It was 2002 when ITV said farewell to its regional branding, and while they replaced it with ‘ITV1’ many still referred to the output by a previous name. With yesterdays re-launch of the station as, er, ITV, we’ve picked our Top Ten best regional idents from the past. From the wobbly Tyne Tees ‘Star Wars’ style animation of the late 1970s to Anglia’s 150+-year-old Knight on a record turntable.
Today… ITV’s idents are reflecting the broadcaster being part of ‘everyday life’. We’re awaiting the ‘guy on the bog’, the ‘kid being sick’ and ‘obese at McDonald’s’ to appear shortly. But there was a time when bland was confined to the Granada region. Here are our top ten…
10 – Anglia Television – The Knight on the Box
It was 1959 that Anglia Television, serving the ITV East region, hit the air. And what a memorable logo they came up with. With Sir Malcolm Sargent’s orchestra trumpeting every note of Handel’s Water Music, a shiny sterling silver Knight on his Horse revolved and revolved and revolved its way round, until viewers saw the name ‘Anglia’ upon his pennon.
The original silver knight was created in 1850 with modifications made, including adding the Anglia logo, in 1959. The 700 ounce, 4-foot high, 3-foot long, figure is based on the statue of Richard Coeur de Lion which stands outside the Houses of Parliament. Who’d imagine an ITV ident these days being so full of culture and history?
Today the Knight remains in the ITV Anglia foyer, and made a comeback to screens as part of Anglia Tonight’s news titles in the late 2000s.
If only Carlton’s programmes had been as good as their final offering of a logo. The Carlton Star, introduced in 1999, could give ITV of today a few ideas. It was bold, it screamed popular programming in the style of ATV and Central before it, and it had a bright and noticeable music accompaniment. Everything ITV hasn’t had since 2002. The Carlton Star was seen across the company’s three regions, ITV London, ITV Midlands and ITV South West.
It may come as no surprise that Lambie-Nairn were behind the Carlton Star idea, they also created the original Carlton logo for television in 1993. While Carlton were giving viewers this delightful ident, Granada stations were showing us people waiting for trains, hanging out their knickers and mowing the lawn, with a not-very-telly-like ‘hearts’ theme uniting them all, keeping Granada’s tradition for bland and boring alive and kicking.
WestWard Television hit the air in 1961 and in one form or another had used as the station’s identifier Sir Francis Drake’s galleon, The Golden Hind. Best known for its circumnavigation of the globe between 1577 and 1580.
Like Anglia Television the company had obtained a silver model to use within their idents. WestWard’s galleon however was half the height of Anglia’s knight, but size isn’t everything. The Golden Hind was much more detailed, and its why we’ve picked the first colour outing for it in 1971 as our favourite. It is this sequence that shows off the ship to its finest, and they’ve even managed to make the silver look golden. That’s television magic.
The music was also a rousing ‘Come Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl’, the company went off air in 1981 and the model was reportedly to remain with the major owners – the Cadbury family, where it is reported to reside on top of a television set.
In 1979 Tyne Tees launched their third colour animation, following not so swiftly on the heels of the second in 1971, and the first in 1969 (this being just a yellow/black evolution of the original black and white 1959 ident).
The animation flying into shot like some Star Wars spacecraft, complete with flashing glows and motion light-lines was completed by an equally space-travel-esq electronic jingle. While a very competent production, unfortunately its best remembered for its often ‘wobbly’ playout, with the logo usually not alined correctly to the centre of the screen and the soundtrack jaunting suddenly into action only to ‘wobble’ itself. Whatever technical difficulties the telecine department TTTV may have had, while trying to serve the ITV North East region, the logo proved iconic and possibly is the stations most well-known ident and logo. *It re-appeared on ITV in September 2013 within an episode of Vera as part of a mocked up Tyne Tees news report.
It was quite a change in 1993 when Meridian Broadcasting took over the ITV South franchise which had previously been held by Television South, 1982-92, and Southern Television 1958-81.
TVS had gone for a slick corporate image, with ambitions to be a player on a global stage – as ATV before them had attempted – while Southern settled for a more regional, personal, gentle feel.
