More TV Memories – ITV In The 80s (Part 2).

This is the second part of my look back at ITV in the 80s. ITV1

LWT introduced their red, white, and blue symbol in 1970, and then this was revised in 1978. A computer-generated version had been around locally since around 1983 (maybe the first one all of the ITV companies?), but the main ident wasn’t changed until August 1986, and there were two variations. They were rather classy, featuring another minor revision of the symbol, and they were still occasionally seen as late as 1992 (and survived on the endcap until 1996). LWT1

Scottish had used their “STV” look for a long time. This was then changed in August 1985 to a rather stylised “thimble” symbol. The colours of pinks and blues, along with the combination of spheres and cubes, made viewers think this looked a little like some Liquorice Allsorts. This was then changed in 1988, meaning that Scottish were on their second computer-generated symbol before some regions had barely established their first. This was used in various styles until as late as 2000. Scottish1

Thames had been using their famous “skyline” look since 1969. It was revised a few times, and it was still being used almost two decades later. Although it was a design classic, it really was time for a change. A new version of the symbol was introduced for the 21st anniversary in July 1989, and this was one of the biggest changes of any region. Also, Thames were the final region to inform us that their shows were a “colour production”. The fact that this endcap was still being used right up until the launch of the generic look in September 1989 is rather remarkable really. Thames1

TSW‘s ident at their launch in 1982 was a really strange mess of all kinds of mismatched things floating around for no reason. It might have been memorable but it was so odd. In May 1985 this was replaced by something more straightforward that formed together in a much more slick and pleasing style, although it was rarely seen by the late-80s. TSW1

TVS introduced their multicoloured symbol when they launched in 1982. Their new look came in September 1987, keeping their “shell” symbol, although it was now a rather cold blue colour. This was updated in 1989 and was used until the closure in 1992. One of the better ones. TVS1

Tyne Tees had been using their “TTTV” symbol since the early-70s. Many years later, this was still being used, and the ident looked very old and tired. There was finally change in September 1988, where droplets of rain on sand formed the symbol, which was now blue on yellow instead of yellow on blue (70s idents were very blue). Further variations were introduced in the early-90s, but by now the symbol probably had the worst case of old symbol/new graphics clash (even more than Granada and HTV), and along with the colour combinations, this looked horrible, frankly. A stop was finally put to this nonsense when an all-new (if less distinctive) symbol was introduced in 1992, but at least it looked like something designed in the 90s. TyneTees1

UTV were another region that didn’t go for very fancy graphics, being known for their not very expensive-looking “telly on a stick” symbol, or a static caption. Although by September 1987 there had been an upgrade, the unusual symbol dealing with the modernisation better than most did. Variations of this were used until the big relaunch in 1993. UTV1

Yorkshire were yet another region that had barely altered their symbol since the introduction of colour, with their rather creepy and static yellow symbol. They were another region to embrace computer-generated graphics early, and in January 1987 they went all the way, putting a lot of time and effort into a new ident… this time in 3D! Several computers worked overtime to create the “Liquid Gold” ident, where the symbol appeared from a pool of gold to fly into the air. This was definitely one of the better designs, and was used on local programming well into the 90s.Yorkshire1

In conclusion, it seems that the process of all the ITV regions changing over to computer-generated idents took almost five years. Grampian were the first, in April 1985, and Border were the last, in September 1989 (although Channel remains unclear unfortunately). The biggest changes came in the Anglia, Scottish, and Thames regions.

The YouTube Files – Easter With Thames.

