Created Th 25-Jun-98
Revised Tu 1-Feb-22
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ABC began broadcasting in 1956, providing programmes at the weekend in the Midlands and the North. Its first logo was based on the ABC shield used for its cinema chain and would be seen before programmes such as Oh Boy!. (The shield is still adorning the few remaining ABC cinemas today.) The jingle, composed by Bob Sharples, was based, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the musical notes A, B and C.
In September 1958, ABC began using a new symbol, a triangle of triangles. It first appeared in the TV Times and would gradually be introduced on screen. The "NETWORK" ident was the station signal, intended to remind viewers in ABC's two regions of the channel they were tuned to at weekends. It first appeared in 1958, followed later by the ident captioned "PRESENTS", which was the programme banner, seen throughout the country at the start of everything that ABC produced. In the run-up to an ABC programme, it wasn't unusual for ABC's viewers to see both of these idents, separated only by a word from the announcer over a glimpse of the ABC clock.
To go with the new idents above, were two short animations called opticals or optics (depending on which ITV company you asked). One was used at the start of the commercials, the other, seen here, was used between each one. Channel Five uses a similar animation to separate adverts today, but these days it is referred to as a break flash.
Like all of the other ITV companies, ABC held onto its franchise when they were re-awarded for the period from July 1964 onwards. To celebrate, at Easter 1964, ABC revamped its on-screen image. The update was also a response to the threat of competition from BBC 2, which was about to be launched. The ABC lettering was transformed with a larger, bolder, non-serif typeface. The change to the jingle was more subtle, with a shorter pause between the chimes and the drums. As before "ABC presents" was used at the start of ABC's programmes, but the "ABC NETWORK" station signal would now read "ABC Television".
ABC's optics were also updated in 1964.
This is Associated-Rediffusion's second ident, from 1956. The previous version was the first ever ident seen on commercial television in the UK, back in September 1955, and featured a different jingle. The jingle heard here is simply the letters "AR" tapped out in Morse code, accompanied by two trombones. The star symbol, the Adastral, is from parent company BET and can still be seen on products today.
In 1964 after being re-awarded its franchise, Associated-Rediffusion became Rediffusion Television Limited, trading as "Rediffusion, London". The black version of its ident was used for all its programmes for the first year before being relegated to regional use only. The fanfare was composed by Johnny Dankworth.
This was ATV's first ident, used from 1955. The chimes you hear are played on a vibraphone and celesta. It's believed that the score was written and performed by Jerry Allen, one of ATV's first musical directors and leader of the band on a programme called Lunch Box. The animation was also used at the end of the ATV start-up sequence, accompanying Eric Coates' theme, Sound & Vision. Due to a mix-up over specifications, the logo was made with the wrong proportions. The symbol was also slightly off-centre from the lettering. This ident was short-lived, although it remained in use in the start-up.
In February 1956, commercial television came to the Midlands, with ATV providing the service on weekdays. This event saw the introduction of a new ident, this time using a properly drawn symbol, but retaining the same chimes as before. Two other variations were used - one showing only the London details, the other showing only those for the Midlands.
The chimes also feature in the next ident used before network programmes from the 1959 until 1964. The camera appears to zoom in on the symbol, hence the ident was known within the company as the Zoom.
There were regional variations of the ATV Zoom ident, with a static symbol and either the word "LONDON" or "MIDLANDS" zooming into view underneath it. In April 1964 these idents were modified to make the symbol larger, as seen here. Two more versions of this ident were also then produced, each having the word "PRESENTS" shown underneath the symbol. These were used for outside broadcasts which would not come from either the Midlands or London studio centres.
Introduced in 1969 and used until the end of 1981, this ident heralded the start of colour programmes from ATV (now broadcasting to the Midlands all week) with a dramatic jingle by Jack Parnell, arranged by Wally Stott. The piece is performed by four trumpets, four trombones, timpani (E and B), a vibraphone and a barely detectable suspended cymbal. There appear to be two versions of the animation with very slightly different endings. Both are presented here for comparison. For the US export market, there was also a version captioned "In Color". There were also two versions of the jingle. The first version wasn't very dramatic at all and so was quickly re-recorded. (It is the second version presented here.) Internally the ident was known as Zoom 2.
