First Night 

2 February 2004 tbs.pm/3429

5pm, Thursday 15 January 1959 and Tyne Tees burst on air. Take a trip back to that night, with a look at the opening night schedule

5.00 Station Opening Programme
The opening ceremony by The Duke of Northumberland, introduced by Sir Richard A. Pease, Bart, Chairman of Tyne Tees Television Ltd.

5.15 The Adventures of Robin Hood.

5.45 Popeye.

5.55 News.
From ITN.

6.05 North-East News.
The first regional news bulletin.

6.15 The Prime Minister.
Harold Macmillam interviewed live by Adrian Cairns from Tyne Tees’s studios.

6:25 Strange Experiences.
Safe and Sound, as told by Peter Williams.

6:30 Highway Patrol.
Starring Broderick Crawford.

7:00 The Big Show.
Live opening night extravaganza, starring Dickie Henderson, Jill Day, Bill Maynard, Bill Travers, Linden Travers and a special guest appearance from Jack Payne. The Big Show was so big that it required the use of both Studios 1 and 2.

8:00 Double Your Money.
Presented by Hughie Green.

8:30 This Week.
Ludovic Kennedy presents ITV’s news magazine programme.

9:00 Wagon Train.
Western starring Ward Bond and Robert Horton.

10:00 News.
News at Ten may not have started yet, but ITN did bring the the news at ten on this particular evening.

10:15 Murder Bag.
Crime drama.

10:45 Sports Desk.
Presented by George Taylor, with an excerpt from the FA Cup Finals from 1937 (Sunderland v Preston) and 1955 (Newcastle United v Manchester City.)

10:55 I Love Lucy.

11.25 Meet George and Alfred Black.
Tyne Tees’s Directors of Programmes preview forthcoming programmes. Followed by the Epilogue, from the Bishop of Durham.

Looking at the first night

The first thing that sticks out is the huge emphasis on entertainment – this was to be true of Tyne Tees’s first few years when more serious networked programming would often be dropped in favour of more lightweight shows, until the need for a more balanced schedule was emphasised by the ITA in 1962.

On the other side, the station did manage to get an interview with Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan who was also MP for Stockton-on-Tees.

Odd as it may seem now, interviewer Adrian Cairns was not actually allowed to ask anything political, and was sat at a lower chair, indicating the more subservient position of an interviewer in that era.

You Say

4 responses to this article

John Green 12 May 2013 at 8:20 pm

The pic of the ‘original TTTV logo is incorrect. As I remember it was an anchor.

Great site though!

Russ J Graham 13 May 2013 at 9:01 pm

You’re right. There is some (pre-internet) evidence of the anchor, usually in a circle, being used on notepaper and in still slides by TTT early on. But it appears to have been drawn from the mid-form-up full TTT ident mentioned here. Difficult to know now which they considered to be the “real” ident, so we’ve gone for the generally recognised version. But we’re happy to have proof that we’re wrong!

Dave Neville 5 October 2013 at 9:17 pm

I’m sure this will have been pointed out before but Dickie Henderson never appeared on the Big Night through illness. His was replaced by comedian Jimmy James. At the time I thought it a very bad omen for the new TV station.

Keith Foster 5 December 2014 at 8:48 pm

What are the chances of seeing once again “The Big Show” as I believe it was recorded in 1959.

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