The YouTube Files – New Year With Carlton.

New Year With Carlton (ITV, 1998)

Moving on from Christmas, here’s a look at some adverts and continuity that were shown on the last day of the year. Although the video doesn’t go right up to midnight, there is still plenty here that’s worth reviewing. It was shown in the Carlton region on 31 December 1998 (almost 20 years ago now) and it was uploaded to YouTube by “randomVHStat”. As always, here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-00887

We begin with adverts during Emmerdale (sponsored by Toyota). And I am not even kidding, the first advert in the break is for the DFS sale. Well they didn’t hang about did they? There are lots of adverts for sales beginning on New Year’s Day in these breaks, maybe even more than for ones that began on Boxing Day. There is also the Millennium Experience. This reminds me of when people were going to go on about “the millennium” for the next 12 months, what a time that was. vlcsnap-00890

Courts then tell us that they’re going to be open on New Year’s Day, that’s great. Something else that is advertised a lot at this time of year is partworks. The first issue is always at a reduced price, does anyone continue to buy them after that? Why not collect them all. There are also adverts telling you where you should go for your holiday in ’99, along with the annoying Sainsbury’s advert with John Cleese. vlcsnap-00892

After Emmerdale ends, The Bill is coming next. But before that, there’s a cryptic McDonald’s advert (all will be revealed on Saturday 2 January), and yet more sale adverts with massive savings. There is also a trail for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with Chris Tarrant which is about to return for another series where people can play for “the biggest cash prize in TV history”. So call now, because the contestant who gets the chance to play tomorrow night might be about to party like it’s 1999. vlcsnap-00893

There’s then a Carlton ident (the Christmas look has left the screen by now, these idents were used until September 1999 when the star symbol was introduced) into The Bill (also sponsored by Toyota). There are yet more sales, that “daddy or chips?” advert, Cable & Wireless, and Daz with Michael Barrymore, who is very pleased that there’s 50% Extra Free (“now that’s a bargain worth catching”). vlcsnap-00894

After The Bill ends, there’s a trail. There’s also an advert for Strongbow with Johnny Vaughan, and then an ident going into The Ruth Rendell Mysteries (sponsored by… you guessed it… Toyota). Another thing about these adverts is just how many of them contain what Teletext page you should look at for more information instead of a website. Chris Evans then turns up and tells us who he wants to have a One2One with (groovy, man!), and that’s the end of the video. vlcsnap-00895

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Carlton.

Christmas With Carlton (ITV, 1997)

Well would you believe it, we have a very late entry for this series, as another video that fits all the criteria was uploaded only a day or two ago. So let’s go to the Carlton region (no, come back, it’s worth reading) on 25 December 1997 (a Thursday), courtesy of “Coldclough” on YouTube. There’s plenty of adverts and continuity worth reviewing here, and as ever here are the highlights. vlcsnap-00864

The first breaks are during the evening premiere of Home Alone 2, and once again, there are plenty of sale adverts. Among them are Allders, Harveys, and DFS (just before their advert appeared in every break on Christmas Day). The highlight of them all has to be the one for Courts with Bruce Forsyth, informing us of their great savings, so be there on Boxing Day, it’ll be a cracker. vlcsnap-00853

Among the few non-sale adverts are SpiceWorld: The Movie. I saw this once, and I still don’t think I’ve ever recovered. There is also an advert for M & M’s that is still being shown on TV this year, and it’s now so old it’s been cropped and looks all blurry and horrible, and also plenty of fancy adverts for Daewoo. The film (which was sponsored by a bag of Doritos) then comes to an end. vlcsnap-00857

There is then a promotion for a competition. If you want more information you can look on Teletext, and it ends with the ITV symbol rather awkwardly turned into a Christmas tree. It also features a website address, which looks a little odd alongside a symbol that was introduced in 1989, which makes you realise how long it was used for (it was finally retired from the screen a year later in 1998). vlcsnap-00860

Then there’s a trail for entertainment coming to Carlton in 1998, including The Brit Awards, and, er, Babewatch. The time is almost 9:45pm and Starting Blocks is next. Then there’s a trail for what is coming later tonight, followed by a nice Christmas Carlton ident (these were also used in 1996 and 1998), which featured things such as the “O” turning into a bauble or a snowman. vlcsnap-00862

