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Memories of Regional Programmes

The pre-national days of ITV (February 2021)

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DJ
DJGM

Barry Welsh Is Coming - Comedy - a rare genre for regional telly. It ran between 1996 & 2004, and returned for specials in 2007.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPBKMlbSMu8


That was also shown nationally IIRC on the Paramount Comedy Channel.
WH
Whataday Founding member
Ah, vaguely remember Presenters. I probably recall more Welsh programming from that period to be honest - I think other than Nuts+Bolts HTV often appealed more to an older audience with their content.


Presenters had TV critic Jaci Stephen as head judge, and it was eventually won by someone who already had an established career in radio, causing much local scandal.

Quote:
Just reading some Nuts + Bolts articles of the time and they said it was the first HTV soap in 15 years, so can anyone remember something from the 80s? Of course back then most regions had a crack at some kind of soap in the hope of getting their own Coronation Street.


HTV produced a twice weekly soap for the ITV network in 1981 called Taff Acre but it didn't last very long.

They also produced the S4C soap Dinas, an attempt to bring some Dallas/Dynasty style glamour to Cardiff:



Doctor Who fans may spot the headquarters of Adipose Industries in the titles.

Quote:
And over to Granada didn't they have their own kids series which usually aired on Saturdays at 12.30pm - a game show of some kind IIRC. I think Central and HTV both usually shows Movies, Games and Videos in that slot.


I think HTV aired a kids quiz show called Playing For Time in this slot for a brief period in the late 90s. It was based on an earlier Welsh incarnation, Taro' Mlaen.
SW
Steve Williams
As mentioned there Central Weekend is probably the noteable example from Central.

Following on from the talk of Granada Tonight earlier at one point they did cut the show back to 30 minutes in order to air local programming at 6.30pm. I think there was Schools Challenge and Crime File, plus a cookery show IIRC. They used to do a bit after the news too - Revelations was a noteable drama and I've vague memories of a rather tacky club based docusoap.


Central Weekend famously achieved what all these programmes secretly aspire to, when it was taken off air one week while the police broke up a mass brawl in the studio which led to numerous arrests and hospitalisations. It was such a big show in the Midlands, it did get a network outing in the mid-nineties, as the boringly titled Wednesday Night Live, but it didn't catch on. Quite a few regions had a similar show on Friday nights, Tyne Tees in the early eighties had Friday Live which was seemingly a bit of a bearpit (and I seem to remember reading that Central Weekend started as Tyne Tees' Andy Allen joined Central as Head of Programmes and wanted their equivalent of Friday Live) and Granada had Up Front, with Tony Wilson and Lucy Meacock, which mixed debate with comedy and gave the likes of Caroline Aherne and John Thomson some early TV exposure.

Revelations was shown in a couple of regions as well as Granada, Carlton and Central showed it, as did Border who took most of Granada's regional shows. Devised by Russell T Davies, of course. Seemingly in return, Granada showed Carlton's London Bridge for a while, which lasted for a few years. Seems bizarre to think now we don't get much networked drama on ITV at all than 25 years ago there was so much money sloshing around we could get regional dramas.

Schools Challenge was an interesting one, it was a straight spin-off of University Challenge, on the same set with the same rules, but only on Granada, and introduced by Mark Radcliffe, while he was doing the Radio 1 breakfast show. Who said he was too low profile? Also in that 6.30 slot in 1997 was a fashion series called Girls Who Shop, which was the first TV exposure for Trinny and Susannah.

Granada did a couple of other regional comedy shows, for a couple of years circa 1991-92 they did a series called Stand Up, which was then repeated on the network in 1996 because in the meantime everyone involved had become massively famous, including the likes of Lee Evans, Frank Skinner and Stewart Lee. In 1992 Granada even did a series of regional comedy pilots, including the original version of The Mrs Merton Show, sketch show The Dead Good Show with Steve Coogan, John Thomson and Caroline Aherne and a sitcom pilot written by and starring Mark Little which never came to anything. Also, Granada produced a comedy magic series called Stuff The White Rabbit for the Beeb, which BBC2 showed in 1997, but six months before it was shown regionally on Granada.

