By Chris Harvey
GMT 06 Jan 2011
The Home Box Office channel is launched with a showing of the Paul Newman film Sometimes a Great Notion, followed by a National Hockey League game from Madison Square Garden. This mix of movies and sporting events would provide the basic formula for HBO through the ensuing decade.
HBO is acquired by Time Life and becomes the fastest growing pay TV service in the US.
The channel shows the “Thrilla in Manila” world heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, which is delivered by satellite.
A stand-up show, On Location, with performers that include Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, is introduced.
The channel expands to a seven-day, 24-hour programming schedule.
HBO broadcasts its first original made-for-TV movie The Terry Fox Story, a biopic about the Canadian amputee and runner, as well as the first children’s show on the channel, Fraggle Rock, created by Jim Henson of The Muppets fame.
The Larry Sanders Show, a sitcom about a neurotic talk-show host becomes one of the channel’s first critical hits.
The channel premieres its first original drama series, the violent and con
The comedy drama Sex and the City, with its frank portrait of the sex lives of four New York women, premieres on the channel. It will go on to become a major international success.
The Sopranos premieres. The series about a New Jersey crime boss who is seeing a psychiatrist for his panic attacks will go on to be a regular contender for best-ever TV drama.
The channel broadcasts the first series of cult comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, created by Seinfeld’s Larry David, which will return for an eighth season in 2011.
The Second World War drama Band of Brothers becomes the most expensive television miniseries ever made by a television network. HBO also airs the first season of Six Feet Under, the comedy drama about a family of undertakers created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball.
Baltimore crime-drama The Wire, created by former reporter David Simon, cements the channel’s reputation as a home for high-quality drama.
The second series of Da Ali G Show introduces Ali G, Borat and Bruno to US audiences.
Alan Ball’s new drama True Blood, based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, reinforces HBO’s reputation for a no-holds barred treatment of sex and violence.
Boardwalk Empire, a Prohibition-era gangster saga set in Atlantic City and starring Steve Buscemi, is a critical and ratings success, leading to comparisons with The Sopranos. The channel signs a five year broadcasting agreement with BSkyB, that will see all new HBO programming airing in the UK on the Sky Atlantic channel.