ITV’s Programme Guide 

1 January 2004

Heralded as a major publishing success story, the TV Times was the quintessential programme guide for Independent Television. It was also closely linked, in its early days, to Associated-Rediffusion.

When ITV was created in 1954, both the ITA and the first of the new companies felt that the new service should have a programme guide, just as the BBC had the Radio Times. After some initial finger-pointing between regulator and regulated, the obviously-named TV Times was born for the London service that began on September 22, 1955.

Starting life in Gough Square in June 1955, the TV Times moved to Television House in the Spring of 1957 and stayed there for twelve months, before moving on to brand new offices in Holborn in April 1958.

When ITV moved into the Midlands, TV Times followed (although it only ran for about eight years initially, before handing over to the ATV-owned TV World). The TV Times appeared in the North for the start of ABC and Granada’s northern services and in the South for the start of Southern Television, while several regional companies produced programme guides of their own: Ulster had TV Post; Wales had a Teledu Cymru magazine in Welsh from 1962-3; and Tyne Tees had The Viewer, to name but three.

Only one “full guide” was permitted in each region – with the strange exception of Channel, which boasted Channel Viewer and Channel TV Times (no relation) – the newspapers, for example, were only allowed to publish the day’s programmes.

In 1968, the smaller guides and the Midlands TV World were swept away. The TV Times was relaunched as a national magazine with individual editions for each region. This system lasted until deregulation mania set in under the Thatcher and Major governments, and monopoly control of weekly listings was brought to an end.

Since then, hundreds of listings magazines have appeared. However, the magazines of the monopoly age stand out from the modern crowd, and the TV Times in particular. With only the one channel to promote, a day could be listed over 3, 4 or even 6 pages. With a remit to promote only that which appeared on their own channels, the magazines could be specific and detailed, with pieces on the background of programmes and even, at franchise changeovers, new companies.

Of the listings magazines of the monopoly age, the TV Times was the most ubiquitous, and the best-remembered.

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4 responses to this article

Terry Christie 14 September 2014 at 6:15 pm

ITV Original Companies since 1955-68 included ABC,Anglia Associated-Rediffusion,ATV,Border,Channel,Grampian,Granada,Scottish,Southern,TWW,Tyne-Tees,Ulster,Westward & ITN.

Since The late Sixties,The New ITV Contracts with LWT-Thames,HTV & Yorkshire Television replaced ABC-Rediffusion & TWW.

1982-92 Television South,Central & Television South West replaced Westward,ATV & Southern TV and it stayed for 10 years.

1993,The Brand New ITV Companies such as Carlton & Westcountry TV.

Terry Christie,from Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.

Tony Currie 31 October 2016 at 4:01 pm

The Channel Islands were not the exception – West & North Wales was. Channel Viewer was the original name of the C.I. programme guide, but some years later the name was changed to Channel TV Times and that remained its title until it came to an end. However, Wales (West & North) TV had TWO weekly programme magazines – one in English was simple called Wales (West & North) TV and the other (in Welsh) was called ‘Teledu Cymru’. Both came to an end when TWW officially took over the franchise in 1964 and were replaced with the Welsh edition of ‘Television Weekly’.

Ian Fergus 7 April 2017 at 6:08 pm

If I remember correctly, TV Guide was the tabloid listings magazine for STV in the early days. I think it was printed and published in Edinburgh by Roy Thomson who owned both The Scotsman and Scottish Television.

Simon Hodder-Williams 26 December 2022 at 11:32 pm

Does anyone know of a searchable archive of the TV Times?

I am particularly interested in issues from the 1950s.

Many thanks.

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