On Ilkla Moor Bah t’at 

26 October 2015 tbs.pm/1691


Notional Date: April 1969
Announcer: John Crosse
Yorkshire March (Ron Goodwin, arr Derek New)
Pirol (Hans Knerr)
Mail Carriage (Gerd Luft)


The Yorkshire opening routine devised in 1968 was the last of the old style march start-ups, though the piece itself was jaunty and dynamic, with a memorable melody. It became a local favourite, and was used for 14 years.

The theme was based on the traditional Northern folk song On Ilkla Moor Bah t’at but taking the theme at a fast pace provided a powerful march, full of confidence and presence.

Originally the Yorkshire ident was used only after the end of the piece, which did not utilise the final verse to best visual effect. Some weeks after the station opened, the point at which the tuning signal gave way to the company symbol was moved forward to the start of the final verse, creating a much more powerful effect and it is this variant that we present here. Oddly this was not used on every opening.

This period of black and white transmission, from July 1968 to November 1969, was the only time YTV used a moving form-up ident as part of their daily start-up routine; once colour arrived, a cut to a static caption at the start of the final verse became the norm. This is a pity as the effect created here, at the fade from Picasso card to moving ident, is very powerful. Note also the Picasso card with the company name on it: starting in July 1968, the region names on the card had been replaced by the company names – a month earlier and the card would’ve read “NORTH”.

Many redundant ABC Didsbury staff were recruited by Yorkshire TV, and known there as ‘the ABC Mafia’. They were involved in the planning of the first Yorkshire Television symbol and the visual similarity to the last ABC ident layout is evident. The opening sequence as a whole however, owes more to Rediffusion practice, as several redundant staff from their presentation department had moved up to Yorkshire, bringing the Rediffusion tradition of march and form-up with them. This had largely become a standard for most of Independent Television, except for ABC who had previously done their own thing for revelation of their start-up ident.

Morning closedowns after Yorkshire schools programmes used the last few lines of the march as a closing piece before reversion to test card. This was a common Rediffusion, ATV and Granada practice which Yorkshire Television carried on.

Although Yorkshire Television was the real new boy of the major companies of the time, they carried on many of the traditions of ITV presentation. The number of ex-Rediffusion staff they took on in the presentation department saw to that.

Yorkshire Television had a distinctly Rediffusion feel to its presentation and that flavour lasted for many years. Ironically, early Yorkshire Television presentation was as much a mixture of ABC and Rediffusion as Thames Television was – if not more so.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form before 2000. It has been republished with the addition of the animated Yorkshire Television start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.

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