North East Tonight – Part 1 

29 March 2006

The defection from the BBC to ITV of sports presenter, Des Lynham, was big news at the time, however this was nothing to the shock that hit the North East when BBC Look North anchor-man, Mike Neville announced he was leaving for the ITV rival.

Mike Neville

Mike Neville in the launch trailer for North East Tonight

The former Tyne Tees presenter had been news anchor-man for the BBC for 30 years, but was now disillusioned. The producers had changed the show format, moving co-presenter Wendy Gibson to the 9:28pm bulletin, making Mike the sole host. The days of slots like “Write to Mike” had gone.

Tyne Tees wanted Mike too – its own news programmes had never quite met the ratings of Mike’s Show Look North. With Mike at Tyne Tees, a new injection of life would be received into the ratings battle – trailers for the new programme even featuring Mike smiling as he says “I’ve switched. So should you!” at the end of them.

Mike’s move also coincided with the decision by Yorkshire-Tyne Tees to re-brand Tyne Tees as Channel 3 North East.

Mike Neville tells us what to expect on the new North East Tonight

With the station ID changing, the news programme had to alter it’s name too, and “North East Tonight with Mike Neville” was born.

Teesside lost it’s own programme, Tonight was axed, and the Tyne Tees News signs were replaced by North East Tonight ones in the Newcastle studio. The four Tyne Tees News presenters were moved off the main show and onto reporting and presenting the smaller North East News bulletins. Despite the demotion, none of them left the station.

The new hour long programme combined once again news and lifestyle features.

The programme would feature Mike as main anchor, with a varying additional presenter doing small roundups of lesser stories. Weatherman Bob Johnson was present to do the revamped weather bulletins.

With Mike at the helm, the show went from strength to strength, winning awards both home and abroad. For the next three years, the programme barely changed. That is, until the demise of a certain national news programme broadcast at 10pm…

North East Tonight In Pictures: 1996

The theme music and logo for North East News and North East Tonight were both simply redone versions of the Tyne Tees News logos.

The show started at 6pm. Well okay, a bit before – round about 5:58pm. The show had it’s own pre-recorded announcement before it, done by the senior announcer at Leeds, although for the first week, it was done live. The very first one was done by Jonathan Morrell.

The very begining of an edition of North East Tonight

Whilst the voice-over is in progress, the ident faded out, cutting to a darkened and dramatic shot of the North East Tonight studio.

North East Tonight logo from 1996

The title sequence starts. Just in case you were unaware of the bloke who presents the show, it’s there as part of the show name. Yes, you are indeed watching the catchily titled ‘North East Tonight with Mike Neville’.

North East Tonight's headlines

Then the headlines, done in a style of headline-style intro, followed by a brief description, whilst some fetching graphics are shown on screen.

Luke Casey in 1999

And at the end of the headlines, a quick work from Luke Casey, with one of those lighthearted features you always get at the end of the show.

North East Tonight's logo after the headlines

And after Luke, it’s a quick shot of the North East Tonight logo – this time without Mike Neville’s name.

North East Tonight's studio

Then, and only then, do we get to see the fully lit studio, and that delightful backdrop of the Tyne Bridge.

Mike Neville in 1999

After all that, we cut to Mike and the news. Did we mention Mike? The larger than life news-reader joined Tyne Tees from the competition at BBC North (Newcastle) at the start of 1996 when the station 23 November 2002ed as Channel 3 North East.

North East Tonight's production slide

At the end of the show, it’s the production slide. No Tyne Tees (or, prior to 1998, C3NE logo), just the North East Tonight logo and the copyright date. This example is from 1999.

North East News: 1996

North East News logo from 1996

The short news bulletins had a similar logo to the main programme.

North East News comes in two flavours during the day, with two separate and distinct services during the day, from Newcastle and Teesside. On Saturdays and Sundays, both services come from Newcastle, while the late night weekday bulletin comes from Teesside.

