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Disney Junior (British and Irish TV channel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Disney Junior
CountryUnited Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
HeadquartersChiswick, London
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
Timeshift serviceDisney Junior +1
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company Limited
Disney Channels Worldwide
(Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International)
Sister channels
Launched29 September 2000 (2000-09-29)
Closed1 October 2020 (2020-10-01)
Former namesPlayhouse Disney
Virgin Media
Channel 727
Virgin Media IrelandChannel 616
WightFibreChannel 107
Sky (UK & Ireland)Channel 607 (HD)
Channel 608 (+1)
Channel 643 (SD)
BTChannel 481
PlusnetChannel 481
TalkTalk Plus TVChannel 481
Streaming media
Virgin TV AnywhereWatch live (United Kingdom)
Sky GoWatch live
(UK and Ireland only)
Virgin TV AnywhereWatch live (Ireland)

Disney Junior was a British and Irish pay television kids channel that was owned by Disney–ABC Television Group that focused on preschool programming. It was launched on 29 September 2000 as Playhouse Disney. The channel was rebranded as Disney Junior on 7 May 2011, it later ceased broadcasting on 30 September 2020.


During the rebrand of Disney Channel in 1997, a block titled "Disney Channel Underfives" was added, featuring programming aimed towards a young audience. On September 28, 1999, it was rebranded as Playhouse Disney (thus expanding the Playhouse Disney brand outside the US) with the introduction of live presentation. On September 29, 2000, Disney Television International launched Playhouse Disney as a standalone channel alongside Toon Disney and Disney Channel +1 on the Sky Digital platform.[1] Since the channel was exclusive to Sky Digital at this time, the Playhouse Disney block continued to broadcast on Disney Channel during school-term weekdays. Playhouse Disney was later launched on NTL and Telewest in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The Playhouse Disney block later reduced its hours of programming featured and was eventually disposed of in July 2004. In June 2006, a Playhouse Disney block was added to the morning schedule of ABC1.[2] It was removed after Disney ceased transmission of ABC1 in September 2007. ABC1's slot itself on Sky would be used to launch a 25-minute timeshift of Playhouse Disney in October 2007.


Playhouse Disney, which existed as over 22 channels or blocks in 156 countries and territories, rebranded as Disney Junior in 2011.[3] In the UK and Republic of Ireland, Disney Junior began on May 7, 2011, with the first program to air being Handy Manny. At the same time, Disney Junior (who replaced Playhouse Disney Canada the day before) started broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen. The last show that aired on Playhouse Disney before it became Disney Junior was JoJo's Circus. A high-definition simulcast of Disney Junior was made available to Sky+ HD subscribers in April 2013.[4] In September 2017, Disney XD +1 was turned into a pop-up channel titled Mickey and Pals, which aired various programming from Disney Junior.


Disney Junior, along with its sister channels Disney XD and Disney Channel, closed in the UK on 30 September 2020, after 20 years on-air, due to Disney failing to reach a new carriage deal with Sky and Virgin Media. The closure was previously announced on 25 June that year. All of the channels' content were transferred to Disney's streaming service, Disney+.[5]

The final programme to be broadcast before it ceased operations was Gigantosaurus (specifically the episodes "The Floating Stone/The Light in the Storm"). It then showed a selection of promos and advertisements and a music video from Vampirina. Following a good morning song on the channel, it was officially shut down after cutting to a still image featuring Mickey Mouse in his Roadster Racer getup holding a trophy, alongside Animal (as his Muppet Babies form) and Vee from Vampirina.[6]

Virgin Media removed the channels a day before their closure on 29 September, with CBBC and CBeebies taking over the network's former Sky EPG slots on 1 October.


When Playhouse Disney originally launched in the United Kingdom, it used live presentation and links, being set in a large "Playhouse" featuring different rooms and areas. This presentation format was also used for Playhouse Disney in Australia, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Latin America, and several other territories outside North America.

Playhouse Disney UK's main live presenters were Dave Benson Phillips and Alex Lovell, who were referred to as Big Dave and Little Alex. In addition to presenting the "Playhouse", both Dave and Alex presented "Music Time", where they sang mostly Disney songs, with the original recordings of the songs. Dave also presented the children's cookery show, Bite Size, alongside Sophie Aldred and Karl Woolley and puppet Mitzi the Oven Glove.

Two other segments were also featured. The first was "Circle Time", presented by Jason Canning, where he alongside a few children, made up stories from animated drawings that viewers sent in. The other was "Art Play", presented by Sara-Louise Harper, which featured her and a few children creating a piece of artwork based on a popular Disney movie.

