Channel 3 North East 

24 May 2004 tbs.pm/2033

ALBUM C3NE

Channel 3 North East
North East England: 1996-1998 (Name change)

 

Suddenly gone

A few years after Yorkshire and Tyne Tees Television merged, the MD of the combined group, the late Bruce Gyngell, decided to rebrand the two stations. Yorkshire would become Channel 3 Yorkshire, while Tyne Tees would become Channel 3 North East.

The Yorkshire board balked at rebranding their station with the appellation ‘Channel 3’, but agreed to experiment with the Tyne Tees brand.

Thus Channel 3 North East was born. Its ident, the words ‘North East’ and a large numeral ‘3’, were put together by a Leeds design company, reputedly in an afternoon. It showed.

Also designed, but with rather more time and money being spent, was an introductory promotional film for the new brand. This film also served as an extended ident for the station, and featured often before the local news – renamed ‘North East Tonight’ for the purposes of the experiment.

As we can see from the stills, this film – well shot and crafted – is based on the idea of intertwining shots of northeastern landmarks with things to do with threes. Three swimmers, three ice creams, a cake shaped as a number 3, three old gents, three kids on swings, a red ‘3’ billiard ball, a juggler juggling three plush ‘3’s vie for attention with local sights like York Minster, Durham cathedral, the Middlesbrough transporter bridge, the Tees barrage, the Tyne bridge and Hartlepool marina.

To round the film off, shots of local people – shoppers and football fans – blend into staged shots of local C3NE personalities. Or at least local newsreaders, the station long having abandoned any regionalism other than that it was required to do.

The mixture, over a Lindesfarne-style heavy guitar pop backing, was actually quite engaging. However, it didn’t quite seem to scream ‘North East’ as it may have been hoped. The landmarks may have been local, but the film, the new brand, even the cheap ident, failed to spark and smacked, even to the uninitiated, as being imposed from somewhere more hip and, dare I say it, more cosmopolitan than the North East tends to be.

The whole film showed that someone with talent and money to spend had been engaged to make something of the brand, something exciting to awaken a (by now) fading station losing viewers to a resurgent, if awkwardly named, BBC North East and Cumbria.

But it wasn’t carried through to the ident, or the local news presentation, or the weather… or to any other aspect of the station. The film seemed to be where the thought stopped. After the audience had been wowed by the promotion, the harsh reality of a probably bankrupt idea which did not follow through with the ideas was left.

And yet, with some time and energy being spent on it, the promotional film could have spilled over into the station as a whole. Elements of the film – the juggler, say, or the girl with the birthday cake – could have been used as idents.

A stronger piece of music – composed rather than purchased off the shelf – could have created a station theme to be used on promotions, the local news and a myriad of other places to create a whole package. That this didn’t happen shames Yorkshire Tyne Tees – and doomed the new brand to instant death the moment Granada swooped down upon the struggling Yorkshire Tyne Tees Television company.

This culture of experimentation, of not following through an idea to its logical conclusion, but giving up at the first convenient moment, was something that, unfortunately, Granada seem to have kept at the station.

While the name Tyne Tees leapt back to the fore with another cheap, impersonal ident after the takeover, the new look never gelled. Two years later, and Tyne Tees had another new symbol.

And this is the truly sad, depressing thing of the Granada look for the company. Granada stopped short of properly rebranding and refocusing this poor, embattled and apparently ill-loved station.

The new ident and symbol appeared before the new-look news. The symbol is repeated on the weather. But in an amazing mistake, the ITV corporate branding retained the old TTTV symbol. This may be the first case of a company not only having two symbols, but also using them simultaneously – breaching the rules of design that are taught at A-Level, never mind those of commonsense.

On Screen

A great big giant 3 as a logo you say? Well obviously it makes sense.

A filmed sequence makes up most of this extended ident, followed by the cheap and nasty symbol.

You can see some clever ideas poking through, but also the dead hand of a committee laid on top of it. The shots of ‘Tyne Tees People’ are an old idea from the station dating back to the renewal of the franchise.

The teasing appearances of the number three are clever, but limited. And, when the promo for the ‘new’ station is done, a cheap and rickety ident appears – with a tiny mention of Tyne Tees Television running along the bottom. Welcome to triple branding – perhaps another reference to ‘3’?

You Say

3 responses to this article

premierfella 17 May 2013 at 8:53 pm

I know not why for sure, but at some point during this Channel 3 North East phase they spent money on billboard advertising that was on display in London.

I can’t remember where exactly I saw it but I think it was on a ground level station platform, so I assume given how far it was from the Tyne Tees region it must have been at one of the mainline London railway stations (logic would suggest Kings Cross, although London Bridge the station I was commuting through at the time, so it could have been there).

Dave 26 July 2015 at 12:57 pm

“And yet, with some time and energy being spent on it, the promotional film could have spilled over into the station as a whole. Elements of the film – the juggler, say, or the girl with the birthday cake – could have been used as idents.

A stronger piece of music – composed rather than purchased off the shelf – could have created a station theme to be used on promotions, the local news and a myriad of other places to create a whole package.”

I hope you’re referring to the generic music used on the C3NE ident. I’m not otherwise sure Mark Knopfler – who’s tune ‘Going Home’ (originally for the film Local Hero) is used on this promo film – would appreciate the insinuation that he didn’t compose this music. Indeed, many YouTube clips of the promo have had the sound removed due to copyright claims.

Joanne Gray 7 October 2015 at 6:35 pm

Partly out of defiance and disgust, but mostly from habit, myself and everyone that I knew ignored the rebrand and continued to refer to our local station as good old Tyne Tees. Even now, with the even more indifferent corporate singularly dull tuppeny ha’penny joke of a channel that ITV has become, I still call the 3rd channel on my Freeview onscreen guide Tyne Tees.

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