Regionally yours 

23 October 2008 tbs.pm/956

Joy of Six: ITV regional idents

This “top six” list of regional ITV idents controversially puts TSW in the top position ahead of ATV (the heretics); TSW’s second ident in particular is quite impressive from both visual and technical perspectives, although in my opinion the TSW ident gets soundly beaten by any number of Central idents produced during the mid to late-80s in particular.

On this occasion however, Central gets cruelly dismissed as being “an increasingly slick piece of characterless pap”, although those were my initial thoughts from a programming perspective when “Let’s Pretend” took over from the classic “Pipkins” from the start of 1982.

However the ATV-Central rebrand was an object lesson in how a regulator – namely the IBA – could wield a big stick when it came to enforcing ITV regionalism. Perhaps one day the broadcasting orthodoxy will realise that you need such regulation for true public service broadcasting, although it may end up being too late when this finally happens.

Looking back at clips of Southern TV presentation, its torrent of blue and white branding (idents, ad spacers and production captions) was surprisingly effective so it certainly deserves recognition in this respect, though ultimately it was corporate complacency that ultimately led to Southern’s downfall.

TVS was the exact opposite of Southern, reflecting the Thatcher era of Conservative politics, so it was perhaps a cruel fate for TVS to lose its franchise as a result of getting its fingers burned in America with MTM shares. Which left the door wide open for the return of Southern Meridian in 1993, effectively coming full circle as a result.

However Westward’s presentation was much stronger than is often given credit for, and many people who saw Westward’s output are likely to remember the distinctive rotating hexagon animation that appeared between each advert during the commercial break. (A reference to Westward’s contribution to Channel TV, perhaps?)

As for Granada making do with a piece of cardboard for an ident, it basically had no requirements for superfluous flash visuals when its programmes did all the talking, and ironically perhaps in an age of ‘instant’ branding it’s what’s left of Granada that has the last laugh when the rest of English and Welsh ITV branding has vanished into history.