Anglia at 21 

27 October 2015

Anglia 21 cover

Anglia Television celebrates its 21st birthday on Monday. It was at 4.15p.m. on Tuesday October 27, 1959, that the company first went on the air – providing viewers in the East of England with an alternative channel to the BBC television programmes. Since then the name of Anglia has spread around the nation… and, through its famed Survival programme, around the world. In this special anniversary edition of Inside Television, Tony Davis recalls some fascinating memories of the pioneering days, highlights the company’s most popular programmes and reminds us of some of today’s television personalities Anglia helped put on the road to stardom. – TVTimes magazine, Issue 44, Volume 101, published 23 October 1980



A message from Lord Buxton

Lord BuxtonFrom the beginning, all in Anglia were determined to give viewers in the East the best possible service. Our goals were high, but I believe that over the years we have achieved most of the objectives we set ourselves in the early days.

We could certainly never have achieved success without the special dedication of those who make up the Anglia community, a distinctive characteristic which is recognised by artists, politicians, and all who visit the studios.

Today, Anglia’s programmes are seen by millions not only at home but in countries all over the world, where the Anglia symbol is recognised as the stamp of quality.

We look forward to another 21 years of earning and retaining the loyalty and support of all the viewers we serve in the East of England.

Buxton signature— Lord Buxton, Chief Executive, Anglia Television Group Ltd.


What you saw 21 years ago


WHAT WERE Anglia’s programmes 21 years ago? The first screened – appropriately named Introducing Anglia – was a tour of the region and the Norwich studios presented by Drew Russell, Newman Sanders and Colin Bower, at the end of which Lord Townshend welcomed Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, Chairman of the Independent Television Authority, who performed the opening ceremony.

At 6.5 there was Anglia’s first News and at 6.45 the first documentary, Birth of a Regiment, a 15-minute report on a parade in Germany a few days earlier when the Royal Norfolk Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment had been merged to form the first East Anglian Regiment.

At 9.35 an Anglia production reached the whole country for the first time. It was The Violent Years, a play starring Laurence Harvey and Hildegarde Neff.

The second day brought the first edition of The Midday Show, actually transmitted at two minutes past one. This was Anglia’s chief regional programme in the early days and was on screen five days a week.

The programme included interviews with local people and also items on records, books, films, motoring, gardening, shopping and pets, many introduced by the producer Philip Bray. Music was by pianist Norman Hackforth, Anglia’s Director of Music.

There were six-and-a-half hours of locally-produced programmes every week. Earliest series included Commentary Box, which reported on the fortunes of the region’s football teams on Saturday afternoons; Town and Gown, a fortnightly programme about life in Cambridge introduced by Glyn Daniel, and Farming Diary, introduced by Dick Joice.

Farming Diary has, of course, continued throughout the years and there will be another edition this Sunday – introduced by David Richardson – while Dick Joice, now a director of the company, will be seen on Thursday presenting Bygones.

Other Anglia series in the first year included About Anglia, originally seen on two evenings a week; Anglia Presents, a light entertainment series with Glen Mason; Angles, a series of film documentaries on places ranging from holiday resorts to missile sites; Arena, a discussion programme with chairmen including Tony Benn (then Anthony Wedgwood Benn); Let’s Put Out the Light, a late-night programme of music presented by Norman Hackforth; Disc Quiz, for which Drew Russell and an outside broadcasting unit visited towns throughout the region; and Countryman, a wildlife series first introduced by Aubrey Buxton (now Lord Buxton), which was to lead to Survival.


They started on Anglia…


Susan Hampshire - The Midday Show 3A BEAUTIFUL 18-year-old blonde singer (pictured) who appeared every day in Anglia’s The Midday Show was soon a favourite with lunch-time audiences, though her name would have meant little outside the region then. Today it is known to cinemagoers and television viewers around the world: Susan Hampshire is just one of the artists who learned some of their early showbusiness lessons at Anglia House.

Another young singer working for Anglia at the same time as Susan was 21-year-old David Kernan, who appeared in Let’s Put Out the Light, a late night music show. He has recently been on ITV in Ned Sherrin’s Song by Song series.

David Dimbleby worked as an About Anglia reporter in 1960 during his summer vacation from Oxford University, and in that same year the reporters were joined by a young man fresh from Cambridge University. His contract was now renewed because executives felt he had no future in regional television… in which they may have been right. Internationally, however, David Frost has prospered.

