North East Tonight – Part 8 

29 March 2006 tbs.pm/3493

North East Tonight logo

For most of its existence, North East Tonight had been associated with one man, and one man alone. Mike Neville. But it was soon to be without him.

Mike had been taken ill in July 2005 with a blood clot in his leg. Although originally planned to be back on air in September 2005, he remained off work when it was found out that his kidneys were failing.

Inevitably, no one presenter would replace him, with a larger, rotating team of presenters initially used, including Pam Royle, Jonathan Morrell, Andy Kluz, Claire Montgomery, Kenny Toal and Kim Inglis. However his absence also gave the programme team a chance to experiment.

The new studios in Gateshead had been equipped with two studios which meant that the cramped Teesside studio could be mothballed, and the south of the region opt outs presented from Gateshead instead. The two sets were dressed identically – the only difference being the video backdrop. Viewers in the north saw the Tyne Bridge, whilst viewers in the south saw the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge.

Separate news bulletins had been presented from Gateshead since day one, but in August and November 2005, the station ran two trials with separate programmes for the north and the south of the region.

The trials proved popular with viewers and on 16 January 2006, the split became permanent – the timing coinciding with a re-branding of the ITV network, with new lighting and new graphics for the studio.

At the same time, the programme moved to a two-presenter format, with Pam Royle and Jonathan Morrell taking the reigns for the north of the region.

Meanwhile down in the south (or more accurately next door in the same building), Andy Kluz was joined by Kim Inglis, and occasionally Claire Montgomery.

When the inevitable announcement was made that Mike Neville would not return to the programme, it was also announced that the split in programmes would be made permanent. And a whole new era of North East Tonight began.

North East Tonight in pictures: 2006

Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence Still from North East Tonight title sequence

Watch North East Tonight title sequence, 2006

As with the 2004 rebrand, the same title sequence template was used by all the ITV plc owned regional companies, with a montage of local scenes. Amongst those in the Tyne Tees version were the Baltic Flour Mills, Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, The Angel of the North and of course, that old standby, the Tyne Bridge.

The same title sequence was used for both the North and the South editions.

Pam Royle and Jonathan Morrell

Straight after the titles, the camera cuts to the presenters – here Pam Royle and Jonathan Morrell welcome us to the North edition.

Andy Kluz and Alex Watson

Alex Watson and Andy Kluz present the South edition, with a certain transporter bridge in the background.

The lack of a desk to sit behind does result in presenters not really knowing what to do with their hands. Whilst most seem to go for the ‘hands clasped together’ approach, Andy Kluz opts for the old ‘hands on the knees’ approach.

Headlines caption

Now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way, time for the headlines.

A shot of the newsroom

The headlines sequence sometimes gives us the chance to glimpse inside the newsroom, as in the case of this promo for the sports bulletin later in the programme.

Alex and Andy interview a guest

With two monitors – one on each side – it must be a continual debate in the gallery about which one to use. Here, Andy Kluz gets to sit nearest, with a guest in another studio. Not the nice matching background graphic used for the guest! Very tasteful.

Pam and Jonathan do the same

The view of the other side isn’t exactly radically different.

Andy and Alex show off a bit of the nice green wall – no doubt exactly the same as the old wall but with a new coloured lightbulb in use.

An example of the screen being used for report related captions

As well as being used to display big pictures of local landmarks, the background screen can also be used to show captions relating to a story – as demonstrated here for a story about the EuroMillions lottery jackpot.

Handing over to the sportsdesk now – for some reason, they always sit on the side closest to the male presenter…

Doug's Daily slide Caption for 'The Way We Were'

Two examples of the caption style – the first for Doug’s Daily (boo! Bring back the Banker!) and the second a trailer for ‘The Way We Were’, on Tyne Tees that evening.

Bob Johnson in the South studio with Andy Kluz and Alex Watson

And now the magic act – somehow Bob Johnson manages to do banter with both sets of presenters at the same time, and usually in the same place. In this case, Bob’s in the South studio with Andy and Alex, but satellite viewers in the know, would be able to quickly flick over and catch him sat on a very similar looking chair talking to two completely different presenters!

Bob Johnson

Not only that, but in both cases, Bob gets to do banter about the final news item, and the backdrop behind the presenters is always perfectly matched – even at times when the sky goes from light to dark whilst the programme is on air…

Oh and Bob always sits closest to the female presenter…

Pam Royle and Jonathan Morrell hand over to Bob Johnson in the garden

As well as having two identical studios, Television House in Gateshead was also equiped with a fully fledged weather garden, where Bob can also present his forecasts.

Bob Johnson in the garden

What every weather garden needs is a vaguely bizairre head statue thing on a plinth, which looks lovely in the snow. Snow? But hang on… there’s no snow on the studio backdrop…

Bob Johnson in the garden, with a snow machine being pointed at him

Yes, it’s Bob up to his old tricks, the rascal! No snow anywhere in the North East that evening – unless you’ve got a man up a ladder holding a snow machine that is!

Watch animated weather caption from 2006

The new weather sting (used nationally) was a more subtle, and less cluttered design than the old.

Final shot of the show, showing a good shot of the studio

At 6:30, it’s time to hand over to the ITN studios in London, but not before having one final shot of the studio – this shot of the North set (which is of course, identical to the South one) makes the studio look much bigger than it actually is.

You might notice the black bars on the side of the images – although filmed in 4:3, during 2005 ITV decided to start all cropping all its news bulletins down to 14:9, and broadcasting that in a 16:9 frame, presumably to make people believe that they’d suddenly gone widescreen.

This was done without actually telling anyone, or adjusting any graphics to compensate – even a year later, graphics would frequently not fit on screen due to the decision.

Given that Tyne Tees were also now in brand new studios with new equipment, why they were not equipped with widescreen cameras.

That lack of suitable cameras – both on a national and regional level – lead to the whole thing looking a complete dogs dinner. And all, no doubt, so some idiotic manager at ITV HQ can pretend his/her output is in widescreen…

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