Ship’s siren may be call sign for TTT 

30 September 2020

Unused pre-launch TTT symbol


Shields Evening News masthead

From the Shields Evening News for 20 May 1958

A SHIP’S siren may be the call sign tor the new Tyne Tees Television station, writes our Television Correspondent. The idea has come from Mr. George Black, member of the famous theatrical family and a director of the new company.

It was on a recent visit to Newcastle. where the new studios are being built, that Mr. Black heard the familiar sound of the sirens and thought they would make an appropriate call sign for North-east television.

“We shall be experimenting to get one that will be effective but not too strident” he said.

The station’s signature music is to be a medley of North Country tunes including, of course, Blaydon Races.



A station symbol is also being devised and will incorporate the initials TTT.

The opening date of Tyne Tees Television is expected to be the second week in January 1959. Construction work on the studios in City Road, Newcastle, is scheduled to be completed by September 30.


Low-power test transmissions begin soon after and programme tests on full power start early in December.

Programme planning is already taking shape. Fifteen percent will be devoted to local programmes Mr. Black tells me, “and may be more as time goes on.”

“We plan to put on light entertainment programmes with a North-eastern appeal and using local artists. There will be a lunch-time audience-participation programme of light entertainment; programmes to catch the teenager; a weekly magazine programme of North-eastern events; local news and local sports programmes.


“We are also endeavouring to have written a local series about a North-eastern family” he added. “The whole object is to capture the North-east by giving viewers the sort of local-appeal programmes they have been starved of hitherto.”

Mr. Black also said: “We are aiming to make it a lively station.”

In September, he also revealed, they will be launching a campaign costing £30,000 [£750,000 in today’s terms, allowing for inflation] giving advice on the conversion of existing one-channel sets, the type of aerials required and other information to aid good reception.

Tyne Tees Television expects a quarter of a million viewers by April next year.



❛❛Russ J Graham writes: Little of this would come true. The symbol used in pre-launch promotion never made it on air, possibly because it was hard to animate it. The ship’s siren idea progressed no further, thankfully.

Most ITV companies, when awarded their first contract, promise more than they can deliver. Making television is hard, and making money is harder still. Making money from television is the hardest of all. The new Tyne Tees, like all new ITV companies, blew through shareholders’ money very quickly just in start-up costs. Building and equipping the City Road studios cost a fortune. A staff had to be hired – everything from receptionists to camera operators, canteen staff to engineers. These people then had to sit mostly idle for a few months as the studio was built around them.

When TTT finally came on air, the coffers were bare. The solution was the one ITV companies have almost all picked when faced with financial disaster. Politely, it was called “a retreat from culture”. In other words, they put out a lot of popular and populist fare: ATV/ITC filmed series, American imports, cheap variety, anything to get bums on seats in front of Channel 8.

The Independent Television Authority noticed, and subsequent meetings between the ITA and TTT were very frosty.

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