Lesley Carr in the Newcastle bulletin studio

Bulletins from Newcastle come from a special bulletin studio. The studio itself was barely changed from the Tyne Tees News set. This picture was taken not long after the relaunch however, and you can clearly spot the deliberate mistake – yes, that is the Tyne Tees News logo on the monitor behind Lesley Carr!

Jonathan Morrell in 1999

With the Teesside studios being hardly large as it was, bulletins come from the main studio. Here, Jonathan Morrell presents the late bulletin.

North East News aston from 1996

The bulletins use similar style graphics (known as astons) to the main programme.

End of North East News End of North East News, shot 2

The Teesside show (the above, a late night one) gives us a nice shot of the rather small studio at Bellasis Park. Your paper shuffler is Jonathan Morrell.

In Pictures: A week in Teesside

For one week in early April 1999, North East Tonight de-camped to Tyne Tees’s studios at Teesside.

The reason was to allow the Newcastle studio to be re-fitted with a new set, to be launched the following week along with the launch of the new look programme.

It also allows us to see Mike Neville in a slightly different environment…

Mike Neville sat in the Teeside studio

The show started off in the normal way, even down to the camera angles used in the titles. Of course this time when the camera cut to the wide shot of Mike in the studio, well it looked just a little dull and empty! Unlike Newcastle, Teesside’s studio didn’t have a huge backdrop of the Tyne Bridge! The desk did have a nice curve to it though.

Close up of Mike Neville in Teesside

Since Tyne Tees News had been scrapped in favour of North East Tonight, the studios at Bellasis Park had been used mainly for news bulletins. Five or ten minute news roundups don’t tend to use many camera angles, and indeed don’t have that many staff on hand to man the cameras. The arrival of North East Tonight in the small studio however meant an opportunity to see a bit more of it.

Behind these two shots of Mike, you can see the studio gallery and if you look closely, you’ll see the silhouettes of the production crew behind Mike’s head!

Whats On address caption

The week at Teesside saw the final week of What’s On which was a rather self explanatory feature produced in Teesside. The segment was on on Thursdays and Fridays.

On the final Thursday What’s On, viewers were informed of that the feature would be replaced by two new Primetime features, so this is one of the last glimpses of the What’s On address slide – complete with a Primetime email address.

Watch weather forecast

In Tyne Tees Today, weatherman Bob Johnson got to do rambling conversations with Paul Frost. Seven years on, and Bob was doing rambling conversations with Mike Neville, and we love it! The North East’s favourite news-reader and the North East’s favourite weatherman (sorry but Look North’s John Clapham is nowhere near as good as Bob!) in action with some lovely shots of that gallery again!

Bob Johnson does the Weather

As Tyne Tees Today was down ‘south’ so was Bob and the weather, who did all his forecasts from Teesside that week. North East Tonight didn’t have a blue chroma key wall on set, so the weather was done by Bob in a little box.

More Bob Johnson and Mike Neville in Teesside The credits from Teesside

And then after an hour, it’s time to go. Bob and Mike finish up and the credits roll. This clip is from their last night at Newcastle, where Mike reminds viewers about the new time slot.

The following week they were back in Newcastle with a whole new look…

You Say

1 response to this article

David Morgan 25 October 2012 at 11:01 pm

Although a welshman,I lived in Newcastle years ago,I remember Mike Neville doing Look North at the BBC very well,there was also Luke Kelly,George House,John Craven,I used to enjoy the programme,not for the news but but because I enjoyed Mike Neville’s light hearted way of doing the programme,I had always that Mike would write a book about his life and times at the news desk,Mike is a great guy,and I would love a photo of him to remind me of happy times in Newcastle,if there is one available.

As an afterthought I had an audition at City Road for Hughie Green’s “Opportunity Knocks”,I failed it,and Les Dawson got through it,I called him everything I could think of,but Les and I became mates,another great guy was Les.

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