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The Chat on Freeview Channel 46

Originally published on the now-deactivated Tumblr account by @Babe TV.

There is substantial debate regarding whether or not The Chat belongs in this blog post about the history of the babe channels. ‘It was a Freeview show (airing September 2008 to March 2009), so it qualifies as a terrestrial broadcast. But was it a babeshow like Babestation or Studio 66?’

The show itself described itself as a talk show with a media focus. Despite this, the majority of the women working at the Chat were babeshow or ex-babeshow girls, and the market for "attention, flirt, and surreptitious fetish" appeared to be fueling babeshows like Party People and Lads' Lounge. The Chat may not have looked like a babeshow or thought of itself in that way, but mechanically and in terms of its audience, that is exactly what it was.

Life Coach was the daytime show on Babestation's interactive Freeview Channel 46 when it first went live in early September 2008. Life Coach was an editorial production that ran from 10am-5pm and served as a front end for off-screen interactive services. It was essentially a "psychic" show without the supernatural powers, and it appeared and sounded like a professional show, not much different from what you'd anticipate on a new TV channel.

However, Life Coach only aired on Freeview for a month before being replaced by a midday programme that was much more fun at the end of September 2008. The Chat was car crash TV of the highest order, shockingly low-budget, frequently late to air, and largely silent to viewers as the single presenter chatted to callers on her phone. It was the kind of spectacle that would stop a babe channel-flicker.

“Even though people who happened upon the programme were probably saying "WTF???!" rather than "Wow!" at least they were pausing and paying attention.”

The Chat actually operated on Freeview from 10am-8pm after taking over Life Coach. There seemed to be just one offscreen moderator/producer, identified only as "Mr. G," who was heavily involved in the interactivity and will undoubtedly be remembered as part of the show, despite not being seen on screen. The camera was static, the picture quality was subpar, and the picture quality was poor. The cost of the calls to the show was £1.50 per minute.

The set was situated next to the set for Channel 46's landmark night show, Party Girls, on the ground floor of Babestation's central London studios. Even when The Chat lasted the entire evening, there was always at least a 30-minute lag before the start of the evening shows. Running with just one presenter was a challenge for The Chat because new viewers would be confused about how the show operated, and if the babe was accepting calls, there was no one to interact with or sell to other users. Some viewers might have even thought the sound feed was malfunctioning. Although there’s no recordings of the first few Freeview episodes of The Chat, the blogger vaguely remembers total silence when the mic was off and lack of a music loop. There was a music loop in the later shows but not from Day One.

On the first day of the final week of October 2008, Babe Channel 46 underwent a reorganisation. At that time, The Chat was only available in the evenings while Cellcast's psychic show dominated the major daytime slots. The Chat, on the other hand, resolved its communication issue as a result of the restructuring by adding a second presenter and allowing at least one of the two girls to be free to speak to viewers and read out texts while the other was on the phone.

PRESENTERS

Bambi, Layla, Nikki Wills, Charlie McDonagh, Danielle Mannaken, British porn actress TJ (Tommy Jo), Paige Tyler, and Lydia Bailey were among the presenters included in the original promo images for The Chat on Freeview. Paige Tyler, who did appear on The Chat in 2008, would have been in extremely high demand. However, according to a response from head presenter Bambi to a texter who requested more time with Paige, Paige was prioritising other shows and had little to no availability for The Chat.

In 2009, Paige didn't make any appearances on the Chat's Freeview programme. Lydia also seemed to be unavailable for the whole of the run, as was Tommie Jo. Donatella, a former Lads' Lounge regular, and Charlotte Jarvis, a model and presenter, appeared on The Chat throughout its Freeview run, but they weren't in the promotional images. As time went on, more sexstation presenters were added to the schedule. Jo Gervin and EJ (Emma Jane) arrived late but both contributed greatly.

3G

The Chat launched a 3G service on February 20th, enabling viewers to communicate via two-way pervcam chat. The service, which cost £2 per minute, had a 3G desk of its own, which while in use removed one babe from the main Chat set. A few nights prior to The Chat's 3G capability becoming available, Kelly Carter appeared to have used the new desk in an office roleplay on Party Girls. However, because the 3G service was underutilised, advertising for it was discontinued.

FATE

On March 8th 2009, The Chat was removed from Freeview. It’s unsurprising really, given the fact that The Chat typically sat back and allowed itself to be led into an embarrassing corner by a number of interacting perverts whose input should never have gone public. The Chat had good integrity, and it would have been nice to see a babe channel move away from flirt and sex to show that women can engage men in other ways. It was unfortunate that The Chat couldn't achieve more. However, the trending show was never really effectively monetised, and when it came to seizing an opportunity, The Chat simply wasn't aware that one had materialised. Although tragic, the outcome was inevitable.

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