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.

Round The Regions – Border.


Border is one of the smaller ITV regions, covering mostly the south of Scotland, the north of England and the Isle Of Man. Although it never lost its licence, there are surprisingly very few clips from this region online so unfortunately most of the history of Border remains something of a mystery to me so this isn’t going to be one of the longer entries but here’s my review based on what I have been able to discover.

Border was one of the final ITV regions to launch in September 1961, six years after the London region took to air. Their symbol was rather curious, a sort-of “B” shape which became known as the “chopsticks in a bowl”. It seems that the symbol didn’t really change at all for many years. For a very long time after colour came along their simple white on blue caption was deemed enough to introduce programmes. In 1989 Border did choose to use the corporate look, finally updating their rather old-fashioned image. border3

I’ve only been able to track down a few clips online but it does seem that for a short while they did use in-vision continuity but again not having seen much of it I’m not really sure who the most established announcers were. I can also only recall ever seeing one Border closedown online, which didn’t seem to involve very much ceremony compared to other regions, but it did reveal that they used to have an analogue clock with a sweeping hand. vlcsnap-01301

It also seems that Border’s local news programme was called Lookaround and ran for several years. Border contributed very little to the network, one of their most famous shows would have to be the game show Mr & Mrs, and in the late-80s and early-90s they also produced a few children’s programmes for CITV, but beyond that they mainly focussed on local programming.

Border’s “B” symbol survived into the 90s, and finally their main ident featured some animation with the “B” appearing on various coloured backgrounds accompanied by some music. They also took the second corporate look in 1999 but curiously the symbol was missing from the main ident although I’m fairly sure that it hadn’t been officially retired. It also seems that in more recent years their local news coverage was merged with Tyne Tees for a while. border2

It’s a shame that there are not more continuity clips from the Border region online, especially considering that their symbol remained virtually unchanged for 40 years, I presume that people who lived in that region did enjoy what Border had to offer. I would definitely be interested in seeing more clips from this region from the 80s and 90s.