Oh yes, the Channel channel. The Channel Islands were the penultimate region to receive ITV in September 1962, in fact technically they are not part of the UK at all. Channel is of course the smallest of the ITV companies, but it does have a history. Because there are not many clips online of Channel’s presentation most of this piece has been put together with pictures half-inched from TV Ark so credit goes to them.
Channel’s first ident was memorably described by someone as “a leopard playing Blockbusters“, and it does look like that, with each hexagon representing one of the Channel Islands. When my parents went to Jersey for their honeymoon in 1972 they saw some Channel for themselves and it was still in monochrome at the time with a colour service not arriving until 1976.
When colour did eventually come a new symbol was introduced, with the name being abbreviated to CTV and appearing on striped letters. Because Channel was so small if they went off the air for even a week because of disputes they might have gone out of business. So when the epic ITV strike began in August 1979 they were the only region to stay on air. They did this by having to do things like extending their news programme to an hour (when they usually had difficulty filling the usual half an hour) and putting on any old films that they could find on the shelf. It was a huge relief for viewers when the rest of ITV came back on air after almost three months.
Channel also produced their own listings magazine that was separate from TV Times, with the money made from the copies sold helping them out. Having seen a few pages online of the magazine, it does seem all rather quaint and old-fashioned but it did provide the information needed. Channel’s local advertising also seems amusingly small time to most viewers but again it kept the revenue coming in for them.
Channel did produce a lot of local programming which has established a small but varied archive of life in the islands, and their most famous show is probably the oddly-named Puffin’s Pla(i)ce, a show where birthdays of viewers were read out accompanied by a puffin called Oscar (cue the old joke that the puppet probably had more personality than the presenters). Channel also did contribute a few shows to the network, I remember the teen drama Island that was shown on CITV in 1996.
As the 80s progressed CTV’s ident became computer-generated, and various versions with different music and backgrounds were used. I must admit that I have never seen a CTV closedown but it seems that when they went 24 hours at first they took the same coverage as the TVS region so they were all treated to Late Night Late. It also seems that CTV did use in-vision continuity for a while, also used an onscreen clock, and provided local news coverage with Channel Report.
CTV didn’t take the 1989 corporate look, and their CTV symbol continued to be used until the late-90s. When the second corporate look came along, CTV used a variation on it, when a BBC1-esque globe that span round which only featured the Islands on it and a heart shape that rotated round it with the slogan “Heart of the islands”.
When the ITV1 generic look was introduced in October 2002, CTV clung on to their name for a little longer, but as the years went by their name seemed to get smaller and smaller on the idents before ITV finally captured them in November 2011. Their name does live on in the local news which is actually called ITV News Channel TV (possibly to avoid confusion with ITN’s long-gone attempt at a 24-hour news service that in its final days was called ITV News Channel). But they deserve credit for surviving on ITV for over 50 years.