Studio 4 

29 March 2006 tbs.pm/3503

In most ITV companies, the studio with the largest number was the smallest, and usually used for presentation. In Tyne Tees land, this was studio 4.

The fact that it was the smallest studio shouldn’t belittle its function. It was the smallest studio with the biggest job – used day in day out, announcers would introduce programmes, trail forthcoming attractions, read the news or just pad indefinitely when something went wrong with a programme.

For the first 30 odd years, backdrops were created physically and assembled in the studio. However by the mid 1980s a chroma key system had been installed.

Chroma key worked by sitting the presenter in front of a blue background with another picture overlaid behind them electronically. This naturally allowed an enormous amount of flexibility in the system, meaning the same studio could easily be used for news, kids and general continuity.

The technology was not without its problems. In its infancy, the technology was often very noticable to the viewer due to the lines appearing around the person on screen. Tyne Tees reduced this by making the background slightly out of focus and softening the general picture, making it harder to spot that the set was virtual not real.

Judi Lines sitting against a blue Chroma-key background

Looking distinctly like there’s something missing, Judi Lines sits in front of a very blue background.

There were also technical problems, with announcers appearing with the news backdrop or even programme caption slides in the background.

By 1995 continuity was increasingly being run down in Newcastle with only Bill Steel and Kathy Secker remaining, and other links being done in Leeds.

The role of the team had also changed – the job of presenting news bulletins was given over to dedicated presenters and reporters from the news team.

Studio 4’s fate was sealed and in 1996 in-vision continuity ended. Bill Steel left the station in July 1996 whilst Kathy Secker moved to the news department. Some continity from Studio 4 remained for a few months but by September all announcements were being done out of vision from Leeds.

We don’t know what has happened to Studio 4 after its demise in 1996, but one thing is for sure. It won’t be doing continuity again.

Studio 4 in 1967

An offscreen shot of Studio 4 in 1967

A shot of the presentation studio in 1967. To the left of the picture, the desk, complete with telephone. The fixed position camera is floating in the middle, and a bank of monitors to the right. In the background, you can just make out a map of the region, but what this was used for, we don’t know.

Tyne Tees presentation control in 1967

Okay this isn’t studio 4 but its very interesting! This shot shows the Tyne Tees presentation control room where the transmission controllers did their work, as seen in the same year.

Early 1980s Studio Backdrops

Kathy Secker in the 1980s

From some point between 1979 and 1983, Kathy Secker in the continuity booth.

Neville Wanless

A few years later (around 1982) and the backdrop had had a minor adjustment – the grey pillar being painted blue. Neville Wanless is announcing.

The logo in the photo includes the Tyne Bridge and the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge.

1982 Christmas Studio

Colin Weston in the 1982 Christmas continuity set

A rather elaborate Christmas studio complete with fireplace, a candle and Christmas cards no doubt sent in by viewers!

Granada’s Colin Weston is in the hot seat this Christmas Day and having a few technical problems… Despite being a regular announcer at Granada, Colin freelanced at a number of other stations, and had a number of appearances at Tyne Tees.

Christmas, mid-1980s style

Annie St. John in a Christmas set

From a year or two later (the exact year is unknown), the fantastic Annie St. John is in the yuletide hot-seat.

1985

Annie St. John in 1985

Annie St. John announcing against a rather relaxing blue backdrop in 1985. Note the curious slight tilt to the TTTV logo on the left.

1986 Studio

Judi Lines Neville Wanless in news studio

Without doubt from the chroma-key studio, Judi Lines sits in front of a truly horrendous backdrop whilst Neville Wanless sits with the electronic news backdrop behind him as he reads the morning headlines.

Neville Wanless

Neville sits against the Christmas backdrop in 1986 – a very minimalist creation compared to the real studio designed for 1983.

Annie St. John presenting 'Lookaround'

Lookaround was the daily continuity slot dedicated to reading out details of local events, birthdays, and in the case of bad weather, cancellations! This had been done in front of a standard continuity backdrop, but following the introduction of the chroma-key background in the continuity studio, a special backdrop was introduced in 1996. This example also shows some rather interesting hair from Annie St. John.

Christmas 1987

Jane Jermyn

The following year, the Christmas set looked like a bit more effort was made, with Jane Jermyn here sitting in front of a nighttime picture of the top of houses. Very seasonal!

1988 and Sand

Bill Steel with the rather awful 'sand' backdrop

The introduction of the flowing rivers ident in 1988 saw a new continuity backdrop. A suitably ‘sandy’ backdrop was chosen with a plain white TTTV logo. Whilst good in concept, it wasn’t great in practice!

1989 Studio

Bill Steel in the continuity studio in 1989

Sand gave way to some strange kind of cracked ice effect, with the TTTV logo changing to a similar blue as used on the ident.

Lesley Manners in 1989

In the same year, news programme Northern Life got a new look, and the continuity studio news backdrop changed to ‘fit in’ with the new branding. Not that this shot of Newcastle ever appeared in Northern Life’s titles or studio…

1991 Studio

Johnathan Morrell introduces the next programme in 1991

With the ditching of the ITV generic ident in 1991, Tyne Tees introduced a rather odd, metalic and stripey set of graphics, including this co-ordinated continuity background. Johnathan Morrell is your announcer.

Christmas 1992

Lyn Spencer against the 1992 Christmas backdrop

Lyn Spencer raises a glass on New Years Eve, 1992.

Christmas 1993

Kathy Secker against the 1993 Christmas backdrop

In contrast to the rather elaborate christmas sets of years gone by, in the 1990s the difference for Christmas tended to be merely a different chroma-key background. Kathy Secker welcomes us to our festive programmes, in this picture which is actually from New Years Day 1994.

1995 and the final backdrop

Bill Steel in 1995 Kathy Secker in 1995

Kathy and Bill sit in front of a simple but colourful backdrop which was probably the final one used for invision continuity.

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