Channel U (UK)

(Redirected from Darren Platt)

Channel U (later known as Channel AKA) was a British digital satellite TV music channel that focused on the British grime scene which ran from February 2003 to June 2018.

Channel U was a significant outlet not only for established artists, but also for those who were just starting out, helping the breakthrough for acts such as Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Chip, Wretch 32, Devlin, Giggs, Skepta and N-Dubz. Its material included "crude productions shot with handheld digital video cameras,"[1] and helped new musicians attract attention and build a fan base.[2] According to its website, "the aim of the channel was to highlight to the public, the raw and unsigned talent we have in the UK, and give them a platform from which they could perform,"[3] and it has been successful in this mission, as suggested by the production and popularity of such compilation CDs as Channel U: The Album.[4]

Many artists have expressed their loyalty to the channel in their lyrics; for example, in Lady Sovereign's "9 to 5", "Channel who? Oh Channel U, the ones who made me huge, like Katie Price's boobs!". Other artists to comment on Channel U include Kano, Ironik, Lethal Bizzle, Sway, Remi Nicole, Mr Wong, and Dizzee Rascal. Dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip criticised Channel U in their song "Fixed", as did Lowkey, who cited[where?] the absence of any innovation and the channel's lack of desire to take risks.[citation needed]

Channel U commissioned the first 'grime comedy',[5] an animated adult sitcom named The Booo Krooo. [6] The TV series ran for six episodes and focused on the misadventures of three young MCs trying to break into the music game, but often ending up worse off than when they started. The Booo Krooo was originally a cult classic to readers of RWD Magazine and got the attention of Channel U after being co-signed by Missy Elliott.[7] The animation series was developed by Matt Mason and Alex Donne Johnson with illustrations by Julian Johnson, a.k.a. Art Jaz.

In October 2005, the first annual Channel U Awards were held in London with live performances from its underground playlist.[citation needed]

Before he joined MTV to host the British version of Pimp My Ride, Tim Westwood had a show on Channel AKA.[citation needed] Following the Westwood show, the channel developed its programming by licensing a lifestyle TV series, The Ballers Show, in 2006.[citation needed] The 30-minute show presented the lives of footballers off the pitch including the Premier League footballer Jermain Defoe.[8]

On 14 July 2016, the channel's founder, Darren Platt, died. In his obituary in The Guardian, the newspaper stated that Channel U "forged a place for a genre that began its life ignored by the mainstream."[9]

The parent company of Fizz TV and Channel U went into voluntary liquidation at the beginning of February 2009, before being purchased by Mushroom TV. When purchasing the two channels, Mushroom TV agreed that Channel U and Fizz TV should be rebranded. The two channels were rebranded as Channel AKA and Starz TV on 16 March 2009.[citation needed]

On 22 June 2012, Mushroom TV entered liquidation.[10] Ofcom's television broadcast licensing update for May 2012 indicated that Channel AKA was sold to All Around the World Productions, who at the time owned Clubland TV and Massive R&B (now Now 90s) and had also acquired Greatest Hits TV under UltimateHits Limited.[11] On 29 November 2012, the channel launched on Freesat but was removed on 15 April 2013.[12][13] The channel returned to Freesat on 1 October 2015 alongside its sister channels Chilled TV, Clubland TV and Now Music, before being removed again on 12 May 2017.

In 2018, Channel AKA ceased broadcasting and has since been remembered for introducing the music careers of artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Wiley and Lethal Bizzle.[14][15]

In September 2020, it was confirmed that Channel U would be returning to TV on 13 November 2020.[16]


  1. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (21 March 2005). "True Grime". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  2. ^ Leon, B. (3 September 2007). "Channel U: The Future Of UK Urban Music?". The Scene Magazine. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  3. ^ "The Channel U Shop: About". Archived from the original on 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  4. ^ Macpherson, Alex (21 December 2007). "Various artists, Channel U: The Album". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  5. ^ Mcquaid, Ian. "Gone To A Rave: An Incomplete History Of Grime Comedy". The Ransom Note. Archived from the original on 2019-04-22.
  6. ^ "'A massive game-changer': how Channel U brought grime to satellite TV".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "the Booo Krooo Work It". Archived from the original on 2004-06-30.
  8. ^ "The Ballers Show". The Mirror. 5 May 2006. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Celebrating Channel U's Darren Platt: unsung hero of the UK grime scene". The Guardian. 15 July 2016. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Notice: 1618796 (Issue: 60193)". The London Gazette. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Television Broadcast Licensing Update May 2012". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  12. ^ "Channel AKA joins Freesat line up". a516digital. 29 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 May 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Freesat lines up more music channels". a516digital. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  14. ^ Adegoke, Yomi (2018). "RIP Channel U: the urban music champion that gave power to the people". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2019-06-26.
  15. ^ Yanney, Henry. "15 Channel U Videos We Will Never Forget". Complex. Archived from the original on 2019-09-25.
  16. ^ "Grime station Channel U to return to TV". BBC News. 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)