Meridian arrived with a burst of colours, clearly aiming for a more modern and trendy outlook for their presentation.
The vibrant animation, along with the strong yellow, orange and blue colours, incorporated a nod to the region’s maritime past. The sun and moon combined logo is reported to be inspired by maritime compasses and other such nautical tools used in the past by ships which carried similar graphics. It may be suggested this was the most fitting logo from ITV South for the region, although Southern Television’s ‘Southern Star’ – which in later years looked somewhat like a ship’s helm – came close. The name Meridian is also believed, with the telly regulator wanting ‘names which reflect the region’, to be taken from the fact the Prime Meridian – the earth boundary between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres – passes through the middle of the region.
It might not have sounded that iconic on paper when the designers at LWT back in 1971 suggested a more ‘London’ themed logo using three coloured lines, or ribbons as I call them, but the end result ended up appearing on some of ITV’s most memorable programmes of the decade.
The idea was for three colours, blue, white and red, each reflecting a day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, London Weekend Television was on air. The animation formed to depict the path of the River Thames through London while also making the LW symbol. The animation was updated in 1978 with a re-recorded version of the music and rather than just LW appearing in the ribbons the river dropped apart to make LWT.
ATV is probably best known for being a song and dance station, with populist output lead by variety impresarios’ Lew Grade and Val Parnell. And while that isn’t the entire picture – despite what Granada may try to paint in its books these days – the station’s symbol and fanfare of the 70s certainly screamed ‘showbiz’.
Yes even on the highest quality dramas – ATV made BAFTA winning period fare for ITV – and lavish highbrow documentaries the same booming, proudly stating ‘in colour’ light-spots and eye symbol would burst onto screen.
All accompanied by a joyful, showbiz-dramatic, jingle created by Wally Stott and performed by ATV’s in-house orchestra lead by Jack Parnell. ATV operated in the ITV Midlands region until 1981 then re-launched with a new company – Central in 1982. After the telly regulator decided ATV wasn’t ‘Midland’ sounding.
It was suggested when parent company of the time, Parsons Television, carried out research the Thames Television brand was one of the best-known and loved in the UK – and also abroad in countries shows had been exported to, and repeated, over the years. It lead to the Thames brand being retained long after the company had ceased as being a broadcaster on ITV.
Thames launched in 1968 broadcasting to ITV London weekdays, and from the very start the famous jingle and skyline animation appeared – all be it in a simpler black and white form.
The jingle, entitled ‘Salute to Thames‘ was composed by Johnny Hawkesworth and continues to be heard all over the UK regularly on the Paul O’Grady Radio 2 show, such is its memorable status among older ITV viewers. The fanfare introduces classic television themes on the O’Grady show.
In its original intended form, it appeared on screen for twenty years, with the simple rising skyline, and its river reflection, proving you don’t need a great deal of visual gimmick to create an iconic ident, just a skilled team to put it all together so it looks the business.
The Thames Television ident must be one of the most adapted, with a night time version for the introduction of horror programming, A vandalised version by Pauline Quirk dressed as Godzilla, re-sung for Morecambe and Wise and of course the memorable ‘boobs’ version by Kenny Everett.
We’ve put Central in first position simply due to the fact they were the only company that really embraced their logo and utilised it in virtually every possible format to hand. From the CGI coloured cake original of 1987 through to the symbol being stained glass, a piece of metal work or entirely covered in red sand, it was adaptable and Central made the most of their logo.
The ‘cake’ wasn’t the original ident for the station, in 1982 the station launched with a rather odd looking moon, which progressed into a more colourful globe. It’s however the later years and the cut-up-globe into the cake format which continues to be an iconic piece of ITV Midlands telly history.
There are of course many much loved idents from other regions and a few bizarre ones too. Southern Television’s gentle guitar accompanied star, UTV’s metal logo on a stick, Border Television’s weird ‘B’ symbol, Yorkshire Televisions big scary dagger-like yellow ‘Y’ and TSW’s green bra animation.
Will the new ITV logo be as loved and remembered in twenty years? Click any of the old logos above for a video clip.
*Vera information on TTTV section added September 6th 2013