Gremlins hit big TV opening 

7 August 2020

From the Daily Mirror for Tuesday 21 May 1968

THINGS didn’t go exactly according to plan when a new television service opened last night.

There were awful stretches of silence . . . a running jumble of figures and symbols . . . and a shot of Harry Secombe when it should have been Lord Aylestone.

In the very first programme, too.

So it was that the gremlins (or their Welsh cousins the “tylwyth teg” – fairies) got at Harlech TV’s grand opening.

“My goodness, the opening-night gremlins are having a field day,” said the announcer after four blank moments during the news from Cardiff.

Then the new Wales and West of England ITV company switched to Bristol for an interview with Lord Aylestone, the ITA chairman.

It really didn’t help much.

What the viewers saw was . . . hieroglyphics. Plus shots of stars who were to be seen in a gala show later.


And Harry Secombe, a director of Harlech TV, strutting across a stage.

The interview with Lord Aylestone was put back to the middle of the newscast.

Then the gremlins gave up. And the news got back to normal.



Harlech’s opening night in the Mirror’s TV listings for Monday 20 May 1968



Helicopter shot of the roof of the studios on Harlech’s opening night

❛❛Russ J Graham writes: We can, perhaps, forgive the tone of schadenfreude in the Daily Mirror‘s coverage of the Harlech opening night: it was, in every way, a total disaster – so much so that Yorkshire, Thames and LWT all shelved nascent plans for gala opening nights themselves.

But the danger of schadenfreude is that those that give it out can also get it back. In this case, the Mirror is hit with gremlins – or an inattentive reporter – as the article conflates the problems with the first local news broadcasts (at 6.05pm) and the gala show (at 9pm) and then places the both as the first show of the day (not including schools), which was actually Tinker’s Tales (at 4.25pm) and passed off without incident.

Since Transdiffusion never make such mistakes,[Citation needed] the schadenfreude is glorious.

You Say

4 responses to this article

Ronnie MB 8 August 2020 at 1:35 am

Foreshadowing HTV’s gremlin attack during Telethon?

Jesse J. Tripp 28 July 2022 at 1:20 am

It’s just as well that Yorkshire Television, Thames Televison and London Weekend Television didn’t have gala opening nights, as there would simultaneously be a chain of events that would lead to a strike that crippled the ITV network for a while.

Jesse J. Tripp 31 July 2022 at 1:27 pm

And that strike that came in August 1968 was just the first of them, leading all the way to the big one, the August-October 1979 strike that crippled the network for 11 weeks… but there would be a few more, though.

Jesse J. Tripp 31 July 2022 at 1:28 pm

The last ones would be in 1984 on Thames and TV-am in 1987-88.

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