One of the United States’ most iconic TV channels, PBS, is now available to UK viewers on Sky channel 166 and Virgin Media 243.

The Public Broadcasting Service has operated for 40 years in the US, building up a loyal viewership who tune in for what it describes as ‘high quality, impartial and in-depth programming’.

Comedienne Ruby Wax is a fan. “Good luck PBS. You are our one hope for culture on television,” she said.

Actor David Soul said: “I have watched and applauded the growth of PBS since its inception in 1970 with shows like Masterpiece Theatre and Nova and Frontline, which actually aired a documentary that I produced. So I am delighted to hear that it’s setting up house here in the UK.”

PBS programmes which have screened globally include Sesame Street and Masterpiece Theatre, but it’s particularly famous for its mixture of current affairs, history, documentary, science, arts and culture strands.

Highlights from PBS’s first week include the new Ken Burns’ documentary series Prohibition, the story of the amendment to the Constitution banning the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption, and Special When Lit, an enlightening film on history of pinball.

PBS launched in the UK today.