I remember reading an article a while back how one of the most important comedy shows of the nineties was a regional programme on Meridian called Six Pairs Of Pants, not because it was any good, but because the cast included Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes and many other people who all went on to be massively famous, and I think Edgar Wright directed it, and it was that series that brought people together who would go on to make Spaced and many other shows.

One other interesting series that moved from the regions to the network was a show in 1996 called The LADS, which was probably the highest profile series produced by Westcountry. It was very much a lad mag on telly, when they were the latest thing, presented by Terry Alderton, Sophie Anderton, Jadene "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush" Doran and some other bloke, and I first remember reading about it in Broadcast where they were reporting it was the most successful regional show in Britain in terms of audience share, it was getting about 60% of the audience in the South West. So it got picked up by quite a lot of other regions, I remember watching it on Granada, and that led to a full networked series being commissioned, albeit at 1am as part of the overnight line-up. It was a big deal for Westcountry, who managed to capture the zeitgeist and do it before everyone else. It's a bit like when Border in the eighties managed to be the first people to put BMX on the telly when they did BMX Beat, which was picked up by the network and established Border as a major producer of kids' shows for the rest of the decade, because they got in first.

Our House started as a Central regional programme but ended up getting an airing across the Carlton stations (including HTV).


The similiar series on Granada was House Style, which was very popular in the region, we used to watch it every week, and I think it later got a network repeat on daytime, with the more obvious local stuff edited out.

And over to Granada didn't they have their own kids series which usually aired on Saturdays at 12.30pm - a game show of some kind IIRC. I think Central and HTV both usually shows Movies, Games and Videos in that slot.


Movies, Games and Videos was an interesting show, I remember watching the very first one when it was networked on Good Friday 1992 when it went under the name of Movies, Movies, Movies (which is better, let's face it). I think it came back in the autumn, and there was a period where it was pretty much networked, it was certainly part of ITV's notorious Christmas Day 1993 line-up when they just showed all the usual Saturday morning shows. I remember it was billed as a Capricorn Production for LWT. At one point there was an even a spin-off magazine, though much as it was at the low-rent end of video games programming, so it was published by Europress, who were at the low-rent end of video games magazines, and it didn't last very long. After a while it seemed the various regions started dropping it and I seem to recall towards the end the only region near us still taking it was HTV.

After Granada took over LWT, there were various shows broadcast in both regions, including a kids quiz called NvS with Dominik Diamond and a Tarby chat show late on Saturday nights. There was also a Jonathan Ross series in 1996, broadcast on Friday nights like his other big chat shows, but only on LWT and Granada, which shows you how his career was down the toilet at the time. They also did a few weekends where the two regions would join together for a live event, there was one called Holidaywatch Live, with Tony Wilson in Blackpool and Jono Coleman in Southend meeting holidaymakers in various programmes over the weekend. One thing I remember
about that is that Garry Bushell then parodied it on his awful Bushell on the Box series, even though nobody outside London and the North West would have ever seen it.

When Carlton took over Central, they too had a couple of shows involving both regions, including a Just A Minute revival and I remember watching the first ever televised Mobo awards in 1997, which were only on Carlton and Central. Around that time too, Carlton had a regional pop show called Videotech, which didn't especially have a London bias and featured bands from all over the place. I remember they did a particularly starry episode, with people like Robbie Williams, which was shown in all regions at 10.40 one night, seemingly serving as a pilot for a potentially networked series. But it never happened, and a year later they did CDUK instead.

HTV produced a twice weekly soap for the ITV network in 1981 called Taff Acre but it didn't last very long.


Yes, as part of the same initiative to create networked daytime dramas that also created Take The High Road. That lasted a long time (although it was seemingly regularly axed by the network and then brought back by popular demand), but Taff Acre didn't.
Last edited by Steve Williams on 11 February 2021 11:56am
DJ
DJ Dave
The Late Debate with Lucy and Tony Wilson on Granada after the news was always a good watch.
WH
Whataday Founding member
Movies, Games and Videos was an interesting show, I remember watching the very first one when it was networked on Good Friday 1992 when it went under the name of Movies, Movies, Movies (which is better, let's face it). I think it came back in the autumn, and there was a period where it was pretty much networked, it was certainly part of ITV's notorious Christmas Day 1993 line-up when they just showed all the usual Saturday morning shows. I remember it was billed as a Capricorn Production for LWT. At one point there was an even a spin-off magazine, though much as it was at the low-rent end of video games programming, so it was published by Europress, who were at the low-rent end of video games magazines, and it didn't last very long. After a while it seemed the various regions started dropping it and I seem to recall towards the end the only region near us still taking it was HTV.


