ITV 59 - All Your ITV Favourites (And Roland's Countdown To Christmas): Christmas Special!

Merry Christmas! If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may well remember that, earlier in the year, we ran a special series of articles looking at ITV's inter-programme iconography of years gone by, which took in startup sequences, IDEANTS, MORE IDENATS, EVEN MORE IDENEATASF, Oracle, Children's ITV, The News, Schools And Colleges, TV-am and Channel 4, and - but of course - Continuity Slides. You may also recall that the previous year, we ran a similar series about the BBC, ending with a Christmas Special that opened with an impassioned plea to defend the BBC against the machinations of politicians and media moguls with your bare hands if you have to.

This corresponding look at ITV's old-skool festive trimmings will thus correspondingly open with an impassioned plea to, um, watch ITV every now and then when some thing that you think looks quite good from the trailer but then turns out to actually be a bit boring when you see it though it used to be good when they had Spitting Image and The Equalizer or something is on. Yes, there's not really that much shouting to do, so instead let's get straight on with the utterly respectful and thoroughly technically detailed celebrating of the golden age of TV continuity...

Needless to say, it was pretty much par for the course for the regional ITV companies to add a bit of seasonal snazz to their all-too-familiar idents (NO THIS MU ST NOT RTEMBER THE REAL REASONS WE CELEBNRATE CHRISTHMAS IT IS NOT BECAUSE NELE). Up at the top there you can see Yorkshire's bird-tastic 'Chevron' caught in a sudden downpour of snow, LWT's bing-bonging racially dubious sitcom-bookending letters caught under a deluge of, erm, snow, Granada at least having the gritty northern integrity to use a bit of frost instead of all that snow them namby pamby Southerners are all wearing now (yes, we know Yorkshire isn't in the 'South', but try telling that to a born and bred Granadalander), Central going overboard with the satin and tat and inadvertently turning their famed 'world' into something resembling a sought-after ancient artefact with mystical powers in a mid-eighties post-Indiana Jones adventure movie, and finally those inverterate scrooges at Ulster casually adorning their usual insignia with the sort of lazy colour scheme and iconography that you'd more normally find on a generic sharp-cornered Christmas Card sent to you by a local business that you'd briefly spoken to on the phone back in February but they've forgotten to put your name in it anyway. Yeah, Deck The Halls.

One peculiar offshoot of this was that the regional companies became bizarrely obsessed with using their idents (DONT FEED THE NELE DONT LET HIM KNOW ITS CHIRISMTAS TIME AGAIN) as putative wrapping paper patterns. At the top we can see a particularly HTV-obsessed Teddy, doubtless hoping that Santa has brought him a DVD of a celebrated HTV-sourced supernatural children's serial which comes with a book about all those sort of shows written by someone not a million miles from here, and below that Central breaking out the lavish opulence to suggest that all manner of lavish blockbusting high-spectacle programming was bursting to get out from beneath that paper. And exactly what lavish blockbusting high-spectacle programming did they have in store for us that Christmas...?


If you were lucky, the continuity announcers in your region would similarly make an effort and loosen their ties by, ironically, straightening their ties a bit. Here's Granada's top levity-merchant Colin Weston bidding viewers a jolly Yuletide...

...and Charles Foster's getting nattily in on the act too...

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 fellow Granada anchor Jim 'Beardy Man' Pope doing his trademark 'refreshed' fivedollarsgedouddahere late night bit to camera, 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.

Some regions were so giddy with Advent excitement that they'd even stump up the readies for a full-on animated Christmassy trailer, which makes it all the more ironic that this particular example from TVS should be so breezily fanfaring the company that would later buy the rights to their archive then promptly trash all the paperwork so that nobody could repeat or release any of the programmes even if they could navigate all the labyrinthine rights clearances and disproportionate licensing fees surrounding forgotten videotaped studiobound nonsense from the past that only about three people on The Mausoleum Club would be interested in buying on DVD in the first place anyway. And if that bastard mouse has been anywhere near The Boy Who Won The Pools with a big magnet, it'll be Song Of The South, The Story Of Menstruation and Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors on a loop on Christmas Day next year

Anyway, what festive delights from the TVS archive are Walt's boys currently blocking access to...?


