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 – An Evening With Central.

An Evening With Central (ITV, 1994)

I’m always on the lookout for old adverts online, so I was pleased to discover a video on YouTube recently which was almost an hour’s worth of adverts and continuity from the Central region that was recorded when someone left a tape running one night. I just can’t resist things like this and I had to review it. It was recorded on 10 April 1994 and uploaded to YouTube by “Betaman” so credit goes to them. There is a lot to get through here, so here are some of my highlights. vlcsnap-00419

We begin with a trail for the film being shown on Wednesday, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Then we have some adverts including McCoy’s, and Kellogg’s Frosties, they’re great. There is an advert for BRMB radio which is interesting because it’s almost identical to the one that would be shown in my region featuring Chris Tarrant promoting his big money Birthday Bonanza competition on his Capital FM Breakfast Show, I didn’t know other stations did it too. It’s not a silly gimmick. vlcsnap-00420

We then have an advert for Whiskas which stars Smokey the cat. The Daily Express could have your head in a spin as they are running a competition with a star prize of £1million. Then there are trails for Phillip Schofield’s game show Talking Telephone Numbers, and sitcom The 10%ers, from the same team behind Red Dwarf. It ran for two series and I would like to review it but there seem to be no full editions online. vlcsnap-00421

There is also a trail for an hour-long edition of Coronation Street, designed to coincide with the first edition of BBC1’s EastEnders shown on a Monday after going to three episodes a week. Adverts include Rolo, Clorets with Hale And Pace, and a ruined blouse, before a trail for The Bill, and then a Central cake ident going into an episode of Prisoner: Cell Block H from 1979. vlcsnap-00428

This features adverts including Pringles and Hugh Dennis for BT. There is then a trail for soap Shortland Street, along with a rather scary Tango advert, and Kellogg’s Bran Flakes. After a trail for Class Act, we then have an ITN summary which gives us a chance to meet the very exciting Phil Roman, before another Central cake ident going into the next programme. vlcsnap-00433

There is then another scary Tango advert, along with Nestle Clusters, tastes nice. We then have a trail for a repeat of the first episode of Heartbeat, followed by an advert for Chatterbox (the only 0898 phoneline advert in this video, I thought that there would be a lot more of them), and then we have another Central cake ident going into The ITV Chart Show, hooray! vlcsnap-00435

Then we have an advert for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes that is interesting as it seems to be a parody of a programme viewers might’ve been familiar with if they watched late-night ITV a lot during this time, the low-budget cookery show G*t St*ff*d!! with what appears to be the woman who was in sitcom Spaced. Considering how precious the production team seem to be about the show, seemingly spending most of their time nowadays removing clips of it from YouTube (as I discovered to my cost), I wonder how they got away with that (It also reminds me of when there was a repeat run around 2002/2003 and I visited the show’s official website which just seemed to consist of one page of text in Comic Sans which seems about right). vlcsnap-00436

There are also adverts for Cadbury’s Fruit And Nut, Peugeot with those two women, and BRMB radio again. Les really wants to give away £5,000! When then have one of those music compilation adverts, this one features the greatest rock tracks on 6 CDs, call now. The ITV Chart Show ends, and we have another music compilation advert, this time for “The Emotion Collection” with 24 original songs. vlcsnap-00437

After another ITN summary with Phil, it’s time for Riviera (don’t ask), and the realisation that it must be about 3am by now but there are still plenty of adverts around, if not viewers. We also have a trail for Central Sports Special, with crucial points at stake in the football, before a few more short shows including Night Shift which I think managed to have a production team even smaller than G*t St*ff*d!! if such a thing is possible. We conclude with Jobfinder and an advert for a bed that looks like the LWT symbol. Goodnight. vlcsnap-00438

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Central.

Christmas With Central (ITV, 1988)

Let’s continue this look at what some of the ITV regions had to offer viewers on Christmas Day in the 80s. It is about 3:55pm on 25 December 1988 (a Sunday) in the Central region and they are about to show the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back, although I personally don’t have much interest in the Star Wars films. To see what adverts and continuity featured, thanks goes to “thesearethedays” on YouTube, and here are some of the highlights.