Starting Blocks (sponsored by Panasonic) was a one-off show looking back at sportspeople before they were famous that was hosted by Chris Tarrant. There are then even more sale adverts, including one for Uno with the guy off Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (I thought he would’ve preferred to be on Tyne Tees!). Then there’s a trail for McCallum, and next is The Bare Necessitiesvlcsnap-00866

There is also a promotion for Christmas Line (still featuring the reindeer character as late as this), supported by Carlton, LWT (Carlton had better relations with LWT than Thames did), and Capital Gold (instead of Capital FM), which is voiced by Chris Tarrant (is this the best work that he could get in the year before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?). Then there’s a trail for a terrible-looking drama on New Year’s Eve, before another Carlton ident going into comedy-drama (and what appears to be a knock-off of The Full Monty) The Bear Necessities, at which point the video ends. vlcsnap-00867

I’ll be back with a review of the year soon. Until then… Happy Christmas!

Game Show Memories – Mind The Gap.

Mind The Gap (ITV, 1999)

Who remembers when there used to be regional variations on ITV? In the late-90s Carlton in London tried out various programmes in the teatime slot, including the entertainment guide Good Stuff, the soap London Bridge, the music show Videotech, they also tried out a couple of game shows, one of which was Mind The Gap, hosted by Paul Rossvlcsnap-01569

Mind The Gap was a general knowledge game that was based around the London Underground, and three contestants on the platform took part. In the first round the contestants had to answer questions on various categories on the buzzer, and rather nicely Harry Beck’s famous Tube map design had been altered so that all the lines represented various categories. If a contestant gets the question right they win the station and they then have to “change” to a connecting line to answer a question on a different category. vlcsnap-01563

In the second round each contestant is shown a short clip about the history of London featuring various statements, and they have to identify which of the statements made is incorrect and also answer an observation question to earn themselves more stations. vlcsnap-01564

In the third round use is made of the Circle line. Contestants are placed on the line based on how many stations they have already won, and they then answer true or false statements to try to progress round the line, moving one station forward for a correct answer, and one back for an incorrect one, with the contestant who is the least advanced round the line at the end of the round being eliminated. But the contestant who has to depart the journey at this point needn’t worry as they win a remarkable consolation prize. vlcsnap-01567

In the fourth round the two remaining contestants go back to the board from round one and they now just have to answer as many questions as they can as they can now stay on a line so they can remain on categories which they know more about to help them win the stations, with the contestant in second place again leaving at this point. vlcsnap-01565

The one remaining contestant wins the ticket to go through to the final and play for the money in a rather straightforward way. They just have to answer eight questions in one minute, the more they get right, the more money they win, with the top prize being £1,000. However, this part of the show takes part in the middle of the set which could become rather awkward if there’s a train coming. vlcsnap-01568

There isn’t much about Mind The Gap online beyond its entry on the UK Game Shows website (and well done to them for remembering it in the first place), and it doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, although there is an edition on YouTube, but I wanted to write about this show because even though it wasn’t a big success I always like to watch game shows. vlcsnap-01570

One of the the reasons that I remember Mind The Gap is because it was shown around the time that I was about to leave secondary school and begin to do my GCSEs, so I do remember watching the show and then having to go off to revise. Carlton did go on to make some more London-only game shows including King Of The Castle in 2001 which was somewhat similar by The Weakest Link but I didn’t like that one as much. Somewhat surprisingly though a Spanish version was made of Mind The Gap which went on to be a success in that country so that’s good.

More TV Memories – ITV Night Time (part 3).

