Nothern Life in pictures 

29 March 2006 tbs.pm/3498

Listen to Northern Life 1976 theme tune as played on the final edition in 1992

Taken from the final edition of Northern Life, this logo is a bit of a mystery because the logo type wasn’t introduced until 1983, and the programme was never broadcast in black and white. It was clearly re-created in 1992, although why is another question.

The theme tune in this era was The Blaydon Races, performed by Larry Addler. This version was performed live by Larry on the final Northern Life in 1992.

Listen to Northern Life 1978 theme tune

Listen to pre ad break music

Listen to the post ad break music

More real this time – the 1978-1983 logo, theme tune and some music stings.

1986

Now a look at Northern Life in 1986.

Northern Life circa 1986 Paul Frost in the Northern Life studio

At Six the North East tuned into the show with fantastic graphics and funky music. What do you mean, it wasn’t funky music?

Northern News logo from 1986 Judi Lines in the 1986 mini news studio

Morning news bulletin from 1986, read by the duty announcer of the day – in this example, Judi Lines. The round up was presented from the continuity studio, with the backdrop super-imposed by chroma key.

Afternoon News logo from 1986

The afternoon news came from the main studio and used one of the evening presenters – below Eileen McCable presents the bulletin.

Northern Life presenter Eilen McCabe

The standard Northern Life logo in the set was replaced by a monitor displaying the ‘Afternoon News’ logo – why the evening news was not done in the same way is obviously not known.

Back at 6 caption from Northern Life

At the end of the bulletin, a caption promoting the 6pm bulletin was shown.

Northern Life's studio circa 1986

The Northern Life studio was probably best described as ‘minimalist’ and wasn’t exactly the most exciting set in the world. Saying that, all that blue paint must have cost a fair fortune! And for what? A quick glance at the end of the show?

Stuart and Eilen celebrate Red Nose Day

The worst regional news programmes are usually the ones that took themselves far to seriously, although this was not a charge you could level at Northern Life. Here Stuart and Eileen celebrate the very first Red Nose Day in 1988 as the credits roll. But what’s the game with editors Dave Picken and David Lander?

This slightly curious credits statement was a regular feature of Northern Life, where Dave and David both proclaim their from Newcastle. Except one’s from Newcastle, New South Wales. Quite why they thought it was vital to tell us this, we really don’t know…

Sensible credits from 1986

Without the two Daves, things got a bit more more sensible!

Northern Life 1986 production slide

At the end of the show (on the right), a typical Northern Life production slide with a Tyne Tees logo super-imposed over a dark studio.

A Scene From Sunday Edition in 1986

Sunday Edition was the Sunday version of Northern Life in the late 1980s. Note the very eighties multi-coloured logo behind presenter Phil Martin.

1988

Northern Life logo from 1988

In autumn 1988 the blocky map was replaced by a new number complete with swooshy title sequence.

Northern Life's Studio circa 1989 Northern Life's Studio circa 1988 looking like a star ship bridge Paul Frost alone in the Northern Life studio in 1988

The set, whilst better than the previous version, was still slightly dubious with a strange Y shaped desk for the main presenters, and rather odd raised bits that were presumably to cover monitors. The odd colour scheme of grey with red trim did little to help it. The backdrop consisted of light blue strips on a darker background.

One correspondent, Neil Flemming, described it as the most vile set Tyne Tees has ever designed. The combined effect gave the studio a style that would not have been much out of place as the set for the starship bridge in a rather bad seventies sci-fi drama. The effect looked even more odd when there was just one presenter in the studio.

Northern Life south caption

Northern Life would split in two mid-show, allowing more focused regional news bulletins for the North and South. Unlike the late 1990s where this parting-of-ways was covered and not mentioned to the viewer, in the Northern Life era it was announced formally to all. The split was covered by this caption – sadly only available to us in black and white.