Yet another version of the 1969 ident was made for those programmes still being produced in black and white. The ending was the same, but this time there were no coloured spots and no "in colour" caption at the beginning. There was also a shorter arrangement of the jingle.
At some stage after colour was introduced, ATV went through a phase of using this brief animation between each commercial in the ad breaks. (The company had also used opticals in its black and white days.)
BBC 2 came along in April 1964, broadcasting in higher definition (on 625 lines) and on UHF. It was a new system that the other two channels would also soon adopt, but for now it meant viewers had to fork out for a new dual-standard set to watch the programmes.
BBC 2 became the first channel in Britain to broadcast in colour in 1967, consequently it had the very first colour ident shown on British TV. Like the ATV colour ident that was still to come (above), the animation begins with three spots of light, representing the phosphors on a colour set, merging into a single white spot.
In 1972, BBC 1 had a spinning globe ident, with a horizontal dividing line. The station logo and the word "COLOUR" appeared in Roman italics underneath. Everything was light blue on a black background. For BBC 2 a similar mechanical model was made. The spinning "2" logo that had appeared when colour was introduced could now be made to rotate and stop as required during announcements. And BBC 2 went one better than the main network - its ident could show three colours!
In the mid-Seventies, the word "COLOUR" was dropped from the idents of both BBC networks. The rotating cube model was replaced with an upright cylinder sliced horizontally. The magic happened when the slices with white stripes on rotated one way and the slices with the light blue stripes rotated the other, splitting up the "2" and reforming it again. The colours from the previous ident were kept and as before there was a seldom-seen variant with a black background.
In 1979 a new BBC 2 ident took to the air. Designed by Oliver Elmes, this was played out from a solid-state device. The animation was created by the BBC Computer Graphic Workshop. The first sequence began with a black screen onto which the stripes and the number were magically drawn from left to right by an invisible hand. The second showed the symbol disappearing, again from left to right, as if the pen was now filled with black ink. Both sequences lasted four seconds and the first one shown after a closedown would have a jingle, also included here. The ident came with a matching clock, but this was still a mechanical model with a camera pointing at it. A solid-state version of this would come later.
From 1961, the "chopsticks in a bowl" symbol that appears to me to be a stylised "B". It is said to loosely represent the Border TV region, with the horizontal line showing the boundary between Scotland to the North and England below, with the fork on the left perhaps depicting the Solway Firth estuary.
Exactly ten years, to the day, after Border began broadcasting, its first UHF transmitter came into service, bringing with it programmes in colour and a new Border ident. Eventually, the word "COLOUR" was dropped. Sadly, none of these early idents were animated, nor did they come with any jingles.
This is the original ident for Channel Television, which began broadcasting to the Channel Islands in 1962. The company launched a competition to design this first logo. The winning entry was used on screen until 1980 and features six hexagons, which represent the inhabited islands. An 'heraldic leopard' adorns the top hexagon.
Grampian began broadcasting on the last day of September, 1961. Its first ident showed the mountains of the North of Scotland turning into the Scottish flag accompanied by a counterpointed version of Scotland the Brave with Crimond (the tune to the most common version of The Lord's My Shepherd).
This ident is from 1964 when the logo featured a more traditional serif typeface with the letters and the saltire zooming into view. The jingle is a different arrangement of the tune used in the previous ident. With apologies for the poor quality of the audio.
With the advent of colour, Grampian decided its logo would appear on screen on a light blue background. The jingle comprised the same tune as before, but with a new, almost heavenly, arrangement!
Granada began broadcasting in the North of England in 1956. Its first ident seen before its programmes on the ITV network featured an arrow reaching up to perturb the "N" in the station name. Station boss Sydney Bernstein was reportedly unhappy with the whimsical way in which his company was being presented and after a few weeks the animation was dropped, leaving a simpler ident that just faded in and out.
Eventually, Granada's ident was animated again, but it was still without a jingle.
In 1968, the company introduced a new ident featuring only the Granada lettering between horizontal lines. It was animated, but only for regional programmes, and the trademark arrow pointing North was gone.
In June 1969, the arrow was back, now incorporated into a new symbol. It looks like a man on a unicycle carrying an umbrella, but served the company for over thirty-five years. Here you can see how it looked on Granada's first two colour idents. Sadly there was no clever animation nor memorable jingle to go with either. It seems idents were grim up North!
