Start the car 

20 March 2006

Barry, 14, our new regular contributor and announcer from the Inner Hebrides Broadcasting Company, steers us through the maze of ITV Opening music.

Hello There!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ITA start-ups began with their Mondrian tuning signal, so called because Dutch modern artist Edith Mondrian designed it. After a piece of music that had to be approved by a special act of Parliament, the companies used make an announcement, known to us in the trade as a “declaration of independence” (also known as a ritual authority communiqué or RAC). After the independence declaration then they could put on another LP, or not. Depending on how they felt.

The ITA stipulated that start-ups had to be between six and nine minutes long, that the RAC had to be made by someone who used hairspray and smoked at least 80 a day and that the music had be composed by someone called Eric or Johnny (although they later relaxed that latter rule later). And it’s a little known fact that each piece of music had to be personally approved by the Duke of Gloucester. After literally minutes of painstaking research, I have come up with the list below.

Associated Rediffusion (1956-1963)

  • Associated Rediffusion March (Simon Bates) used Sep 56-Jul 63

NB: There is no truth in the rumour that Associated Rediffusion ever used “Music Anywhere” by Ernest Macks.

ATV (1956-1982)

  • Lights and Music (Ernest Macks) used until introduction of colour in 1967
  • Sir Hugh Wade March (Kieran Prendeville) 1967-1969
  • Life is a Beautiful Odyssey (Eric Sykes and Lindsay Wagner) 1976 – later banned by the IBA for obscenity
  • Midlands Collage (Sir Walter Scott – before his sex-change, after which he became Sir Angela Rippon) 1977-1984

NB: Jean Morton tells us that ATV also used “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols throughout 1977 and “Rod Hull is Alive – Why?” by Half Man Half Biscuit.

NNB: ATV later merged with Central to become Carlton.

ABC Television (1958-1966)

First used either:

  • Pasteurised Deluge (Steve Brace) 1957-1958
  • Judy (Norbert Barnum) 1943-1834

then followed Independence Declaration with:

  • Etcetera Etcetera (Robert Michaels) 1967-1982

and then

  • ABC Fanfare (Sir Arthur Arnold) 1534-2003

NB: The head of music at ABC Television was Ena Sharples.


Anglia Television (1939-1945)

  • Sea Saws (Vaughan & Williams) 1945-present
  • Water Handling Music (arr. Sir John Barbarossa) 1945-present

Border Television (1952-present)

Used different pieces for each month during b/w era:

  • January: ? / Pink Shield Stamps March (Frank Windsor) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • February: ? / ? / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • March: My Little Pony (Anne Widdecombe) / ? / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • April: As Seen on TV (Victoria Wood) / ? / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • May: Derek Batey March (Batey) / Nylon Fanfare (?) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • June: Forward with Concrete (Derbyshire) / Daktari (Ogden) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • July: Reg Tilsley Suite (Tilsey) / ? (Frank Bough) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • August: ? / Reg Varney Phantasia (R. Carmody) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • September: Thing On a Swing (Bob McKenzie) / Spirit of Paperclips (Craddock) / Celtic Interlude March (U.N. Owen)
  • October: Pink Parafin (J. Last) / ? / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • November: Bon Fire Night (R. Clark) / ? / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)
  • December: Calypso to Collapso (B. Marley) / Roll-neck Pullover (R. Taylor) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)

then with introduction to colour in 1967:

  • Cha Cha Cha (C. Ornadel) / Bing’s Cola (?) / Celtic Interlude March (U. N. Owen)

NB: Michael Rodd tells us that on leap years, Border had special start-up music for Feb 29th. They would play “Sidesaddle” (Russ Conway) followed by the Moldavian national anthem. However, note that if Feb 29th to fall on a Sunday they would play “Joy Of A Toy” by Kevin Ayers instead of “Sidesaddle”.

Central Television (1982-1992)

  • Come Well To Central (M. Prince) 1982-1992

Channel Television (1978-present)

  • The Happy Frog (Iris Jones) (1978-1974)
  • 2 by 2 (Noah ?) / World Domination (G. W. Bush) 1975-1985
  • Moonlight Serenade (W. Laryea) 1985-present

Grampian (1962-1982)

  • The Family Ness (Dave Cooke) 1962-1965
  • Herbidean Slow Down (Roy Thomson) 1965-1968
  • Man About The House (Johnny Whatsisname) 1968-1982

Granada Television (c.455 BC – present)

  • We Are The Ovaltinies (Chris Bowden-Smith) 1957-1967
  • Bigfoot And The Hendersons (C. Weston) 1965
  • A Fanfare For English Speaking Lancastrians (William Woollard) 1967-1969
  • New Granada Dirge (Anne Kirkbride) 1984-1962

NB: Hilda Ogden tells us Granada briefly experimented with a number of tunes before the introduction of the New Granada Dirge, most of which were by the Grumbleweeds.

