Round The Regions – The Conclusion.

As today is the 60th anniversary of the launch of ITV (in London at least) I thought that I would do one final piece looking back at the history of regional ITV presentation. First of all, I should point out that I didn’t review every single ITV company that there has ever been. The likes of Rediffusion, ABC and TWW were only ever on-air in the 50s and 60s so there is very little online about the history of these companies and of course I don’t remember ever watching them myself, so I decided to concentrate on reviewing any company that lasted into the 70s, 80s and 90s.

As a Londoner I was the most familiar with the Thames, LWT and Carlton regions, but thanks to great sites such as TV Ark I have now been able to watch presentation clips from just about every region. They really have been great to watch. As for questions such as what is my favourite ident, it is very difficult to answer, so many different styles have been used and some were made with cutting-edge computer technology, some were made with pieces of card. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Thames skyline of course as that was one of the first things that I remember seeing on TV and it still endures as a design classic.

I have enjoyed the in-vision continuity clips that I have seen. Aside from the Thames/LWT announcers that I remember, from other regions I have liked many including TSW’s Ian Stirling, Central’s Mike Prince and Granada’s Colin Weston. Seeing clips of them it really came across to me how much viewers enjoyed watching them in their region.

I also took a look back at local news coverage which is just about the only part of regional ITV that still continues to this day. Having also reviewed CITV, BBC1, BBC2, Channel 4, and Channel 5, there are still some elements of presentation that I want to review, including taking a look back at some of my favourite adverts.

There’s still a couple of elements of ITV presentation that I could review, including news coverage with ITN, and ITV Sport programmes. I also want to take a look at presentation of TV in Ireland and America, and I might review a few vintage copies of TV Times that I have too so there’s more to come.

Happy 60th birthday to ITV!

Round The Regions – ITV1.


In October 1998 after over nine years ITV introduced a new corporate symbol, which was renamed ITV1 in August 2001. There were a few generic idents around this time, for occasions such as Christmas 2001. By October 2002 the decision was taken in England and Wales to drop all regional idents, and replace them with generic ones that would be seen nationally. So here’s a quick look at what happened to ITV presentation in the post-regional era to the present day.

ITV1 had become rather obsessed with celebrities in their shows, they seemed to be here, there and everywhere, so the logical decision was made to even include them in the idents too. Just about about everyone who featured in a programme on ITV1 at the time took part in an ident, so they would even be looking at you between the programmes now as well as in them. itv6

Scottish, Grampian, UTV and Channel did take these looks but kept their regional name on the idents, and made several variations of their own featuring presenters of their local shows. In England and Wales the regional name would now only appear before the news, as just about all local programming had disappeared. In London there was no regional branding at all, the only distinction between the two franchises now was that on weekdays and weekends the local weather had a different sponsor. itv4

In 2003 a new wave of these celebrity idents were introduced, with more emphasis on a yellow and blue background, the same colours as the symbol. Again just about all the ITV1 faces were invited to stare into space for 30 seconds to create the ident. These were memorably spoofed regularly in Harry Hill’s TV Burpitv7

In October 2004 there were more changes. The ITV symbol was now split into three blocks for each letter, much like the BBC’s symbol. The celebrities were dropped and the main idents now featured a massive “1” in them. I never thought that these were that great really, and a separate daytime strand was briefly introduced called ITV Day. It was also around this time that the CITV strand ended on ITV1. itv8

After just over seven years in January 2006 a new ITV corporate symbol was introduced. The symbol was now white on yellow, and a new group of lifestyle idents were introduced. These were really dull, and I’ve never really liked this style of idents, and they didn’t last very long before there was a rethink. itv5

In November 2006 the ITV1 symbol was changed to black on yellow and now the idents featured various things featuring a hint of yellow, and again more were introduced over time. Again, I thought that these were much better and they ran for about six years, with again variations for occasions such as Christmas. itv9

In January 2013 another ITV corporate symbol was introduced (again, curiously the third consecutive symbol to feature “itv” in lower case). The symbol dropped the “1” and is now split into five colours. On trails, the colour of the ITV ident at the end is based on the final picture onscreen, meaning every trail is different and there is an almost infinite colour palette available for the ITV symbol which I think works really well. itv10

Again however, I find the idents very dull, just people doing ordinary things which supposedly ITV viewers can relate to. The idents usually change every season too, with extra ones for special events. It’s a surprise to think that this look had already been in use for almost three years now. Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to do their own thing (for now). And that’s just about it for my look back at ITV presentation over the past 60 years.

