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 – Granada.


Granada was one of the earliest ITV franchises to launch, and became the longest-running one of all. They launched in May 1956 and at first covered just about the whole of the north of England. In their earliest idents they made very clear that their programming had come “from the North”, and such was their impact that the region soon became affectionately known as “Granadaland”. granada10

By 1968 there were some changes, with new company Yorkshire taking over most of their coverage area, meaning that Granada now only broadcast to the north-west of England. Around this time along with the launch of colour, Granada launched a new symbol. When I was younger, I couldn’t really work out what it was supposed to be, but it turns out it’s a “G” shape which turns into an arrow pointing north. This was used by Granada throughout the 70s and 80s, and wasn’t accompanied by music. granada4

Being one of the biggest regions, Granada contributed a huge amount of programming to the network, with Coronation Street, which launched in December 1960, arguably being the most successful programme in ITV’s history. The local news programme Granada Reports has also been successful over the years and has been hosted by various people including Richard Madeley and Anthony Wilson. granada9

There are lots of Granada continuity clips online, and they have been good to watch. Granada had in-vision continuity for many years until 1996, and they had various announcers including Charles Foster and Jim Pope who became popular with viewers. Also until 1988 they had a closedown sequence which would feature the clock along with a specially made piece of music. I should also point out that I haven’t ever been to the Granada region, but my sister has and she enjoyed watching Granada, and was very pleased that you could also pick up S4C too! granada7

The most memorable of the all the announcers though was Colin Weston. Although I wasn’t familiar with him before I saw clips of him online, I have found his announcing style very enjoyable, it could be said that nobody else really could do it like him and he stayed with Granada for about 30 years, always eager to inform us about the programmes, with whether it was daytime or nighttime seemingly being no problem for him, and he was always a star in the booth. granada8

When the late-80s came, Granada were not that interested in taking the ITV corporate look, but they did attempt to modernise their look, changing the “G” symbol to various different colours and appearing on different backgrounds, and finally adding some music to their idents, dropping the yellow-on-blue look in the early-90s for a white-on-blue one. granada2

Granada continued into the 90s by changing their look again in 1995 with another variation of the symbol this time on a dark blue background. Also by this time Granada had branched out into digital and satellite television, producing various spin-off channels including the great Granada Plus which made creative use of showing various programmes from the Granada and LWT archive, and it was a shame when the channel closed down in November 2004. Also by 1999 they had taken the second ITV corporate look. granada3

By the 2000s Granada started to take over the other ITV regions, and for a short while they introduced a new purple symbol which meant odd credits at the end of programmes such as “A Granada Yorkshire Production” which didn’t seem right really. But after a while like all the other regions in England their name left the screen, and their shows are now simply credited to “ITV Studios”, but few regions have had a bigger impact on the look of ITV over the past six decades.