Made in Yorkshire! 

29 July 2018

At midnight on Sunday, the North — the largest of all the ITA regions — is to be split into two. Viewers west of the Pennines will continue to be served by Granada. Those on the east, a vast area stretching from Whitby to the Wash, will have their own company, Yorkshire Television. Derek Meakin writes about the legacy they have inherited — and their hopes for the future


From the TVTimes Yorkshire for 27 July – 2 August 1968

ONE of the first positive actions of Yorkshire Television, when it was awarded the contract to supply programmes to the largest ITV region in the country, was to commission an independent survey of viewing habits.

The result proved that Yorkshire viewers have tremendous loyalty to independent television.

But a significant factor to emerge from the survey was the extent to which viewers enjoyed programmes of local or regional interest.

A prime aim of Yorkshire Television is to satisfy this tremendous appetite for programmes stamped “Made in Yorkshire”.

From Monday, when the first signal is piped from the Kirkstall Road studios in Leeds to the ITA transmitter at Emley Moor one out of every six hours of air-time will be filled with home-produced programmes.

Right from the start, Yorkshire Television becomes one of the Big Five of ITV. Because of this, exactly half its output will be re-transmitted by other companies to viewers all over Britain.

One in ten of all ITV homes are in the Yorkshire transmission area. In terms of people, that adds up to 5,460,000 viewers. Half a million more than the ultimate audience figure predicted by the experts when Emley Moor began transmissions on November 3, 1956.

The Kirkstall Road studios — a £5 million project — are the first in Europe to be designed and built for colour right from scratch.

ITV colour will not be seen until the autumn of 1969 at the earliest, so the next 12 months will give Yorkshire’s engineers and producers plenty of experience in evolving and perfecting a new colour technique.

The map shows the area covered by Yorkshire Television – Britain’s newest TV service

It will be an exciting — and exacting — time for the bustling team working under Yorkshire’s chairman, Sir Richard Graham.

Executives like Sir Geoffrey Cox, who gave up the editorship of ITN, to move to Yorkshire. Managing director G. E. Ward Thomas, who was responsible for the setting up of Aberdeen-based Grampian Television. And assistant managing director E. Stuart Wilson, who at 29, masterminded the bid to the ITA that led to the creation of Yorkshire Television.

Heading the production team is Donald Baverstock, former programme chief of BBC-1.

DOCUMENTARIES will be the concern of Tony Essex, another top ex-BBC producer. Alan Whicker is also changing channels to present a weekly series of Whicker Watching.

DRAMA comes under Peter Willes, the man behind ITV series like No Hiding Place and Top Secret, whose first play for Yorkshire goes out on the national network on opening night.

SCHOOLS programmes are the responsibility of Enid Love who has been head of schools TV for both the BBC and ITV in London.

Sid Colin, creator of The Army Game and Our Man at St. Marks heads LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT, and one of his achievements so far is persuading top writer Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall to script their first TV comedy series for Yorkshire.

SPORTS key man is Lawrie Higgins, who as editor of BBC’s Grandstand was responsible for covering the Olympic and Commonwealth Games World Cup football.

Already he has broken one long-cherished BBC monopoly by bringing Test cricket to ITV for the first time — an opening-day scoop for Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Television’s brand new studios in Kirkstall Road, Leeds, where all your great regional programmes will come from

Many producers brought in to work under these departmental heads are under 30. Some are even under 25. Isn’t that rather young for a mass-communication medium that has such a powerful influence on viewers’ opinions and tastes?

“If you are looking for new ideas, you do not turn to people who have been in the business 25 years,” said Ward Thomas.

“It is the young ones we are looking to for freshness. We rely on older executives like myself to provide guidance and advice.

“Everybody would like their time over again. Now we are getting that chance.

“At the moment, we have 30 or 40 senior people who have this new lease of life, and they know that the company’s reputation is going to be made by what they make of it.”

Duchess of Kent speaks first words


AT 11.45 a.m. precisely next Monday, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent will step forward to a microphone and announce: “This is Yorkshire Television.”

The region’s own TV company will be born.

And in the evening there will be a celebration banquet and ball at the refectory of Leeds University, with a cabaret introduced by Bob Monkhouse. Frankie Vaughan will top the bill.

Viewers will not be left out. They will be able to see the show “live” in First Night. After the banquet the Refectory will be transformed in minutes into a night club setting.

By this time those watching at home will have had a good taste of what Yorkshire Television has to offer.

It will come first under the critical eye of Yorkshire children. Contrasting with the Test match at mid-day, Jimmy Green and His Time Machine, will bring Jimmy and Lettuce, two puppet characters to the screen.

Both enjoy adventures in space, meeting many curious characters —including the egg-shaped lunits.

A filmed report of the opening ceremony — and, it is hoped, an interview with the Duchess of Kent—will be in Calendar, Yorkshire’s weekly news magazine programme.

Yorkshire has secured the American comedy series Mona McCluskey, starring Juliet Prowse as a top film star whose philosophy of life demands that she does not live above the means of her husband’s modest salary.

After this programme the station stages its first drama — Daddy Kiss It Better, with Michael Craig and Dylis Laye.

This play, by Peter Nichols, ex-teacher, ex-actor, ex-sock salesman, tells the story of Ken and Monica, a constantly-at-war married couple. The play’s turning point is when Ken leaves his wife and squalling children.

He walks away, but as he does so he begins to see the world he has turned his back on in a different light.

Made in Yorkshire, will explore the giant, intractable, controversial and contrary county.

It will examine the policy and attitudes of the new television company towards the people it was born to serve.

The Titans, lives up to its definition of the great dieties of Greek mythology. The series is about the great religious philosophers — including St. Augustine, Pascal, Hooker and others.

Local newspapers are not forgotten. Gazette, a weekly paper set in a Yorkshire community and with Gerald Harper and John Laurimore in the principal roles will screen the story behind the stories.

Gerald Harper plays a man who inherits control of the local paper. He clashes with the ex-Fleet Street editor (John Laurimore).

You Say

2 responses to this article

Mark Jeffries 29 July 2018 at 9:09 pm

And “Mona McCluskey” only lasted one 26-episode series on NBC in 1965 and 1966. One can only hope that United Artists didn’t overcharge Yorkshire for this bomb.

andrew redding 20 May 2023 at 2:31 pm

When I was younger our ITV region was Granada TV from Manchester, but in 1968, Yorkshire Television was launched and became our channel for ITV. As a seven year old, I couldnt understand why Yorkshire TV was advertised as new, as would already had ITV through Granada. There were lots of adverts for the new Yorkshire TV programmes, one was for a jazz show which had a lot of bee bop on it, that I couldnt follow as a seven year old boy, but I can vividly remember this being broadcast. I recall the bit where Bob Monkhouse confides to us at the start an thinking “who is this smary guy and why does he keep popping up all the time?” Gotta love Bob Monkhouse I guess. Fast forward 55 years and its now on You Tube, and after all that time, its exactly as I remember it. First seen as a pre teen and now watched as a pensioner! What a world we live in….

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