TV: Film: For the armchair film buff

Tonight sees the launch of Channel Four's new subscription movie channel, FilmFour. It's main feature, The Usual Suspects, will be shown on both the new channel and its parent (see David Thomson's Sunday Movie, in the Review). From then on, FilmFour will be available only on subscription, through satellite, cable or digital television.

David Shaw, head of publicity for FilmFour, insists that this will not mean fewer films on C4; the two channels will be complementary. "People's perception is that C4 is a film channel," he says; and it intends to remain that way. However, because it is paid for by subscription (pounds 5.99 a month), FilmFour will be able to show films without commercial breaks, and to schedule them for repeats at different times of day over a month or two- month period. There will also be short films, documentaries and "contextualisation": "getting film people to talk to film lovers."

In its first month the new channel will be showing 86 films, many of them fine ones. FilmFour is aiming at an audience of serious cinema fans. Of course, the best place to see film is still in the cinema; but not everyone lives within reach of the country's remaining and slowly declining number of art house cinemas or film theatres. So it would be churlish not to welcome a TV channel that hopes to fill that gap.