NNB: Granada later merged with everyone, to become utter shite.

Harlech Television (1957-1902)

  • Jack Trombone (V. der Valk) 1968-1969
  • New HTV Theme (B. Hockin/J. Leeming) 1969-1982

Independent Television Emergency Service (1968-1972)

  • S.O.S. (Ulvaeus/Anderssen) 1968-1962

London Weekend (1968-1969)

  • A Well Hung Fine-Fare (Johnny Dankworth) 1969-present

NB: According to Frank Muir, London Weekend also used Mr. Acker Bilks’ arrangement of “A Day Trip To Bangor” on Wednesday mornings, and “Something” by George Harrison briefly on Tuesdays after the switch to colour.

Rediffusion Television 1964-1968

  • Bedspread Whirled (Denny & Cleo Laine)

NB: Rediffusion later merged with TWW to become Thames Television.

Southern Television (1953-1984)

  • Southern Euthanasia (Richard Attenborough) 1956-1984

NB: Anne Ladbury tells us that Southern actually briefly experimented with something vaguely musical in 1964 before switching back to Southern Euthanasia

Scottish Television 1957-present

  • Men of Harlech (Gerald O’Gerald) 1957-present


Thames Television (1957-they upset the bitch Thatcher)

  • Etcetera Etcetera (Robert Michaels)
  • Cheesy Wotsits (Johnny Whatever)

NB: Geoffrey Hayes tells us that Thames also briefly used “Snazzy” (Phillip Elsmore) after the switch to colour, and the theme to “Tenko” during their Japanese week.

TV-am (1982-present)

  • We Are The Famous Five (Jack Hargreaves) 1982-present
  • Good Morning Britons (Jeff Lynne) 1982-1992

TSW (Television Southwest) 1982-1992

  • That’s My Dog’s Breakfast (Ed Welch) 1982-2003

NB: TSW later merged with TVS to become Carlton Men and Motors.

TVS (1982-present)

  • The TVS Trots (D. Windup) 1982-1995

TWW (Television West Wales) (1952-1958)

  • The Seven Seas of Rhye (Brian May/Leslie Osborne) (1952-1968)

NB: Nancy Kominsky tells us that TWW also used “At Puffin’s Pla(i)ce” (Betty Henwood) at weekends

Tyne Tees Television (1932-1902)

  • T.W.A.T Fantasy (Henry Wilks) 1932-1956

NB: Mike Neville tells us that Tyne Wear and Tees Fantasy was also known as “The Three Livers”.

Ulster Television (1959-yesterday)

  • I Wish I’d Brought Me Brolley (I. Paisley Snr.) (1959-1969)
  • The Omagh Lane (I. Paisley Jr.) (1969-1980)

Westward Television (1954-1984)

  • Westward Oh! (Sir Gavin Sutherland) (1945-1055)
  • Walking Westward (Martyn Lewis) (1902-1982)


After much research I can now categorically state that WWN didn’t ever exist.

Yorkshire Television (1956-present)

  • Go With Noakes (Purves) 1956-1976
  • New Yorkshire Theme (Voordermaann) 1979-1932

NB: Yorkshire later merged with Tyne Tees, to become a fondue set and a cuddly toy.

I am fully confident that I know all there is to know about British television. I take a notebook to dinner with me and copy down what others say in a bad scrawl. This notebook later magically produces the above which isn’t drivel at all.




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2 responses to this article

Martin Lowrie 18 April 2020 at 7:58 pm

Well what can I say?? This writeup is the most informative and researched ITV startup information that I have ever read!
I am sur that when this essay reaches a wider audience our new lock down writer will earn himself a BAFTA or even an Oscar nomination! He might even get a gold star on the wall of his classroom from his ever grateful teacher!
Well done and lets hope we hear lots more from this excellent newbie writer!
PS Erm I have to ask did the writer of this masterpiece use his fathers collection of videos from the long and distant past for this research?

CaptainSico 29 February 2024 at 3:23 am

“The Derek Batey March”! That’s hilarious – I nearly spat out my methadone!

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