Most of the Capricorn TV productions (MGV, Cybernet, Cinema Cinema Cinema etc) were made for international syndication, with broadcasters given the option to re-voice the commentary or take the English language default. They were relatively cheap to make as they recorded none of their own footage and relied on press releases and EPKs, which did the job perfectly well in my opinion. Fun fact: I once hooked up the infamous Friendly TV with Capricorn and they ended up building almost their entire schedule around their programming and even launched a second channel, Hollywood TV.
AN
all new Phil
And over to Granada didn't they have their own kids series which usually aired on Saturdays at 12.30pm - a game show of some kind IIRC. I think Central and HTV both usually shows Movies, Games and Videos in that slot.

I seem to remember in that slot a science show presented by one Fred Talbot. Also a cookery show called Flantastic which I presume was a local show. We also had Movies Games & Videos and the great Dinosaurs, but maybe later.
HC
Hatton Cross
Also, Granada produced a comedy magic series called Stuff The White Rabbit for the Beeb, which BBC2 showed in 1997, but six months before it was shown regionally on Granada.


I loved that show. Didn't realised it was a re-spooling of a Granada regional programme.

I remember reading in the pre-show BBC network publicity, the producer said that they wanted to get Paul Daniels involved, as, it was aimed at a younger demographic, they thought it would be perfect for him to relaunch his tv magic career (he was in his quiz show host wilderness years) and to spark a revival in him as a magician, a la Frankie Howerd on Campus.

But, when he found out in each programme there would be a trick where there would be just enough clues to let you work out how a trick was done, he backed out. Then cue the digs all the way through the series about him along the lines of "this trick is so old, Paul Daniels perfomed it in his first magic show"..

A shame, as the hunch to get Daniels involved to spark a late 'second wind' on his tv conjouring career would have worked.
WH
Whataday Founding member
Did any other region get HTV's home makeover show House To House?
BA
Ballyboy
We had a show on utv called utv life up until February 2009 when it was axed. Frank Mitchell and Pamela Ballantine presented it. it was like a magazine show. I watched it up until utv live came on. they brought back with just Pamela now. does anyone remember it??

jk5wfw
Last edited by Ballyboy on 11 February 2021 11:44am
SW
Steve Williams
I loved that show. Didn't realised it was a re-spooling of a Granada regional programme.


It was always intended to be shown on the Beeb - because on Granada it was 35 minutes with adverts. Seemingly they just took the opportunity to show it first.

One interesting regional oddity was in January 2000 when they did a revival of The Tube, for a one-off special shown first on Sky One in December 1999 and then repeated on C4 in January 2000. This was quite a big deal at the time (although everyone's forgotten about it now) and it was recorded at Tyne Tees like the original series, so Tyne Tees did a half-hour doc going behind the scenes of it, which was then repeated on all the other Granada stations, so I watched it in Granadaland, where it had no relevance to the region. So it was an ITV show about a Sky/C4 show.
CO
Colm
UTV were still showing 'Movies Games and Videos' as late as 2004.

They were also the only non-Scottish region to show '(Take the) High Road' 'til the end, albeit way behind the STV run.

Almost all of UTV's entertainment series - 'Kelly', 'School around the Corner', 'School Choir of the Year' - were axed at the end of 2005, reportedly at the time because of a lack of available slots.

Re: local soaps/drama series in the 1990s, there was also 'Quayside' on Tyne Tees.
MK
Mr Kite
Granada had a show in the early generic era (c2003) called Made In The North West. It came from the old This Morning studio which, by that point, was no longer a studio but a bar (Pan-American). We often got the Cilla Black Granada celeb ident before it, or Lucy Meacock.

It's one of the last significant regional shows I remember. Then there was that canal boat show with Matthew Corbett not long before all non-news regional shows were axed.

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