North East Tonight – Part 6 

29 March 2006

In 1999 the BBC re-launched its evening news. One of the aims was to try and integrate both the national and regional bulletins into a more coherent package.

Five years later ITV decided to try and do the same. And with it went the last presence of the Tyne Tees logo on-screen.

North East Tonight logo from 2004

An attempt to integrate the late evening and lunchtime bulletins into the national ITN service had been introduced in stages the year before, but the decision to try and cohesively brand the evening bulletin was timed to fit in with a major re-brand of the service.

The evening news would start with the regional news, complete with a ‘coming up’ segment for the national news around 6:15. At 6:30 the national news would seamlessly follow, and the regional headlines would be included in a roundup at 6:50.

The national news was to get a new set and the regions would match the new look.

However whilst the national news got a flashy new set with a huge giant (and rather dodgy looking piece of chroma-key that was supposed to be a) video wall, North East Tonight got… a repainted set with a new backdrop.

In fact the contrasts between the new-look national news and the new-look North East Tonight made the service look even less coherent in many ways. The (popular) banter sessions between the old guard of Mike Neville and Bob Johnson seemed to be markedly at odds with the young, funky and dynamic attempts of the national news.

And the promotional sequence at 6:15 seemed even wierder to Teesside viewers, coming as they did, slap bang in the middle of Pam Royle’s Teesside opt-out with viewers treated to the bizarre image of Pam suddenly going from one story, before popping off to the national studio and then straight back to Pam and another story from the south of the region. Rather than seeming like a coherent part of the programme, the effect was to make it look more like a botched add break.

Closer shot of Mike in the setAndy Kluz in the Teesside studio.

Newcastle (left) and Teesside (right) sets, complete with differing paint applications and coherent desk policy

Indeed for viewers in the south, a cohesive service seemed to be rather lacking. The odd sight of four different presenters in three completely different looking studios, none of which really matched at all due to the odd decision to paint them all in different shades of blue, just seemed wrong.

But the future for ITV’s regional news is less clear than ever. The arrival of a new boss of ITV plc’s regional news operation has lead to the suggestion that the old regional brands will soon be removed for good, replaced by a greater emphasis on the ITV1 brand instead. Ultimately though, the 2004 re-brand saw the last real bastion of regionality consigned to the corporate dustbin. The death of a mere local brand name in the not to distant future hardly seems a matter for mourning.

2004 Revamp in Pictures

ITV1 logo from 2004

Starting the show, an ident. Prior to the re-brand, North East Tonight had been starting ident-less, going straight in after an advert. Regional idents were of course out of the question, and the announcement naturally pre-recorded.

Still 1 from the North East Tonight titlesStill 2 from the North East Tonight titlesStill 3 from the North East Tonight titlesStill 4 from the North East Tonight titlesNorth East Tonight logo

The titles are based around the concept of squares, starting with a squared representation of the UK, with a highlight on the North East. Then its more squares featuring the statutory shots of the North East, before zooming back to the map. Then it’s back to the map and time for the three blue squares and one yellow square that is the vague representation of the ITV1 logo to come spinning in, in a rather pointless, showy way.

The titles are then followed by the headlines, before a brief burst of the title sequence again.

One interesting thing in the titles is the collection of local sights for which clips have been dragged out of the archive. The statutory shots of just the Angel of the North and the Tyne Bridge are joined by the Baltic Flower Mills and (fresh from its fame in Auf Wiedersehn, Pet) the Middlesborough Transporter Bridge.

Wide shot of Mike in the North East Tonight setCloser shot of Mike in the set

Whilst the national news got a flashy new chroma-key video wall, Newcastle did things slightly differently. The new North East Tonight set was… the old one. Painted.

Shot of Mike against the 'window'

Well a new backdrop was done, although despite the window-esque effect, the shot is a still picture. The re-brand also saw the return of the North East Tonight on screen logo, also introduced on other ITV regions. For some reason, the national news remained unblighted. It does rather beg the question of whether ITV think its viewers are so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between the national and regional news.

Ten minutes into the show and its time for viewers in the south of the region to pop over to visit Pam Royle, whilst viewers in the north stick with Mike.

Pam Royle in the Teesside studioAndy Kluz in the Teesside studio

Teesside also got a new paint job, although the aging gallery shot – in use for nearly ten years – still remains. Teesside’s studio remains looking dark and moody in comparison to the lighter studio of Newcastle, although the side shot (as seen here from North East News) did at least look a little lighter.

Quite why Tyne Tees had decided not to apply any sense of united look between its studios when they were last revamped in 2002 and 2003 is anyone’s guess, but a repaint was merely covering the cracks rather than solving the problem.

Mark Austin and Mary Nightingale in the London studio

Unfortunately it’s time to shove a blunt instrument into the show, forcing a promo for the national news in at 6:15 – slap bang in the middle of the opt out. Still, they don’t get to escape some corporate branding…

Mike and Ian in the studioIan Payne in the studio

Back in Newcastle and it’s time for the sport – and a shot of two people in the studio, and someone other than Mike getting to use the rather small monitor. On a Monday a joint sport service is provided, whilst on Fridays the Teesside opt out is extended to include a separate sport bulletin.

Doug's Daily racing caption

Ah, some things never change. It’s time for the racing tips. Hang on, what’s going on? “Doug’s Daily”? Where’s the Moneyspinner and the Banker? And who on earth is Doug?

Mike and Bob. Bob Johnson

London can try and make the news as funky and dynamic as it wants but it ain’t going to succeed if you’ve got Bob and Mike doing what the North East loves them to do!

Generic weather caption

Weather bulletins are now integrated into the programme, with this generic animated caption shown prior and after the bulletin. In some reasons this is done to allow sponsorship trailers for the weather, although on launch Tyne Tees’s weather was yet again sponsor-less.

Which talk of money raises the interesting point that the entire 6-7pm time slot appears to be completely ad-free.

Given Bob has been having a natter with Mike in the studio, the weather bulletin itself is obviously pre-recorded.

Closer shot of Mike in the set

After the weather its back to Mike who hands over to the national news. But Mike addicts should never fear – he reappears around 6:50 as part of a headline roundup.

You Say

1 response to this article

Joanne Gray 11 December 2015 at 12:09 pm

The eponymous Doug of “Doug’s Daily” was one Doug Moscrop, who was a sports reporter and racing tipster back in the days of Northern Life in the ’70s and ’80s who used to give viewers a daily tip for the next day’s horse racing at the end of his reports. My maternal grandma used to take his word as gospel for her daily flutter on the gee gees.

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