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 – Late Night Late.

Late Night Late (ITV, 1988-1991)

Although I have already written on this blog about the history of ITV regional companies and ITV’s Night Time programming, I thought that I would review this. I still find it something of a surprise that I can watch videos of regional ITV online from parts of the UK that I haven’t been to, and I can finally experience what some of the presentation across the country was like beyond where I live in London.

Around 1987/1988 ITV extended its hours, and several regions decided to introduce their own strand where in-vision presenters would try to not odd off and keep viewers company through the night by introducing various shows until TV-am started at 6am. The TVS region’s strand was the oddly-named Late Night Late, and it has been a good experience to see some of this on YouTube (so thanks to the various uploaders). vlcsnap-00515

Late Night Late launched in January 1988, actually before TVS went all the way to 6am from June 1988, originally finishing around 3am and being followed by the epilogue programme Company. Late Night Late featured a entertaining group of presenters including Graham Rogers and Laura Penn, who would soon become familiar to viewers and they all had the job of introducing the various shows that would fill this slot, including DonahueAmerica’s Top Ten, and the seemingly endless Prisoner: Cell Block Hvlcsnap-00512

It seems that Late Night Late did try to put some imagination into what it showed, including cult programmes from the ITC archive like Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), and viewers were invited to write in and request what they would like to see again. This interaction was encouraged, and there were also competitions to win prizes, and even phone votes on what film should be shown from a shortlist. 


Viewers can vote for what film is shown on Late Night Late in 1989

As well as this, there were also occasionally some guests in the studio, usually people who were appearing in the programmes that were being shown to share some of their memories. It seems that all of this went down rather well with viewers (and by the end there was a change in the set design so it no longer looked like it was coming live from a spaceship), so it was something of a surprise when in August 1991 Late Night Late ended rather suddenly to be replaced by a generic service that was also taken by various other regions. vlcsnap-00514

Things were never really the same and it seems that a lot of viewers were disappointed. However, when Meridian replaced TVS around 1993/1994 they also had a late-night strand, even bringing back Graham Rogers as an in-vision presenter. Another ITV region that did something similar in the late-80s/early-90s was HTV with its Night Club, and I plan to review that soon too.

The YouTube Files – Goodbye To All That.

Goodbye To All That (ITV, 1992)

A while ago I wrote about my memories of the TV news coverage on the day in 1991 that it was announced that Thames had lost their licence, and also their final programme before they went off air at the end of 1992. Another ITV company that came to an end on that night was south and south-east of England franchise TVS, and thanks to YouTube user “TVSProductions82”, I have been able to see their final programme now too.

Goodbye To All That was a special 75-minute programme that was hosted by Fred Dinenage (who has hosted various programmes over the past five decades for the ITV companies Southern, TVS, and Meridian) and Fern Britton, taking a look in the archive to recall the highlights of the programmes that TVS had made for ITV in their 11 years on air. Continuity announcer Malcolm Brown introduced the show which took place in front of a large studio audience. vlcsnap-00158

First there was a look back at some comedy programmes, including etc…, a late-night show which gave some early TV exposure to Paul Merton, the sitcom That’s Love, sketch show Five Alive which featured Brian Conley and Doon Mackichan among the cast, and Kelly’s Eye, a sketch show starring Matthew Kelly who was then interviewed, and he then stayed around to interview some studio audience members himself including Police 5‘s Shaw Taylor. vlcsnap-00159

Then there was a look back at some news and documentary programmes, followed by some drama series including CATS Eyes and an interview with Jill Gascoine. This was followed by a look back at some childrens’ programmes including Do It, How 2, The TelebugsMr Majeika, and Fraggle Rock, and there was also an interview with good old Neil Buchanan who starred in such goodies as No. 73, Motormouth, Finders Keepers and Art Attackvlcsnap-00162

There was then a look a look back at some cultural programmes and some more drama series including Perfect Scoundrels which starred Peter Bowles and Brian Murray who were also interviewed. This was followed by a look back at some game shows, including Jeopardy!, The Pyramid Game, Tell The Truth, which was followed by an interview with Roy Walker who hosted the great Catchphrasevlcsnap-00164

Then there was one more look back at some award-winning drama including The Ruth Rendell Mysteries and an interview with George Baker who played Inspector Wexford, plus a look at some regional programmes including the local news Coast To Coast and TVS’s contribution to the three ITV Telethons. And just before the end there was a chance to see some amusing moments where things went wrong including Bobby Davro falling over. vlcsnap-00167

Goodbye To All That was definitely a poignant send-off for TVS, which was much more dignified than the end of their predecessor Southern in 1981 which came across as rather bitter. When the end finally came Fred and Fern thanked everyone who had worked for TVS over the years along with the viewers for their support to much applause, and the show concluded with the message “Thanks for watching”. vlcsnap-00170

Although I don’t live in this region I imagine that a lot of people watching that night felt similar to how I did when Thames left the screen at the same time. I did enjoy a lot of programmes made by TVS, but unfortunately their archive is now in something of a mess, with almost no chance of anything they produced ever being repeated on TV or released on DVD. Preserving shows like this online though means that people can still see some of their best programmes.

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.