From Pokémon TV to Psychic Today: 10 of the best niche TV channels

Phil Harrison
·3 min read

Pokémon TV
Watch via pokemon.com or app
It is presumably a comfort to many people to know that at any given moment of the day or week, Ash and Pikachu are having an exciting adventure somewhere. Series after series of anime high jinks can be found here. And consuming them is something approaching a life’s work: try as you might, you’ll probably never catch ’em all.

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Foodxp
Sky channel 712
Got a purple yam you don’t know what to do with? Asian cooking channel Foodxp will have some ideas. And even if you know that you will never make any of these dishes, it’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination; Asian home cookery of the sort you wouldn’t be offered in a restaurant. Gujarati mashed potato? Yes please.

Yanga!
Freesat channel 171; Sky 186; YouTube
One of a number of glossy and varied international channels currently available on most Freeview platforms. This effervescent Nigerian channel offers everything from soapy business drama (Battle Ground) and Afrobeat gigs (the Yanga Concerts strand) to chatshow Noni (think a Nigerian version of Loose Women).

Rave of inspiration ... Adamski.
Rave of inspiration ... Adamski. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Clubland TV
Sky 373; Virgin 345
Aimed squarely at the hefty middle-aged raver demographic, this offers wall-to-wall club bangers from the late 80s and early 90s that you’d forgotten how much you liked. Typical shows include 25 Heroes of Rave (the KLF, Baby D, Adamski) and Were These Really 20 Years Ago? (yes, we’re afraid they were).

Psychic Today
Sky channel 680
“When will I get a new field for my horses?” seems a vague and hopeful question. But the answer is admirably decisive: “Three to four weeks.” Such clarity is typical of Psychic Today. Are you looking for a love psychic? A spiritual psychic? Some dream analysis? A line of communication with a pet? You’re closer than you think; all of these needs are catered for here.

Now 70s, Now 80s, Now 90s
Sky 368, 371, 372; Virgin 348, 346, 347
If you have ever wondered what happened to Radio 1­ DJs Simon Bates, Bruno Brookes and Mark Goodier, make your way over to this trio of nostalgia channels. There you’ll find them, presiding over a parade of hits you’ll be oddly happy to be reminded of.

Talking Pictures TV
Freeview channel 81; Sky 328; Virgin 445
Guiding viewers through a particularly British version of film history, Talking Pictures could become a firm friend during a winter lockdown. It deals in wistful, sepia-toned cinematic classicism, mainly drawn from the first half of the 20th century. Expect Ealing comedies and spy thrillers; sharp suits and Brylcreem; vaguely familiar faces and an air of comfortable melancholy.

Pyjama party ... Never the Twain, on Forces TV.
Pyjama party ... Never the Twain, on Forces TV. Photograph: Fremantle Media/Rex/Shutterstock

Forces TV
Freeview channel 96; Sky 181; Virgin 274
Not so much for its daytime diet of military escapades; at 6pm, this channel sneaks into a phone box and emerges as a pleasingly unpredictable source of half-remembered, slightly-too-obscure-for-Netflix shows such as Never the Twain, Nightingales and CHiPs.

High Street TV
Sky channels 666, 667, 668, 672 & 675
With Christmas on the way and actual shops not the most appetising prospect, why not explore the extensive (and often eccentric) range of shopping channels? The presentational cheese is as fun as the product range (everything from fitness belts to soup kettles) and if you miss out on a bargain don’t worry: the sales will almost certainly begin on Boxing Day.

Court TV
Sky channel 179
Increasingly, many of us are suckers for a true-crime documentary. But can we handle a taste of the real, procedural thing? This US channel boasts “gavel to gavel” coverage of the nation’s most important trials, and makes slow-burning but absorbing viewing. Currently featuring a case informally known as The Cheerleader Baby Murder Trial.