During the national ITV technicians' strike of August 1968, the individual companies were off the air for several weeks, and an emergency service was presented by management personnel with no regional variations. This is unique in the history of ITV, in that it was the only time that a uniform presentation practice has been adopted.
Pre-recorded programmes, all repeats or 'in the can' for forthcoming transmission, were run off from the ATV switching centre at Foley Street in London, while a team of ex-ABC announcers based in both Teddington and Foley Street provided the presentation. The announcing team for the special service was mainly David Hamilton, John Benson, Sheila Kennedy and Philip Elsmore, who would all continue thereafter as Thames announcers. All appeared in vision, though not always at start-up.
The service was mounted at short notice, after several days of blank screens, and the management team needed to create a quick and simple presentation style. The term Independent Television' was chosen for the temporary national station' (the term ITV' was hardly in use in those days and a range of simple text-only captions was provided. No symbol as such was designed, but a sign with the station name sufficed. A clock was borrowed from the ABC studios as Teddington, and the ABC symbol on the clock (only partially) covered with masking tape.
On the first day of the service, an insert of the local Picasso was tried along with a local start-up tune before switching to the national output. This did not work well and on day two a London Picasso and national theme was used. This Picasso caused further confusion to viewers who thought they were watching the wrong' region.
From day three onwards a nationally networked tuning signal was used. To avoid confusion over regions, the ITA provided the Foley Street centre with a copy of the blank Picasso card containing no regional identifier. This rarity was used for two weeks and was unique in the history of ITV start-ups. A variant copy with the words Independent Television' was commissioned from the graphic designers but did not arrive until the final few days of the service and was only used briefly at the end of the period.
This short, unique service in August 1968 was not wholly consistent in presentation techniques, and opened on some days with Picasso card and wipe to ident' , while on other days with ident card only. A rousing Farnon march was chosen well in the start-up tradition, so the ghost of Eric Coates would have been proud.Vision On