Easter With Thames (ITV, 1989)

At the end of last year I looked back at some continuity and adverts that were shown at Christmas and New Year on various ITV regions and Channel 4 in the 80s. Now I thought that it would be a good idea to look at some adverts that were shown around Easter. So I was pleased to find some adverts that were shown in the Thames region on Easter Monday (because they wouldn’t be on air on Easter Sunday of course) 27 March 1989 that were uploaded to YouTube by “SaxSells” (a very good account that I definitely think is worth subscribing to). Here are some of the highlights. vlcsnap-01095

Most of the adverts in the video are during an afternoon showing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I must admit that I have never really been a fan of Star Trek so I doubt that I watched these at the time. Adverts include Peperami, Selfridges, and a rather odd one for board game Pictionary, featuring someone who is having a little trouble communicating his answer. vlcsnap-01084

Then we have an advert for pop compilation “Now That’s What I Call Music 14”, featuring 32 of the hottest hits around, the only one that is referenced by David “Kid” Jensen is Bananarama and Lananeeneenoonoo’s classic cover of “Help!”, but then it is the best track on it of course. Available on double album, double cassette, double CD and VHS. vlcsnap-01085

Thames announcer Peter Marshall informs us that Star Trek: The Motion Picture will continue after the news. Then we have a trail for the big Easter Monday evening film, The Man With The Golden Gun. A James Bond film on ITV, who would’ve thought it. We are then told that Channel 4 are about to show the film musical Calamity Jane, which is delightful. vlcsnap-01090

Now this is an odd one, it’s an advert for the second issue of short-lived magazine TV Guide, which launched before the deregulation of TV magazines in March 1991, when you had no choice but to buy both Radio Times and TV Times as no other magazines were able to publish TV listings, even something as basic as “10pm News” wasn’t permitted, so it seems that this magazine didn’t actually feature any listings, only including some interviews and reviews, but it was the first step to getting the regulations changed. vlcsnap-01086

Also notable is that Steven Hartley is on the cover of TV Guide, who was in EastEnders at the time, before going on to appear in many other things including a few episodes of US sitcom Married… With Children, The Bill, and he has also provided voiceovers for about 10,000 trails on radio station TalkSport. After the news is the conclusion of the film, don’t go away. vlcsnap-01087

Then there’s an unbranded trail for soap Home And Away which had launched on ITV only a month or two earlier and became rather popular in this country, although nowadays it’s at the “is that still going?” point with most viewers. Adverts include the return of that man who isn’t very good at playing Pictionary, and a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Then there is a rather odd advert for Head & Shoulders that has been very badly dubbed and seems to feature a vampire (“brilliant, you look awful!”). vlcsnap-01092

The film has now ended, and we are off to Summer Bay after the break. There’s that The Man With The Golden Gun trail again, and another advert for “Now 14”, which apparently does feature some other tracks apart from Bananarama, we also have big hits from Sam Brown, Roy Orbison, Erasure, Phil Collins and Marc Almond, you’ll find them all here. vlcsnap-01088

There is then another advert for McDonald’s (this time promoting Double Features), Mr Dog has been renamed Cesar, and also TV Times, Britain’s biggest-selling magazine called TV Times. Jason Donovan is on the cover this week, how exciting (there had been a big relaunch of Radio Times about a week earlier). Then there’s a trail for a new series of LA Law on Thursday which like all the others features the booming voice of Bruce Hammal. vlcsnap-01094

Then there’s the famous Thames skyline ident (that had been used in various forms since 1969!) and would remain onscreen for about another five months after this, as Peter Marshall out-of-vision introduces the first showing of the day of Home And Away. The ident wouldn’t really be used regularly in this way until 1988. And that’s where the video comes to an end.

The YouTube Files – Christmas With Thames.

Christmas With Thames (ITV, 1986)

As Christmas is coming (when isn’t it), I thought that I would take a look back at some Christmas continuity clips. So I was very pleased when I found on YouTube (courtesy of “TVSProductions82”) 15 consecutive clips of adverts and continuity that were recorded in the Thames region on 25 December 1986 (when I was three years old) which was exactly what I was hoping for. Here are some of my highlights from what’s featured. vlcsnap-00706

