It’s About Time 

1 January 2000

Clocks. They tell the time whether they are complex or simple in design. But in presentation terms they give a different dynamic, somewhere between the in-vision presenter and the on-screen still. They provide a countdown, a visual crescendo as the music plays or announcer speaks with care as the second hand sweeps up to the twelve and the programme begins. Try listening to music when watching a clock and see if you can witness their strange hypnotic effect.

What follows are some of the clocks used by various ITV companies in the 50s, 60s and 70s, from the simple to the complex via the downright bizarre.

The imperial

The first ITV clock, from Associated-Rediffusion, complete with mock-heraldry and lightning flashes to show solidity and tradition, especially measured against the BBC bat-wing of the day. Mind you, clocks were a serious business then – they got an entry in the TV Times, cryptically as the ‘Time Signal’, and were used to hang extra commercials around.

The simple

Clocks that could be for anyone.

The ABC Northern clock from 1966. Compare with the more branded ABC Midlands version below.

The even more basic ABC generic clock, used from Teddington.

Another bargain-basement clock, this time from WWN. They probably couldn’t afford to spend any more. However, there can be class in simplicity.

Possibly unfair to call this simple, but in concept this 1968 Harlech example really is.

And the colour version from the 1970s. Again, the flourishes exist to make you think it’s more ornate that it actually is.

And the stark clock used by Granada from 1968. Quite simple in comparison with their previous 5-day-a-week one. Note the over-long second hand.

The branded

One move up from the simple functional graphics these included, sometimes quite quietly, the normal station symbol.

From the first day of Tyne Tees – Channel 8, this otherwise plain clock is neatly adorned with the three ‘T’s replacing the figure 12.

A really clever use of part of the ATV eye logo as the clock frame.

Neatly and discretely badged, this can be nothing other than ABC Television (Midlands)

And then there’s Anglia. Always happy to go in its own direction on presentation matters, this 1970s and 80s clock is the definition of branding. Ornate clock, symbol and name, yet not as cluttered as you might expect.

And then there’s the subtly done Granada clock of the late 1980s. No G-arrow, but the familiar Granada typeface is there.

Could the Granada clock have been based on this one from Southern a decade earlier? Other than the shaded background and faux-3D lettering, they’re identical.

TVS makes its debut in 1982 with this brightly-coloured offering. No TVS symbol, but the colours around the clock imply it. It also looks strangely BBC-like.

Branded but strangely boring. Yes, it’s Tyne Tees.

Yorkshire comes on air in the 1970s with a clock that is branded but very very simple.

The whimsical

Granada in the North – strangely in the clouds.

Leave it to Anglia, in 1959, to come up with a clock designed to match a whimsical symbol for a whimsical region. Or something. Looks like it may have come from the Chairman’s mantlepiece.

The overlaid

The Teledu Cymru clock as an interlude.

The hi-tech

Early dual analogue/digital from Rediffusion, London. Quite a contrast from the A-R pomp!

Whereas Southern was quite content in 1968 with just a digital display.

Westward clock from 1970s

Meanwhile, late 1970s Westward offers this unusual design, featuring their logo, and analogue and digital-flip-over clocks, all encased in a 70s-style surround. Very fussy with all the possible elements there – and each rather too small to be of the best use.

The festive

Clocks that are only for Christmas

Granada's 1966 christmas clock

A Christmas present from Granada in 1966.

ABC 1967 christmas clock

ABC picked up the ‘wrapped present and tinsel’ look in 1967. Simply a surround for their regular one.

Granada 1967's christmas clock

Whereas Granada was dreaming of a white Christmas. Note the basic clock design is the same as 1966, and different from their regular clock.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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2 responses to this article

James 24 January 2021 at 2:42 pm

The Tyne Tees Flash recreation needs replacing with a HTML5 version, as Flash is no longer supported by Adobe.

Russ J Graham 24 January 2021 at 3:26 pm

We agree, but… this non-commercial, not-for-profit site run by volunteers is not in a position (financially or in terms of personnel) to go back through old articles from up to 20 years ago and recreate old features in new technology. Sorry.

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