ITV as a whole would even sometimes fork out for its own generic one-size-fits-all Let's Get The Regions Together overarching animated promos, such as this one featuring a dilapidated Santa apparently played by a melted TV 'Ernie' (Sesame Street), and the below slightly more classy one which appears to feature the houses from the Rainbow title sequence being visited by Peter Petrelli and Sylar after they'd acquired that 'light' power that was in the Volume Three publicity material but then never featured in the show itself. Put a sock in it, 'Mohinder'.

And from three wildly disparate years (well, sort of), here are a couple of examples of how they routinely introduced their programming on the three Festive Big Guns. As you can clearly see, the ITV scheduling cards were somewhat slightly bigger on razzle-dazzle, iconographic tradition and indeed overall coherency than the equivalent offerings from the BBC.

Until, that was, the late eighties, when they suddenly got all abstract and computer graphical and subsequently never quite managed to recapture that lost impact, as can be seen above with the rather inappropriate choice of present for an ITV viewer of the BBC Globe, and the Swatch-esque counterpart to the Oh Fuck Off-era BBC2 logo. Can we move on to the next bit now? Thanks.

Those zany funsters at ITN were always first to jump on the Christmas bandwagon, as can be seen from their logo's wanderings in a giant snowflake-bedecked Winter Wonderland which perhaps didn't sit too comfortably with the latest updates about industrial unrest and hostage dramas, and from the year that one of their 'backroom boys' learned how to do a SCREEN$ on the ZX Spectrum. BONG Ninja steals computer disc from Research Centre BONG Blue Head On Legs evades Park Keepers for third day running BONG An attempt to attack Thorin with the Troll's Path is prevented by Not Being Able To Fucking Type BONG Can we stop now? BONG Alright pack it in or I'll start repeating my claim to have once finiBONGshed Bugaboo The Flea by hitting all the keys in frustration BONG right you fucker I'm BONG pulling the power supply out BONG yeah, not so Robot Voice now, are you?

Surprisingly, given how obsessed they were with the glitz and glamour (albeit glitz and glamour affixed to shoddy makeshift studio walls that fell over while someone cued up the wrong camera) all year round, TV-am were bafflingly subdued when it came to Christmastime, usually with just a tree and couple of decorations up in the studio and a couple of festively-themed items and caption card-trimmings per day. As you can see, the average late December schedule wasn't exactly overflowing with bluntly-named Holly And Ivy-evoking programme subdivisions, though hands up who initially misread that as 'Christmas Cockney'. Though of course there was the year that they put on Roland's Countdown To Christmas, a whole twenty four days' worth of Nyeh-Hehhhhh-fuelled advent calendar opening with nary a cricket bat in si*SMOOOSH*

Oh Channel 4. How well you started, with even the standard issue snow on the logo somehow managing to look arty and new and vital, but then you had to get all low-key and 'tasteful' and... well, we don't even like to think about the later years. But there's one thing we just can't help but mention...

Yes of course, it's 1987's 'Yes Of Course - Christmas On 4!' robots! Quite what possessed anyone to headlight the Festive Season with a bunch of smug trapped-finger-inviting sub-CP & Qwikstitch rickety Royal Bank Of Scotland-esque animated automatons playing a game of charades in which they were apparently required to guess the identity of specific generic times of year on overall channels rather than programme titles is anyone's guess, but they introduced those omnibus repeats of Dick Spanner like nobody's business. And let's see just what Christmassy fun Channel 4 had in store for us that year...


Anyway, overall, this has been rather a fun trip through the outer reaches of the archives, if not quite as enjoyable nor indeed as funny as the BBC one was, and if that's not a metaphor for something very pertinent then frankly we don't know what is. And sorry about those intrusions into the text earlier. The IBA inform us that normal service has now been resumed.

If you've enjoyed this article, you can find lots more about stuff you just don't see on television any more in Not On Your Telly, which is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.

Saint Etienne Presents Songs For A London Winter

If you haven't been following the 'Saint Etienne Presents...' series of compilations, then you really have been missing out on something special. Put together by Bob, Pete and Sarah from their massive collective collection of forgotten popular beat waxings, with assistance from their longtime associate and genre-inventing crate-digger extraordinaire Martin Green, each one aims to evoke a specific time and place, from Central Park to a Lyons Corner House, using nothing but the sort of little-remembered pop discs you might have expected to hear in the designated venue. What's more, they're mostly drawn from pop's formative years, pulling in hits that have been hiding in plain sight since the late fifties and waving a jazzy two fingers at the tedious insistence by the mainstream rock press that everything started with Love Me Do.

