The symbols of ITV explained 

19 August 2020

Worthing Herald masthead

From the Worthing Herald for 28 August 1959

ON the Independent Television exhibits at the Radio Show, which opened at Earls Court on Wednesday, are displayed the identification symbols of the programme companies.

The ITV people sometimes find that viewers are puzzled by the appearance of, for example, a Granada symbol in the programmes seen in the London area when they know that Associated Rediffusion is responsible for providing the programmes seen there on that day.

It might, therefore, be useful to explain why this happens and such an explanation also demonstrates the complexity of the independent television network.



The symbols are, in fact, of two kinds. There is, on the one hand, a producer’s symbol inserted by the company originating the programme; and, on the other hand, there is a symbol for the company carrying the programme in each area. These individual companies are responsible for the provision of all the programmes in their particular areas, and they draw upon their own resources and those of the other companies for this purpose.

Associated Television, for example, is responsible for providing programmes in the London area at the weekends. It is the “provider” of these programmes and is responsible for either producing them itself or entering into contracts with other programme companies to let it have some of their productions.

In this way programmes can come from studio centres in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Southampton, Newcastle, Norwich or Belfast, and Associated Television is at liberty to select whichever programmes it feels will suit its audience best and which will also conform to the requirements of the Authority in relation to “balance” between various programme types.



❛❛Russ J Graham writes: You can’t go far in researching this history of ITV without tripping over articles like this, explaining the structure of the network.

And, like here, they invariably refer to it as ‘complex’. Usually there’s also a quote from someone in ITV or from the Independent Television Authority patiently explaining how its a federation, how there are big companies and little companies, how they exchange material and so on, all in a tone that seems to say “this is all terribly complicated!”

I’m not sure I believe that. I’d go as far as saying that the vast majority knew that their local station was XYZ-TV, and it showed its own programmes, American programmes and programmes made by QWE-TV and RTY-TV and the like and they were ‘ITV’ in their regions. They may have been hazy on where those regions geographically were, but that’s neither here nor there. For most people, if they thought about it at all, the structure of ITV was perfectly simple.

But still perception that nobody knew what was happening and why, and how they could be watching Tyne Tees but see a Southern programme, and that it was all terribly, terribly, confusing and off-putting remained. Indeed, it got stronger, with the Independent Broadcasting Authority not needing a single prompt in the 1970s and 1980s before they would trot out a spokesman with diagrams to ‘explain’ this tangled and convoluted system, whether people needed it explaining or… well, not.

It reached its apogee in 1989, when one of the stated reasons for introducing a unified look, to greater or lesser success, was that people in London saw a Granada documentary and thought they were watching the BBC. To use a modern phrase: didn’t happen.

You Say

9 responses to this article

Joanne Gray 19 August 2020 at 2:28 pm

Personally speaking I was never confused by seeing other region’s logos. In fact, it helped in understanding who did what on ITV and how well (or not) they did. And the logos and jungles were as integral to the programmes they prcedeed as the actual content of the shows. Without these logos and jingles, ITV is a cold and faceless entity, lacking personality or variety.

Rob Horspole 19 August 2020 at 6:43 pm

So on 28th August 1959, who was supplying programmes from studios in Norwich and Belfast? This was before Anglia and Ulster had started broadcasting, so does this mean that they were already making programmes for the ITV Network, and if so, do we know what they were?

Darren Brian Renforth 20 August 2020 at 10:59 am

I used to enjoy watching programmes made by different regions to my own. They were also unique in their style of programme, eg A Granada production would be very different to a Thames one even from the same genre EG Comedy.

Russ J Graham 20 August 2020 at 3:52 pm

Rob: Anglia and Ulster were just about to come into operation, so there would very soon be programmes from Norwich and Belfast. The article is not saying that there already are (although it is badly worded!)

Elwyn Owen 20 August 2020 at 6:49 pm

Always enjoyed the regional programming output from the ITV companies. Was also lucky enough to get both ATV and Granada every day with their programming variance giving a better offering. Key for me as a kid was watching Star Soccer on ATV and Kick-Off on Granada on a Sunday afternoon as they were often staggered. Also, on occasion being able to pick up Yorkshire TV soccer with Keith Macklin, but I found him annoying compared to Gerald Sindstadt (Granada) and the ever-blinking Hugh Johns (ATV). Losing the regions homogenized ITV and it’s suffered for not having the regional, and more importantly, the production variances of the regional companies.

Richie Wild 20 August 2020 at 10:19 pm

As a kid in the 70’s, in the (tuneless) Granada area, the local idents from elsewhere were call signs to run down from playing in the bedroom, to watch the great shows. ATV, Thames, London Weekend etc. In 1979, I was able to get HTV too, and their logo theme was great to hear across the day. Also Yorkshire came in, albeit a bit fuzzy (I’m on The Wirral).they had the best start up music of them all, and was the coolest of the three… introducing Breakfast TV and Music Box overnight. DA DADA DA DAAAAA :)

David Leystar 24 August 2020 at 6:19 am

Growing up in London in the 70s and 80s, it was so cool to hear the various ITV regional themes and logos.

The Southern theme is one of my favourites, a gentle eight note melody played on a nylon stringed acoustic guitar instead of the loud brass arrangements used most ITV companies.

Surprisingly Granada and Border had no theme tune of their own. Just a still picture of their logos was all they had to show preceding their programmes.

Arthur Nibble 16 September 2020 at 12:54 pm

I think Granada had a mute logo to convey gravitas, whereas I reckon Border couldn’t afford an ident soundtrack even if they wanted one.

Zoe 17 July 2021 at 9:25 am

I’m only 13.i have had a interest in ITV since I was 12 last year. I find the regional structure pretty cool. The idents are pretty good too! I don’t have any specific favourites, but I like Southern and Tyne Tees. I like to hear stories about the franchisees from senior people that grew up with the regional stations. I remember seeing the Thames logo as a youngerster during CITV Old Skool Weekend,if only I knew what was coming xD

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