ITV 59 - All Your ITV Favourites (And Unicorn Tales) Part One: Startups
Last year, you may remember, we ran a series looking back at the visual ephemera that used to appear between BBC programmes. This was hugely successful, but also led to accusations of bias; apparently these days you can't take a disgruntled sarcastic tongue-in-cheek pro-License Fee anti-Murdoch stance without someone thinking you've got a hidden agenda.
Anyway, to redress the supposedly unbalanced balance, and indeed to get around David Cameron's 'family friendly' filters (not to mention preventing Boris Johnson from falling off his bike in anger, Iain Duncan Smith from throwing himself into a meat grinder in anger, and some bloke in the comments box from getting an ear infection), it's time to get all upbeat and positive and bring you a new series celebrating fifty nine years of ITV - the commercially-funded market-driven BBC-rivalling enterprise that would ultimately give us TV 'Spatz'.
And what better way to kick off proceedings than by taking a stroll down memory lane with those fondly-remembered day-heralding Startup sequences...?
Normally, the first thing you would see in any ITV region would be this handy list of transmitter frequencies for your local area, just in case your reception was on the blink and you had some bolt cutters, earth-moving equipment and triangulation monitors to hand with which to correct the wobbly picture before Secret Valley came on. It's also worth noting here that some viewers claim to have found transmitter information every bit as terrifying as TV 'Clown' (Test Card), for reasons that can never be satisfactorily explained.
Most regions would then just opt for running their ident in full - most infamously the 12" Extended Remix of the Anglia Knight - but a couple of them put a bit more thought, effort and indeed money (well, about three pence) into it, occasionally giving rise to such warm-hearted welcomes as this cheery top-of-the-morning salutation from Lew Grade himself.
Even in the early eighties, ATV's regional usurpers Central were still sticking to this tried and tested format; anyone who tuned in before their daily diet of unlisted Hardwicke House showings commenced would have seen this eye-assaulting tribute to the thing at the start of Volume Three of Heroes where the world split in two because of something Peter Petrelli did wrong with 'time' but then they forgot about it and did all that nonsense about his dad trying to synthesise Gino Ginelli and Mohinder falling over or whatever it was instead. Whither the Hurley Bird?
Some of them even went to the bother of putting together a nice bit of film of local 'colour'. Take, for example, this effort from little-heard-from appropriately-named Channel Islands-servicer Channel, which presented a slow zoom in on their studio headquarters to show viewers where the action was. The 'action' in this case being, erm, um... some episodes of Highway every now and then?
Meanwhile, Yorkshire went one better and gave us a Chevron-tastic look inside the building, starting with the Yorkshire Van pulling up at Yorkshire TV (which George Osborne would probably still see as an example of 'BBC bias'), then showing some technicians hard at work wiping episodes of Animal Kwackers, and finally the handy Cold War-esque alarm light used to warn viewers that another instalment of Flambards was imminent.
Hang on a minute... Parky? What's he doing here?! Don't start adjusting your set just yet - unfortunately, despite extensive research, it's proved impossible to locate an image of the Granada startup board that Julian Cope claims to have imperceptibly written 'fuck' on in the dust, so Mr. Parkinson has generously agreed to appear as an illustration in its place. Anyway, that's the last we'll be seeing of him.
Then, with all of the fanfaring introductory hoo-ha out of the way, it's straight on to a rundown of the morning's programming. Here we can see a typical example of God Slot-era Sunday Morning programming, including the notorious washed-out-film maker of learning fun Max The 2000 Year Old Mouse, but which breaks with convention by actually putting something halfway watchable on before 10pm. Surely they should have gone for The Secret Service, though?
And, finally, it's time for ITV proper to kick in, usually with a warm welcome from one of your regional in-vision continuity announcers. Here's Granada's celebrated 'Beardy Man' Jim Pope, fresh from creating an unlabelled 'mock' of a fifteen minute 'junction' into Santa Barbara. Anyway, join us again next time, when we'll be taking a look at just what that mysterious 'G' thing in the upper right hand corner actually was...