This time, they've turned their attention to Christmas, which will hardly surprise anyone familiar with Saint Etienne's back catalogue; after all, they've released a Christmas EP every year since 1993 (kicking off, of course, with the glorious I Was Born On Christmas Day), and even released a full album of Christmas Songs. But being Saint Etienne, and indeed being their 'Presents...' series, this isn't just any old 'Christmas'. It's Christmas in London in the long-lost days of black and white TV, when festive shop window displays were a dazzling new thing, home entertainment barely existed, and people were as likely to pile into the local carol service as they were the office party. This of course involves rifling through the surprisingly large volume of Yuletide-themed chart contenders in the days before we came to associate the Festive season even with Glam Rock Santa-hattage and Phil Spector emulation, let alone X Factor winners and, erm, Rage Against The Machine. So there's some familiar names, some not so familiar names, and some rescued from well-worn nigh-on-sixty-year-old discs in the absence of master tapes, which occasionally makes listening on headphones a bit haphazard but let's face it, who cares when this stuff actually is on CD, in many cases for the first time ever?

Songs For A London Winter, it turns out, are a mixture of rinky-dink singalongs, politely furious instrumentals, skiffled-up carolling, cheapo cash-in supermarket own brand covers, and the odd bit of Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth thrown in for good measure. Johnny Keating turns in a ramble through We Three Kings in the style of his more familiar Z Cars theme, John Barry rattles through a Shadows-aping rewrite of When The Saints Go Marching In that bizarrely threatens to turn into incidental music from Mr. Benn at one point, and brother-and-sister singing child sensations Elaine and Derek - 'Derek' of course growing up to become Charlie in Casualty - try their hardest not to sound like they're trying to sound like Anthony Newley while listing the sights and sounds of advent. Meanwhile, Zack Laurence, who would go on to become both Mr Bloe (as in Groovin' With) and the theme composer for Treasure Hunt and Interceptor, engages in a bit of piano tinkling in honour of the humble snowman. There's even what sounds like it could be an early electronic instrument on the aptly-titled Sounds Like Winter by Dusty Springfield's backing band The Echoes.

Where the the real surprises lie, though, are with the songs and artists that you sort of half-knew at the back of your mind. Even aside from Billy Fury's original of My Christmas Prayer, as later of course covered by Saint Etienne, you'll find The Beverley Sisters getting a touch funky on Little Donkey, and Ted Heath doing quite nicely on Swinging Shepherd Blues, even if his definition of 'Swinging' might pose some problems under laboratory conditions, while the piano-rattling of Russ Conway - so often the target of 'naff' jokes, sometimes even in person, in latterday comedy shows - turns out to be very pleasantly produced and arranged, Lionel Bart being Lionel Bart - oh what a surprise, he's asking for a 'kiss' - is never not welcome, and Adam Faith's Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) isn't quite as annoying as you'd assumed it was on the very fringes of your consciousness. Alma Cogan can still keep that laugh-in-her-voice to herself, mind.

This is more than just a look at a prehistoric age of pop music, though - it's literally a glimpse of a lost world. This is the sound of the sort of Christmas you see in ancient Pathe News films, where massive crowds turned up to watch trees being unveiled on the high street, where queues for department store Santas snaked around the block and the youngsters only left with a cheap plastic doll where the hair came off when you washed it, and indeed where The Beatles put together their very first Christmas Fan Club records, and, believe it or not, even appeared in panto. See, it didn't quite all change with Love Me Do.

Higher Than The Sun - the story of Saint Etienne, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, My Bloody Valentine and Creation Records' first attempt at taking on the world - is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.