The late-90s-present: In 1995 a new look was introduced to ITV Night Time in the Carlton and LWT regions. Once the clock went past about midnight, these strange neon people appeared to do a dance before programmes. What was unusual about this presentation was that it was completely unbranded, with not even a reference to ITV anywhere. nighttime11

In 1996 ITV Night Time launched a new campaign which insisted that the strand was “Television With Attitude”, and the programmes seemed to become a little more outrageous, with game shows such as Carnal Knowledge and God’s Gift causing a stir much beyond the small amount of viewers who actually watched. nighttime12

I think I am right in saying that this look continued to be used after the ITV symbol was changed in 1998. Also in that year, the ITV Nightscreen was introduced. This wasn’t a programme as such, just a service with information on various forthcoming ITV programmes, accompanied by some music. In its earliest days this was presented as a Teletext-style service, somewhat similar to the BBC’s Pages From Ceefax. nighttime13

After a while though ITV Nightscreen was upgraded to feature Powerpoint-style graphics, and this programme continues to this day, seemingly taking up more and more airtime. Around 1999 when the corporate Hearts look was introduced, programmes from this point would be introduced by a generic ITV ident. Just about all the other regional strands had ended by this point. nighttime14

Into the 2000s, ITV did still make some effort into making original programmes for the Night Time strand, with game show The Machine, sketch show Dare To Believe, and music show CD:UK Hotshots being among the shows that stick in my mind from that era, although the days of Casey Kasem had long gone by this point. vlcsnap-00273

I also remember one of the most amusing continuity announcements that I have heard was before ITV Nightscreen. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like “Jampacked so full of stuff, I often ask myself how we fit it all in, but we do. Just as well then, because it’s time for the almost-legendary ITV Nightscreen“. An announcer with a sense of humour who would have thought it. nighttime15

By the mid-2000s though, ITV practically gave up on Night Time. Almost all original programming ended and was replaced by uninspired repeats dumped in minor slots, some of them featuring in-vision sign language interpreters because I think that they are contracted to produce a particular amount of output a week serving this purpose, so put it all on at 3am why don’t you. You are also incredibly unlikely to see an advert break at this time now too. nighttime16

Around this time, the phone-in game show craze was at its peak, so ITV filled endless hours with Quizmania, which for me was one of the better interactive shows, at least they made the attempt to be entertaining, and they gave away some decent amounts of money. After that ended though, ITV now fill the time with one of those roulette things, just like Channel 5 too. There’s choice for you. nighttime17

In the multi-channel era, where almost every TV channel is broadcasting 24 hours a day, it is a shame that there seems to be so few channels offering anything beyond pre-recorded infomercials and repeats late at night. Although it started with such innovation, the Night Time strand has gone from pioneering to pointless in 25 years.

More TV Memories – ITV Night Time (part 2).

The early-1990s: As the 90s began ITV Night Time was beginning to be a success. Although of course the ratings would never be that high there was clearly demand for programming at this time of night and a lot of original shows were made for the strand, with a few repeats, imports including American sitcoms such as Three’s Company, and the occasional film shown as well. It is remarkable looking back now to discover just how much effort was put into shows that were shown at around 2am and some viewers still fondly remember them, although of course they weren’t exactly big budget stuff. nighttime9

For example, there was a lot of original music programming, such as the dance show BPM and of course Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan in various nightclubs on The Hitman And Her. My sister always liked to set the video for a rock music show called Noisy Mothers. There were many others too and in this case I think that you really could describe these shows as attracting a cult following. nighttime8

Things changed in 1991 though. Thames and LWT began to share a new strand simply called “Night Time” which was shown in a few other regions too, meaning the end for in-vision continuity in the Thames, Anglia and TVS regions, plus the end of Night Club on HTV. This disappointed a lot of viewers who enjoyed the announcers who kept going through the night whatever happened. Other regions continued with various strands called Night Time and Night Shift. nighttime6

When Thames lost their franchise at the end of 1992 it meant the end of the Night Time strand. When Carlton came along in 1993 they had their own look. The main ident usually just featured a shot of a hedgehog. There seemed to be a lot of this imagery in Night Time presentation over the years, with lots of owl/hedgehog/cat symbolism being used by the regions to imply just how late it was. nighttime10

LWT decided to launch their own strand again called 3 Nights, because it was shown three nights a week, and not as I thought, because it was on Channel 3. Or maybe it was both. Again there were some odd idents, which never featured any announcers either live or pre-recorded, and one of them seemed to feature the guy from the Pet Shop Boys. nighttime7

There was also still advertising regularly in these late night slots, usually for those Karaoke Challenge-phone competitions, but some of the smaller regions had to make do with showing Public Information Films, which are scary enough in the daytime never mind late at night, and sometimes if they were really short of material, simply a “Back Soon” slide was shown. Things would change though by 1995 as you’ll find out in the third part of this piece.

