The marvellous hidden treasures of Roku’s many channels

There are, the observant will have noticed, now many ways to watch Internet TV on your TV. No more tiny laptop screens or sitting in front of your desktop – buy yourself an Amazon Fire Stick, a Google Chromecast device, an Apple TV, a Now TV box or one of the many other streaming devices on the market, connect it to your TV, connect it to your WiFi and you’ll be watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer and all the rest in just a few moments.

Among these devices is the Roku, of which I have an amazing three different devices for different occasions. The basis of the Now TV box and even a Roku TV, the Roku offers all the usual streaming services, including Now TV, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+, as well as all the usual UK TV catch-up services, including iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, My5 and UKTV. Here’s my main Roku channel list:

That doesn’t make it any different to most of the other devices. But where it does excel is in its ability for pretty much anyone, including a back bedroom developer, to create streaming channels of their own and offer vastly more channels than most other devices (Apple TV – I’m looking at you here).

Here, for example, are my mid and lower channels:

So there’s some international news services, including Al Jazeera and France 24 (English and French available, as well as Spanish, I think). GreekTV does what it says on the tin, offering just about every Greek-language streaming service out there from Greece, Cyprus and elsewhere. ANT1 I quite like, even if it always seems to be showing Γυναίκα Χωρίς ‘Ονομα (Woman without a name) whenever I tune in:

But down the bottom, yes, you saw them: channels dedicated to showing every single episode of 1960s ITC shows The Baron and The Saint.

Among all those channels is Roku’s own free TV service, The Roku Channel, and inspired by this week’s discovery that it has the UK premiere of Westside, I decided to investigate further to see what other TV it – and other channels – might secretly be harbouring.

Here’s what I found on two of them: The Roku Channel and Plex. Turns out you don’t need a separate channel for The Saint – the Roku Channel has all the episodes, too.

The Roku Channel

There’s an odd an eclectic mix of UK, US and world TV shows here, stemming from the 1950s onwards. There’s a big focus on drama and sitcoms, as well as reality TV and documentaries, and there’s even some decent movies in there as well (Dark Star, Capricorn One).

But here are the best classic UK shows and non-UK shows that I could fine. Be aware that there are certainly more than this on there, but The Roku Channel tends to hide things – Westside disappeared from the main menu very quickly, but was still available, for example, and a few of the ones below never showed up in my guide but are listed on The Roku Channel’s web site (eg Batman).

Classic UK TV











Plex is probably best known as “the magic thing that enables you to watch all the TV you own wherever you are on whatever device you own”. Get yourself a Plex server – you can install one on your computer but some NAS come with their own – install Plex on your device (TV, Roku, Android, iOS, web browser, pretty much anything) and whether you’re at home or out and about, you can watch whatever TV you’ve told your server about.

It’s pretty much how I run TMINE.

However, Plex has of late been trying to be a standalone source of media. As well integrating TIDAL into the system for music, Plex now has a free streaming TV and movie service.

On the down side, they tend to be a bit patchier, sometimes only carrying a few random seasons of a show’s run (there’s only two seasons of Bonanza, for example). The line-up also varies quite quickly.

On the plus side, there’s more world TV and there’s also more classic movies (eg Red Balloon, Diabolique, M, Fitzcarraldo and, erm, BMX Bandits)

But here’s what I found. Again, not an exhaustive list but the highlights.


International TV


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.