We begin with the Central ident. In-vision announcers had long-gone from this region by this point, to be replaced by the fancy computer-generated “cake” symbol which would be used for almost a decade more until 1998. This isn’t a special Christmas variation though. As Central is one of the bigger ITV regions, I imagine that they won’t have much trouble filling their breaks, especially during a much anticipated film like this! vlcsnap-00798

Will there be any epics? Well, adverts include Kaliber with Billy Connolly, Scotch VHS tapes, and a McDonald’s advert featuring the man himself Ronald! And yes, there are some sale adverts. These include MFI, but you’ll have to wait to grab the bargains until Boxing Day. We also get a Ronald-free McDonald’s advert, another one to feature a pre-fame Denise Van Outen if I remember correctly. vlcsnap-00803

One advert that really brings back memories is for Quavers, featuring Colin, who likes all of the curly flavours. Whoever thought that bacon flavour Quavers would catch on though. Whilst watching these breaks I was rather surprised by the lack of Enn Reitel, as based on most of the videos that I’ve seen online he seemed to voice every other advert on TV around this time. vlcsnap-00804

Then there’s a great advert for Philips. Having helped to develop the sound quality of the CD, they have decided to go one better and add pictures too. This means that when you want to watch the video for “Misfit” by Curiosity Killed The Cat (directed by Andy Warhol, fact fans), Ben will jump out of the screen and be in the room with you! That’s modern technology. vlcsnap-00805

And then, we’ve waited a long time for it, but there’s an advert for the DFS sale! Everything is just £129 it seems. Sale starts 10am Boxing Day, ends probably around mid-June. There are also adverts for sales at Allied, Dudleys, the excitement of The Holiday And Travel Fair ’89, and a memorable one for KitKat with a pop group that are not very good… they’ll go a long way! vlcsnap-00815

Then after The Empire Strikes Back ends (or the credits are cut off at least), when get an animated Central endcap (also used on various shows at the time including Bullseye), followed by a trail for Boxing Day’s James Bond film Octopussy, featuring the cake in a nice Christmas scene. Adverts include Brooke Bond with what appears to be John “Boycie” Challis (without a moustache?), an annoying Walkers advert, and Texas’s end-of-year sell out. Then as we start to go into the evening, the video ends. Merry Christmas! vlcsnap-00825

Round The Regions – Central.


After the ATV name left the screen, the restructured company became known as Central from January 1982, a more relevant name as the company broadcast to the midlands. A bold new look was introduced for this, with Central’s first ident for me being weird on almost a TSW level. I’m not really sure what it is, an exploding eclipse moon ball thing, which then all closes back up again. central8

In 1983 this was changed to the more familiar and slightly less creepy sphere which becomes illuminated and the colour spectrum appears on the left-hand side, with the music remaining the same. This would be used on endcaps on networked programmes until 1988, three years after it stopped being used locally. central9

Central also had in-vision continuity in its earliest days, with announcers including Mike Prince who stayed on from ATV, and Gary Terzza who after in-vision continuity was dropped in 1987 became a CITV presenter as their presentation came from the now unused Central continuity studio, and in more recent years he has gone on to further success as an announcer on Channel 4. central4

Of the archive clips of Central that I have watched online, one of the features that I enjoyed was the Central Morning Supplement, a feature in the early days under which daytime programmes were introduced. Announcers for this included Stewart White and Simon Willis who were both very enjoyable, but they both left Central after about a year and it seems at that point the feature was dropped. central5

Central in its earliest days also closed down, they would usually have a weather forecast, then announce the various local independent radio stations that were available in the region, and they would have a special closing sequence with a specially made piece of music as the announcer said good night which was very effective. Central also had a local news service at this time which was simply called Central Newscentral7

Central were very forward-thinking and as one of the biggest ITV regions they were among the first to experiment with computer-generated graphics. In August 1985, they introduced a 3D variation of their globe symbol which was a more stylised version split into various colours, which became known to viewers as the “cake”, and the earliest versions of these idents as the various parts floated around to form the shape were very similar to Channel 4’s ident. The cake would not be seen nationally by viewers until 1988. central1

As the years went by, the cake became very familiar to viewers, and as Central were one of the first regions to go 24 hours a day soon it was appearing on the screen very regularly, with dozens of creative variations. Central also made lots of trails and used slogans such as “Let’s Get Together” and “The One To Watch” to promote their programming. Central also produced a huge variety of successful programmes for the network, from Spitting Image to Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, and many others. central6

Central didn’t take much interest in the 1989 Corporate look, preferring to continue expanding their range of idents. As the 90s began Central added more and more cake variations which became ever more abstract with the symbol appearing on various different textures and in different colours, and it was still being used regularly until 1998. central3

Then in April 1998 the cake was retired after almost 13 years as the “Carltonisation” of Central took hold, and suddenly their idents were in the same style as what viewers in London had become used to, with “CENTRAL” appearing in various colours. Viewers were rather unimpressed by this, but at least the name was still on the screen. central10

Then in September 1999, The Carlton star look was introduced, and the Central name was no longer part of the ident. After building such a successful image for their viewers it was all suddenly gone. There were some attempts to suggest that the region’s name was now actually “Carlton Central” and the name was still very much alive, but it didn’t feel that way, despite the local news still using the Central name, and the Carlton star span on the screen in the Midlands until the end of regional ITV in October 2002.