Tonight’s Tyne Tees Television… in 1959 

15 January 2016

The Viewer gives us a run down of the programmes on Tyne Tees for Thursday 15 January 1959. Things worth noting include:

  • It’s Day One for the new Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle, so we get three special programmes to welcome the new station
  • The opening programme, called Station Opening Programme in a fit of literalism, is what would become usual for each minor ITV company as the network grew: the chairman of the new station introduces a luminary – a local minor royal, lord, MP, actor, or, if all else fails, the head of the Independent Television Authority – who is then invited to press a button to ‘launch’ the new station… which we’re already watching, it having come on air at 4.55pm with the usual tuning signal, opening tune and ident. The 10th Duke of Northumberland, Hugh Percy (1914-1988) does the honours here
  • With the opening ceremony over, at 5.15pm TTT leaps into its first programme, ITC’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. Unsurprisingly, this is episode one of series one (out of a total of 143 across 4 series), which first aired on ATV London’s first Sunday on air – 25 September 1955
  • From there we “laugh at the crazy adventures” of Popeye and get the first ITN news bulletin, followed by the first local news and then a ten minute address by the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan – a former MP for Stockton on Tees (he would take his title, Earl Stockton, from there a few years later)


  • Strange ExperiencesSafe and Sound with Peter Williams telling the story. Nope, sorry. I know nothing about this at all. Anybody?
  • 6.30pm sees the debut on TTT of the inordinately popular American police procedural Highway Patrol. This is the first of three visits to the US for this evening; one can see why the Pilkington Committee, which would start looking into television provision in 18 months time – was so critical of ITV’s reliance on US imports
  • At 7pm, the celebrations begin again with The Big Show, from George and Alfred Black. These two brothers were probably second only to the Grade Brothers (Lew, Leslie and Bernard [Delfont]) as theatre impresarios, variety artist managers and agents; they were made TTT’s directors of programmes in something of a master move by TTT given the popularity of television variety in the 1950s and 1960s. Because of the dominance of the Grades in the business, and because the Blacks were Manchester-based compared to the Grades’ London foothold, the stars available are distinctly second-string. Producer Bill Lyon-Shaw was already a big name in television from the BBC and would go on to give years of sterling service to Tyne Tees
  • Having finished with the variety artistes, we go off to London for the next hour, with Double Your Money and This Week as polar opposite examples of Associated-Rediffusion’s output. Then we’re off to the US for an hour of NBC’s Wagon Train. We’re starting with episode 2 for some reason
  • 10pm takes us back to ITN, then we’re back to A-R for Murder Bag. This series and its follow up, Crime Sheet, are completely lost. The third series to star Raymond Francis as Lockhart, No Hiding Place, has 25 surviving episodes out of 236
  • After a look round TTT’s sports service at 10.45pm, we join I Love Lucy for episode 20 of season 2 (55 out of 180 episodes in total), which first aired on CBS almost 6 years earlier
  • 11.25pm takes us back to George and Alfred Black, this time sat in the continuity studio to give a preview of TTT’s next few weeks and throw us over to an amazingly large-scale epilogue

You Say

6 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 17 January 2016 at 8:05 pm

I assume “The Blue Star Song” mentioned in the panel advert was well known in the local area beforehand, otherwise “Viewer” readers are being asked if they’d like to obtain the words and music to an advert they probably hadn’t seen on the telly before they’d bought a copy of the magazine.

Joe G 27 May 2018 at 7:37 pm

Fascinating stuff. I remember as a young kid watching that very first “Robin Hood”! The tune to the Owen Brannigan “Blue Star Song” would be familiar to many. He did a couple of ads, one based on “Cushie Butterfield” and another to the tune of “Wherever ye gan you’re sure to find a Geordie”.

Suzanne Sharrock ( Haig ) 3 August 2021 at 7:57 pm

I note that on your schedule for the ‘First Day’ of viewing of TTT .. was my uncle – my Fathers brother in Law – Terry O’Niel …!
I went to work At TTT as a PA around 1964/5 ..We did a Live light entertainment programme around lunchtime called “The One O’clock Show” With a live audience, full orchestra, live singers & dancers, celebs in town, and several comedy sketches with scenery changes and costumes changes to fit all the situations… I think it was around an hour with 4 commercial breaks. My Father – Jack Haig – joined Terry & later he had his own Kids TV series called “Wacky Jacky” ( also live ! ) and became very popular, especially with the kids .. Later he did many sitcoms for BBC & ITV .. with David Croft incl: Allo Allo & Dads Army ! …a lot of Light Entertainment came from Tyne Tees TV in those days …it was the only channel with such a variety of great Light Entertainment, which inspired no end of great TV Directors..who all were given their training under the Blacks & Bill Lyon-Shaw at TTT & went on to all the big time programmes in ‘the smoke’ ! ..( Malcolm Morris & Keith ..? ) ..Terrificly exciting Televison the like of which doesn’t exist today. More’s the pity. !

jeff ford 24 November 2022 at 11:16 am

we have just found a copy of the viewer August 21 – 27 1960
is this of any value

Harold Richards 4 March 2023 at 11:33 am

I remember the opening day of tyne tees television and the very first continuity announcers were Adrian Cairns, Tom Coyne, James Loyd, Sally Morton.

John Black 28 November 2023 at 2:02 pm

The Blue Star song was probably an adaptation of the locally well- known song ‘Cushy Butterfield’. I was a little young in 1959 at two years old, but I remember Newcastle Breweries using that song in the early sixties.

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