An arm’s length from Carlisle 

9 January 2023


Television & Radio 1981 cover

From ‘Television & Radio 1981’, published by the Independent Broadcasting Authority

‘So that’s where Stranraer is! I hear the name every Saturday when they’re giving the football results … I didn’t think it was right on the edge of South West Scotland. It’s only 30-odd miles from Northern Ireland!’

Standing in the newsroom at Border’s Carlisle studios, Stranraer is about an arm’s length from Carlisle on the massive map on the wall. About the same arm’s length going the other way is Berwick-upon-Tweed. ‘You cover all the way to Berwick as well? How far south do you go?’

Using the same body scale of a six-foot-one Head of News, the southern extremity of Border’s region is just below the belt. From January 1982 the IBA has extended the area to just above the kneecaps. That adds another 75,000 possible viewers in South Lakeland and helps six-foot-one Heads of News to explain where the region extends.

You have to take a step to the left to put a finger on the Isle of Man.

Those are the sort of comments that come from people who have not seen Border’s news magazine programme Lookaround. Regular viewers know exactly where Stranraer, Whitehaven, Berwick, Selkirk and Kendal are on the map.

In its geographical extent, Border is the second largest of the ITV regions. But the population is the smallest on the mainland.

Border is 20 years old in 1981 and during its life the company’s local programmes have moulded together a region that would otherwise remain on the edges of adjacent ITV stations.

A man in a striped shirt on the telephone

Ken De Vonald, Editor and Producer of the Lookaround programme.

Of course, having such a large area to cover brings its problems. The miles to cover, on roads crying out for upgrading, means careful planning when the newsroom commits its two sound film units. To help cover the region, Border uses six freelance/stringer cameramen who live and work around the vast area. A web of freelance and contract journalists in towns and villages in the region send in the daily news and feature ideas. And all the time the producer, two news assistants and five reporter/presenters are searching for material to fill the five-nights-a-week Lookaround programme, which has consistently attracted large and loyal audiences.

The local identity of a TV station cannot be judged only on its early evening local programme. Each Friday at 10.30 p.m. Border opts out of the network and produces a series of half-hour programmes from the region. They range from Your MP, which brings two of the area’s ten MPs together to talk about current issues in Parliament, to the sports programme which highlights popular and minority sports. There are also the half-hour film documentaries which reflect life within the region. As a spin-off, many of these programmes are shown nationally in the About Britain series.

In addition to current affairs and documentaries series, Border is recognised for its light entertainment programmes like the Mr. and Mrs. quiz and Look Who’s Talking, both of which are networked.

So, after 20 years Border has made a slot for itself, not only with the people who live within the region but with the ITV network. Who knows? Given time, maybe everybody will know where Stranraer is on the map.


A smiling man with a microphone crouches in front of two workers

Michael Lucas, one of the Lookaround reporters, interviewing on a local building site.


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