Round The Regions – Yorkshire.


Yorkshire launched in July 1968 after replacing ABC and Granada who began to serve only the north-west of England. From their launch their symbol was been rather odd, what is it supposed to be exactly, a stylised “Y”, or maybe not. When after about a year colour came along in November 1969 their symbol was revised slightly and was now yellow, and that was how it would stay for many years.

I must admit that I have never really been scared by the early Yorkshire ident, but I can see why some people have admitted that they were. The music is rather odd, and if I had been a child in Yorkshire in the 70s I feel that I probably would have not liked it. Around 1982 the music was changed to being much less creepy. ytv7

Yorkshire were one of the bigger ITV regions and did contribute a lot to the network, including the soap Emmerdale which launched in 1972. Among their local programming was the news programme Calendar which was hosted by Richard Whiteley among many others. In January 1987 Yorkshire decided to modernise their look with a new computer-generated ident that was nicknamed “liquid gold”. It was definitely seen as very impressive for the time. ytv4

Yorkshire only had in-vision continuity for a very brief time, they were about the only ITV region who hardly ever used it, and their presentation style was such that they became known to viewers as being the ITV company that was the closest to being “the BBC with adverts”. Yorkshire were also pioneering in some respects, experimenting with a breakfast service in March 1977, almost six years before the launch of TV-am, and also introducing a 24-hour service in August 1986 by simulcasting the channel Music Box. Yorkshire also memorably opted-out of showing a primetime programme which they thought was too shoddy. ytv2

Among Yorkshire’s announcers was Redvers Kyle. I must admit that I hadn’t heard of him before I went online and went I first saw people talking about him on websites I actually assumed that it was the name of a transmitter, and imagined announcers saying “Redvers Kyle will be on reduced power tonight”. However, now I have heard many clips of him announcing on various trails and idents and I have to say that he is very good, and some TV fans insist that he is the best ITV announcer of them all, and he worked for Yorkshire from their launch until his retirement in 1993. ytv5

There have been other Yorkshire announcers throughout the years, I have enjoyed Paul Lally, there is a great announcement by him on TV Ark talking about “a lovely Christmas morning”, and there are also some clips of him on various sites where he seems to be having some trouble filling the time before the programme begins. Other long-runners included John Crosse and Graham Roberts. ytv8

After celebrating their 21st anniversary, Yorkshire took the 1989 ITV corporate look and used it for longer than most, but it seems that they weren’t huge fans of it. By 1994 the “Y” symbol had become the main aspect of the ident again, and was revised again a few times before the 1999 corproate look came along, which they took part in, although along with Tyne Tees they also retained an additional ident for before local programming until October 2002. Their local news programme is now called ITV News Calendar, keeping the long-running name, but that’s about as far as their local coverage goes now. ytv6

Round The Regions – Westward.


Westward was the first of three companies to have the ITV franchise for the south-west of England, launching in April 1961. Similar to Tyne Tees, their first ident had something of a nautical theme, using a stylised ship as their main symbol which would used for their idents for the whole of their time on air.

When colour came to the region in 1971 comparatively late compared to most others, the Westward ident was revised but still featuring the ship, and that was how it stayed until the end really. Westward were another region that didn’t contribute much to the network, again working hard to gain popularity with their viewers with plenty of local programming. Their local news programme was called Westward Diaryvlcsnap-01317

Westward did have in-vision continuity, and most of their announcers also stayed on when TSW came along, including Ian Stirling and Roger Shaw, who also made the final announcement where he took the opportunity to thank everyone who took part, and he always wore a great jacket. Fern Britton also made some of her earliest TV appearances as an announcer on Westward. vlcsnap-01316

Of course, Westward was the first home to Gus Honeybun the rabbit, who was the star of the birthday slot. Various announcers would work alongside him as a sidekick but there was no doubt who the main star was, and Gus ended up appearing regularly on TV in the south-west for over 30 years until the demise of TSW in 1992. vlcsnap-01315

