North East Tonight – Part 4 

29 March 2006

Tyne Tees had long tried to replicate the success of Yorkshire’s evening lifestyle programme, Tonight.

The previous two attempts – Primetime in 1999 and Tonight in 1995 – had both failed. This didn’t deter Tyne Tees for trying again for the third time in the spring of 2001.

Although News At Ten had returned, the national news also remained at 6:30 which continued to cause problems with the ratings for regional programmes and the decision was made by many ITV companies, to move the lifestyle parts of the regional output to lunchtime. Granada, Yorkshire and Meridian were amongst the Granada Media Group companies that made the move.

Tyne Tees weren’t so sure, and decided to schedule regional programmes in the 1-1:30pm slot, but keep North East Tonight as an hour long programme, with a new half hour segment called North East Today at 5:30 – in the style of Primetime.

Given the results of the last time the company had tried that technique, it’s perhaps not surprising that, at the last minute, the plan was abandoned and North East Today launched in the lunch slot instead.

There was also another last minute change. Originally North East Today was to be a single programme, however it was then decided to split the service into two – one for the north of the region from Newcastle, the other for the south from Billsdale. Primetime presenter Pam Royle was given the job of presenting the north edition, whilst bulletin presenter Claire Montgomery was given the south.

A wide shot of the studio

With the lifestyle segment moving off to lunch, North East Tonight was cut back to concentrate purely on the regional news. It was moved back to its old start time of 6pm, although now in a new 30 minute format.

North East Today’s 1pm timeslot was to prove shortlived. ITV’s daytime schedule was struggling in the ratings, and the lunchtime regional lifestyle programmes were no exception. After its summer break, the programme returned on 2 September in a new home of 2:30 – padding out the afternoon until the start of childrens programmes.

At the same time, the split between north and south of the region was abolished. Pam Royle had moved to presenting a resurgent late night bulletin, leaving Claire Montgomery to move to Newcastle to present the programme.

However it was a short-lived reprive. North East Tonight – along with most regional lifestyle programmes – ended for their Christmas break in December, and never came back.

In Pictures: North East Tonight in 2001

On 22 October 2001, Mike gained a new set. Replacing the rather minimalist decor introduced flat screen monitors, grey rivets and a swooshy glass style background.

The graphics and titles remained the same, although naturally there were cosmetic changes after the titles.

North East Tonight LogoA wide shot of the studioA shot of the studio

After the headlines, the compulsory shot of the show logo without Mike’s name. The camera then moves closer in on Mike. These shots were recorded during the Christmas season in 2001, hence the white Christmas tree behind Mike. Well a green one would clash horribly with that blue set! Note also the subtle sprig of holly that can just be seen on the left monitor in the second picture.

The desk also shares a similar shape to those used in the current BBC News corporate look, although they don’t have those wonderful rivets!

A closeup shot in the studioCloseup of Mike, with the side monitor.

North East Tonight wouldn’t be North East Tonight without lots of closeup shots of Mike Neville, this time with pillar on the right. A second shot is also used with Mike sitting with the right hand monitor behind him.

A still from the close of North East TonightA still from the close of North East TonightA still from the close of North East TonightA still from the close of North East TonightA still from the close of North East TonightA still from the close of North East Tonight

At the end of the show, the camera swoops out giving us some more shots of the rather small looking studio. Note the extra holly on the right, and the caption telling the viewer when the late news is on. The show didn’t end with a production slide.

The bulletins naturally shared a similar style to the main bulletin. They too also received new sets.

The Teesside news studioThe Newcastle bulletin studio

Both sets featured the new glassy style background. On the left, Teesside’s (with Ellie Crisell) and on the right Kim Inglis in Newcastle. Again both studios had slightly different styles – Teesside wasn’t allowed to have a grey pillar for some reason.

During the day Tyne Tees runs a split news service with separate bulletins for the north and south of the region. In the evening and at weekends, there is a combined service. The late night bulletins come from Teesside, and the weekend ones come from Newcastle meaning that no matter where you live, you can always get to see the differences between the studios.

The revised Newcastle bulletin studio.

The Newcastle set was later revised moving the pillar to the right instead of the screen (modelled here by Sarah Gatenby), and the black line from the pillar removed. This was presumably done to bring it in line with the main news studio, which didn’t have a plain pillar on the left – there was a monitor in front of it.

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