A Fond Farewell 

17 August 2005 tbs.pm/3477

“Well that’s just about it from me. As you may know our colleagues in London take over continuity from 9:25 this morning, so on behalf of our Northern Team, Helen, Neil, Maggie and Kerrie and all the past Tyne Tees announcers since 1959, this is Bob Preedy bidding you a fond farewell.”

Over six years after the Newcastle continuity department was closed, Granada Media’s Leeds based team bowed at 20 past midnight on Monday 28 October 2002.

Across England continuity announcers were saying goodbye for the last time. The cause was the decision to ‘unite’ the franchises using just the ITV1 name.

Strive to be different

The ITV companies had always strived to be different – it was what made the system unique in Britain. But with the franchises of England and Wales now owned by just two large companies, pressure was on to boost the flagging network.

Flagging ratings, formulaic programming and bored audiences had lead to a host of bad publicity and viewers rushing off in their droves to the warm arms of BBC One. Only reality TV programmes like Popstars and Pop Idol seemed to be working in a big way.

But it was the ITV Digital fiasco which had given the ITV brand the most battering. Millions of subscribers lost money, football clubs suddenly found themselves without money that they were owed as Carlton and Granada pushed their digital platform into administration. It gave the two companies, and the brand name they shared, one hell of a battering.

Curing the wound

With the ITV brand looking like mud and advertisers deserting in droves, pressure was on for Carlton and Granada to sort out their act.

An example of the 2002 generic ITV idents

The obvious solution was therefore to unite the whole of ITV under the ITV1 brand name, pushing regional names out of the way.

The person thought that pushing an already heavily dented brand name was obviously the solution to all the problems was Jim Hytner, ITV’s new Head of Marketing, poached from Channel 5.

In comparison most of the regional brands, which despite being pushed to the sidelines over recent years, were still comparatively strong and well recognised. Go figure.

The new idents would be personality led, featuring various stars from ITV1. Over 70 were originally created. The ITV logo was given a bizarre 3D shine on it as well, for no apparent reason.

Of course not everyone in ITV was to play ball. UTV decided to retain its brand name, although did introduce adapted versions of the new idents, but in Scotland, the SMG owned Grampian and Scottish initially kept their old idents. 13 years after the first attempt at generic idents, and still ITV couldn’t get a national image on screen.

The Side-effects

With the move to introduce a generic ITV brand, came a money saving side-effect. With one single brand name in use, what would be the point in having different announcements coming from across the country?

The various announcers were offered the chance to apply for jobs in the new national team based in London who would do all national continuity as well as pre-recording announcements for opt outs. But with only six positions available, it was inevitable that many people would loose their jobs.

Of the northern team, no one was to move to London, although it is rumoured that Neil Didsbury was offered a job, but declined.

And its goodbye from me…

Over the week the Leeds based team said their farewells, with the final shift going to senior announcer Bob Preedy. The final (pre-recorded, naturally) announcement went out at twenty past midnight.

And that was that. The following morning at 9:25 viewers got their first taste of the new ITV1, complete with national continuity. After 42 years, Tyne Tees was as good as gone.

Although regional idents were created for use before regional programming, they slowly but surely disappeared. Idents before the news quickly disappeared, and regional idents slowly gave way to national ones before regional programming.

With the merger of Carlton and Granada into the new ITV plc, even the Tyne Tees production slide all but disappeared, and pretty soon it was announced that Tyne Tees’s home at City Road was to close with the loss of 30 jobs.

And with that, on 2 July 2005 a new, the company started broadcasting from its new, smaller studio complex of ‘Television House’, based in the Watermark business park near the MetroCentre in Gateshead.

It’s a sad end to a proud station – a station that has had it’s difficulties but has always been there for viewers. In many ways its demise has been long overdue – it’s been a shadow of itself for a long time, and really it won’t be missed that much.

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