Channel 3 North East was part of a vision that was never fully implemented. The idea was to unite the two franchises under a common branding. Tyne Tees would become Channel 3 North East, and Yorkshire, Channel 3 Yorkshire.
It was not the first time. In the 1970s, Trident had proposed using the name "Trident Tyne Tees" and "Trident North East" but had been refused permission by the regulators.
The Nations Favourite Button
Channel 3 was a popular term for ITV at the time. Many viewers referred to their ITV station with the number, and most TV sets were programmed to have ITV on button 3. ITV had also just broadcast a large promotional campaign claiming that 3 was the nations favourite button.
"3" may have been a popular button but Yorkshire never got its name changed. The board of directors decided it would diminish the station brand, and the name change was cancelled, although idents included the new "3" logo.
Tyne Tees didn't escape. No one seemed to care enough about diminishing its identity, and in September 1996, the station launched with its new name. At the same time, Yorkshire gained a new ident - a continually rotating gold chevron that changed to become a giant '3' before returning to its original state. In the light blue background, more 3's were swirling.
Tyne Tees didn't get a rotating 3. Its ident, with a similar background, consisted of the large gold 3 moving across the screen before resting on the right, with "North East" written next to it. At the bottom, 'Tyne Tees Television' was displayed in small gold letters.
The daily news programmes were also renamed. Tyne Tees News made way for North East Tonight, although the title sequences and set remained in the same style as they had before the name change. The separate Teesside opt out was scrapped, and a new presenter brought in. Mike Neville, a presenter on the BBC's North East regional news since 1964, joined the new look ITV station on the day the Channel 3 North East launched.
The Tyne Tees name continued to be seen on production slides outside the region, but local viewers were usually treated to slides with the phrase "A Tyne Tees Television production for Channel 3 North East".
The Leeds based announcers also had a habit of calling the station by its old name, although it's usage was rather inconsistent. Daytime announcements generally mentioned 'Tyne Tees Television', whilst during the evening, 'Channel 3 North East' or the mysterious sounding 'Channel 3 in the North East' were more common.
The ultimate variation was the rather unwieldy "Tyne Tees Television broadcasting on Channel 3 in the North East" used before the daily broadcast of the catchily titled news programme "North East Tonight with Mike Neville".
Despite much public hatred of the new station identity, the management refused to back down. It would have stayed too, had it not been for further consolidation amongst the ITV companies.
In 1992 Yorkshire-Tyne Tees had been at the forefront of the consolidation but by 1997 the group found itself subject to a takeover bid. After a lengthy and bitter bid to takeover LWT, Granada had sat back as Carlton and Meridian owner MAI (later United News and Media) went on shopping sprees in the ITV supermarket.
After biding its time, the Granada Group snapped up Yorkshire-Tyne Tees in 1997 and announced that the 'Channel 3' branding would be scrapped. The new owners declared that Channel 3 North East was a weak brand, and didn't help the station's regional identity. The 3s would be consigned to history.
It didn't take long for Yorkshire to remove them from its idents. A virtually identical, but 3-less ident appeared quickly, presumably made at the same time as the ident it replaced. In the North East it took longer, taking nearly six months before the 3 was scrapped and it wasn't until the following March that the old name returned.
Unlike the launch of Channel 3 North East, which had launched in a blaze of glory with trailers and promotional films, the return of Tyne Tees was quiet and low key. On the 9th March viewers saw the new ident and were welcomed to the new look station as announcer Nick Oliver greeted viewers with the words:
"Good morning, and welcome to a new look for us here on Tyne Tees Television..."
Later in the day, North East Tonight presenter Mike Neville ended the evening news programme telling viewers what was coming up that evening on Tyne Tees. "Isn't it great to be able to say that name again?" was his comment as he turned to weatherman Bob Johnson, sat next to him in the studio.