Having seen some Westward clips online I have noticed that they had some unusual presentation quirks. First of all, their clock featured the time in both an analogue and digital display. I do like this look and it is one of my favourite pieces of regional ITV presentation. Also, when they used to close down, somewhat curiously Westward would bizarrely show some odd animated sequence that originated on Dutch television. vlcsnap-01318

There is also part of a startup sequence online from one Christmas in the late-70s which is rather weird too, and much unlike anything else shown on ITV. Like some other regions it seems that at Christmas Westward liked to use a specially decorated continuity studio, making it look like the announcer was at home which is something that I’ve always liked the look of as well. vlcsnap-01319

When it was announced in December 1980 that Westward would lose their franchise at the end of 1981, rather awkwardly for them the news was revealed during one of the breaks in a rare networked production. Westward eventually left the screen earlier than expected, with TSW actually taking over in August 1981 but the Westward name was retained on screen. One of Westward’s final programmes before they closed was a look back at their 20 eventful years on air.

Round The Regions – Westcountry.


Westcountry became the third ITV company in the south-west of England when they replaced TSW in January 1993. Their idents consisted of a big “W” through which various scenes could be seen, with the rest of the screen having a frosted effect. And that was about as much as Westcountry’s presentation evolved in its original version, although the backgrounds were changed regularly, with different versions for various seasons plus Christmas and New Year.

Westcountry were definitely one of the most low-key of all of the ITV companies, it is fair to say that they remained committed to providing local programming and barely contributed anything to the network, I don’t ever recall seeing anything in the 90s that was credited to being a Westcountry production for ITV. Also, their main news programme was called Westcountry Livevlcsnap-01314

Westcountry also never had in-vision continuity, but they did have various announcers over the years and their main one was Peter Griffin (hur-hur). I have also read that Philip Elsmore briefly announced on Westcountry in their early days, the only region he worked for after the demise of Thames, although unfortunately I haven’t found any clips that feature him, but I am sure that he was very good. west1

Westcountry also had a birthday slot called Birthday People, but it didn’t feature Gus Honeybun who had been retired when TSW closed. It seems that viewers just didn’t enjoy a Gus-free birthday show as much despite the best efforts of the presenters. Also, although Westward/TSW favourite Ian Stirling didn’t work for Westcountry as an announcer, he did host a few programmes visiting various parts of the region. west2

The Carlton website was added to idents in early-1999 which should have given viewers a sign of what was to come. The first major change to Westcountry’s presentation was when they were “Carltonised” in September 1999 along with Central, and after just over six years the “W” was removed and replaced with the star and hearts look, meaning that the region was now called “Carlton Westcountry”. Also, because they broadcast seven days a week the star symbol unlike in London was seen seven days a week. Carlton idents being aired on a Sunday. It’s just not right! west3

When the ITV1 look was launched in October 2002, regional idents did just about survive. They were usually only shown though before the local news. This means rather oddly that because these weren’t used in the London region where Carlton launched in 1993, the Carlton star survived on screen for longer on Westcountry and Central! west4

After a while ITV1’s look was changed again and for a short while the local ident accidentally said “West”. The Westcountry name does just about survive though to this day, the main local news programme is now actually called ITV News West Country, I’m not sure when they finally decided that “Westcountry” is actually two words.

Round The Regions – UTV.


Ulster Television is the ITV company for Northern Ireland. Ulster launched in October 1959 with a rather curious ident which was supposedly designed by a viewer who had won a competition, it featured various dots that are connected together and an odd lullaby-style piece of music.

By 1970 when colour came along the Ulster symbol was revised and was now yellow on a blue background. Like most other regions at the time the design would not be changed at all for the whole of the decade, and I don’t think that this look was accompanied by any music either. vlcsnap-01312

In October 1980 to celebrate Ulster’s 21st anniversary a new animated ident was introduced which featured the symbol on a rotating platform and some music. It ended up being used for almost eight years and would become known to viewers as “the telly on a stick”, but I am not really sure if that is supposed to be a compliment. vlcsnap-01311

Ulster didn’t contribute much to the network, and there isn’t a huge amount of archive clips online, but I have seen a couple of closedowns, which include a feature called “News At Bedtime”. Ulster’s news coverage in the 80s was called Good Evening Ulster which was where Eamonn Holmes got his big break, and over the years the show evolved to now be called UTV At Six. Ulster were also the final ITV region to go 24 hours in October 1988. vlcsnap-01313

