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 – Grampian.


Grampian was one of the smaller ITV franchises which served the north of Scotland and launched in September 1961. For many years their main symbol was the Scottish flag. However, when they first came on air of course it was many years before colour so in their first ident the flag had to be imaginatively designed so it featured different shades instead of colours. vlcsnap-01304

By the time colour did eventually arrive in September 1971 the flag could now be correctly presented as the white saltire cross on blue, and the first colour ident featured various colours merging into one another in a similar style to ATV’s classic ident to create the flag symbol accompanied by a version of “Scotland The Brave”. vlcsnap-01305

Once again unfortunately there are very few continuity clips from the Grampian region online. It does seem that they did have in-vision continuity which featured various announcers, and they also had a birthday slot which was usually shown at the end of CITV. The presenter didn’t seem to be accompanied by a puppet though sadly. I have only seen one example of a Grampian closedown but it was a very interesting watch. Their main local news programme was called North Tonight and they contributed little to the network, but I’m sure that everyone agrees that their best programme was the children’s cartoon James The Catgrampian1

In April 1985 Grampian became one of the first ITV regions to have a fully computer-generated ident. This featured various shapes floating around the screen before forming the flag symbol and there was also another variation on the music. Again the ident seemed very similar to Channel 4’s and it was very innovative for the time. vlcsnap-01302

When the ITV generic look came along in September 1989 Grampian were very keen to use it as it featured their symbol in a recognisable way and it saved them from having to put anything together themselves. And the ident ran, and ran, and ran. Some regions didn’t take the look at all, but Grampian used the ident until a new ITV symbol was introduced in October 1998, meaning it stayed on-screen for over nine years, a very long time after every other region had lost interest. vlcsnap-01303

So when the time came for a new look, Grampian retained their flag symbol with a bright new ident for the late-90s, but retained the 1989 ITV music, meaning that remarkably one aspect of this look was still being used after it was dropped, almost a decade on, about a year into the new yellow on blue ITV symbol, and it seemed that Grampian were beginning to look like they were stuck in a timewarp. grampian2

Things changed though in February 2000. The flag was retired and a new blue square look was introduced inline with Scottish, with lots of lifestyle idents featuring people from around the region. The second corporate look and ITV1 relaunch was fairly much ignored by the two regions as they worked on establishing their new look and coming closer together. grampian3

By May 2006 the inevitable happened and Scottish replaced the Grampian name after almost 45 years. They renamed themselves STV, and although they insist that it is still a separate company under the name “STV North” it is not represented as such on screen, meaning another defeat for the little guys, and the STV name remains to this day.