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ATV Startups

Just before ITV programmes began, the test card would disappear to a blank screen. Shortly after that began a routine known as a 'start-up,' where the ITA/IBA would hand over control of the transmitters to the company.

In general this was a slide with the ITA/IBA logo on it, along with a caption referring to the region name, the transmitter name or the company name. Music was played over this slide that the company chose (on the whole, a march), which usually reflected the region in some way and in some cases contained part of the company's ident music. The music had to be registered with the Authority (i.e. the ITA or later, IBA).

Before, during or after the music, an announcer would read out the 'Authority Announcement.' This announcement varied from region to region, and would contain some or all of the following:

  • Company name;
  • Transmitter name(s);
  • Channel number(s) of the transmitter(s);
  • The area the company provided the programmes to;
  • On which days the company was broadcasting;
  • Acknowledging that the company was broadcasting under licence from the Authority on the Authority's transmitters.

ATV's Authority Announcements varied over the years; some are listed here, with the sequence of events:

1958 (ATV London)

[ATV Chimes]

"This is ATV, which provides your Saturday and Sunday programmes on channel 9, broadcasting on the London transmitter of the Independent Television Authority."

[Start-up music: Sound and Vision]

1972 (ATV Midlands)

[Start-up music: Sir Lew Grade March]

Early within the start-up music: "This is ATV, which provides your programmes on the Midlands transmitters of the Independent Television Authority."

1981 (ATV Midlands)

"This is ATV, providing your programmes on the Midlands transmitters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority."

[Start-up music: Midlands Montage}

This section covers the various start-up routines used by ATV over the years. Many of the images are re-creations, as the actual slides are lost to time.

Many thanks to Dave Jeffery, and Chris Bowden-Smith, without whom this page would be a lot less complete.

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Click on the image to see a Flash re-creation of a 1958 ATV start-up with original audio. You can resize it to full screen if you like. (Thanks to Dave Jeffery)

The general pattern with ATV start-ups was that the tuning signal would air with the start-up music, and a station ident would be shown at the end.

This (left) was ATV's first Tuning Signal, Tuning Signal 2. It was broadcast just before the start of each day's programmes, after ATV's launch in London in 1955.

Whether the region name captions or transmitter name captions came first or not isn't entirely certain, but the majority view is that the transmitter name captions were first, as shown here. Can you add anything?

The ATV startup music Sound and Vision was played over this card, and indeed this music was used in London up until the loss of the London weekday franchise in 1968 and until 1971 in the Midlands. A short version can be downloaded from the 1960s part of the ITV Schools Part 1 page.

Gavin Sutherland says: "The published score and orchestral parts are titled "Sound and Vision - A.T.V. Television March". Wally Stott (Angela Morley) him/herself told me that she had indeed rescored the march, making a little more jaunty and less military, as well as changing the lead in to the final recap of the Trio melody. This version was recorded by an unspecified orchestra, but I have reason to believe it was ATV's in-house band.

"The ATV staff orchestra had four conductors - Jack Parnell (the MD and hence the main conductor), Reg Owen, Cyril Ornadel and (I think [..]) Charles Roberts. So [..] it could very well have been any one of these conductors. Just can't quite pin it all down yet, as everybody's memories differ slightly (of those people I've spoken to) and some tales are long lost!"

Towards the end of Sound and Vision, in time with a crescendo in the music, Tuning Signal 2 would cut to the mis-proportioned ATV animation as seen on the ATV idents page.

For more about the Croydon site, see Mike Brown's Transmitter Gallery.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

Here's the Lichfield version, used from the launch of that transmitter in 1956.

At the time Lichfield was the Midlands' only ITA transmitter. The BBC opened its Midlands transmitter, down the road at Sutton Coldfield, in 1949. Back then the ITA and BBC often used different transmitters, usually a few miles apart.

Dave says: "The ITA specified that a company's official start-up tune was supposed to be between 3 and 5 minutes in duration. Two and a half minutes in, the company were permitted to 'take control' of vision i.e. to show their company logo. Sound And Vision's crescendo (the bit where the logo comes on) happened too early - before the 2 minutes 30 were up - leading to a problem of what to do.