Ulster’s first main computer-generated ident appeared in January 1989 and was like most other ITV regions’ first attempts in that it featured a 3D version of the symbol flying around to some odd synthesized music. By now the symbol was both yellow and blue and although it was never necessarily supposed to be a “U” it now looked more like it said “SW”. Ulster also didn’t take the 1989 ITV corporate look. utv2

In June 1993 Ulster decided to give their look a complete overhaul, changing their name to just UTV and bringing in a new yellow and purple symbol which is a colour combination that I like. I also like the way when the relaunch was introduced the old symbol appeared at the start of idents but was then peeled away to reveal the new design. Most of the idents were lifestyle ones featuring various people walking around the symbol. utv3

The idents were changed occasionally and a new version of the UTV symbol was introduced in 2000, with the idents now featuring scenes from various places around Northern Ireland. UTV still have in-vision continuity, with their best-known announcer being Julian Simmons. It seems that over the years he has been something of an all-rounder, presenting various features such as news, sport, weather, phone-in competitions, soap updates and much more. utv1

It is odd to think that about 15 or 20 years after it disappeared from every other ITV region UTV still have in-vision continuity, and they also still have local idents and programming, so there may be hope for regional ITV. But wait! It was recently announced that UTV are considering packing all this TV lark in and might just hand over to ITV like what happened in England and Wales many years ago now, possibly finally meaning the old heave-ho for Julian and co. It must be said that the response from viewers to this news has been mixed to put it mildly. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this long-running ITV company.

Round The Regions – Tyne Tees.


Tyne Tees is the ITV region for the north-east of England, which launched in January 1959, and they never lost their licence, going on to have one of the more complicated histories as far as their presentation goes. Their first ident was rather unusual, featuring a “T” in a sort-of anchor shape.

When colour came along Tyne Tees introduced what would be their most enduring symbol, the letters “TTTV” which were yellow on a blue background. This was revised in 1979 after ITV came back from their epic strike with the symbol animating in a new way and a new soundtrack being introduced. tttv3

Tyne Tees was an ITV company that didn’t contribute much to the network, among their biggest success were the music shows The Tube (for Channel 4) and The Roxy, plus the game shows Cross Wits and Chain Letters. Their local news programme had several different names over the years including Northern Lifetttv8

Tyne Tees also had in-vision continuity for many years and I have seen plenty of clips online. Their announcers included Neville Wanless, I’m sure that he was a nice chap but he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes on Thames, and his announcements at closedown seemed rather rambling. I think that Bill Steel was much better, and he announced against various horrid coloured backgrounds throughout the years. Colin Weston who was more familiar to Granada viewers also turned up occasionally to read out some birthdays and bluff his way through various technical faults. tttv1

By 1988 the Tyne Tees ident was beginning to look rather old-fashioned having been played frequently for the last nine years, so their first computer-generated look was introduced, retaining the same symbol which was now blue on yellow and was formed together by water droplets connecting to one another on sand. In September 1988 Tyne Tees went 24 hours, one of the final ITV regions to do so. tttv4

This didn’t last long as Tyne Tees took the 1989 corporate look, but by 1991 they had dropped it for another new ident. Like some regions they actually continued to use the corporate music with their new ident. By this point the TTTV symbol was over 20 years and looked rather bad with various patterns and colours added to it, so it was time for a new look. tttv2

In 1992 a new symbol was launched, a variation on the old one with the TTTV letters finally changed for the first time since the early-70s, with new music too. This brought the Tyne Tees look into the 90s, but just as it looked like this look was going to become established, by the mid-90s things were about to change. tttv5

In September 1996 Tyne Tees was used as an experiment for different branding on ITV. They were renamed Channel 3 North East, with the new ident featuring a rather oversized “3” and some irritating music. In-vision continuity at this point was dropped. The company was still called Tyne Tees though, and even the announcers seemed confused as to what the channel was called, resulting in some ridiculous announcements such as “this is Tyne Tees Television on Channel 3 in the North East”. It was not a success, and viewers were not impressed. tttv6

Viewers got another surprise in March 1998 when the TTTV name reappeared with another new ident, and an additional special version was made for the 40th anniversary in 1999. By the end of that year they had taken the second corporate look, but also continued to use a local ident, which featured a different TTTV symbol, meaning their presentation remained vaguely shambolic to the end. By the time the name left the screen for the last time in October 2002, Tyne Tees had somehow survived for almost 45 years on screen. tttv7

Round The Regions – TVS.