"My Experts Tell Me That It's OK"

I've been mildly obsessed with Ding Dong, George Harrison's Big Ben-based ostensible New Year's anthem which staggered limply into the lower reaches of the top forty early in 1975 (making him the first former Beatle to miss the top thirty in the process), ever since first hearing the almost belief-beggaringly uninspired slab of lyric-deficient nothingness on an edition of The Golden Oldie Picture Show, the bizarre mid-eighties BBC1 vehicle in which Dave Lee Travis linked 'videos' made for pop hits from the days before they had 'videos'; the fact that most of them had promo films was presumably neither here nor there. In case you were wondering, it was accompanied by footage from inside a bell factory. Years later, I would spend about a week laughing at Charles Shaar Murray's original NME review of Ding Dong, a single paragraph in which the disillusioned former sixties underground firebrand despaired of how we had got from The Beatles to here, zeroing in on the song's sheer uselessness with an intensity that all but eradicated the need to hear it for yourself.

Needless to say, Ding Dong was one of the first things that I looked up in The Guinness Book Of Rock Stars - an 'A to Z of the people who made rock happen' that I was given as a Christmas present in 1989, which charted pop careers in a month-by-month stat-heavy fashion - and even that blunt just-the-facts summation somehow managed to be amusingly damning. But it was then that my eye was caught by aspects of the Solo George story of which I had not previously been aware, primarily the 1971 court case in which he was accused of ripping off The Chiffons' 1963 hit He's So Fine for My Sweet Lord. These sort of cases were ten a frozen royalty penny in those days, affecting everyone from Joe Meek to The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, and almost always found in the complainant's favour; while even the most casual of observers could make a good case that while He's So Fine and My Sweet Lord have similar melodies, they are fundamentally different songs, try telling that to an early seventies judge who probably held a dim view of those erstwhile Beatle Boys and their long-haired antics, if indeed he didn't have to ask the prosecutor who they were in the first place. Followed in stark, detail-heavy black and white, the long and protracted course of the court case, and George's eventual defeat, is actually rather uncomfortable to read, and you do get a sense of how it must have impacted on a man who wasn't exactly having the happiest time of his life at that point. The entry for Ding Dong, released towards the end of the drawn-out legal proceedings, draws attention to the fact that "the b-side I Don't Care Anymore reflects his mood of the time". Although it's fair to say that Ding Dong also fairly accurately reflects his mood of the time, and that I Don't Care Anymore is as depressingly lazy and throwaway as it is sarcastic - you really do have to feel for anyone who bought that single expecting a faint echo of Beatle magic - I couldn't help but feel drawn towards the idea of one of the world's most famous musical figures waving a musical two fingers not just at his legal tormenters but at a public that had seemingly turned on him too. The quiet ones - and indeed The Quiet One - always have the best comebacks.

Yet even that was nothing compared to what I found a couple of entries further down. Late 1976 single This Song, the book dryly noted, "offers wry comment on the My Sweet Lord court case, referring in its lyrics to the publishers of He's So Fine". The idea of a world-famous musician - and an ex-Beatle at that - blasting back at recent personal troubles with a neat bit of public score-settling place-putting-in musical pissed-offness sounded to the very young me like the most amazing thing in the history of anything ever. With the reissue market and oldies radio not really having taken off at that point, and iTunes still nothing more than a vague notion at the back of the mind of whoever it is that thinks making each successive upgrade harder and harder to navigate in any meaningful fashion is in any way a good idea, the only place that you really stood a chance of hearing it was on Radio 1's Golden Hour, and indeed that was where I would finally hear it, during breakfast in a hotel on a family holiday, and I was rooted to the spot not just by even more acidic and virulent lyrics than I had been anticipating - the line "this tune has nothing Bright about it", referring to He's So Fine copyright holders Bright Tunes, still makes me want to punch the air with joy whenever I hear it - but by the startling appearance in the middle eight of the unmistakeable voice of Eric Idle, screeching away on full Pepperpot form about which Motown oldie This Song sounds most like. Monty Python, The Beatles and getting up the nose of the Establishment, my three big teenage obsessions, had collided in spectacular fashion and I can recall the pure rush that gave me as if it was yesterday. Of course, George was so disillusioned with the music business by this point that he took extended time out and set himself up as a film producer, resulting in - or, depending on which way you look at it, resulting from - yet another even more spectacular collision of those same three obsessions. But that's another story.

