The bold and the beautiful 

9 November 2015


Notional Date: May 1981
Announcer: Mike Prince
Music: Midlands Montage (Pearson)
Courtesan (Gould)
Maypole Dance (Gould)


In the final years of ATV, a further tradition of the startup genre was broken with regard to classic practice.

Although some regions (Southern, Westward and later HTV, TSW and Channel) had included film sequences in their daily opening routines, it was still the standard practice of most companies to use IBA caption cards for the part of the music that preceded the appearance of the company symbol.

It had always been the purpose of daily startup routines to marry the tuning needs of the engineers and viewers with the promotion of the broadcasting company’s trademark. In the mid-seventies however, ATV Midlands threw caution to the winds with the introduction of a range of still photographs to accompany the station theme, over-printed with the words “Good Morning” – a practice briefly tried by Granada in the late sixties – in a probably unnecessary attempt to refresh the procedure.

The picture was discreetly badged, with the ATV symbol superimposed in a lower corner and part way through the music a menu of the upcoming programmes was sometimes shown. The requirement for the IBA symbol to be radiated was met by means of a short and rather inadequate display at the start of the music (though the IBA symbol had been on screen a little longer when this piece of music was first introduced in 1975).

The use of a still picture and menu seems unremarkable today but at the time was revolutionary for ITV daily startups and marked another slight move towards promotional material taking possession of a sequence originally supplied for the requirements of the engineers and viewers tuning their dials. It was now well into the era of push-button sets and the old discipline of the viewer using the tuning signal to adjust the set each time it was used had long since died out.

The music used in this start-up was part of a package of related tunes designed for use at start-up, closedown, during promos — and, as recreated here, for the Zoom 2 ident (it was not used)

The music, Midlands Montage by Johnny Pearson (composer of the News at Ten theme) was modern and inspiring, a delightful picture of melody at the start and beat at the finish. A specially written bridge early in the music allowed some announcers the choice of placing the Authority Announcement over the melody (a favourite habit of Stewart White) though after a while the announcement was moved in 1976 to being given before the music, so that the melody could be heard uninterrupted.

This daily start up routine was one of the highlights of the genre and is still remembered by some Midlanders aged over 40. It was a particularly popular tune with children and became for some almost a cult item when heard before the Saturday morning kids show TISWAS. It was much missed on its demise as it disappeared when Central replaced ATV after December 1981. Only the thrilling excellence of the new Central start up that succeeded it softened the loss!

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

You Say

2 responses to this article

nhewit 10 November 2015 at 11:00 am

Excellent, just as I remember the Start up for ATV Midlands, no doubt seen by viewers from Crewe to Cirencester, Kington to King’s Lynn, and myself receiving the Wrekin transmitter signal in North Warrington, from 1975; courtesy of a small black and white portable TV situated on a high metal shelf in my dorma bedroom facing due south towards the Cheshire Plain! The signal was rather grainy, HTV Cymru was better, whilst Granada was obstructed, courtesy of a combination of a number of large trees and a high tower at the back of the house.The signal from the Winter Hill Transmitter oscillated and was severely affected by ghosting, rather appropriate for Granada Land! Most of the more technical minded in my VI Form could receive either HTV Cymru, or Yorkshire, I was the only one able to appreciate the fare offered by ATV, we spent quite a lot of time comparing notes and also referring to the current edition of TV and Radio, (IBA Year Book).
I note from the schedule that the French Programme has now obviously replaced ATV’s Primary French, so no missing part of the lunch hour like in the early 1970’s! My World and Finding Out the perennial favourites still seem to be in circulation, did the same apply to Seeing and Doing? were the latter two originally produced by Associated Redifusion pre-dating Thames, they seem to have been around for ever !

Ed Burek 3 April 2017 at 9:48 pm

A thoroughly interesting insight into how my local station at the time used to start up. It was seen as a rite of passage for every young Midlander to listen to Midland Montage every Saturday morning, as a smooth welcome to the day’s activities before the madness that was Tiswas.
Prior to reading this piece, I was not aware that Johnny Pearson was the composer of the News At Ten theme – arguably his most famous and enduring composition was undoubtedly “Heavy Action” which has resonance on both sides of the Atlantic. Over here, it’s the theme tune to Superstars, while in America it’s still used as the opening theme to Monday Night Football, albeit rearranged over the years to the point of blandness.
Returning to Midlands Montage, I wonder how much trouble ATV would have avoided if they used this piece for their start-up film music, rather than the option that they chose (a song entitled “Beautiful Book”, performed by Stephanie de Sykes, I think – it was well before my time, I only discovered ATV’s start-up film only recently through YouTube.) As for the shortened version which accompanied the Zoom 2 ident – I think that could have worked, and under different circumstances it may have been used purely for local programming, rather than the networked stuff like Tiswas or The Muppet Show.
Always nice to hear the dulcet tones of Mike Prince as well. I particularly liked the comment after the closedown where he says “You won’t forget to switch off the set, will you?” – heaven forbid, Mr Prince!!
Just one more listen before I post this…

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