TVS was the second company to have the ITV franchise for the south and south-east of England, replacing Southern in January 1982. Their first ident was rather eye-catching for the time as their symbol consisted of more than one colour! Two versions were made, one used on weekdays, and one at weekends. It was a shell/flower-type thing that was split into six parts and would be used in various forms throughout the whole of their run. tvs2

When they launched they did have in-vision continuity with announcers including Christopher Robbie and Brian Nissen who stayed on from Southern. Of the clips that I have seen, the announcer that I have enjoyed watching the most is Malcolm Brown, he came across as very entertaining, always having an interesting comment to make about the programmes. tvs9

Around the mid-80s TVS in promotions started to refer to themselves by their full name of “Television South” which sounded curiously old-fashioned. In September 1987 there were the first major changes to TVS’s presentation. A new computer-generated ident was introduced and in-vision continuity was dropped. Also around this time the design on trails became much more creative. tvs6

TVS would be one of the more ambitious ITV companies, they were determined to break into the big five and become a nationwide success but it didn’t really work out for them. For a comparatively small region they produced a lot for the network, including Saturday Morning shows No. 73 and Motormouth, and some of my favourite children’s programmes of the time including the earliest series of Art Attack and How 2, plus the game shows Catchphrase, Concentration and All Clued Up. They also made lots of local programming and their main news programme which won some awards was called Coast To Coast and the hosts included Fred Dinenage (as if it could be anyone else). tvs5

When TVS used to close down, the sequence included various things such as a look at the clock and an epilogue called Company. When they went 24 hours they introduced a new overnight strand called Late Night Late which featured the return of various in-vision announcers introducing the mix of old films and sitcoms that they had in the archive. tvs8

TVS showed no interest in taking the 1989 corproate look partly because they had just launched their third and final look, this time featuring the symbol on a more blue background. In October 1991 though it was announced that they would lose their franchise. When the end came in December 1992 the final programme was Goodbye To All That, which was hosted by Fred Dinenage and Fern Britton and was much more dignified than most finales as they and various others had a celebratory look at their 11 years on air. tvs1

In their later years TVS tried to take over some production companies and their archive has changed hands a lot since they left the screen, however the rather awkward situation of paperwork being mislaid means that none of their programming is likely to be repeated on TV or released on DVD any time soon, so that’s bad luck for Bobby Davro. tvs3

Of all the ITV regions that I have been able to watch archive clips of online, I think that the region that I would have most liked to live in to watch their coverage if I had the choice would be TVS. I have liked their presentation and announcers, and they made more of an attempt to create an impression nationally with their programmes than others, and it was unfortunate that it didn’t work out for them, but I am still a fan of them.

Round The Regions – TV-am.


TV-am was the first company to have the ITV breakfast franchise. Although the history of politics of what happened at TV-am over the years is fascinating, this piece is more going to be about the presentation of the channel and my memories of watching. (Also, because I never tracked down any TV-am clips on old tapes I have the pictures in this piece are taken from TV Ark so credit goes to them.) tvam3

With the exception of an experiment by Yorkshire in 1977, TV had not been broadcast at this time regularly in the UK before 1983. TV-am launched in February 1983, earlier than expected. The BBC launched their first breakfast service in January 1983, so the starting date for TV-am was brought forward so that they could compete. They made a lot of promises about what their service would involve, and hired five high-profile presenters. Of them, David Frost lasted the longest, hosting a Sunday politics programme until 1992, and then taking the format to the BBC and carrying on for about another 15 years. tvam5

TV-am’s symbol was an odd sun-type thing. Their main programme was Good Morning Britain, and although just about everything else changed the title sequence and the music that accompanied which was composed by Jeff Wayne was never changed in the whole of TV-am’s time on air. Maybe they couldn’t afford to change it or they just wanted it to become familiar to viewers. tvam4

