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 Diary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.