New graphics and a new logo were introduced in March 2003, coinciding with the debut of the main Disney Channel's new look. Along with this, came a refreshing of format. The 'Circle Time' strand was removed without a replacement presenter after Jason Canning left to pursue other work, and Art Play's presenting role was taken by Olivia Bonnici after Sara-Louise Harper left after becoming pregnant. While the "Playhouse" format would remain for the next few years, the channel's presentation gradually began to focus more on out-of-vision links, like what its American counterpart would use.

In 2004, A dedicated nighttime block called "PJ's Bedtime" was introduced, being presented by Olivia and Big Dave alongside the titular puppet PJ Mole.

On 27 August 2006, Dave Benson Philips and Alex Lovell left the network, while the Art Play and Music Time strands were removed around the same time due to budget cuts. The two remaining strands, PJ's Bedtime and Bite Size, were removed in November 2007 and May 2008, respectively. By then, the channel featured a format and identity in par with its American counterpart.

In September 2007, the channel logo in the external promotionals (programme press releases, promos for terrestrial television) were changed to include the inscription "Channel" as in all Playhouse Disney Europe channels, but on the channel itself, the logo was not changed. This move was to differentiate the channel from the "Playhouse Disney" block, shown all mornings on the American Disney Channel, using the two monkeys Ooh and Aah as hosts from Ooh, Aah & You between the channel links as well as using the same on-screen graphics as the US block up until 2011.

In September 2009, a programming strand called "Snuggle Time", was added to the channel, which ran from 6 pm to 8 pm. Produced by independent company Dot to Dot Productions, Snuggle Time led to the reintroduction of in-vision presentation and presenters, with Samantha Pearl and James Sherwood fronting the strand.[7]

Disney Junior +

A one-hour timeshift service of the channel, Disney Junior +, launched on 29 October 2007 as Playhouse Disney +, replacing the now defunct channel ABC1. It launched on the same day that the Disney Channels were reshuffled on Sky, involving Disney Cinemagic and Disney Cinemagic +1 moving down the EPG, to enable Playhouse Disney to move up the EPG to allow Playhouse Disney + to launch next to it on Sky 611 and 612 respectively. Playhouse Disney + was initially a 25-minute timeshift service until 11 February 2011 when it became a 1-hour timeshift service. It was renamed as Disney Junior +1 on 7 May 2011.

Final programming

Original series

Acquired from Disney Junior (United States)


Other acquired series (Outside of the USA)

  • Paprika (1 October 2018 – 30 September 2020, French import)
  • Bluey (28 October 2019 – 30 September 2020; Australian import) (Now on CBeebies)

Acquired from Disney Channel (UK)

Former programming

Interstitial programming


Winnie the Pooh

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Little Einsteins

Lilo & Stitch

Individual films


  1. ^ "Disney launches new channels". Brand Republic. Haymarket Media Group Ltd. MediaWeek. 13 September 2000. Archived from the original on 16 August 2000. Retrieved 21 July 2014. Alt URL
  2. ^ Stewart, Lianne (1 April 2006). "New kid on the U.K. Freeview block". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications Ltd. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Disney Junior to replace SoapNet, Playhouse". C21Media. 26 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Disney, Sky bow co-branded movie net". C21Media. 21 February 2013.
  5. ^ Kanter, Jake (25 June 2020). "Disney To Close Kids Channels In The UK Following Launch Of Disney+". Deadline. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Disney Junior (UK) - Final Closedown - 1 October 2020 - YouTube". Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Our Work".
  8. ^ Zahed, Ramin (24 January 2013). "'Henry Hugglemonster' Arrives on Disney Jr. in Feb". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Disney Junior sets U.K. launch". Variety. London. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  10. ^ Cath, Nicky (23 April 2015). "Disney May Highlights". Baby World. Retrieved 18 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Methven, Nicola (1 March 2013). "Fairy good for mouth of Minnie Mouse: Legendary Disney actress Russi Taylor to voice fairy godmother for Sofia the First". Mirror. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Disney Junior TV Listings". TV Guide UK. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  13. ^ Callan, Patrick (23 September 2015). "The Hive returns for second season". Kidscreen. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  14. ^ Rusak, Gary (24 October 2008). "Mighty Sprouts grow into Playhouse Disney UK slot". Kidscreen. Retrieved 14 February 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 November 2021, at 00:59
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