Late Night Late (ITV, 1988-1991)
Although I have already written on this blog about the history of ITV regional companies and ITV’s Night Time programming, I thought that I would review this. I still find it something of a surprise that I can watch videos of regional ITV online from parts of the UK that I haven’t been to, and I can finally experience what some of the presentation across the country was like beyond where I live in London.
Around 1987/1988 ITV extended its hours, and several regions decided to introduce their own strand where in-vision presenters would try to not odd off and keep viewers company through the night by introducing various shows until TV-am started at 6am. The TVS region’s strand was the oddly-named Late Night Late, and it has been a good experience to see some of this on YouTube (so thanks to the various uploaders).
Late Night Late launched in January 1988, actually before TVS went all the way to 6am from June 1988, originally finishing around 3am and being followed by the epilogue programme Company. Late Night Late featured a entertaining group of presenters including Graham Rogers and Laura Penn, who would soon become familiar to viewers and they all had the job of introducing the various shows that would fill this slot, including Donahue, America’s Top Ten, and the seemingly endless Prisoner: Cell Block H.
It seems that Late Night Late did try to put some imagination into what it showed, including cult programmes from the ITC archive like Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), and viewers were invited to write in and request what they would like to see again. This interaction was encouraged, and there were also competitions to win prizes, and even phone votes on what film should be shown from a shortlist.
As well as this, there were also occasionally some guests in the studio, usually people who were appearing in the programmes that were being shown to share some of their memories. It seems that all of this went down rather well with viewers (and by the end there was a change in the set design so it no longer looked like it was coming live from a spaceship), so it was something of a surprise when in August 1991 Late Night Late ended rather suddenly to be replaced by a generic service that was also taken by various other regions.
Things were never really the same and it seems that a lot of viewers were disappointed. However, when Meridian replaced TVS around 1993/1994 they also had a late-night strand, even bringing back Graham Rogers as an in-vision presenter. Another ITV region that did something similar in the late-80s/early-90s was HTV with its Night Club, and I plan to review that soon too.