More TV Memories – ITV In The 80s (Part 1).

One thing that I find interesting about TV presentation from the 80s is when all of the 16 ITV regions changed to using a computer-generated ident, especially had many had barely changed their look since the introduction of colour in the late-60s/early-70s. Every region did this at their own pace, with all of them eventually getting a shiny new look from around 1985 to 1989 (BBC1 had already upgraded to their “COW” symbol in February 1985). Some regions kept their familiar symbols, while some took the opportunity to launch a new image altogether.

I will determine the launch on when the main ident was changed, even if computer-generated imagery had been used in locally-shown trails before this. It also reminds me that when frontcaps were abolished at end of 1987, the function of an ident in most ITV regions wasn’t to introduce the show with an out-of-vision announcer. Also around this time, every region gradually extended their programming to 24 hours. I will review every change region-by-region. I hope that all of the dates are correct, but if anyone has any more accurate information, they are welcome to provide it. ITV1

Anglia had been using their famous “Silver Knight” symbol ever since the launch in 1959. They were clearly proud of this, but almost 30 years on, this was beginning to look very old-fashioned. Anglia were one of the last regions to introduce a new look in March 1988, and it was arguably the most extraordinary change of them all. In came the blue and yellow “flag” symbol (it took me a long time to realise the shapes of the triangles made an “A”). This was a success, and this look remained on-screen well into the late-90s, outliving all the other idents from this era. Anglia1

Border is a region that there is little known about. Although they are one of the longest-running ITV companies, they are also one of the most anonymous. There is barely anything online of their presentation, but what there is shows that their ident was a static caption with no music. And that’s it really, this was seemingly used for years on end. So they might not have received a new look until the generic ident came along in September 1989. If they hadn’t used this, they would probably have still been using that caption until about 1997. Border1

Central were one of the bigger regions, and their original mildly creepy ident was soon replaced in September 1985 by the multi-coloured symbol known as the “cake”, and hundreds of creative variations on this look were created, with some being used as late as 1998. However, the earlier symbol was used on endcaps until 1988. Central1

Channel are the smallest ITV region, and there isn’t much evidence online as to when they changed their ident unfortunately, although it was probably around September 1989, making them one of the final regions to update. It didn’t look too bad, but their “CTV” symbol wasn’t as fancy as their original “a leopard playing Blockbusters” look. Channel1

Grampian had been using their “Scottish flag” symbol since the early-70s, and it seems that they were the first region to change in April 1985. This new look was also a pioneer in the “random shapes floating through space” idea, with various spheres and triangles everywhere before forming the symbol. This was used for many years after. Grampian1

Granada were another region that didn’t do fancy things with their symbol, preferring the static caption. Although it seems they did produce a special animated ident for their 30th anniversary in May 1986, but I don’t think that was shown nationally. By the late-80s, the caption was computer-generated, and this created a problem for me. Symbols that were introduced in the late-60s/early-70s were now being reworked almost 20 years later with all shiny 3D effects on them, which was a really jarring clash of eras (see the next region for further evidence of this). Granada1

HTV Wales/HTV West both introduced their familiar “aerial” look in 1970. But 17 years on, this was beginning to look rather old. So in September 1987 a new ident was introduced, featuring shapes floating around, and then creating the symbol (which remained the same), causing another clash of eras of a design created long before there was any computer technology advanced enough to animate it, now being used with added shiny bits. This was used until 1989. HTV1

The other eight regions will be reviewed in part two.

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Anglia.

Christmas With Anglia (ITV, 1985)

Following on from my piece taking a look back at some 80s Christmas adverts and continuity from the Thames region, I thought that I would review another ITV region. And thanks to “TheBluechickens” on YouTube, here’s a look at some of what was shown on 25 December 1985 in the Anglia region. This is a part of England that I have been to, but not as long ago as this, let’s see what they had to offer their viewers. vlcsnap-00743

After the end of Moonraker (another James Bond film, what a shock), there’s a long pause before a (generic branded!) slide for a Superman film that has no announcement, so I don’t know why it’s there. Then there’s a trail for programmes coming later in the evening, including sitcom Fresh Fields (“carried away with Christmas spirit”), Minder, Des O’Connor Tonight, and the premiere of Gregory’s Girlvlcsnap-00729