The first adverts are during the film Swiss Family Robinson. You would think that Christmas Day would be a prime slot to advertise in when many people are watching, but it’s not really because as nothing is open, and as the stores aren’t beginning their sales until Boxing Day, there is little else to promote, there aren’t many big budget efforts on show here. But one good advert is for the Blockbusters board game. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’ve got this one myself, but unfortunately it doesn’t feature Bob Holness saying “that’s the one!” or fidgeting with his glasses. vlcsnap-00701

Then there are more sale adverts, Allied, Debenhams, Furnitureland, Selfridges… just about every store is at it on Boxing Day and everything has been reduced to clear. The sale adverts that stood out to me the most included the brightly-coloured MFI (which also seemed to be voiced by Tommy Vance), and Rumbelows, who simply wanted to say Happy Christmas to us instead of going on about their bargains. vlcsnap-00710

One advert that I did enjoy was for Whiskas, featuring some woman telling us why her cats (including a big closeup of a miserable-looking one) are fond of their food. Seeing this reminded me that earlier this year the two cats my parents had both died, although they were almost 16 years old by that point and they were looked after, and these two just reminded me of the days when they used to be stroked and have their dinner and everything. 


“Tabatha is more shy…”

Then there is an advert for Colgate featuring someone before they were famous but I can’t remember who it is, Denise Van Outen or someone like that. After Swiss Family Robinson ends, there is a trail for the premiere of Dumbo, and “some really exciting pop musical entertainment” is promised next. There is also that amusing Vicks Sinex advert, before the first of many promotions for Christmas Line with Victoria Wood, in association with Thames, LWT and Capital Radio (and still going a decade later with Carlton involved), which apparently you’re welcome to call if you’re “a bit fed up”. vlcsnap-00713

And after a trail for Adrian Mole’s new series coming in January, we see the announcer Tom Edwards who is in a specially decorated studio, he hopes that we’re having a good day, The Rock Show is next. After yet more sale adverts, Edwards puts on his poshest voice as the clock indicates it’s 3pm and time for the Queen’s Speech. After all that, we now have to fasten our seatbelts for Dumbovlcsnap-00716

Adverts include Leslie Crowther telling us why we should come on down to the star-studded Boat Show, Weetabix, Tunes, etc. One thing that I have noticed about the sale adverts is that they don’t seem as small time as the ones in other ITV regions, there’s no cardboard here! Also turning up is Ronald McDonald, have a tasty afternoon. After Dumbo ends, there’s a trail for the premiere of not-James Bond film Never Say Never Againvlcsnap-00719

Next is Strike It Lucky, the game show which only started earlier in the year, but is already popular enough for there to be a 35-minute Christmas special and there’s the chance to win £2,000. After that ends, the news with John Suchet is next and Edwards (I wonder how he felt about having to sit in the studio all day, maybe he went off and had some turkey while the film was on) has gone and is replaced by Philip Elsmore, as the snow starts to fall and we enter the evening with another Christmas Line plug. vlcsnap-00723

After the news, Elsmore voices the local weather, and informs us that there is a pantomime coming next. I wonder if he hung around until closedown. Adverts include a sale at Magnet Southerns (you’re just making them up now), and those Whiskas-loving cats again. Smile, Tabatha, you’re on TV! And at this point, being in Christmas 1986 with Thames for about four hours comes to an end, it was very enjoyable to be transported back there again.

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.

More TV Memories – ITV Night Time (part 1).

The 1980s: Here’s a look back at another area of ITV presentation that I haven’t covered yet: the Night Time service. This piece will be mostly based around what happened in the Thames/LWT region when ITV finally started to go 24 hours across the country but there will be a look at what some of the other regions did too.

