Cable TV firm Telewest has rolled out its new Teleport service in Birmingham --enabling viewers to escape the confines of broadcast schedules.
Telewest believes the new TV-on-demand service will transform the viewing habits of thousands of customers in the city and surrounging Black Country.
The firm, which is merging with rival NTL in a deal worth £3.4 billion, says Teleport will be made available to around 450,000 homes in Birmingham as part of its digital TV service.
Teleport provides customers with a vast library of films and TV entertainment.
Importantly, it also offers the same control as watching a DVD or video - once a programme or movie is selected, viewers can watch it at a time to suit them and pause, fast forward and rewind as many times as they like. And there is no need to purchase any new equipment.
Customers can access the new service using their existing set-top box and remote control, using a simple on-screen menu to make their choice from a range of viewing options.
These include Teleport Replay, which gives viewers a second chance to catch popular programmes from the previous week, including soaps such as Eastenders.
Teleport Movies features more than 300 library and current films, while the third option, called Teleport TV, includes top series, kids programmes and documentaries.
The fourth arm of the new service, called Teleport Life, offers specialist interest programmes.
Eric Tveter, president and chief operating officer at Telewest, said: "Teleport has arrived in Birmingham and it's genuinely going to change the way people watch TV.
"The schedule normally dictates what we watch, but our customers will have the choice and convenience of a service that they can tailor - it's TV on their terms."
Local family Eden and Julie Ottley and their children Jessica, aged ten, five year old Louise (5), from Castle Bromwich, were among the first people in Birmingham to receive the service.
Julie said: "I really enjoy watching medical dramas, especially Casualty, but don't get the chance to sit down and watch them at the times they're on.
"It's great that I can now catch the programmes I have missed, scheduling them around work and taking the kids to school."
Eden added: "Our youngest daughter loves watching CBeebies, whilst our eldest loves the music channels so there is often a battle for the remote in our house. "The arrival of Teleport means that the kids can now watch their favourite programmes around school, their hobbies and each other. We'll never be dictated to by the TV schedule again."
Telewest said Teleport will be rolled out to the firm's
1.2 million digital TV customers by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the firm is launching a pilot trial of its sophisticated new personal video recorder (PVR) set-top boxes involving 400 homes in south London.
The boxes feature a large 160Gb hard-drive and three video tuners - which will enable viewers to record record two programmes simultaneously while watching a third on Telewest's digital TV service.
The firm says viewers will also be able to pause and instantly rewind live TV if their viewing is interrupted, so they never have to miss a moment of their favourite programmes again.
The device will be able to store around 80 hours of programmes.
And will also be able to handle high-definition TV pictures, a significant improvement over current standarddefinition digital TV broadcasts, especially on larger plasma and LCD screens.