Package Tour 

1 September 2001

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is more than 20 years old. The formatting may be strange, links broken and/or images missing. The text may have been superseded by subsequent events or later research.

There are two types of presentation. One can be called ‘true presentation’ – the nuts and bolts. ATV’s Zoom 2 colour ident. Philip Elsmore over a mirrored skyline. Both classic television presentation but each is in isolation.

This story is about the other type of presentation – the package – and more specifically ITV’s first real attempt at a nationwide look. This is about the best set of unified graphics ITV ever have had – “hearts” get out of the water, your time is up – and we are going back in time to 1989 to look at it.

In 1989, the English Markell Pockett-designed ITV logo was unveiled for the first time. It was, I believe, a design classic. First premiered via a trailer with a song about “getting ready for ITV”, this new look was a design revolution for the commercial network.

No fan of Redvers

I was nine at the time, and, living in Lincolnshire, a Yorkshire TV area. As with all YTV viewers, I was treated to some of the most sleep inducing continuity ever. Although Redvers Kyle has his fans, I’m not one of them. The whole thing was as exciting as watching dust gather on furniture. Then I saw that promo, with its optimistic song, the complete opposite side of what Yorkshire was offering. “What are we getting ready for? ITV’s been here forever!” my nine-year-old’s mind enquired. My question was to be answered about a week after seeing that promo.

It was a Saturday, a dull chilly day in September that would otherwise have little to recommend it. I had, unusually, been allowed to lie in bed, and had missed the Wide Awake Club on TV-am (I was a bit put out about that), and, I think, Motormouth (not such a great loss.)

I came downstairs to find adverts playing out from our Grundig Supercolour, when suddenly something I’d never seen before – a startling new ident – appeared, with three dancers, a runner, Big Ben, all passing in a swirl and resolving into a new logo for ITV, and Yorkshire themselves! The entire ident blew me away, especially the music. If I listen to it sometimes, it still sends a shiver down my spine.

It was a rush for me. I’d always been interested in art & design as a child, and this was a very beautiful draw for me. It even made Redvers sound bright and go getting, it was that stunning at the time.

Programming for yuppies

But what about from there in for the rest of the day? Even the programmes they were before, the Beadle’s Abouts, the Catchphrases, it just seemed so right. The ident was a piece of it’s time. The whole nation seemed to my young eyes a place of wonder at that time. Adverts were styled to young professional people or “Yuppie” tastes. A sharp-suited, suave Jonathan Ross promoting you to “Get Sharp to Harp”, could they convince Yuppies to drink mid-price Lager? This is only a taster. Most adverts of that time were, compared to today’s computer generated nonentity nonsense, sharper than a blade of Sheffield steel.

The ITV 1989 look was a perfect hand-in-glove to fix between these adverts and obviously upper-class sitcom fare such as “Surgical Spirit”, “The Two of Us” & “Up the Garden Path”. Well, timepassers they were really, but they brought in that young professional pound.

It was sophisticated and classy, possibly the only time that ITV ever had the two words in one sentence.

The ‘drama’ variant – played out nationally – was as dramatic as what followed. The ‘sport’ version was sporty. The ITV ’89 package also included wonderful promotions. My hobby at that age, apart from drawing cartoons and car spotting, was the game of most television enthusiast’s choosing: endcap spotting.

Absolutely fabulous

Yes, this look had even extended itself here, into the heart of my proto-hobby. The more common ones like ‘Thames’ sometimes mingled with more “exotic” fare like ‘Grampian’, but one thing they all had in common was that wonderful typeface for all wording and the fabulous ITV logo.

Ah, the mists of time have delivered us back to 2002, but it was nice to be back in ’89. Me, a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, packet of Frazzles, that Grundig & a copy of the Beano and, naturally, the TV Times for my ITV choice. Oh, and you the reader: did you remember to take your empty cup of tea into the kitchen for my Mum to wash?

What bought me back from that childhood sweetness? Well, you can never stay in the past forever, obviously, but I had to wake to switch off the TV in 2002 as ‘Wudja? Cudya?’ was about to start.

But seriously, things like this – and to be fair to all presentation enthusiasts, it was more or less a childhood thing wasn’t it? – have affected all our lives or else you wouldn’t be here now reading this.

Unless you’re like me, someone who’s forever in 1989 when I get the Betamax out.

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