24 May 2004 1 comment. tbs.pm/2032
Carlton UK Broadcasting
London weekdays: 1993-2002 (Lost identity)
Midlands: 1999-2002 (Lost identity)
South West England: 1999-2002 (Lost identity)
London is dead
The facts are there to be read: Carlton outbid Thames in 1992, taking the ‘jewel in the crown’ contract – London weekdays.
A promise was made at the time: to shake up ‘tired old ITV’ and reinvigorate it.
That they did. Carlton immediately replaced the Thames polished, professional presentation honed since ABC began in 1956 with ‘innovative’ captions of its own. When the innovation was lost, bulk presentation followed swiftly.
They also shook up ITV programming – replacing the Thames entertainment programmes that were part of its ABC heritage with a string of flops, and immediately abandoning all pretence to serious news, coming up with no replacement for the flagship ‘This Week’.
Having (with the complicit approval of the regulator under the distracted eye of the government) spoilt ITV in London, Carlton went on a shopping spree, and spoilt the television of viewers in the Midlands and South West.
The name ‘Thames’ died in a less-than-fair but open fight. The names ‘Central’ and ‘Westcountry’ died because of a pervading view that viewers – punters – are too stupid to know anything about television except how to watch what they put in front of us.
We’re not actually that stupid, and we mourn what’s been lost not from nostalgia, but from a sense of burning injustice as all that was great in ITV is drained out in the pursuit of profits.
Brash, cheap and faintly ludicrous: yes, it’s another newcomer ITV company determined to rewrite the rule book of presentation by failing to show any flair or élan. How many times have we heard that story?
Yet Carlton did learn its lesson, revising its presentation style when it suddenly took over the identities of Central and Westcountry (to prevent the confusion that you poor saps in the audience were feeling – they’ll also cut up your food if you need the help) to actually outshine Granada and Scottish Media’s offerings.
And here is that ‘lesson learnt’ ident. Far better than the plain offerings of Granada and the overblown nonsense from Scottish. And a geometric symbol, too. Pity we paid such a high price in terms of quality programming.