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.

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.