Until the mid-80s, ITV regions always closed down at around 12:30am. ITV then looked for ways to expand their airtime. There were plans at first for the Night Time coverage to be covered by a separate franchise like TV-am was but that never happened. The first region to experiment with going 24 hours a day was Yorkshire. They had already been pioneering by being the first ITV region to broadcast a breakfast time service in 1977, long before the launch of TV-am. In 1986 Yorkshire filled the overnight slot by showing the otherwise little-seen satellite channel Music Box for a few months. nighttime1

As for Thames, by 1987 they started to extend their hours to 4am, until they finally became one of the first regions to go 24 hours, and they also introduced a special nighttime version of their famous skyline ident, which was rather redundant because none of the landmarks were illuminated so you could barely see anything. They also continued to use in-vision continuity with a mostly female line-up of announcers. These announcers would also be live as well, and between the programmes they would have competitions or show music videos while trying not to nod off. nighttime2

As for the programming, there were attempts to fill the time with various things to try and keep the viewers interested. As well as showing some films and imports, in the early days of Night Time the programme America’s Top Ten where horrid sweater-wearing Casey Kasem looked at the biggest hits seemed to be on every day. The presenter Phil Donahue turned up a lot too. There was also an attempt to provide some sport and news coverage. There were even adverts and everything too. nighttime3

LWT experimented with a late night strand in the early-80s called LWT Nightlife which featured their symbol in neon lights. By 1987 they had also gone 24 hours, and introduced a special strand called Night Network under which all their overnight shows would appear over the weekend. There was a lot of original programming made for this strand and at least they put the effort in to try to create something different worth watching. nighttime4

By the end of 1988, every ITV region had finally gone 24 hours, UTV was the last to do so. (Channel 4 didn’t go 24 hours until 1996.) Other regions had their own strands too including Central, who as they went further into the night introduced their programmes under the banner of More and Even More. Granada also had a strand simply called Night Time that ended up also begin shown in a few other regions too. TVS had a strand called Late Night Late which featured repeats of a lot of cult programming, Anglia also had an entertaining overnight strand called Through The Night where various announcers kept the viewers company, and HTV had a service called Night Club. I have enjoyed watching clips online of the 1980s TVS, Anglia and HTV Night Time services. nighttime5

By the end of 1989, LWT had dropped the Night Network strand, and now just linked programmes using their ITV corporate ident with no announcements at all. Thames also continued to use in-vision continuity, and now this was the only time of day that viewers would see announcers who kept the insomniacs happy, and Night Time TV was finally beginning to take off. We shall discover what happened to ITV Night Time in the 1990s in part two.

More TV Memories – Startups.

Just when I thought that I had reviewed every element of classic TV presentation, from having a look back at the ITV regions over the years to closedowns, I have realised that I haven’t looked back at startups yet, so here’s my review of those. Just as closedowns would end the day’s programming, startups would begin them.

I must admit that startups on ITV are before my time, but as ever I have watched several archive clips of them online, and I do find them rather curious. Although it would vary from region to region, the startup process would be mostly the same. At around 9:30 a caption would come on the screen featuring the region’s name and an solemn announcement informing us that the region was “providing a full colour service on the transmitters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority”, as if they felt that they had to thank them every single day for the honour of being able to provide programming to viewers. vlcsnap-01425

Then there would usually be a short piece of music over this caption, some of these pieces were used for a long time so they became familiar to viewers in their various regions that they were used. For example Thames used to use a classical piece called “Perpetuum Mobile”, before then their own classic “Salute To Thames” which was played over the mankiest slide of the Thames ident that they could find. It just seems so odd now that they would have to spend about ten minutes settling in before you would see anything else. vlcsnap-01426

After all this ceremony, the continuity announcer would finally start the day by introducing a lineup of forthcoming programmes and usually informing us about what the weather was like before the first programme, which is these days was usually for schools. After the launch of TV-am in 1983, the startups would occur at 9:25am. LWT also used a famous piece of music for their startups called “A Well Swung Fanfare”. As a tribute to this, on their final day under the LWT name in October 2002 a recreation of a startup was shown which was a nice touch. vlcsnap-01427

Some regions would also feature various things in their startups such as a short film of landmarks around the region. By the mid-1980s the startup process began to be phased out by the regions, and by the time 24-hour programming had come to every ITV region in 1988 there was no longer any need for a startup routine as all regions would now be on all day.

