On Ilkla Moor Bah t’at 

26 October 2015 tbs.pm/1691


Notional Date: April 1969
Announcer: John Crosse
Yorkshire March (Ron Goodwin, arr Derek New)
Pirol (Hans Knerr)
Mail Carriage (Gerd Luft)


The Yorkshire opening routine devised in 1968 was the last of the old style march start-ups, though the piece itself was jaunty and dynamic, with a memorable melody. It became a local favourite, and was used for 14 years.

The theme was based on the traditional Northern folk song On Ilkla Moor Bah t’at but taking the theme at a fast pace provided a powerful march, full of confidence and presence.

Originally the Yorkshire ident was used only after the end of the piece, which did not utilise the final verse to best visual effect. Some weeks after the station opened, the point at which the tuning signal gave way to the company symbol was moved forward to the start of the final verse, creating a much more powerful effect and it is this variant that we present here. Oddly this was not used on every opening.

This period of black and white transmission, from July 1968 to November 1969, was the only time YTV used a moving form-up ident as part of their daily start-up routine; once colour arrived, a cut to a static caption at the start of the final verse became the norm. This is a pity as the effect created here, at the fade from Picasso card to moving ident, is very powerful. Note also the Picasso card with the company name on it: starting in July 1968, the region names on the card had been replaced by the company names – a month earlier and the card would’ve read “NORTH”.

Many redundant ABC Didsbury staff were recruited by Yorkshire TV, and known there as ‘the ABC Mafia’. They were involved in the planning of the first Yorkshire Television symbol and the visual similarity to the last ABC ident layout is evident. The opening sequence as a whole however, owes more to Rediffusion practice, as several redundant staff from their presentation department had moved up to Yorkshire, bringing the Rediffusion tradition of march and form-up with them. This had largely become a standard for most of Independent Television, except for ABC who had previously done their own thing for revelation of their start-up ident.

Morning closedowns after Yorkshire schools programmes used the last few lines of the march as a closing piece before reversion to test card. This was a common Rediffusion, ATV and Granada practice which Yorkshire Television carried on.

Although Yorkshire Television was the real new boy of the major companies of the time, they carried on many of the traditions of ITV presentation. The number of ex-Rediffusion staff they took on in the presentation department saw to that.

Yorkshire Television had a distinctly Rediffusion feel to its presentation and that flavour lasted for many years. Ironically, early Yorkshire Television presentation was as much a mixture of ABC and Rediffusion as Thames Television was – if not more so.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form before 2000. It has been republished with the addition of the animated Yorkshire Television start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.

You Say

4 responses to this article

nhewit 24 January 2019 at 3:53 pm

I can remember when Yorkshire Television was first launched. Most of the children’s Television programmes were broadcast from the City Varieties Theatre, behind the Headrow in Leeds, presumably because the Television Centre at Kirkstall Road was still in the process of construction. The programme for younger viewers at 16.45 on Thursday was called Diane’s Magic Theatre, in which the young female presenter sat in the stalls of the Theatre accompanied by two puppet friends who she interacted with very convincingly. The two puppets and Dianne viewed other puppets performing, these micro celebrities had their own suitably sized Theatre, complete with presemium arch which was situated on the main stage of the actual theatre.
The City Varieties was also the venue for YTV’s main childrens television contribution to the Network on Tuesday afternoons at 17.00; Junior Show Time, this was a talent show for young performers, presented by Bobby Bennet. The show also had a resident group of talent, the Pool Family, Yorkshire’s equivalent to the Von Traps, only instead of Covorting over the Alps, the home grown talent had to content themselves with Emily Moor! The most prominent personality was young Glyn, I can still vividly remember the enquiry he made of the presenter at the start of each programme: “What we doin today Mr Bennet”?. Such was the ubiquity of Glyn and his kin that they also appeared on YTV’S weekly ‘God Slot’ programme; ‘Stars on Sunday’. Eventually Junior Showtime was moved into a studio setting, however it lost the Vaudeville atmosphere that the City Varieties had provided. The programme seemed to lose its way, there were fewer new young performers show cased and more time for the Pool Family. By this time the show had lost its synchronised regular time slot in all 14 Regions, as ATV had rescheduled it to a teatime slot on Monday afternoons in the Midlands Region.
Junior Show Time and Dianes Magic Theatre were not the only programmes to be recorded outside a studio setting in the early days of YTV. ‘How we Used to Live’; The Schools programme, dealing with history for the initial series took over the Victorian reproduction Street, Kirkgate in the Castle Museum at York. The programme was presented by another YTV regular, Jess Yates, who also presented ‘Stars On Sunday’, the sincerity in his tone of voice brought authority to both the knowledge imparted about our nineteenth century forebears and also to the content of the (mainly female senior citizen)viewers letters which usually included a sentimental reason for requesting a specific song. Jess Yates would present the programme sat at an organ. The obligatory Bible Reading was always presented by one of the eminent thespians, which as the years progressed would appear in one of YTV’s many quality period Drama series, e,g James Robertson Justice, Vincent Price and Dorothy Tutin of South Riding and Sister Dora fame.

Greg Taylor 1 January 2021 at 2:02 am

That’s not John Crosse’s voice!

Graham Pearson 1 February 2023 at 2:04 am

Back in 1969, Schools programming on ITV ran from 11.00 until 12.00 and also from 2pm until 3pm due to the restrictions on broadcasting hours.

Russ J Graham 3 February 2023 at 4:26 pm

Educational programming was exempt from the restrictions on broadcasting hours.

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