This ITV region actually went off air before I was born but it’s still fondly remembered by viewers and there are plenty of archive clips online. ATV was one of the first regions to appear on the ITV network. When ATV launched on weekends in London in September 1955, they were actually called ABC, the same name as another new ITV company. Well this is awkward…
So they changed their name after just a few weeks on air in October 1955 to ATV and their symbol had to be hastily redrawn, meaning that for a short while it was out of proportion before it was tidied up. ATV also launched in the Midlands region on weekdays in February 1956. There were changes in July 1968 when they lost the London weekend franchise to LWT and in the Midlands they extended to seven days a week.
ATV’s symbol was the shape of an eye with the shadow of another eye underneath in which the letters appeared. When the ident was remade in colour in 1969 with an impressive animation and lively jingle it was very memorable and is considered by some to be the best ident of any ITV company. ATV also went on to produce some of the most famous and successful programmes on British TV in the 60s and 70s, including The Muppet Show, Crossroads and Tiswas, and into the early-80s they also produced the first series of Bullseye, marvellous!
ATV did use in-vision continuity, including Mike Prince who was a long-serving announcer, and also Tom Edwards and Peter Marshall who were more familiar to viewers on Thames turned up occasionally too, and I have enjoyed watching old clips of their announcements. ATV’s local news programme ATV Today was also a success with viewers. Although ATV closed before computer-generated graphics became the norm they did use an on-screen digital clock which was innovative at the time.
At the end of 1981 the ATV name left the screen. They didn’t lose their franchise as such but they were asked by the regulator to change their name to something more relevant to the region, provide more local programming, and to move their studios from London to somewhere in the Midlands. On their final night Mike Prince was joined by Shaw Taylor to reminisce about the days of ATV and look forward to the future with the renamed company that was about to launch. So from the start of 1982 there was change on the way for viewers in the midlands.
In August 1994 BBC2 showed ATV Night, a special evening which looked back at some of their programming. I did think that it was a little odd that the BBC wanted to pay tribute to an ITV company, but the night was more designed to look back at the career of the media mogul Lew Grade who was behind most of the pioneering entertainment shows of the early days of ITV.