London Weekend

By Kif Bowden-Smith

ITA/Thames Television/London Weekend testcard F

It is clear with hindsight that much seventies' London Weekend presentation custom was derived from Rediffusion practice of the mid-sixties. This was not carried to conclusion in daily start-ups however, as London Weekend (as it was then always known) was keen to present a more laid back image than the sub-BBC aura that Rediffusion had chosen.

It is not difficult to see how this came about. The new Thames amalgam only required the central London Rediffusion offices at Kingsway and so the main Rediffusion production centre at Wembley was handed over to the new weekend company along withall the employees therein.

London Weekend ident

The London Weekend output was all from there and thus the transmission controllers and presentation staff were all ex-Rediffusion people. This was an irony as London Weekend had not replaced Rediffusion as such but won a ‘time adjacent' contract.

There was a curious mixture of earnestness and ‘cool' about early London Weekend that is hard to describe in retrospect. The avant-garde aspirations of the new company met head on with its BBC (personnel) roots, and the resultant hybrid was inclined to ‘hip gestures' that did not always pay off.

LWT (blue) colour clock

The daily start-up music broke with tradition in using a real jazz style, and having no climactic verse to provide a point for symbol formation. The cut to logo, ready formed, was placed in relaxed fashion during the second half of the music, and even moved around over time. Our example is as typical as any. The piece is called ‘A Well Swung Fanfare' and it sounds as if the composer Don Jackson was reacting to a description of the putative piece given by a commissioning editor.

... ‘Write us a sort of "well swung fanfare" Don'...

... and so he did. He probably didn't realise that by introducing jazz, it would be another watershed moment in start-up presentation history, and another move away from the era of marches.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System in general.

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Article ©2002 Kif Bowden-Smith

Compilation ©2002 Transdiffusion Broadcasting System

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