"In London, they eeked out their start up using ATV bongs and an Authority Announcement before the music began which meant that the logo could appear at the right time, after at least two minutes 30. In the Midlands they solved the problem differently - they played tone before the tune - the tone counting as part of the 'music' for ITA purposes."

Chris Bowden-Smith adds that "the Authority Announcement was at the end of Sound & Vision in the Midlands, but at the start in London."

This is of course difficult to describe so have a look at Dave Jeffery's re-creation of a 1958 ATV London startup.

You can find out more about Authority Announcements at Transdiffusion's Electromusications.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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Later the labels on the Tuning Signals reflected the area the ITV company served rather than the transmitter name.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

Here's the Midlands version of the above slide.

If you want to find out more about television in the Midlands during the weekends from 1956-1968, try Transdiffusion's ABC At Large.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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In 1959 the ITA changed the Tuning Signal to the so-called 'Picasso' variety.

Here's the London version...

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

...and the Midlands version.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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In February 1965, in a similar fashion to Tuning Signal 2, the Picassos reverted to region names.

The change to region names was due to the St. Hilary transmitter in South Wales transmitting a dual service - one to Wales (on channel 7) and one to the South Wales and the West (on channel 10). The Picassos would necessarily have to have different labels to avoid confusion, and the only way to do this would be to change the Picasso labels (across all regions) to region names.

This change to region name also helped transmitters that gained relay stations (it would have been confusing for a relay of a main station to carry the name of its parent) - there was a wave of relay stations opened after February 1965.


Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

Notice the change in typeface between the transmitter name Picassos and these region name Picassos - this might have been because of the difficulty of fitting on some of the ITV regions' names, e.g. Borders and the Isle of Man; that would never have fit on the Picasso, without looking odd, using the old typeface!

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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In July 1968 (after ATV lost the London weekend franchise to London Weekend and gained the contract for seven-days-a-week in the Midlands), the Picassos were changed for a third time.

This Tuning Signal was therefore Midlands-only.

Associated TeleVision Ltd. changed their name to ATV Network Ltd. earlier, in Autumn 1966.

The misproportioned ATV animation (mentioned earlier) was still in use and remained so until the introduction of colour in Summer 1969 (July 1968 in London) - however, when Associated TeleVision became ATV Network the animation was shortened so that only the logo, not the 'Associated TeleVision Ltd.' text underneath, was shown.

Between Summer 1969 and the introduction of colour in November 1969, the tuning signal cut to an ATV Midlands caption at the crescendo of the music.

For the first time, the tuning signal contained the name of the contractor rather than the area it served or the transmitter radiating the pattern.

It is the concensus from correspondents that this slide read "ITA ATV" as shown. Can you confirm or disprove? Please email me!


Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

After the introduction of colour, the Picassos had to be changed.

This is the so-called 'ITA Star' caption, over which ATV's startup music would play - from now on without the misproportioned ATV symbol animation.

Notice that the ITA logo has changed since its Picasso days, and is now heading towards the design of the final IBA logo.

This is a precursor to the ATV/IBA caption as shown below.

Again, the concensus from correspondents that this slide read "ITA ATV" as shown. Can you confirm or disprove? Please email me!

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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To replace the ITA 'Star', a list of transmitters in service was broadcast along with the start-up music.

In 1971, the start-up music was changed to Sir Lew Grade March by 'Aaron Aardvark'. The composer used a pen-name because he was afraid that Grade wouldn't like the piece, and chose this pen-name because royalty cheques were processed in alphabetical order!

The actual composer of Sir Lew Grade March isn't known, but Gavin Sutherland guesses it might be Johnny Patrick, Director of Music at Birmingham.

Johnny was also, says Dave, ".. famous for being "Porky", the piano-playing guy wearing a pig's head on Tiswas, and also wrote some Schools Interval music for Central."

This slide (although this is a re-creation you can also see a copy of the original) will be from 1972 or before, as the Independent Television Authority (ITA) became the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) on 12th July 1972 with the Authority's additional remit to license Independent Local Radio franchisees.

However, the Brierley Hill transmitter opened on 3rd December 1971, so it must be from soon after that.

Notice that the VHF transmitters are at the top here....

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

...whereas here the UHF transmitters are above the VHF, indicating the superiority or priority of the UHF over the VHF transmitters?