Paul Frost hands over to Middlesbrough

Whilst viewers in the North were enjoying their news, a pre-recorded handover would be played out to the South, with Paul and his Middlesbrough based co-hort telling viewers what to expect in the opt out. The change to full screen was where the pre-recorded aspect of the bulletin ended, and the news went live again.

Straight to Middlesbrough

Rather curiously the studio backdrop has York labelled on the map of the region, despite the fact that the newsroom was in Middlesbrough.

Credits from 1988 Production Slide from 1988

At the end of the show, the rather odd credits cropped up now and then, before a quick look at the production slide, usually overlaid over varying shots of the studio.

The man in the middle picture, stood near the desk, is one of the signers used by Northern Life to provide a small, signed news summary at the end of the programme. Tyne Tees was an early pioneer of signed news bulletins, and is still a leading provider of signing services for broadcasters.

Listen to news bulletin theme (1988)

Still in 1988, and Bill Steel reads a morning news bulletin just after the handover from TVam. A trailer for This Morning would see the bulletin move to 9:55 by the end of 1989, and would be gone not long after.

1991

The ITV1 Tyne Tees Logo over the top of the start of the Northern Life titles

For much of the 1980s, Northern Life was preceded by the Tyne Tees ident, announcerless, before cutting straight into the theme tune. With the introduction of the ITV Generic Logo of 1989, the logo was burnt into the title sequence, so displayed with the title music playing. The practise continued for some time even when the rest of the station had abandoned the ITV logo.

Stuart McNeil and Pam Royle in the Northern Life studio

The set also got adjusted, with the programme logo being introduced behind the presenters as seen here with Pam Royle and Stuart McNeil.

Credits sequence from Northern Life

The credits sequence was also simpler – no cameras moving around, no zooms, just turn the lights down on the team.

The End

Northern Life's Studio in 1991

Despite getting a new desk and a tweeked set, the decision to replace Northern Life was made, and on 2 October 1992, Paul and Pam welcomed us to the end of an era – the final ever Northern Life.

Paul Frost on ice

For most of the show it was business as usual, until the end when we got treated to a fistful of highlights and bloopers from the 16 years the show had been running.

Northern Life's final production slide

And with that, Paul and Pam symbolically walk out of their old studio and into their new one, closing the doors on the Northern Life studio. We see the final ever Northern Life production slide. Notice that, for some reason, this regional programme, claims it’s been made for the whole ITV network!

Larry Addler sits in the Northern Life studio

And that’s it. Northern Life has ended. Or has it? Hang on! What’s that noise coming from the old studio?

You just can’t end an era without a special guest and in this case it’s Larry Adler, the man who performed the original Northern Life theme tune, the Blaydon Races. The song itself was written by Geordie Ridley, a Tyneside music hall singer in 1862 and is also known by the name Anthem of Tyneside.

After a quick interview, it’s time to leave the studio, with Larry playing us out. And that, really is it.

You Say

3 responses to this article

Joanne Gray 10 December 2015 at 9:21 pm

Andrew, you were wondering why York was featured on the backdrop of the Middlesbrough opt-out, it’s because Tyne Tees used to have a small studio in York (I think there was a rejig of Yorkshire’s coverage area in the 1980s and they gained some of Lincolnshire from Anglia but lost a bit of North Yorkshire to Tyne Tees). The photo featured may have been linking to a report or feature from the York studio. I’m assuming that Yorkshire reclaimed the York studio when they bought out Tyne Tees some years later.

Robert Clark 1 April 2016 at 9:35 pm

Joanne, you’re right in one aspect. The photo behind the presenter was featuring a story from the city of York, but not the York studio. I’ve seen on youtube a video of a south opt out, which has the presenter reading out various stories, and the location on the map changes for the location of each story.

I also think Tyne Tees had a small office, not in York, but Northallerton.

Lindsay Trelford 7 October 2018 at 10:38 pm

On the start of Northern Life news at 6, what were locations? I know they included the Tyne Bridge ( Newcastle), Durham Cathedral and York Minster, but are Sunderland and Middlesbrough included in the two other pictures to represent the Tees and Wear?

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