North East Tonight – Part 5 

29 March 2006 tbs.pm/3481

After the upheaval of recent years, you’d think everything would settle down for a bit… But true to recent form, it was all change again at Tyne Tees…

The first change affected the late night evening bulletin. When News At Ten had been re-instated in January 2001 (admittedly at varying times, most of which weren’t ten o’clock), the regional news bulletins had continued to be broadcast around 11:20 – a full hour after News At Ten had finished.

In May 2002 however it was announced that the regional news bulletins would be re-integrated with News At Ten. The announcement was part of a rather bizarre deal between ITV and the regulator, the ITC which basically saw regional programming slashed, in return for very little. A good deal all round.

It wasn’t until 2 September 2002 that it actually happened, and in the North East it happened with a splash, with the late bulletin getting a make-over, a new name and a new presenter.

For years the late bulletin had been broadcast region-wide from Tyne Tees’s news centre at Billsdale in Teesside, and had been broadcast under the North East News name since it was introduced in 1996.

However the opportunity was now taken to rename the late bulletin, North East Tonight. With the new name came a new presenter. Pam Royle moved from the Newcastle version of North East Today to become the main presenter of the late edition of North East Tonight.

With Pam and the new name came a new set.

The set at Teesside had been installed in 1993 for the introduction of Network North, and bar a few paint jobs the set, with its trademark gallery shot behind the presenters, had remained in action until autumn 2001 when the new glass style background replaced it in use.

The glass background, which mirrored in style the Newcastle studios, only allowed for a single shot and had no room for studio guests, and it was decided was not up to the job for the new late bulletins.

Straight shot of the Teesside set. Side shot of the Teesside set. Left hand side of the Teesside news studio The right hand side of the Teesside studio.

After North East Today had gone off air in the summer, the Teesside studios were re-fitted. In the space, a brand new, rather purple set appeared instead. The traditional gallery shot remained in the centre,, now with a purple overlay and spotlights at the bottom of it. The desk looked rather similar to the Network North desk in style, abliet with a polished wooden finish. And to the right of the presenter, a new plasma screen.

Okay on close inspection, the purple walls look like they’ve been painted with that old method of putting a sponge into some paint and dabbing it onto the wall, and the overall design wasn’t a radical departure from the old Network North set, but it did look pretty good.

The new set was initially used for just the ITV Lunchtime News where the bulletin was broadcast to Teesside only, and region-wide within the News At Ten, with the blue backdrop being used at other times, but that quickly fell out of use and the purple studio began to be used for the majority of bulletins from Teesside very quickly.

The upheaval in early September was not the only change of the month. On 30 September 2002, there were yet more changes at Tyne Tees when North East Tonight got a new bluey-purple title sequence, and a new graphics package.

Still from North East News title sequence Still from North East News title sequence Still from North East News title sequence Still from North East News title sequence North East News titles from 2002.

The new titles saw the final end of the Tyne Tees news DOG – although the DOG had been rather unpredictable in it’s appearance for much of it’s existence.

Example of the new graphics. Second example of the new graphics. Phone number caption. Photo frame caption

New graphics were also introduced to match the new titles. Colouring of the graphics seems to be rather inconsistent, with some being more purple than blue.

Whilst North East Today limbered on using the old graphics, its days were numbered. By the end of the year, just the temporarily sponsor-less weather was using the Autumn 2000 graphics.

Following on from the new titles, and new look for Teesside, 6 January 2003 saw yet another new set for North East Tonight.

Despite the fact that the grey and blue set had only been in use for around 14 months, it was out with the old and in with the new.

The demise of North East Today meant that there was now more studio space for North East Tonight, and the new set saw the return of a seating area as well as the desk.

The studio, decked out in pale (and in some cases, rather washy) blues and turquoises, also featured a rather purple Angel of the North backdrop behind the desk.

The colour scheme didn’t seem to match the new look titles, and was completely different to that installed at Teesside. Any sense of a corporate styling had obviously been thrown out of the window as the set designers went on a free for all.

Quite why the North East Tonight revamp was so staggered, who knows? Obviously both Billsdale and Newcastle couldn’t have been re-fitted at the same time – where would the news have come from? But why launch a new set of titles a month after, and then a new set at Newcastle a whole 3 months later? Why not co-ordinate at least one set revamp and the new title sequence at the same time?

And why the major differences between the Newcastle and Teesside sets? The only commonality between the two appears to be some plasma screens, and little more. If the Teesside studio was only used for the south of the region, and the Newcastle one for the north, it could almost be understood. But with both studios serving the whole region, it makes the news service look incredibly disjointed.

Why introduce a brand new set in Newcastle anyway? The North East Today set was sat right next to the North East Tonight set, and featured a seating area. Why not just re-dress that a bit? At least it matched the new title sequence. Sort of.

In Pictures: Newcastle at Christmas

The Christmas season in 2002 saw regional news pushed earlier to around 5pm, and an odd little rarity occurred with the main news bulletin of the evening being branded not North East Tonight, but North East News.

The format of the show was of course, very similar to North East Tonight just earlier and shorter, and in the case below, presented by Kim Inglis. It is unsure whether this bulletin, from 21 December 2002, was broadcast to both the north and the south of the region.

Side shot of studio with monitor. Straight shot of studio with a blast of Christmas Tree.

The Christmas decorations were much in evident, with the white Christmas tree making a return performance following its outing the year before. Noticeable this time is the fact that it has green and purple baubles to match the new title sequence. Also of note – a few presents placed beneath the tree. A new tie for Mike in there perhaps?

The monitors now also show the new logo, whose colour scheme appears to be the wrong blue to match the set.

Side shot of studio with monitor eith The Snowman on it. Straight shot of studio with a bit of pillar.

When not showing the new logo, a nice graphic accompanying a story. In this case, the Snowman. And the rather tight positioning of the tree in the background also meant it made it’s presence felt in virtually every single shot the team could muster!

Final closing words from the presenter. Shuffling some paper. The lights begin to dim in the studio. Lights get down to a very low level. More paper shuffling in the dark studio. Finally some credits overlaid on screen.

The close of the show followed the same procedure as normal. Notice how the credits clash with the logo on the left monitor.

Incidentally, the Teesside set was not festively decorated that year!

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