Disney Junior is a British television channel owned by Disney–ABC Television Group.
The channel launched under the name 'Playhouse Disney', as a block on the main Disney Channel on September 28, 1999. It re-launched as a separate channel on September 29, 2000, the same day as the now defunct sister channel, Toon Disney. In July 2004, the original Playhouse Disney block on the main Disney Channel was disposed of.
The Playhouse Disney brand, which existed as 22 channels or blocks in 156 countries and territories, rebranded as Disney Junior in 2011. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Disney Junior began on Saturday 7 May 2011 or July 2011, with its first show as Handy Manny. At the same time the channel started broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen.
The last show to be airing on Playhouse Disney UK before it became Disney Junior was Jojo's Circus.
A high-definition simulcast of Disney Junior was made available to Sky+ HD subscribers on 9 April 2013.
On 30 May 2017, the channel went 24/7.
Throughout September 2017, Disney XD +1 was turned into a pop-up channel titled Mickey and Pals, which aired various programming from Disney Junior.
When Playhouse Disney was launched, it had the same logo style as Disney Channel, with some of the 2D idents from Disney Channel being used as idents, except the "Disney Channel" text was replaced with a "Playhouse Disney" text.
Playhouse Disney UK originally had live presenters Dave Benson Phillips and Alex Lovell, referred to as 'Big Dave' and 'Little Alex'. In addition to presenting the 'Playhouse', both Dave and Alex presented 'Music Time', where they sang classic Disney songs. Dave also presented the children's cookery show, 'Bite Size' alongside Sophie Aldred and Karl Woolley. In addition, there was the 'Circle Time' segment, presented by Jason Canning, where children made up stories from animated drawings that the viewers sent in. There was also 'Art Play', where Sara-Louise Harper helped children create a piece of artwork based on a popular Disney movie. Playhouse Disney also used this presentation format in Australia, Spain, Italy, Germany and several other territories outside North America.
Playhouse Disney UK had new graphics introduced in March 2003, coinciding with the debut of the main Disney Channel's new look. In April 2004, the format of the channel changed. 'Circle Time' was removed, and Art Play presenter Sara-Louise Harper was replaced by Olivia Bonnici. From 6pm to 6am, a dedicated nighttime block was introduced called 'PJ's Bedtime', presented by Olivia and Big Dave. Eventually, Big Dave and Little Alex both left on August 27, 2006, and Art Play and Music Time were also removed. PJ's Bedtime was disposed of in November 2007 and in May 2008, Bite Size was axed.
New presenters Samantha Pearl and James Sherwood were added to the channel in September 2009; they appeared on air between 6pm and 8pm.
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.
A one-hour timeshift service of the channel, Disney Junior +, launched on 30 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 April 2011 when it became a 1-hour timeshift service.
A live tour took place in 2008. It was shown in several cities, across the United States and Europe. In the United Kingdom, the tour included Bristol, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Brighton.