For many years until about 1988, ITV didn’t broadcast for 24 hours a day, and when it was time to closedown for the night, they used to go through a lot of ceremony. Although I am not old enough to remember closedowns on ITV I have watched lots of them on YouTube, and I thought it would be interesting to have a look back at this phenomenon that has now gone from our screens, using examples of a typical closedown from the Thames and LWT regions, although it did vary across the country. So here’s what you’d expect to see in a closedown.
The closedown would begin with an advert break, usually with one final plug for that week’s TV Times. Then there would be the epilogue, a minute-long programme where someone or a group of people would reflect on a religious aspect of life, usually a celebrity or a guitar playing vicar with a tale to tell us. It’s fair to say that you don’t get anything like this on TV any more.
Then we would go to the announcer, on Thames in the 80s it was usually Peter Marshall, Philip Elsmore, or Tom Edwards, while on LWT it would be Peter Lewis who was out-of-vision by this point. They would usually begin with the weather forecast. ITV didn’t have a national weather service until 1989 so until then you would only get weather updates at the end of the local news or at this time.
Then we would be told about a few programmes that we could watch tomorrow, starting with breakfast show TV-am, which Tom Edwards always memorably (incorrectly) referred to as “Good Morning Great Britain, kick-orf time 6:15″ before revealing a few of the guests. One thing that I have noticed about closedown announcements is that because presumably they weren’t against the clock they seem to be longer and more relaxed, and all kinds of odd observations were passed on.
LWT would also reference that the two local commercial radio stations LBC and Capital were still on air, but Thames never did this. Then we would get a menu of tomorrow’s programmes. On LWT these were often accompanied by some funky music and Peter Lewis giving some odd descriptions. On Thames the menu was usually accompanied by a track from a crooner’s new album or a piece of library music. There was also a phone number available if you wanted more information where if you called you would hear the Thames theme and then be told about the programmes. Honestly, just buy the TV Times!
After this, the clock would then appear, and in the 80s closedowns were usually around 12am to 1am, although the regions did start to close later before they went round the clock. LWT would close with the national anthem accompanied with some footage of royals in the region, but Thames never did this. Then there would be one more announcement, a reminder to switch off our sets, we don’t want anyone to come downstairs the next morning to find their TV set on fire now do we. Then the transmitter was usually switched off, or occasionally a testcard could briefly be seen too. Sleep well now won’t you.