Then, we get to some adverts. And once again, they’re mostly for sales that are starting on Boxing Day, but with stores that I am less familiar with. There are also some tobacco adverts, something that’s now long gone from TV. I noticed too that there was another advert for Whiskas, this time starring Marmalade who does a little dance before licking the plate clean, how adorable. Do Whiskas spend all their money buying advertising slots on Christmas Day I wonder? vlcsnap-00735

I also noticed that Anglia don’t seem to have a Christmas Line equivalent, but instead we are told about the Anglia Television Holiday Service. After a scary Channel 4 trail, it’s 5:30 and time for ITN with Carol Barnes, introduced by an ancient-looking clock and the silver knight that would hang around on the screen for a couple more years yet. There was still no ITV National Weather at this point, so all viewers get is the local weather voiced by the announcer. Game show Name That Tune is next. vlcsnap-00745

Then there’s a simple advert for a sale at a store called Joshua Taylor, which reminds me of when there was a handbag brand with that name on Bid TV, and Peter Simon once called it by accident for some reason a “Joshua Taylor hamburger”, after which he looked really embarrassed and everyone in the studio started to laugh rather loudly. Other adverts include Kaliber with Billy Connolly. vlcsnap-00746

After another very long pause, we see the Anglia announcer, bow-tie wearing Michael Speake sat next to a big tree in his armchair, it seems that a few regions did this and it is a rather nice touch. Name That Tune begins, hosted by Lionel Blair (who recently had his 90th birthday), and a car could be won. Adverts include sales at Carpet City, Barretts Of Woodbridge, and B & Q. What no DFS? It’s now Coronation Street time. vlcsnap-00747

There are more adverts including Kaliber again, but this time with Lenny Henry. Speake then returns, very pleased about all the entertainment lined up. This was when I’m sure that Coronation Street was only shown on Christmas Day if it fell on a Monday or Wednesday, the only two days it was shown on ITV at that point (Christmas was on a Wednesday in 1985), and there are no hour-long extravaganzas here. The episode begins with Curly and Emily bickering about forks, at which point the video comes to an end. vlcsnap-00748

The YouTube Files – Anglia Through The Night.

Anglia Through The Night (ITV, 1990)

I’ve enjoyed watching lots of continuity clips on YouTube, but recently I came across one that I thought was so great that I’ve decided to review it here. It was shown on 26 November 1990 in the Anglia region and it was uploaded by Neil Miles who really has uploaded lots of great TV videos so credit goes to him. In this piece I’ll reveal my favourite adverts that feature in this video plus various other things. vlcsnap-00010

Firstly, I do have a soft spot for this era of continuity from the Anglia region because it reminds me of when I went there in the early-90s and got to see some for myself. It’s a shame I didn’t stay up because their overnight service was rather enjoyable. When Anglia went 24 hours in 1987 their programmes were introduced by a live continuity announcer who had to sit there all night. In this clip the announcer is Paul Lavers, who became popular with viewers for his funny comments and being very enthusiastic about the programmes, even at 3:30am when everyone else had nodded off. vlcsnap-00009

There’s also ITN. When ITV went 24-hours they would have regular news updates throughout the night, meaning that a whole wave of presenters came along who never got to do the big shows such as News At Ten. On this night the presenter is Phil Roman, who sounds awfully posh by modern standards and is remembered by most viewers as possibly the most dour news presenter that there has ever been. He’s got plenty to report tonight though as the search for a new prime minister is on. Who could it possibly be? Then Paul introduces the late film Escape From The Planet Of The Apes, CinemAttractions and music show Transmission
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The first of my favourite adverts in the video is for Currys. It features a couple who want to buy a dishwasher. It’s easy to now mock adverts which feature old-fashioned technology, but it is amusing to see the them being impressed by microwaves, CD players and TVs with stereo. By the end they’re so impressed they decide to buy about half the store because “they made it all so easy!”. That’s Christmas sorted out then. vlcsnap-00003

