketch was shown across on a national television channel, lowly local TV, often criticised and barely noticed, got there first a year earlier.

With fears of fake news and misinformation growing, the story tells how easy it is to allow PR sources to change the narrative - every day PR content is copied and pasted onto news articles, without anyone checking. In this case, local TV channel Estuary TV didn't help itself with little to no promotion and no archiving of its website material when it was sold to That's TV.

In September, the BBC itself made a gaffe, when it's own PR claimed the new look to BBC Two was the first refresh to the channel's identity in "twenty years". BBC Two has no change to its look twenty years ago - the channel's idents were refreshed in 1991, 2001 and again in 2007. While some outlets correctly referred to 1991, others just went with the PR line from the BBC.

a516digital readers - many within the industry - are very quick to call out any dubious lines that may have been sent to us as PR - so do continue to contact the site or tweet if you spot anything you think needs further interrogation.  Across the site, most pages now have a date when an article was first published or when an item was last updated. On content that is periodically refreshed, any feedback will flow into the next page update.