Round The Regions – Carlton.


This is my region and I definitely have something to say about this one. When Thames lost their London weekday licence it was something of a shock, and when they finally left the screen as the clock hit midnight on 1 January 1993, Carlton was launched. They began with a rather tacky entertainment show called A Carlton New Year which was hosted by Chris Tarrant and I was so horrified by what I saw I turned off after about ten minutes. carlton1

Because Carlton’s launch day was a Friday they left the screen that evening to be replaced by LWT who did keep their licence and it was something of a relief seeing them again. So it could be said that Carlton didn’t really get going until Monday 4 January. The Carlton name didn’t really have anything to do with the region, although some people thought that it stood for “Calling All Real Londoners Turn Off Now”. carlton9

Their launch idents featured various people from throughout the region who appeared in front of different coloured backgrounds. To try to make the Carlton name fit into the region more, the “T” was made smaller so “Carlton” could easily turn into “London”. There were a huge amount of these idents made, perhaps at least a hundred, maybe even more, and viewers were bombarded with them until November. carlton3

Carlton never had in-vision continuity, and because they launched in the 24-hour era they never closed down either, or used a clock. They used various continuity announcers throughout the years though and Mark Lipscombe was the only one who worked for both Thames and Carlton. carlton4

As far as local news coverage goes, the London News Network was created, meaning that there would be the same news programme seven days a week which came from the same studio on both Carlton and LWT, presumably Carlton thought that this would help them to be friendlier to LWT unlike Thames who had something of a long-running rivalry with them. carlton2

The main news programme was London Tonight (with the daytime version being London Today). When it launched it was an hour long, and Alistair Stewart was poached from ITN to be the main anchor. Various presenters from Thames News and LWT News were also kept on including Anna-Maria Ashe and Paul Greene. It could be fair to say that the quality of the programme varied from informative to shambolic. The theme music was also turned into a hit single by indie group Collapsed Lung who recorded a version on a double-A side alongside their famous irritating football anthem “Eat My Goal”. carlton11By the end of 1993 Carlton dropped their launch idents, keeping the various people from around the region, but no longer having them speak, and also changing the accompanying music. Carlton also produced lots of local programming around this time but not much of it was well received by viewers or the regulator. carlton8

In September 1995 Carlton launched another new look, this time with a new soundtrack and the Carlton name finally appearing in big letters in the centre of the screen with the people finally being dropped. Again the idents were various colours. I should also point out that there are lots of clips of Carlton continuity online (most of them uploaded by me). carlton7

In November 1996 there was another new look, with the Carlton symbol again appearing in various different colours, and with the letters altered to suit the programmes that they were introducing, such as the “O” being turned into a flashlight to introduce a film, or the Carlton symbol appearing upside down to introduce the Australian soap Home and Awaycarlton5

These continued until 1999, by which point Carlton had launched several new digital channels as part of OnDigital, such as Carlton Kids, Carlton Cinema and Carlton World, but these had all closed by 2003. Carlton’s next new look in September 1999 was actually rather impressive and possibly the best set of idents that they ever had. carlton10

The new ITV corporate look was introduced in November 1999, but Carlton introduced their own variation a couple of months earlier featuring the hearts idea. Again the idents would begin with various colours and graphics that were designed to suit the mood of the programme that they were introducing, such as sports coverage or drama. Also at this point a star was added to the existing Carlton symbol, and this was how it stayed on screen until October 2002. carlton6

Regional TV was dropped just before Carlton’s tenth anniversary, but it wasn’t the end just yet. They still produced a few more programmes for ITV, and LNN continued to produce London Tonight until ITN took over in March 2004, and just as it looked like Carlton were trying to take over most of ITV the star symbol vanished from the screen for good.