Harlech wasn't due to come on air until July 1968, but agreed a deal to take over from TWW early, broadcasting as the Independent Television Service for Wales and the West. Its first day as Harlech Television was 20th May and its Opening Night programme at 9pm starred Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Stanley Baker, Harry Secombe, Geraint Evans and Bruce Forsyth. Here is the company's first, eye-splitting, headache-inducing ident. After 8pm, the negative of this ident was used, for a night-time feel. The jingle features a Hammond Organ, some brass and possibly a clarinet and flute.
Harlech used this animation to signify the beginning and end of a commercial break.
When colour arrived in Wales and The West in 1970, the ident changed and the station became known as HTV. There was a new symbol, which resembled a TV aerial, but the jingle from the previous Harlech ident remained. As well as the generic and HTV West versions seen here, there was also a version for Welsh continuity and programmes, which had "CYMRU" and "WALES" either side of the bottom of the "T".
In 1982, S4C took to the air. All Welsh language programming moved to the new channel and HTV rejigged its idents. The background colour changed from navy to royal blue and the bilingual HTV "CYMRU/WALES" caption became simply HTV "WALES". On January 1st 1993, the aerial device was finally dropped and a new HTV logo introduced. This lasted until 2004 when the newly-merged ITV plc totally banished all traces of the HTV name.
Major changes to ITV were due to come into effect from July 30th 1968, one of which was Harlech Television taking over from TWW in Wales and the West of England. However, TWW decided it was in its best interests to get out early. And so on February 8th, it was announced that Harlech would pay TWW £500,000 to begin broadcasting from March 4th and would start receiving all the advertising income from that date. Harlech had already agreed to buy TWW's studios and to take on most of the staff. But it wasn't ready to provide its own programmes yet and so would continue with TWW's existing schedule. (This didn't stop TWW having a star-studded farewell programme on Sunday March 3rd.) These are the idents that were used in this hybrid period.
The third London Weekend ident reminds me of a pound coin, slowly turning, for some reason. Notice the three stripes, which first appear here, and are still apparent in the logo today. After the introduction of colour, London Weekend finally settled on an orange background, first used in 1970. The jingle was also changed slightly so you could tell when watching on a black and white set whether the programme was made in colour.
This ident ditches the oval but keeps the stripe idea and the orange colour to make up the company's initials. But is it a winding river or is it an unfolding ribbon? Inside the company this ident was known as The River and represents the Thames. It was designed in-house by Terry Griffiths and the accompanying jingle was composed by Harry Rabinowitz.
In 1978, London Weekend decided to become London Weekend Television again, or LWT for short. The ident evolved once again with the old jingle re-mixed by Graham Hix.
Scottish Television's third ident featured a somersaulting lion. The man responsible, Englishman Francis Essex, had joined Scottish in 1964 to make the company more 'showbiz'! It was replaced after only a few weeks with a version showing the lion zooming gracefully into view, following a complaint from The Lord Lyon King of Arms, the man responsible for protecting Scotland's heraldry. The jingle was arranged by Ray Terry and played by the station's head of music, Geraldo, who later occupied the same position at TWW.
Colour television arrived in Scotland in December 1969. Scottish TV produced a colour version of their lion ident, with modified white lettering on a blue background. But in the early Seventies, the lion was replaced with a new logo depicting the abbreviated name for the station, STV. With apologies for the poor quality of the audio.
Southern's first ident, used from 30th August 1958, has a star (or is it a South-pointing compass?) as its symbol. I don't know whether it's this nautical theme, or the basic animation, but this ident reminds me of Captain Pugwash!
In 1960, Southern's productions began with a rotating model of the star logo. The layout of the lettering matched that used in the first ident, but the typeface used for the station name was new and would endure until the company's last day on air.
On 30th July 1964, the first day of the new franchise period (which ended in July 1968), Southern Television Limited launched a short-lived ident emphasising, for some reason, that it was part of the ITV system. It would from then on often be referred to as Southern Independent Television. The jingle is by Steve Race, who was principal musical director at Associated-Rediffusion in the 1950s.
Southern's next ident was seen before programmes and was also included as the climax to its start-up sequence for viewers in the region. Two variants were used - one had "The Station That Serves The South" at the end, the other didn't. Both featured a crumhorn (or rather a couple oboes meant to have a similar sound) and percussion jingle by Steve Race.
