The ITV Chart Show (ITV, 1991)
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you should know that one of my favourite music shows (and of my favourite shows altogether really) is The Chart Show (my review of which is one of my most-viewed pieces). Because of this, I thought that I would do another piece where I investigate the story of one of the show’s more unusual moments.
The Chart Show was famous for having no presenters, either in or out of vision, everything was linked using impressive computer graphics. So the way that the information was passed on to viewers had to be a little more creative. When the show launched on Channel 4 in April 1986, facts about the videos were shown using the HUD (Heads Up Display), although this was rather difficult to make any sense of, and it was gone by the end of the year.
By 1987, the more familiar look was introduced, where six icons appeared that were clicked on by a pointer to reveal the information. When The Chart Show moved to ITV in January 1989, these were redesigned, and they now featured the chart/video/tour/gossip/miscellaneous/bin icons (there were also some variations that were only used for the short-lived Star Chart feature). However, by 1991 these had been used week in/week out for a few years, and it seemed that it was time for a refresh.
In October 1991 a competition was launched for viewers to design the icons that would be used for a forthcoming new look. The current graphics were designed using Amiga computers, so The ITV Chart Show appeared on the cover of issue 42 of Amiga Computing magazine, with more information about how to enter, along with an interesting behind-the-scenes article about how the show was put together, which mostly seemed to consist of fiddling about with lots of videotape.
The star prize on offer was over £600 worth of computing equipment, but even better than that, there was the chance for your artwork to appear on ITV every week and become familiar to a huge amount of viewers! So when the relaunch finally came in December 1991, the new symbols were introduced. I haven’t been able to track down who the winner was, but it must have been a proud moment for them.
The five new icons introduced were a tour bus, a record sleeve, a television, a speech bubble, and a question mark that all animated when they were clicked on. The graphics seemed to work well with the new all-round package, and it seemed that’s how it would be for the foreseeable future. But then… something rather odd happened.
The following week, The ITV Chart Show went back to using the previous icons, and they would stay onscreen until the next major relaunch in May 1996, by which point they had been used for almost 7½ years, and they looked rather tired and dated. So this is the big question… why were the new icons dropped? I’m fairly sure that they weren’t supposed to be a one-off.
I presume they went back to the previous package because they had nothing else prepared and they weren’t able to reedit them? I saw some YouTube comments speculating about what had happened, with one saying that the TV regulator objected to them, but I’m not aware of there being any complaints from viewers about them, and they weren’t particularly difficult to read either. It still seems to be something of a mystery as to what exactly happened, if anyone else has any theories or information, you are welcome to share them. (oh and if anyone has the edition of BBC1’s Punt And Dennis from 1995 where they did a parody of the 1989-1996 icons I’d be very grateful to see that again online!)