But the This Song story itself didn't end there. Years later, I discovered that George had made a promo film for This Song - stitch that, The Golden Oldie Picture Show - featuring him being dragged bodily into court and forced to give evidence to a courtroom of his music and comedy pals, miming, boogieing and mugging like an even more unhinged episode of Cop Rock, if such a thing was even scientifically possible. It's a subtle act of rock star defiance, especially by 1976's own specific standards, but it's one that all this time later can still have you crying with laughter both at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation that led to it, and at one man's determination to show them all just how much he didn't care any more. Put it on whenever you're feeling disillusioned or out of options - well, come on, not many people reading this are going to be sued for copyright infringement over a global multi-million selling single - and I guarantee you'll see the funny side.

The Nation's Not-Quite-As-Favourite

Some time ago, I had an idea for a book about comedy on Radio 1.

Well, it wasn't really a book at first. Initially it was just a list of transmission dates for all those Radio 1 comedy shows I'd once listened to religiously - somewhat ironic, considering the religion-baiting themes that many of them had mined for their humour - such as The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Blue Jam, Victor Lewis-Smith, The Chris Morris Music Show, Lee & Herring's Fist Of Fun and, erm, Intimate Contact With Julian Clary, really more for my own amusement than anything else. Then I started to get curious about all of those shows that I hadn't liked. And then the ones that I'd never even heard of. And what about all of those magazine, documentary and even DJ shows that were essentially 'comedy' in all but name? Needless to say, that list would soon expand into something far more substantial, so come with me now into the swirling mists of human inadeq...

Anyway, eventually, after long hours spent scouring randomly through Radio Times listings and attempting to negotiate copies of off-air recordings of the little-heard likes of Songlines, Windbags and Z Magazine from surprisingly cautious collectors, the time came to try and pester a couple of erstwhile performers and producers into answering a couple of questions, clearing up a couple of obscure details, and generally reminiscing about their days spent trying to fit jokes around Bomb The Bass records. And, surprisingly, nearly all of them were prepared to have a bit of a chat with the self-publishing nobody with the bizarre open-ended research project. From Mark Radcliffe and David Baddiel to Dave Cash and Danisnotonfire and even zany old Chris Morris, they were all more than happy to spend half an hour or so nattering about mostly long-forgotten shows that they clearly all still held a great deal of affection for, and seemingly everyone that I spoke to had an almost inexhaustible supply of amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes or recollections of sketches and routines that had given them a rarely-recaptured professional thrill. Needless to say, there were plenty of exciting moments in all this, from The Mary Whitehouse Experience's original producer Bill Dare breathlessly recounting virtually word for word his experiences both encouraging and bruising with BBC 'suits', to The Ginger Prince from Radio Tip Top suddenly breaking into character on the phone when I managed to track him down after months of effort, to Adrian Juste's extraordinary rant about how "it's very unhealthy to let politicians, and this preponderance of celebrity nonentities we have now, get away with the crap they spout uncontested... they are so up their own arse, and getting worse, if you don't stop them by pricking their little bubbles of pomposity... we all need a good laugh now and again - at their overpaid, mollycoddled expense". But, just occasionally, there were slightly more uncomfortable moments.

Sometimes, in the progression of the conversation, the names of some of the more comedy-averse (usually in both senses) 'old guard' of daytime DJs would come up, and that was the point at which many of the older contributors, from both in front and behind the microphone, would suddenly go a bit quieter. Often this went no further than moving rapidly on to the next question, but once or twice, one or two of them tried to subtly drop hints that there was some sort of potential minefield here that should be avoided at all costs. Without wishing to give too much away, one individual who was involved in an on-air prank at the expense of a now-discredited DJ darkly hinted that they weren't just sending him up as an affectionate in-joke, and virtually spat out every word when having to actually talk about him as a person. Meanwhile, one Radio 1 veteran went even further and, without even hinting at details, named names, warning against featuring them in any detail or even in any context because it wasn't likely to be long before "some stuff will come out about them and nobody will want anything to do with your book". What this 'stuff' might have been, I had no idea, and looking back now I'm glad that I didn't.

In the meantime, work on what would eventually become Fun At One continued apace and its scope increased dramatically, extending to cover not just such nominally non-comedy shows as In Concert, Collins And Maconie's Hit Parade and The Antiques Record Roadshow, but all kinds of other rarely acknowledged cornerstones of Radio 1's output like Newsbeat, live sessions and late night dance music shows; sorry, but you'll have to buy the book to find out exactly how and when they collided with the world of comedy. And, on top of all that, every time that I thought I'd finally managed to find the whole lot of them, the list of actual proper comedy shows kept on increasing too. The happily accidental upshot of all this was that, with a couple of notable (and thankfully all still respectable) exceptions, there was literally no room nor indeed need to mention any of the self-styled 'Welly Boot Mafia' as anything more than passing references. Which was handy as, frankly, none of them were ever that amusing, or even likeable, and in short there are few things less funny than someone who thinks that they are.

