Men of Harlech (ironically) 

5 October 2015 tbs.pm/7575

WALES (WEST AND NORTH) TELEVISION

Notional Date: February 1965
Announcer: Ivor Roberts; Christine Godwin
Music: Men Of Harlech Medley (Trad; Arr. Leslie Statham as “Arnold Steck”), used from 1962-1968

 

When the original Wales (West & North) television company (WWN) was taken over by its neighbouring Television Wales and West (TWW) in 1964, the new owner continued with the presentation style and start up music that WWN were already using. The service ran as a discrete entity and was not merged directly into TWW’s presentation operation for more than a year.

This jolly and effective medley of “Men of Harlech” and “God Save The Prince of Wales”, played at a fast pace, was not the first piece that WWN had used. Shortly after they started in 1962, a film crew visit to West Germany to document the Welsh Guards at work, led to the music director of the regiment Major Leslie Statham MBE, composing under the name Arnold Steck, being invited to put together a new house theme for WWN and this excellent and nationally popular piece resulted. It is played by the band of HM Welsh Guards and is ironically the only example in the whole national genre of ITV start-up marches to be played by a genuine military band rather than an orchestra. The band was augmented at the recording session and produced a strong and powerful sound.

In visual terms, this daily start-up routine is unusual. The date is 1965, shortly after the WWN born service was extended to South Wales to became a truly National Welsh service for the first time, taking in the TWW South Wales operating area. This allowed a concentration of the Welsh-language programming on this new extended channel so that the original South Wales and West of England service (renamed “the TWW General Service”) could target English-language speakers and provide its difficult mixed remit of programming for South Wales and the West of England in a clearer format. It still remained difficult for TWW to provide a simultaneous cultural mix for the citizens of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Newport. By taking the Welsh-language programmes over to the new South Wales WWN extension (“Teledu Cymru”) this split could be more clearly delineated. For WWN’s own original viewers, the continuation of the Teledu Cymru name under the new owners was a reassuring piece of continuity.

These sensible channel changes converted the deployment of resources from a North and West Wales versus South Wales and West England regional split, into a Welsh and English service for all Wales versus an English service for South Wales and the West – a language based split. This set the political scene for the demand for and emergence of S4C, seventeen years later. As it was possible for advertisers to book commercial slots on the old North and West Wales transmitters alone, it effectively left TWW running three continuity stream services (for advertisers) and two (for programming), making TWW’s presentation department the most complex operation of its kind in Independent Television, with timing requirements for varied advertising blocks requiring (for certain breaks only) the creation of three daily output schedules. This became four when UHF arrived for successor HTV’s discrete West England service. It was essential to offer advertisers this level of sub-regional flexibility so that products and local services were not inadvertently advertised in the North Wales coastal towns (for example) that could only be purchased in Cardiff and Newport, two hundred miles away to the South. In the mid-sixties, regional product distribution was a big part of the prevailing economy.

The Independent Television Authority’s (ITA) ‘Picasso’ tuning signal bears the names of the three original WWN transmitters, which copied each others’ signal, cutting the need for expensive Post Office cable links through the mountains and allowing the North Wales transmitters (via an off-air hilltop receiver at Nebo in Anglesey) to repeat the Cardiff output many miles outside the original TWW transmission area. Shortly after the notional date of this transmission (early 1965) tuning signals naming the region were introduced, to clarify the dual transmission capability (Channels 7 & 10) at St Hilary near Cardiff. This was the only area in ITV history to broadcast two self-contained and differing services to the same area simultaneously. The St Hilary transmitter had its own ‘Picasso’ tuning signal, so only three transmitters are named on this North and West Wales caption, despite the four being correctly named in sound. The ITA authority announcement is by Ivor Roberts who was senior announcer for almost ten years and the continuity welcome is by Christine Godwin.

The ident ‘form up’ routine shown here was not invariably found at this exact point, sometimes coming after the end of the main theme, as a discrete ‘ident’. On schools openings, this was simplified to a plain ident caption under the continuity announcer. We are using here the most sophisticated and exciting variant periodically seen at the time, showing Teledu Cymru at its best with a proud dragon symbol ‘resolve’ over the climactic final verses of the music, cutting to clock for the closing seconds of this majestic daily routine.


This article originally appeared in a somewhat different form in a different Transdiffusion publication in 2000. It has been republished with the addition of the animated Teledu Cymru start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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7 responses to this article

Joseph Holloway 7 October 2015 at 4:05 am

nice recreation of Teledu Cymru’s startup from 1965 with “Men of Harlech/God Bless the Prince of Wales” though the original version of the startup appeared on The “Harlech’s House of Graphics” Page (www.hhg.org.uk/open.html) found on the Station Openings section.

Russ J Graham 7 October 2015 at 10:03 am

You might like to scroll down to the bottom of that HHG page, where it notes that the original originals come from the Transdiffusion archives. We don’t pinch material off other peoples’ sites: we have plenty of our own.

nhewit 8 October 2015 at 4:40 pm

I am too young to remember either WWN or it’s TWW successor Teledu Cymru, however I found the opening sequence quite impressive; good choice of music, dai awn!
I do however remember the next franchise holder HTV. The Moel-Y Parc transmitter’s UHF signal extended into the Mid Mersey Valley and I can recollect the film opening sequence at the start of HTV Cymru/Wales broadcasting following TVAM, it seemed to reflect all aspects of Wales including the Port Talbot Steel Works and ended with the cameras panning onto the Lloyd George Statue in what I assume to be Y maes ,Caernafon. Later at University in the South of Wales we were able to receive HTV West from the Mendip Transmitter across the Severn, as I recall the opening film from Bristol, seemed short of locations to include, most seemed to be Bath or Bristol and had to be padded out with a lot of images of flora and fauna!
I never met any one from HTV Cymru/Wales and the nearest I got to the studios was the small office at Glanarfon Road, Bangor! I did however once meet a presenter from HTV West ,one Morning I saw Alison Holloway filming an item by the Watershed in Bristol Docks for Report West, she was quite personable and similar to her on screen image when she read the news bulletin.
Incidentally the clock featured on Teledu Cymru was I think still in use in the 1980’s for HTV: ‘mae deg o gloch’!

Richard Jones 10 October 2015 at 11:38 pm

To my knowledge, this was not the clock that HTV used at any time during its existence. Great article and reminds me of my childhood….I was able to flick between channels 8 (Preseli) and 10 (St. Hilary) and thus enjoy both start-ups!

Kif Bowden-Smith 11 October 2015 at 9:23 pm

This clock was exclusive to Teledu Cymru and TWW and was not used by Harlech Television who designed their own.
Thanks for the interesting observations!

Jerry Ralph 28 October 2015 at 9:50 am

I’ve just tried the links from the HHG page mentioned above – all go to a not in service-type page.

Russ J Graham 28 October 2015 at 11:47 am

Nothing we can do about that. What other sites do is up to them.

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