Then and now


  • Since About Anglia began in 1960 more than 22,000 people have been interviewed for the programme and more than 3,500 miles of film shot for it.
  • Anglia’s programmes 21 years ago could be seen in 213,000 homes. Today, because of changes in area boundaries, new transmitters and an influx of population to the New Towns, they can be received in 1,500,000 homes.
  • Anglia’s first newscaster 21 years ago was Newman Sanders. He is now the company’s Education Officer.
  • Anglia’s first ad-mag – a programme in which commercials were mixed with entertainment – was called Merry-Go-Round. Ad-mag programmes were later banned by a change in law.
  • Henry Fonda, James Mason, David Niven, Peter Ustinov, Orson Welles and Richard Widmark are just some of the stars who have narrated Survival programmes.
  • Paul Barnes presents viewers’ views on Anglia programmes in Write On on Fridays. But it can only be a small selection – Anglia gets more than 40,000 letters about its programmes every year.
  • Rosalyn Thompson presented more than 2,000 editions of the kindergarten programme The Romper Room from its start in 1964 until 1976 when she retired after marrying David Kenten, the programme’s director. The series ended in 1977.
  • A new series of Tales of the Unexpected is due to begin in a fortnight. The first programme will be A Girl Can’t Have Everything starring Joan Collins and Pauline Collins (no relation) as actresses in a repertory company.
  • Anglia hopes to open another regional centre – in Northampton – before the end of the year.
  • The company’s symbol was originally to have been Britannia. Then Lord Townshend found the silver knight – made in 1850 – on sale in a New Bond Street shop. It has stood in Anglia House since the opening day.
  • Geoffrey Archer was an About Anglia reporter in 1965. He is now ITN’s science correspondent.


Joice has a bygone all to himself

Dick Joice - BygonesDick Joice, who introduces another programme in the Bygones series on Thursday, is the one man still at Anglia House who can claim to have been on Anglia television on its first night.

That was in a preview programme about Farming Diary which he introduced for the first time the following Sunday.

Joice remembers opening day as “tremendously exciting”, but then, he says, he had always found Anglia House an exciting place. He had known it when it was the Agricultural Hall and his grandfather had shown horses there.

Because videotape was still in its infancy, both the preview programme and the first edition of Farming Diary were “live”. The Farming Diary programme was, in fact, a studio discussion, though it was later introduced from farms all over the region.

Joice was chosen for the job, being a farmer himself with 1,000 acres at Raynham, Norfolk. He has since had to give up that farm. “I had to have a heart valve and I’m nearly 60,” he says. “But I haven’t retired from farming. I milked the cows this morning. My wife and I have a small place – 250 acres at Castle Acre, near Swaffham, Norfolk.”


Dinenage off duty. "Gambit's" Fred takes time to relax with his wife Beryl and nine-year-old daughter Caroline

Dinenage off duty. Gambit‘s Fred takes time to relax with his wife Beryl and nine-year-old daughter Caroline

Fred’s gamble pays off

FRED DINENAGE, who presents the first in another series of Gambit, the family card game quiz, on Tuesday, admits to being an inveterate – if small time – gambler.

“Some say my love of cards is a sign of a mis-spent youth,” he says, “but I think it’s more likely I got the bug during my newspaper reporting days.”

At any rate, Dinenage says that Gambit, which began in 1975, is his favourite among the television shows he does – and he is one of TV’s busiest men.

He is a regular deputy for Dickie Davies on World of Sport, and a long-standing presenter of the children’s series, How. And he presents a weekly sports programme for Southern Television.

Until recently he did a similar job for Yorkshire TV, but “I just had to give up that job because, with all the travelling, I hardly saw anything of my family,” he says.

Dinenage has also given up what he claims was a favourite pastime: looking after the large garden at his home in the picturesque Hampshire village of Hambledon, famed for its cricket.

“I’ve been away so much I had to get a gardener in to keep the place tidy,” he says.


When soccer came cheap

Len CaynesLEN CAYNES is in for another hectic day this Saturday. He is the producer of Match of the Week, and editing the highlights of a regional League soccer game and two others into an exciting package for same-night screening is inevitably a race against the clock.

Caynes (pictured) has been involved with weekend soccer since 1962, when Anglia was the first company in Britain to screen regular weekly coverage of League football. In that year they paid £1,000 for exclusive rights to show edited weekly highlights of 30 regional matches.

Even though there was another five guineas (£5.25 for the benefit of younger readers) to be paid each week to the home club for facilities, that deal sounds like a sale of the century, set against the today’s combined ITV/BBC bill of £10 million a year.

Caynes was a cameraman at the first, historic Match of the Week on September 22, 1962. He remembers the results clearly: “Ipswich, then managed ny Alf Ramsey, lost 2-3 to Wolves.”


Guy Michelmore


Anglia’s newest reporting recruit – Guy Mitchelmore, son of veteran broadcaster Cliff and former Family Favourites presenter Jean Metcalfe.

Young Mitchelmore (pictured) has been at Anglia House since June. When the Anglia service started in 1959, he was two years old.



How Survival reached the top

Maurice Tibbles - SurvivalQUITE SIMPLY, Survival is Anglia Television’s big success story. Since its first appearance 20 years ago it has been seen, according to mike Hay, general manager of the Survival Anglia company, “in every country that has television.”

That means 96 in all – and earnings from foreign sales exceed £10 million.