Eventually, after what seemed like endless amounts of research, writing and rewriting, not to mention a last minute change to the entire final chapter when Radio 1 decided to actually start making comedy shows again, Fun At One was finally ready to hit the virtual presses. Graham and Jack Kibble-White helped out with some amazing design work, Ben Baker came up with some great promotional ideas, and the few people who had read it in advance of publication all seemed to be confident that it would be a huge success. And then... well, you all know what happened next.

In fairness, quite a few people were very generous in their attempts to help plug Fun At One - I'm particularly grateful to Richard Herring - but, well, it really was just the wrong book at the wrong time. Regrettably, that cautious interviewee had been proved right; nobody was saying as much, but by then it really wasn't the done thing to be seen to be celebrating Radio 1 in any way, and, well, it seems that it still isn't the done thing. At the time of writing, Fun At One has been outsold three times over by my anthology of pieces on neglected TV Not On Your Telly, a good third of which had already seen print in one form or another. Even fan forums that I'd assumed would go wild for the book seemed to be giving it a wide berth. This isn't a whinge or a complaint by the way - it would be crass to intimate that a couple of pages about Sound Bites With David Baddiel was somehow more important than the vexing questions of how and why those scrawny old bastards got away with what they did for so long, let alone use it as an excuse for a sales pitch (though doubtless some prats on Twitter will accuse me of doing just that) - and sometimes it's just the way these things turn out. In fact, in moments of sharing the unease, I've actually considered withdrawing Fun At One from sale once or twice, though more sensible people have always talked me out of that.

What this is a plea for, though, is for an end to this tainting of the whole of Radio 1 by association. As Fun At One arguably demonstrates, there was - and is - so much more to the station and its staggeringly broad output than the off-air antics of a handful of presenters who were only there for a fraction of its existence anyway, and all of it deserves celebration and appreciation that now seems to be roundly denied. Which is understandable, but has to stop some time. So go out and listen to a BBC Sessions album by The Beatles, Belle & Sebastian, The Jimi Hendrix Experience or whoever takes your fancy. Catch the imminent repeats of series two of Blue Jam on Radio 4 Extra. In short, remember what you liked about Radio 1, and start liking it all over again. Because, let's be honest about it, nothing would have hurt those talentless egomaniacs more than being overshadowed by something that was actually good.

Fun At One - The Story Of Comedy At BBC Radio 1 is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.

ITV 59 - All Your ITV Favourites (And Eammon Holmes' Country Christmas Spectacular) Part Ten: Continuity Slides

Yes, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, especially if you’ve absolutely no interest in base sarcasm with occasional factual accuracy about old-skool ITV presentation techniques but have still read nine lengthy (or, in some cases, not so lengthy) posts about it anyway – the final part of our Rifle Through ITV’s Big Bin Where They Threw All The Old Test Cards And Things Like That Once They’d Stopped Using Them. And that final bit of old-skool presentation? Why, it’s ‘continuity slides’ – in other words, those captions with a show title and accompanying photo that they used to flash up either side of ad breaks. And - as is par for the course for this sodding series, which has arguably proved for once and for all that the BBC is inherently better that its ad-laden rival - how many of the initially-thought-of list of examples do you think we actually managed to find? Clue: it’s not many…

Most of the time, you knew exactly where you were with ITV's continuity slides, and to be honest the above examples, from The Fonz to The Bloke Who Kept Impersonating The Fonz About Ten Years After Happy Days Had Finished, while certainly interesting to see, are so rational and reasonable that - you guessed it - it's not really possible to make any surrealist or sarcastic observations about them. Whatever The Crunch Bird is, though, it can fuck off.

Unlike the BBC, who would often keep using battered old continuity slides long after hosts, logos, timeslots and even entire formats had changed, ITV would regularly update their photographic placeholders and sometimes it's even possible to chart the evolution of long-running shows through their slides alone. Take, for example, Name That Tune, the seemingly erosion-defyingly enduring game show in which contestants would affect to be able to identify An American In Paris from a single piano thud; here we can see slides for the show both in its Peter Cook-presented days, and from its later rebranding as just plain Name Tune.

