TO -- BSB SQUARIAL
Hankies at the
ready, as HE delivers an exclusive heart-wrenching interview with a satellite
sensation turned extra-terrestrial exile - a BSB Squarial.
What are you? - I'm actually a sophisticated, high-tech satellite
antenna. But you probably know me as a Squarial.
When were you born? - In the early eighties Europe's top TV scientists
came together to discuss the future of satellite broadcasting. One night after
a particularly heavy cocoa session, some bright spark came up with a new TV
standard which he claimed was far superior to the PAL used by most satellite
and terrestrial networks. He called it MAC. But even high-tech TV standards
need a gimmick to sell them, so the Squarial, the square-dish was born.
Tell us about your brilliant career - My main purpose in life was to receive
signals from Marcopolo, the satellite which transmitted British Satellite
Broadcasting's five channel network. I was called into service in May 1990, and
for a while me and my chums were total media darlings. TV stations and
newspapers heralded our arrival as a major technological breakthrough and said
that we would be responsible for ushering a new era of broadcasting. You
couldn't go anywhere without some naff ad telling you 'It's smart to be
square'. We even had Gary Lineker in the TV commercials.
So were the channels you received any good? - You bet! We provided the blue print for
satellite TV in the 90s. In fact all of our channels have been resurrected in
one guise or another. We had a film channel, now better known as The Movie
Channel, and a fantastic sports station which effectively became Sky Sports.
Our general entertainment station Galaxy shared quite a few of its programmes
with the current UK Gold line-up, while our music channel, The Power Station,
has definitely been a major influence on VH-1. We also had this brilliant outer
space soap called Jupiter Moon, which could have been the Star Trek for the
nineties! Finally there was this station called Now which has been
re-incarnated as UK Living, and yes it was as bad as it sounds. Also as we had
MAC, our pictures and sound were streets ahead of Sky's old-fashioned looking
So what went wrong? - Well for several months everything was hunky dory.
Our programmes were hugely popular, and everyone preferred sticking me to their
wall than those horrible white woks Sky was dolling out. Then all of a sudden
there were rumours that both BSB and Sky were losing too much money, so in came
the accountants who decreed that two satellite operators was one too many, and
so we merged.
And didn't your new owners recognise your talents? - The philistines didn't have a clue. In
spite of my technological and aesthetic superiority they plumped for the
bog-standard Sky dish. The problem was as Sky had launched several months
earlier it had a bit of a lead in terms of systems installed. Also the Astra
satellite offered loads more channels than Marcopolo. So BSkyB put quantity
ahead of quality, and after a short period of grace the Marcopolo satellite and
I became redundant.
So where you able to launch into a new career? - For a while things looked terribly bleak.
Some of my mates were just left dangling from houses because their owners
couldn't be bothered to move them. Others were taken down and flung away. Some
of the really lucky ones were converted into flash looking coffee tables. One
satellite nutter even paved his garden with Squarials.
In the end BSkyB
managed to flog Marcopolo off to the Scandinavians, which they re-christened
Tele-X. So I was part of a job-lot of Squarials exported to Norway. It's not a
bad life. It might be cold in Bergen, but at least I don't have to pick up UK
Living and QVC.