More than 350 Survivals have been made, and every year brings another 25 half-hour programmes and six one-hour specials. The programme library holds more than six million feet of film – some of which, not used in Survival, is incorporated in other wildlife programmes, such as Animals in Action.

Maurice Tibbles, 45, who shot Monday’s programme, Bird of Ill Omen, was a Daily Mirror photographer when he sold his first wildlife film to Survival 20 years ago.

For this week’s programme, he spent months in a hide mounted in scaffolding 66 feet high to capture the treetop life of rooks. The rook, like its relations the ravens, crows and magpies, is traditionally regarded as a bringer of ill-luck – folklore insists that a rook landing on a house heralds a death in the family – but Tibbles says happily: “At least I didn’t fall off my platform.”


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3 responses to this article

Paul Mason 4 May 2017 at 4:57 am

Who could forget Sale Of The Century? From Norwich – The Quiz of the Week! (oh really).
The prizes tested the IBAs £1000 cash/value limit which had to be relaxed later in the 1970s because the only cars offered as prizes were foreign 4 wheel “bubble” cars which drew criticism so the IBA allowed for a British car over £1,000 to be offered as a prize. Not that they were much good…..
One survivor of Sale OTC is the 93 year old Nicholas Parsons, still doing Just A Minute on BBC Radio 4, now in its 50th year.
What else from Anglia? The knight on horseback accompanied by a short burst of Handel’s Water Music.

N Hewit 11 October 2018 at 5:12 pm

Anglia was always the epitome of ITV Regional Televison at its best.
It more or less established Norwich as the defacto Regional Capital of Eastern England, providing it with an advantage that the other potential candidates; Cambridge, (Smaller but more central for the Region) and Ipswich, (more industrial with its own buses and closer to the heavily populated area around the Orwell and Essex); could not compete.
The company managed to adapt to its reconfigured UHF Transmission area which via the Sandy Heath Transmitter extended throughout the South East Midlands, and initially following the July 1974 re allocation of the Belmont Transmitter to Yorkshire, strove to assist the Leeds based Company serve North West Norfolk by providing news footage from its King’s Lynn news base for inclusion in YTV’s Belmont News opt out of the Main Regional Magazine, ‘Calender’. Although the adverts were for Leeds, Hull and Sheffield, the culture shock of being urged to, “hurry to the Schofields Sale on Leeds Headrow”, was tempered by the odd reassuring Lynn or Fenland item on Calendar,a feature which despite its unitary structure the BBC did not bother with, preferring to stick to boundaries which corresponded to Political Boundaries, BBC North the Leeds based equivalent of YTV did not extend its editorial coverage beyond Spalding!
In the Network context the relationship that Anglia Built up initially with ATV helped it to establish itself as the provider of Quality Drama, Gravitas which assisted it to extend its Network provision in the late 1970’s and 1980’s with many popular series. The Chivalrous Knights from Norwich even managed to bring that bastion on Northern Souls into line: Granada.The Manchester based company demured from transmitting the initial series of Anglia’s Word War II series Backs to the Land, about the comic experiences of three ladies from diverse backgrounds billeted as Land Army Girls to a Norfolk Farm, such was the programmes popularity that when it returned for a second Series on a Sunday Night, instead of being partially Networked in 13 Regions, it was fully Networked and probably marked the end of Granada’s opt out of many programmes produced by the smaller Regional companies.
Anglia could be homely, but it also could be hard hitting and in its current affairs coverage; incisive, Polite, well mannered but also firm and Knowledgeable and not sueseptable to the latest fad or fashion. The sterling Silver Anglia Knight soldiered on for years as the station ident a symbol of reassuring familiarity to its regional audience which at one time in the early 1970’s on UHF colour extended as far north as Bridlington on the East Yorkshire Coast . In many respects the company reflected the values and ethics of the people and politicians of the Region

Edmund Chinnery 11 March 2020 at 5:39 pm

Recalling child hood memories, of North Norfolk family holidays. I do not remember seeing, any Norfolk items. As we staid, right on the coast. Were you could only get Yorkshire, from Belmont of course. Perhaps because, by this time, most of the small towns. That would’ve only been served, by Belmont. Were covered by relays, fed from Tacolneston. Including Kings Lynn, though there could’ve one received Sandy Heath? Even if, the wrong sub-region. Even so, a sub region for viewer using Belmont wouldn’t have gone a miss. Be this, as it was, in this day in age. I can say, with authority, what happen to the Anglia Television archive. It’s all now in the care of, The East Anglian Film Archive. I was in an excursion party, of my local amateur film making club. We were shown around by, non other than, David Cleveland. He shown us around, about how they can deal with all legacy formats. Explaining how everything is stored, in environmentally controlled rooms. A far cry, from how the started. Which was at the, University of East Anglian. However, I don’t know if, he really is a professor. If the pun is understood, but that of course is another story.

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