Published Tuesday, 23 October 2012
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The Magic Box, a one-hour special hosted by Eamonn Holmes, took the audience on a trip down memory lane with a look at some of the highlights of local TV in the past 60 years.
A famous UTV clip of the fast-talking 'wee man from Strabane' with Charles Witherspoon was revealed as the viewers' favourite magical moment following a text vote.
There were interviews with lots of famous faces from sport, entertainment and news including Gloria Hunniford, Gerry Kelly, Patrick Kielty, Jackie Fullerton, Paul Clark and Noel Thompson, who shared their memories and helped ring out the analogue era and bring in digital.
Singer Peter Corry closed the show with a performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in tribute to some of the late stars of local TV.
Afterwards the old signal was permanently switched off by Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters, at the Divis transmitter in Belfast.
You ain't seen nothing yet on this magic box – here’s to the next 60 years!
From 11.35pm, anyone still using the original signal lost access to channels.
She described the moment as "historic."
"The programme tonight, which embraced UTV and BBC, had never happened before.
"It was wonderful to be part of it all."
Northern Ireland was the last UK area to make the change to digital TV, as part of the switchover which began in 2007 and took place region by region.
Digital TV offers a wider range of channels than the analogue service and almost any existing set - even a black and white one - can be upgraded by buying a digi box.
Communications regulator Ofcom's chief executive Ed Richards said: "The UK's switchover to digital has been a huge success. Not only has it created more TV choice for consumers, it has also freed up vital capacity that will be used to deliver mobile broadband services to 98% of cities, towns and villages across the UK."
Four Irish channels - TG4, RTE One and Two and Raidió na Gaeltachta - also became available on Freeview in the region following the switchover.
Analogue TV broadcasting in the UK extended back to 2 November 1936 when the first public television broadcasting services were launched.
The landmark live special on UTV and the BBC was the first time the two channels have collaborated to simultaneously show a programme.
Controller of BBC Northern Ireland, Peter Johnson, said: "Two pieces of history happened tonight - the five-year digital switchover finished here in Northern Ireland and it's the first time the BBC collaborated with UTV to produce the same programme to mark the occasion."
Managing Director of UTV Television, Michael Wilson, said: "On this programme we came together, we got our producers together and our talent together. Northern Ireland is the last place in the UK to go digital and it's a great day in broadcasting history."
The Magic Box is available on the UTV Player for the next 30 days.
For more information on the digital switchover, check out our DSO guide. You can also visit digitaluk.co.uk or call 08456 50 50 50.