ITV 59 - All Your ITV Favourites (And Flower Stories) Part Two: Idents


Sorry, don't know what happened there. Welcome, one and all, to the second part of our celebration of forty nine years of the bits on ITV that weren't the programmes but weren't the adverts either (so apologies in advance to Tank from the Walkers Crisps advert). We're going to be skipping the Test Card, as there's only really the Simple Minds-purloined IBA Colour Bars and the slightly earlier black and white one where it looks like when a DVD player goes wrong between chapters worth writing about (and the rogue appearances by BBC Test Card F in some ITV regions has already been covered here), so instead we're moving straight on to the big bewildering company logos the various regions used to say "I MADE THIS" at the end of their programmes. Or, if you will, the 'idents'. Let's rock!

We're going to be approaching these in an entirely arbitrary order, so what better place to start than with Grampian, regional-churner-outer for those north of north of north of the border from 1961 right up to 2006, when it was subsumed by one of its broadcast neighbours. Primarily known for an endless parade of heavyweight documentaries, though viewers who fell within its catchment area will be well used to interminable regional opt-outs featuring Runrig jumping over a model of 'Nessie' or something in lieu of the final episode of a networked drama serial they'd been following for ten weeks. Anyway, their stamp of quality was this Saltire-riffing minimalist affair that played out to a shrill burst of Scotland The Brave. Not much potential for surrealist tangents there, really.

Off at an actual geographical tangent, however, viewers slightly less north of north of north of the border were serviced by Scottish Television, or STV for short, whose still-thriving blend of costume drama and zany younger viewer mayhem was originally signposted by a lion-in-rectangle gambit calling to mind a design on one of those swanky chocolate biscuits that relatives always had, before they went all BBC Schools Diamond-plagiarising with a mid-seventies switch to white on blue abbreviated chunkiness. Then in the eighties they opted for a blocky cyberpunk thistle, doubtless rendered on one of those computers that cost about a million behind-the-scene-feature-friendly pounds to run and required several days to draw three seconds of animation, whereas nowadays the same effect can be achieved by someone with access to Windows Live Movie Maker on its basic settings and a microphone with loads of buzz on it in about fifteen minutes. This wasn't so much cutting edge and futuristic as a bank manager's idea of cutting edge and futuristic, and pretty much par for the course in the era that gave us the P-p-p-peanutritious! advert. And indeed very much where the rot began to set in... but more about that later.

Down on the, erm, border, Border Television carried out their nation-straddling transmission relay duties under the blue and white banner of a sort of stylised 'B' where nobody could ever actually tell what in the name of sanity it was supposed to be. But that level of self-aggrandisment was pretty much par for the course for a company whose nearly every last second of original programming was entitled 'Border [Something]', with the notable exception of theme-song-censorship-stricken Krankies vehicle The Joke Machine.

Continuing our voyage round the 'regions' that were actually technically slightly more substantial than 'regions' before we get to anything anywhere near England - specifically for the purposes of getting up the noses of those inexplicable hordes of mouth-frothing send-'em-all-back merchant ident freaks - it's time to alight upon greener pastures and Ulster TV's inaugural medical-chart-out-of-hospital-drama-title-sequence jagged line hoo-hah, and its subsequent subsumation into a game show prize-esque stylised TV statuette reportedly fashioned out of metal recovered from the film prints of junked local TV productions, so there may well be bits of a couple of long-lost much-vaunted Jack Rosenthal comedy-dramas in there. No, stop scraping. You can't recover them that way.

The mysterious Television Wales And West was the original reins-taker for the corresponding crossover area between Wales and the West Country, who apparently produced a grand total of no programmes whatsoever for the wider network. However this did mean that they could take a progressively bilingual approach to their local-only output, with a bold late-night-satire prefiguring wallop for the English language stuff, and a natty dragon for Welsh-spoken offerings like Amser Te (apparently literally 'Tea Time'). Anyway, they soon got the long-railway-station-name-pronouncing boot to be replaced by...

...the mighty HTV, makers of true televisual milestones like Into The Labyrinth and Paint Along With Nancy, frustraters of billions of hapless transmitter-failure-stricken Granada youngsters stuck watching Ffalabalam instead of something they could actually comprehend, and purveyors of possible the most far-out idents ever to be seen in the entire history of television, firstly an eye-hurting collision of strobing stripes like, well, The Waltham Green East Wapping Carpet Cleaning Rodent And Boggit Extermination Association's idea of 'psychedelic' frankly, and latterly the sliding white-on-blue lines accompanied by what appeared to be an analogue synth thrown into a jacuzzi.

...and that seems as convenient a moment, and indeed as a 'GRRR POLETICALLY CORRECT BRIGADE : ('-moaner infuriating a moment, as any to take a short break before embarking upon a tour of the remainder of the regions. So we'll see you again in Part Two!

no nele tehre will notf be part two