Round The Regions – Thames.


Thames was the ITV company that served London on weekdays from July 1968, replacing Rediffusion, and they went on the become one of the all-time biggest successes in British television. Being a Londoner I do remember watching Thames myself throughout the years and although I have already written a few pieces about my memories here’s a quick look at the history of their presentation.

When Thames launched they had a symbol which featured a montage of various landmarks in London, but when colour came along at the end of 1969 it was remade and would become one of ITV’s most successful idents. It featured such places as St Paul’s Cathedral, the British Telecom Tower and Tower Bridge, and although it was modified a few times throughout the years it would remain essentially the same idea for almost the next 20 years. thames2

Thames had lots of local news coverage. In 1978 Thames News was launched which had various presenters including Andrew Gardner who had previously worked for ITN, and Robin Houston who also did a lot of voiceover work. Thames was one of the biggest ITV companies, producing lots of shows of the network, but they were also committed to local programming. thames1

Thames also had in-vision continuity and I have enjoyed watching lots of clips online of their announcers who were among some of the best on ITV. First there was Philip Elsmore, who was always great and he made the first announcement on Thames in 1968, and the final one in 1992. At Christmas it seems that he liked to announce at home live from his armchair. He has also done a lot of voiceover work and appeared in some TV shows as an actor including EastEnders and The Billthames7

Peter Marshall was another announcer who was at Thames for many years and stayed until the end. He was always very witty and another personality who was always welcome on the screen, and it was enjoyable watching him slowly go grey over the years. Peter announced for many other regions and also hosted a few TV programmes. thames6

Tom Edwards worked in radio before joining Thames, including being a presenter in the early days of Radio 1. He worked at Thames and a few other regions until the late-80s. Again I have very much enjoyed watching old clips of him, especially when he refers to TV-am as “Good Morning Great Britain, kick-orf time 6:15″. After leaving Thames Tom’s career took something of a downward spiral but in more recent years Tom has done some more radio and voiceover work. thames5

Thames gradually phased out in-vision continuity, it was dropped from primetime and daytime around 1988, but it continued overnight after Thames was one of the first regions to go 24 hours. Various announcers who introduced the old films through the night included Evadne Fisher, Victoria Crawford and Sally Harrison, but in 1991 a generic night time service was introduced and they all left the screen. thames4

In 1989 Thames celebrated their 21st anniversary, and they took the chance to proudly take a look back at the wide variety of successful programmes that they had produced, many of them had won awards and gone on to make Thames a name that became known around the world. They also introduced a new symbol, modernising their skyline look ready for the 90s. thames3

Thames did take the ITV corporate look which was surprising as it diluted the Thames onscreen image somewhat, but it was either that or still using their outdated “Colour Production” caption in 1990. I have already written about the day when it was announced that Thames lost their franchise in October 1991, it was remarkable really. thames10

Thames decided to introduce their final ident, another variation on the skyline that looked great. When the time came for Thames to close in December 1992, they did so with dignity, taking the chance to remind viewers of some of their classic programming. The Thames name didn’t go entirely as they became an independent production company, and they remain one of the companies to have had the biggest impact on ITV over its 60-year history.

More TV Memories – The End Of Thames.

A while ago I looked back at the remarkable day in October 1991 when it was announced that Thames had lost their ITV franchise. When the day finally came in December 1992 for Thames to leave the screen, in their closing show like some other regions they could have just whinged for hours about what a massive injustice it all was, but instead they put together a dignified programme looking back at some of their best moments in the almost 25 years that they were on air. There was no voiceover and no contributors, just captions stating the name of the show and when it aired, and lots of memories from their award-winning archive.