A couple of other things that I always found curious about TV-am’s presentation were their analogue clock in the bottom right of the screen which never changed, and also at the end of every edition there was an eggcup which displayed the copyright and year, and more and more of them appeared on screen as the years went by, for example by 1992 you could still see the egg dated 1988 in the background which I always thought was rather odd. tvam1

TV-am had lots of problems with advertising in their early days. Having seen a clip of their first day on the air, their first break consisted of only one advert, and it didn’t get much better. TV-am did also provide a news service including the short-lived Daybreak but this was frequently changed and the regulator soon complained about the quality. tvam6

TV-am also had financial trouble early on and there were often strikes, which led to things like the tea lady hosting the weather and all manner of odd things, and their programmes starting at almost 7am instead of 6am. However, their fortunes soon picked up when they brought in a new wave of presenters and they also introduced the character Roland Rat who became popular very quickly with younger viewers, and it seemed that there was a market for breakfast TV in this country. tvam8

When I was younger around the late-80s and early-90s, I liked to watch TV-am for the children’s programming. Usually on Saturdays and during half-term there would be a lot of shows that I enjoyed including Wacaday and The Wide Awake Club, and I will be writing more about my memories of that show in a separate piece. tvam7

I didn’t watch the Good Morning Britain segment of TV-am too often, but I do remember a few presenters who appeared on the sofa including Mike Morris and various guests who took part. By the early-90s TV-am had started to become a big success, but then in October 1991 it was announced that they would lose their franchise to what would become GMTV. tvam2

By their final year, TV-am dropped most of their children’s programming and replaced it with lots of old cartoons, had their news coverage produced by Sky, and the final few months seemed a little drab compared to the excitement of Channel 4’s new show The Big Breakfast. But when after a month short of a decade and all those ups and downs the time came for TV-am to go it was still a rather sad moment as it had an impact on me and many other viewers.

Round The Regions – TSW.


TSW was the second company for ITV in the south-west of England. They actually replaced the outgoing Westward in August 1981, but maintained their name until it was time for their launch in January 1982. Their first programme was a rather odd affair hosted by Lennie Bennett for some reason who insisted that TSW would stand for “Television Simply Wonderful”. We’ll see about that…

TSW’s first ident was a very odd thing which almost defies description. Needless to say that there hasn’t really been an ITV ident like it before or since. Was it was actually supposed to be was something that viewers had to interpret for themselves as it seemed to reveal and mean nothing about the region. As for me, I always that it was supposed to be some bananas in a fruit bowl, but I am probably wrong about that. tsw1

After a few years a computer-generated version of the ident was introduced along with a new soundtrack. This looked much better than the first ident but it was still rather curious. TSW was one of the smaller regions who decided to concentrate on local programming including their news programme TSW Today and so it was very clear that the 1989 corporate look wasn’t going to be for them. They didn’t produce too much for the network during the time that they were on air. tsw6

TSW had in-vision continuity for the whole of its run, with various announcers including Judi Spiers and Ruth Langsford who went on to bigger things. There was also Roger Shaw and Ian Stirling who seemed to be the most popular of the announcers. I have enjoyed the clips that I have seen of Ian online, including him seeming to forget the name of the film he was introducing, his descriptions of what was happening in the soaps, and laughing his way through a closedown because he thought that the film that had just finished was really good. tsw4

TSW did do some things differently to some regions. They scheduled some programmes including soaps in unusual slots and I think at closedown time that they were one of the few regions to feature a shipping forecast and an epilogue. When in September 1988 the time came to go 24 hours TSW seemed rather reluctant to join in all this, providing a rather half-hearted service that just consisted of showing Granada’s coverage with an occasional pre-recorded message. tsw7

TSW were another region to have a regular birthday slot and this featured the puppet rabbit Gus Honeybun who was very popular with viewers. He had also appeared on Westward and people of all ages were eager to have their birthday read out by the presenter on the chance that he might wave to them. tsw3

By 1989 TSW rarely used their main ident, and started to use seasonal ones instead, along with extra ones for occasions including Christmas and New Year. In October 1991 TSW lost their licence, and at the end of 1992 when it was time for them to go Ian Stirling and Ruth Langsford appeared on the sofa one final time to say goodbye. Poor old Gus was retired after 31 years too. From 1993 there would be more changes to come. tsw5