Southern's final ident was a colourised version of the middle part of its predecessor. For me it conjures up memories of the ITV children's programmes that would follow it, such as Worzel Gummidge, Runaround, How and Saturday Banana. As with all Southern's idents, the jingle, this time played on a guitar, was composed by Steve Race. The Southern name and logo are now owned by Art Attack producer Nic Ayling.
From 1968, the ITV system would be reorganised, with the Midlands and North being served by one company each, seven days a week. The disappearance of its weekend franchises meant ABC had to look elsewhere if it was to continue to broadcast. Not wanting to put ABC out of business, the ITA offered it the chance to join forces with Rediffusion to run the weekday franchise in London. Both parties agreed, and together formed Thames Television. The plain "FROM THAMES" ident seen here was used before programmes made at what were once Rediffusion's studios. The jingle was composed by Johnny Hawksworth.
When all of the ITV franchises were awarded for a new term to start in 1982, Southern was shocked to find it had lost out to a new company, TVS (Television South). Its logo was designed by John Hayman and the fanfare and station start-up theme were composed by Richard Hill. After eleven years on air, TVS would itself lose its franchise, to Meridian. But the logo was resurrected in June 2007 when it became a registered trademark of Television South Limited, an independent production house unrelated to the original TVS.
The fifth area of the UK to receive commercial television was South Wales and the West of England. Television Wales & West, known on screen as TWW, began broadcasting in January 1958. Its first logo was a circle enclosing a large, central T flanked by a smaller W on either side. Here we see the two versions of an animated ident featuring TWW's second logo. Before the company's own productions, the caption underneath the rectangles would read "PRESENTS". At all other times, for example in the start-up sequence or before the national news, the text would say "CHANNEL 10".
TWW's break bumper looks as if it was created by a man who drove one of those cars that have a single windscreen wiper.
The last part of the UK to get its own ITV station was an area covering North and West Wales. The franchise was won by Teledu Cymru, (pronounced tell-eddy cum-ree), whose English name was Wales Television, which then became Wales (West & North) Television, or WWN, at the insistence of the ITA. With some confusion over names, it's no surprise that the ident, a stylised dragon with no jingle, had no words on it! By 1964, WWN was in some considerable financial difficulty after struggling to produce so much of its own programming (including a significant amount in Welsh) and had to be rescued its neighbours at TWW. The station's ident was then changed to use TWW's jingle and a new caption was added underneath the dragon. As you can see, TWW also decided to keep the Teledu Cymru name on screen.
Tyne Tees continues to serve the North East to this day. Its first ident had a nautical theme. The animated anchor logo was accompanied by a jingle by Arthur Wilkinson.
Two more black and white idents followed with each retaining the same jingle and logo as the first. But when colour came along it was all change. In Tyne Tees' third ident, the "TTT" logo gave way to the famous "TTTV" logo and a new jingle was heard for the first time.
Ulster's original black and white ident has a Twilight Zone feel about it. The jingle is taken from the last two bars of the tune The Mountains of Mourne and is being played on a celesta.
The animated first ident was replaced by a second ident that was a still caption. Here we see the fourth and fifth idents, with the fourth simply being a colourised version of the third and the fifth being identical to the fourth except for the removal of the "COLOUR" tag. The zigzag pattern survived all these incarnations and continued until the company rebranded as "UTV", which it is still known as today.
Yorkshire Television presents - a black and white animated ident. The jingle was composed by Derek New and was based on On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At, a classic verse written in the Yorkshire dialect. (It translates to "On Ilkley Moor Without A Hat", which is often referred to as the county's "National Anthem"!)
At the end of the Sixties, Yorkshire changed its ident to make the chevron symbol smaller and the company name larger. Yorkshire's management wanted the name to be as prominent as possible, which is also why the animation from the earlier ident was done away with. The jingle was also shortened, producing a punchy, no-nonsense image.
This black and white ident was then modified for colour programmes. Still short and dramatic, and now, some said, it was the scariest logo in the world! A later version in the Seventies featured only subtle changes, but still screamed the Yorkshire name before programmes such as Rising Damp and Emmerdale Farm.
In 1982, a new ITV licence period started and companies decided to finally drop the use of the word "colour" in their opening and closing captions. Yorkshire also took the opportunity to rearrange the jingle again, this time turning to composer Chris Gunning.