At 10:45pm on New Year’s Eve 1992 Thames aired The End Of The Year Show (although it wasn’t tilted as such on-screen). It seems that this show was aired across England (with the exception of the TSW and TVS regions who were also ending that night so had their own farewell show), and presumably in Scotland they were showing their own Hogmanay programmes. The show was introduced with a final announcement from the terrific Philip Elsmore who had been with Thames since day one in 1968. Here’s a look at the various programmes produced by Thames that were featured. vlcsnap-01247

We begin with some comedy and the wonderful talent that was Kenny Everett. (“you could at least look up when I’m talking to you!”) Then we have a sketch from Benny Hill whose comedy show ran for 20 years on Thames and became popular across the world. There’s then more laughs with Anton Rodgers sitcom French Fields, a spin-off from Fresh Fieldsvlcsnap-01248

Then we have some drama, with Edward Woodward series Callan, The Bill (which ran for almost 30 years), The Sweeney and Minder, both of which are still repeated regularly on ITV4. In part two there’s more classic comedy with Man About The House spin-off George and Mildred, Sid James making them laugh in Bless This House, and After Henry which began on Radio 4. vlcsnap-01249

Then there are a couple of children’s programmes. The Sooty Show, featuring Matthew Corbett and his small bear friend introducing an archive clip of his father Harry who originally did the act, and the animation The Wind In The Willows. Then there are clips from the documentaries The World At War and Hollywoodvlcsnap-01250

In part three there’s more famous drama with Jack The Ripper, The Naked Civil Servant, A Voyage Round My Father and Rumpole Of The Bailey. Then there’s the long-running holiday show Wish You Were Here…?. We then have some more top laughs with Tommy Cooper, before a look back at This Is Your Life, featuring Eamonn Andrews and Michael Aspel cornering various victims including Terry Wogan, William Shatner and Paul Daniels. Then there’s some theatre with The Mikadovlcsnap-01251

Part four features various entertainment programmes, including some of the most successful acts who found fame on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks, Joe Pasquale causing chaos on The Magic Comedy Strip, plus also comedy with the likes of Jim Davidson, Max Bygraves, Eric Sykes and Mike Yarwood. vlcsnap-01252

Then we get great game show Strike It Lucky featuring Michael Barrymore enjoying talking to some contestants (it seems most viewers enjoyed this part of the show more than the actual game), Des O’Connor interviewing various personalities on his long-running show, and antics with Mr Bean, another hugely successful award-winning show around the world. vlcsnap-01253

We conclude with a sketch from Morecambe and Wise also featuring Leonard Rossiter, then there is a message thanking all the “artistes” who took part (not a word you hear people on TV being described as nowadays), and finally the chief executive of Thames Richard Dunn appeared in-vision to give a brief and poignant thank you speech to everyone who contributed to the success of Thames. vlcsnap-01254

Then there was a final montage featuring even more great Thames shows accompanied by “I Only Want To Be With You”, a hit single for The Tourists in 1979. Thames described itself as “A talent for television”, a statement that it is difficult to argue with. All these years later, watching this show knowing what we know now, it’s all rather touching. From January 1993, ITV would never be the same again.

The YouTube Files – Closedown.

For many years until about 1988, ITV didn’t broadcast for 24 hours a day, and when it was time to closedown for the night, they used to go through a lot of ceremony. Although I am not old enough to remember closedowns on ITV I have watched lots of them on YouTube, and I thought it would be interesting to have a look back at this phenomenon that has now gone from our screens, using examples of a typical closedown from the Thames and LWT regions, although it did vary across the country. So here’s what you’d expect to see in a closedown.