Sometimes, though, you do have to wonder exactly what impression of the shows they were trying to give. Witness the special edition of News At Ten On Ice, or the one for Spitting Image in the week that every public figure went on fire in the style of Bengal Matches. As for Home To Roost, presumably they just couldn't find any publicity photos in landscape format.

Sport, on the other hand, was always a bit more tricky, but luckily there was a steady supply of instantly recognisable off-the-shelf sporting iconography to reach for. Take, for example, the footballer modishly treated with a Computer-Pixel-stroke-Astro-Turf effect, Jake The Peg playing centre forward for United FC, and the edition of handily-titled Match Time coming live from the International Rubik's Clock Championship Finals 1986.

Due to their origins in another medium, lack of recognisable series iconography, and inevitable rights-hands-change-related loss of original promotional materials, films were trickier still and some ingenious solutions had to be sought. Like, for example, the bewilderingly sinister branding of whichever film they were actually showing under the umbrella banner 'Mel Brooks', the League Of Gentlemen-eulogised blanket coverage for Ghosts, Monsters And Legends-heavy oldies in a regular timeslot as 'Appointment With Fear' (though the contemporaneous 'horror film' slide featuring disparately-sized illustrations of Dracula, a mummy et al with the word 'BRRRRR' was sadly nowhere to be found), and the towel-throwing-in last resort of just showing a pile of unspooled film to denote 'movies' in general. Apparently Sitting Target is a 1972 UK crime thriller starring Oliver Reed, Ian McShane, Edward Woodward, June Brown and Tony Beckley, TV 'Harrison Chase'. Well yeah, that's obvious to the casual viewer.

There were times, of course, when for one reason or another an actual photo from the actual TV show just wouldn't do, and the tactics that were adopted to get around this often had interesting results to say the least. While World Of Sport sensibly opted for a non-canon-hued variation of the show's trademark stylised 'S' - Dickie Davis presumably having held out for a greater percentage on the rights to his face - Francis Wheen's heavyweight aahhhhh-as-you-like eight-million part history of the medium Television was rather bafflingly denoted by a cartoon bird looking through a Fox's Glacier Mint, and good ol' boy-friendly hoedown All Kinds Of Country by a Glam Rocker's discarded Rickenbacker. It's something of a relief, then, to find this perfectly sense-making example for Live From Her Majesty's, featuring regular headliners Those Musical Notes In 'Showbiz' Straw Hats. You remember them!

Needless to say, by the late eighties technology was getting ever swankier and the slides ever more swish and sophisticated, as illustrated by these tasteful and to-the-point ad-straddlers for long-running yet long-forgotten Telly Addicts For People Who Think The Doctor Whos Were In Order Jon Pertwee William Hartnell Sendhil Ramamurthy 'Belouis' Some' No Don't Argue With Me I Should Know I Used To Watch It Etc Etc We Love TV, 'light side of soccer' I-don't-know-why-you're-going-Saint-they-won't-be-picking-you-style-gag-heavy playground-imitatable pre-match punditry Saint And Greavsie, Kennedy-deliquiesced early afternoon proto-UKIPpery Daytime, and lost in the mists of time game show Concentration, as apparently presented by that bloke who's always on 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

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 that sophistication-era slide for The Bill featuring Bob Cryer in front of rolling clouds, 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.

Meanwhile, over at Channel 4, there was never any such eccentricity. They did their research, they got their proper cast-featuring still from the shows, and they promoted them without a hint of absurdity, inexplicability or just plain lack of relation to any recognisable programme contents.

And, well, that just about wraps it up for our lukewarmly recieved jaunt through ITV's non-programmey bits of days gone by, which only involved minimal borderline libel of Walt Disney. Thanks for joining us in all the ident-mocking fun, or if you will all the non-'mock'-mocking fun, which I'm sure you'll agree ha

hich is why there wasn't any room to talk about that annoying Granada thing with the window clea

y sound at all, just the still picture of The Fonz, as if to say "(.....................)amundo", and they went straight into the ad break; presumably he was too 'cool' f





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