Associated Broadcasting becomes Associated Television
ATV went on air from 24th September 1955, providing weekend viewing for London. Lew Grade's company was known initially as ABC (Associated Broadcasting Company) so the very first ident featured those letters inside the eye shapes of the symbol. The symbol was created as a homage to the ident of CBS in the USA, a single 'eye' shape. But Associated British Picture Corporation, running a cinema chain and its own film studios (later to become Elstree Film Studios), already had first claim to the acronym. Its ABC TV (Associated British Corporation) launched as the weekend Midlands/North franchise on 5th May 1956. In anticipation of this, Grade re-named his company Associated Tele-Vision in October 1955.
Associated Television - The First Ident
The earliest ATV ident, seen in London at weekends and in the ATV Midlands franchise on weekdays. As the letters "ATV" animate into the eye shape, they are accompanied by Wally Stott's original three-note chime. If you've ever wondered why the eye shapes are so wide and disproportionate to the lettering - compared to the original concept above - rumour has it that a careless graphic designer, working at speed to hit the transmission deadline, got his dimensions wrong...
ATV London - Start Up Transmission
These days we are used to TV running for twenty-four hours per day, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon. From the 1950s right up until the 1990s, all ITV companies would shut down at the end of each day, before starting up again early the next morning. With apologies for the poor quality of the clip, we have a mock-up by Tony Currie of the ATV London start-up sequence. It uses an ITA tuning signal known to engineers as the Picasso card, in honour of the Spanish painter - all ITV regions had their own version of this card. Two and-a-half minutes into this clip, the original 1955 ATV ident animates into position to match the climax of the music. Mention of music brings me to ATV's majestic opening theme, "Sound And Vision" composed by Eric Coates in 1955 and performed by his concert orchestra. Should you wish to track down a recording on CD, the best option is "The Great British Experience" (EMI 7243 5 666762 4)
ATV Autum Programmes Trailer
The fat ATV logo animation appeared on screen for at least a year before being re-created, gracing continuity and trailers, as well as forming the introduction to ATV programmes. Our brief clip here, seen on Channel Four in 1991 on "1001 Nights of TV", shows Peter Cockburn introducing new autumn programmes. After his stint at ATV, Cockburn went on to host corporate films in the 1960s/70s.
ATV London / Midlands
Seen in both London and the Midlands, this late 50s ident restores the correct ATV symbol proportions, and offers a neat explanation of ATV's transmission schedule. There were two other variations of this ident. One gave details for London only, the other was specific to the Midlands times. Wally Stott's chimes were retained, with the individual letters "ATV" once again animating in time to the tune.
With the advent of the 1960s came the opportunity for a new look, this time identifying the region of London beneath the ATV symbol. The original Wally Stott chimes have been dubbed on at a slightly higher pitch. This ident prefaced all weekend transmissions, and all ATV productions made for the network at the Borehamwood production centre, such as the Sid James sitcom George and the Dragon. A similar caption was in use for central England productions, bearing the name "ATV Midlands". This ident remained in use until the end of ATV's weekend tenure in 1968, when London Weekend Television took over its airtime.
ATV's New Era
When ATV lost the London weekend franchise, they picked up full control of the Midlands for seven days per week from July 1968. Their most famous ident of all hit the screens in 1970 with the advent of colour, arguably one of the best idents ever. It boasted a fabulous brass and xylophone tune, performed by Jack Parnell and composed once again by Wally Stott; incidentally one of the UK's earliest male-to-female transsexuals, Wally later became Angela Morley. Check out the ITV Midlands section of TV ARK, run by Rob Frowen, to see more ATV idents.
ATV London Trailer - Play of the Week
An intriguing trailer for ATV London's Play of the Week strand, starring Maurice Denham, Donald Pickering, Carl Bernard, Keith Pyott and Michael Wynne. Notice that the trailer has been created entirely on film, the only way in which it could have been transmitted from a telecine machine in the presentation gallery. The play itself would no doubt have been performed live - or recorded as-live - in a TV studio.
ATV London - In Vision Continuity
For reasons lost in the mists of time, Lew Grade ensured that an entire evening of ATV London output from Palm Sunday 1964 was telerecorded onto film for posterity. This enables us to enjoy announcer Trevor Lucas explaining the evening's line-up (clip, left); and linking into the play strand Studio 64 (clip, right). Trevor discusses method acting with great knowledge, and drops the names of such luminaries as Donald Pleasance... Just the sort of informed delivery viewers would expect when tuning in to see a Millicent Martin comedy play.
ATV London - In Vision Continuity
More from Trevor, including a trailer for the Studio 64 comedy play Happy Moorings, starring Millicent Martin and Roy Kinnear. Notice how Trevor reads his script from a source just to the left of camera, no doubt a set of giant cue cards held up by an efficient floor assistant.
ATV Trailer - The Golden Shot
The Golden Shot was one of ITV's classic game shows, made by ATV for the network from 1967 to 1975. Its original host Jackie Rae voices this brief trailer, shot and edited entirely on film as one would expect for trailers of the time. Opening titles for the series may be found on our programmes page.