The closedown would begin with an advert break, usually with one final plug for that week’s TV Times. Then there would be the epilogue, a minute-long programme where someone or a group of people would reflect on a religious aspect of life, usually a celebrity or a guitar playing vicar with a tale to tell us. It’s fair to say that you don’t get anything like this on TV any more. vlcsnap-01059

Then we would go to the announcer, on Thames in the 80s it was usually Peter Marshall, Philip Elsmore, or Tom Edwards, while on LWT it would be Peter Lewis who was out-of-vision by this point. They would usually begin with the weather forecast. ITV didn’t have a national weather service until 1989 so until then you would only get weather updates at the end of the local news or at this time. vlcsnap-01060

Then we would be told about a few programmes that we could watch tomorrow, starting with breakfast show TV-am, which Tom Edwards always memorably (incorrectly) referred to as “Good Morning Great Britain, kick-orf time 6:15″ before revealing a few of the guests. One thing that I have noticed about closedown announcements is that because presumably they weren’t against the clock they seem to be longer and more relaxed, and all kinds of odd observations were passed on. vlcsnap-01061

LWT would also reference that the two local commercial radio stations LBC and Capital were still on air, but Thames never did this. Then we would get a menu of tomorrow’s programmes. On LWT these were often accompanied by some funky music and Peter Lewis giving some odd descriptions. On Thames the menu was usually accompanied by a track from a crooner’s new album or a piece of library music. There was also a phone number available if you wanted more information where if you called you would hear the Thames theme and then be told about the programmes. Honestly, just buy the TV Timesvlcsnap-01062

After this, the clock would then appear, and in the 80s closedowns were usually around 12am to 1am, although the regions did start to close later before they went round the clock. LWT would close with the national anthem accompanied with some footage of royals in the region, but Thames never did this. Then there would be one more announcement, a reminder to switch off our sets, we don’t want anyone to come downstairs the next morning to find their TV set on fire now do we. Then the transmitter was usually switched off, or occasionally a testcard could briefly be seen too. Sleep well now won’t you. vlcsnap-01058

The YouTube Files – Thames On Its’ Fateful Day.

Thames On Its’ Fateful Day (ITV, 1991)

16 October 1991 was one of the most remarkable days in the history of British TV, one of those moments where you could say that everything changed. It was the day that the ITC would announce the results of the franchise auction where we would discover what companies would run ITV for the next decade. There are lots of news clips online from this day but this piece is based on the one which contains the initial reveal of the results which was uploaded to YouTube by “AntarcticaTelevision” a while ago so credit goes to them. vlcsnap-00715

The video starts with a brief clip of Thames News just before the results were announced. Thames was the biggest ITV region and one of the most successful so there would be no problem with them retaining the franchise, right? Little did they know what was about to happen. vlcsnap-00721

We then go to John Suchet in the ITN studio. They’ve interrupted The Time… The Place… for this so the news better be important. The results have just come in so it’s over to the Nicholas Owen at the ITC to tell us what’s happened. I didn’t actually see this the first time round so finally watching it was a rather remarkable experience, especially all these years later, knowing what we do now. vlcsnap-00716

Nicholas tells us that four companies have lost their franchise. We find out that TVS have lost to Meridian, TSW have lost to Westcountry and TV-am have lost to Sunrise (who later changed their name to GMTV). (Oracle also lost their franchise to Teletext but Nicholas doesn’t point that out). The big news though is that Thames have lost to Carlton. Well it was incredible really, a huge upset that nobody saw happening. However, LWT did win. vlcsnap-00717

I still remember the moment when I was told the news and I do remember watching the News at 12:30 and the afternoon edition of Thames News on that day. It begins with the ITV corporate ident voiced by a rather surprised sounding Peter Marshall. Thames dropped the corporate look a week or two after this. It wasn’t a coincidence. The local news was hosted by Robin Houston who had the difficult task of essentially revealing that he and many others would be out of a job at the start of 1993. vlcsnap-00718

It includes a report with TV-am’s Mike Morris telling us how upset he was at the news and the Managing Director of Thames Richard Dunn describing the auction as “something of a farce”, and it is difficult not to disagree with him. However, he would go on to make a dignified closing speech on Thames’s final night in December 1992. vlcsnap-00720

I’ll be taking a look back in a piece soon about the end of Thames and the launch of Carlton. A lot of people pinpoint this as “the day ITV went rubbish”. As a Londoner it was a real shock to think that Thames had lost. Things wouldn’t be the same again, that’s for sure.