Going from the transmitters listed (again, you can see the original), this slide may have been used from July 1972 until March 1973.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.

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This is the third type of IBA Transmitters in Service slide.

Main stations (transmitters that are fed their output from special links to the studio) have integer transmitter numbers (eg. 102, 111, 2 etc) whilst relay stations (transmitters that recieve their signal from a main transmitter, boost it and transmit it over a smaller area) have numbers with decimal places on them (eg. 2.1, 102.23).

The other numbers describe the channel number; the 'H' or 'V' after the channel number describe the polarisation of the aerial needed to best recieve transmissions from that transmitter.

I guess that the relays weren't opened in numerical order (i.e. where's 102.01?) as the locations of relays were probably decided before even the main stations were opened.

To find out more about transmitters, try Mike Brown's Transmitter Information. If you want to know more about the relay station 102.11 then try the Tour of the Fenton Relay.

To learn about why aerials are the shape they are, try the Introduction to Antenna Theory.

To see what other slides the IBA kept tucked away at transmitter sites go to Mike Brown's Slide Scanner.

Re-creation by Dave Jeffery.


After the Transmitters In Service caption for a short time in the mid 70s, possibly 1974, ATV used a start-up film.

Neil Page remembers that the film was from the point of view of some birds in flight, accompanied by some music called "Odyssey" (and not "Life is a Beautiful Book" as previously stated).

You can download an off-air recording of Odyssey (3.07 Mb) which was sang by Stephanie de Sykes and Rain. Stephanie had a hit in Summer 1974 with "Born With a Smile on My Face."

There were two films made that featured the Odyssey music - the picture on the right is from one of them, but it is unclear whether the particular film that this still was taken from was the one that was used.

Neil Page says that "the film didn't have any captions superimposed at all, just the IBA TxIS [Transmitters in Service] slide before it, and usually the ATV Colour (shadowed eye in box) after the final freeze [of the film]." He says that the ATV Colour ident was superimposed on the final still of the film.

Andrew Wiseman remembers seeing the film on a Saturday morning and indeed actually on Tiswas one morning after they'd had lots of requests for it to be shown again!

David Harrison recalls: "The film that went with it showed various locations in the ATV region, among those I identified were, Drakelow power station, Burton, / BullRing and Rotunda, Birmingham, / White Horse hill, Uffington, Oxon, / Malvern Hills."

The Odyssey startup is reported by Chris Bowden-Smith as being in breach of the IBA startup guidelines (correct as of 1973) as it had vocals when startups were supposed to be instrumental.

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Later on, listing the transmitters became too unwieldy as there were many new relays opening at a fast pace.

At the start of the day (definitely between 1976-81, not sure about before), after the test card, the screen would go blank for around a minute, and this caption would appear, accompanied by the Authority Announcement:

"This is ATV, providing your programmes on the Midlands transmitters of the Independent Broadcasting Authority."

Although this caption is a reconstruction, you can still see the original.

Early on, the ATV In Colour Zoom music would be played over the Tuning Caption (possibly this one), and the Authority Announcement would be made over the startup music, Midlands Montage.

Johnny Pearson wrote other parts to Midlands Montage to make a 'package' of music. A shorter variant was intended to be used for daytime closedowns, but with the ITV regions not closing down in the daytime any more a use couldn't be found for it, also it was aired occasionally for mid-70s closedowns.


Re-creation by Jason Robertson

Soon after that (a matter of months), there would be no Zoom music played at startup, and the Authority Announcement would be made before Midlands Montage began over the ATV/IBA caption above.

Then a caption such as the one shown would be broadcast, along with Midlands Montage.

There also existed some other variants and clips of Midlands Montage for other uses, eg. daytime closedown.

ATV had a selection of these captions, which were changed periodically. These were typically landscape / nature pictures.

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Here's the menu displayed just after the caption above.

Note the guv'nor of all kids TV programmes, Tiswas, which would no doubt be followed at 12.15 by a biplane carrying a World Of Sport banner.

Here's another one - by the looks of it, this one would have been used during the Spring season!

Note the different font on the words "Good Morning."

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Here's another "Good Morning" slide.

Notice that on this one the ATV logo is elongated horizontally and the box is different - this is a reconstruction of the type of slide available.

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