Then there’s what is my favourite advert in the video, for HEAT (Heat Electric Advisory Team). It seems that not only will these people fix your boiler, due to their teamwork and skill they might fly through the air for you because they all seem to be acrobats too. This advert also has some very odd music and seems to be voiced by Ray Brooks who is impressed by all of this. There’s also some great early-90s hairstyles on view and you can never go wrong with that. 
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There’s also a great advert for Pictionary. This is a board game that I never had myself, but it seems a lot of fun. It features someone who is having some difficulty in communicating the word that he has illustrated which was “take-off”, and his teammates only get it in time after he takes off his shirt too. How odd. vlcsnap-00006

One thing that was popular around this time was adverts for those ridiculous 0898 chatline things. Apparently people across the country are waiting to speak to you and want to have a good time! This one seems to be voiced by radio presenter and Celebrity Big Brother megastar James Whale, and it’s arguably the peak of his career. vlcsnap-00007

Has this ever happened to you? Never mind Rap’Tou, one of the more ridiculous adverts selling “too good to be true” items was Didi Seven, which would remove massive stains in just one second. Of course it did. One tube is yours for just £6.95, what a bargain. Remember, it’s not available in the shops. vlcsnap-00008

One thing to note about this video is that it has adverts at all, you wouldn’t get that on ITV through the night now, and when Anglia dropped in-vision announcers for a generic Night Time service in 1991 a lot of viewers were very disappointed, and I can see why because this video was very entertaining. We didn’t see the last of Paul though because he went on to the bright lights of shopping channels and Haribo adverts, what a star.

Round The Regions – Anglia.

ANGLIA

Here’s the first of my reviews of the presentation of the ITV regions based on the various clips that I have seen. We begin with Anglia, which served the east of England and came on air in October 1959, and as it never lost its franchise it became one of the longest-running of the ITV companies. When they launched, they introduced the silver Anglia knight on horseback which proved to be a very long-running symbol. anglia3

Anglia was one of the smaller ITV companies, but their knight was occasionally seen before such successful networked programmes as Sale Of The Century and Tales Of The Unexpected. The knight endured and was used until as late as March 1988, by which point unfortunately the knight and the music that accompanied him which had barely changed since the introduction of colour in 1969 looked very outdated. anglia-prod-1983

Anglia around this time regularly used in-vision continuity, usually in front of a drab curtain, and they also had a birthday slot where the announcers were accompanied by a bizarre puppet called BC. Although some regions did this mine never did so watching clips of birthdays of young viewers being read out comes across as a rather peculiar phenomenon to me. Also, when Anglia closed down for the night they would play the national anthem. vlcsnap-34859

In 1988 although Anglia remained proud of the knight he was finally retired. Anglia required a new look that not only would be stylish and computer-generated but also be a symbol that could be used into the 90s. They contacted Lambie-Nairn who created for them the flag symbol. It was a stark change from the knight but it did work. I must admit I couldn’t really make out what it was supposed to be at the time, although later I realised that it was several triangles that were supposed to make the shape of an “A”. There was also a bold new soundtrack. anglia-888

I haven’t travelled across the UK much but many years ago when I visited relatives in Great Yarmouth in Norfolk in the early-90s I got to see some Anglia TV for myself. Even then I was interested in TV presentation so I remember seeing the flag and being fascinated by it. As a Londoner it was very odd to me seeing the same region during the weekend but it was definitely enjoyable. I also remember watching the local news coverage which seemed comparatively small time to what was covered in the bustling metropolis on Thames Newsanews

By the early-90s in-vision continuity had been confined to nighttime only, and they had various announcers who would introduce the shows who kept viewers entertained during the small hours. Of the clips I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed Phil Fothergill and his moustache introducing Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10 and criticising his choice of knitwear. I also enjoyed Paul Lavers before he became a star on various shopping channels having to fill for about seven minutes during a technical fault. And when a generic nighttime service was introduced on ITV in 1991 and all the announcers were dropped it seems that viewers were not happy. vlcsnap-01298

Anglia didn’t use the ITV generic look introduced in 1989. Anglia’s flag fluttered for nearly 12 years, still being used in the late-90s until the second generic look came along in November 1999, and when local identity was dropped in 2002 the “A” symbol still appeared on the local news for a couple more years and eventually the flag became as respected as the knight.