ITV in 1988: Ulster 

20 April 2023

Ulster print logo



Havelock House, Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 1EB
Tel: 0232 328122 FAX: 0232 246695
Telex: 74654
6 York Street, London W1H 1FA
Tel: 01-486 5211

Directors Dr R. B. Henderson, CBE (Chairman); J. B. McGuckian (Deputy Chairman); H. R. Catherwood (Vice-Chairman); Mrs Betty E. MacQuitty (Vice-Chairman); J. D. Smyth (Managing Director); J. A. Creagh (Assistant Managing Director); P. Battle (Sales Director); J. B. Waddell (Director of Programmes); R. E. Benner, OBE; Lord Dunluce; Capt. O. W. J. Henderson, OBE, DL; G. C. Hutchinson; Mrs A. McCollum; J. O’Driscoll.

Officers E. Caves (Chief Engineer); K. F. Hamilton (N.I. Sales Manager); Miss C. Boswell (London Sales Controller); N. J. McCafferty (Planning & Presentation Manager); J. McCann (Financial Controller/Company Secretary); Mrs H. J. Clarke (Programme Finance Manager); G. P. Fleeton (Senior Education Officer); B. Hehir (Programme Services Manager); A.Crockart & M.Beattie (Assistant Programme Controllers); R. Kennedy (Information Officer); J. J. Hutchinson (Personnel Manager).

Religious Advisory Panel Rt. Revd Dr James Mehaffey (Bishop of Derry and Raphoe); Most Revd Canon Dr J. Maguire; Revd Dr A. L. McAloney; Revd G. H. Good, MBE, OBE.

Educational Advisory Panel Dr G. Beveridge; P. P. Gallagher; M. Murphy; W. McKay Kenny; Mrs J. Fitzpatrick; W. Sillery; Sir Peter Froggatt.

Staff Ulster Television employs almost 300 of whom 45 are located in the London sales office.

Sales The majority of the company’s sales personnel are based in the York Street, London office. At Havelock House in Belfast, the Northern Ireland Sales Manager and his staff look after the requirements of local clients. The company has published a number of guides to the Northern Ireland market.

Technical The central area houses separate engineering and presentation control rooms and a continuity studio. The presentation control room contains a CDL MC990 24 input switcher. The VTR area has five Sony BVH 2000 machines, three TCR 100 Video cart machines, a 1in. three machine VTR edit suite with digital effects and an Aston Mk.4 caption generator. A Harris Iris C slide store services production and presentation. The two production studios are each equipped with three Ikegami HK381 cameras and Neve Sound desks. Lighting control is equipped with Strand duet consoles. The company has a four-camera outside broadcast unit equipped with two Sony BVP330A cameras, two Ikegami HK323 cameras, Neve Sound desk, Grass Valley switcher and two BVH 2000 VTR machines. The 12KVA on-board generator has been supplemented by a 75KVA mobile generator. Production on film has been almost totally replaced by the Betacam ½in. format operated by five staff crews and two stringers, one based in Belfast and the second in Londonderry where Sony BVP5P CCD cameras are now in use. The five ½in. editing suites have been supplemented by a sixth three-machine 2in. editing suite and a sound post-production suite capable of also servicing the 1in. VT editing suite. There is a contribution studio serving the north and west of the region in the city of Londonderry.

Programmes Ulster Television’s contribution to the network and Channel 4 reached an all-time high during 1987, with a selection of programmes which appealed to audiences of all ages and interests. They ranged from Morning Worship church services and Highway to two contributions to the Saturday morning Get Fresh series for young viewers from Fermanagh’s Lakeland and the Ulster Folk Museum; children’s and adult drama; dramatised documentaries and music, both classical and religious. Sing Out was a series of concerts featuring religious music and songs. Presented by international star Roger Whittaker and featuring other top artistes, it took over the normal Highway slot during the summer.

Christina Reid’s The Last of a Dyin’ Race, a comedy about the changing attitudes to funeral rites, was seen in Channel 4’s ‘First Sight’ series.

After the Gold was an hour-long profile of Belfast-born pianist Barry Douglas and his many travels and triumphs after winning the Tchaikovsky Gold Medal in Moscow, shown on the network in August. There was also a Barry Douglas Plays Brahms concert special on Channel 4 during the same month.

Shadow in a Landscape was a dramatised documentary on the life and work of Irish impressionist painter Roderic O’Conor, who had lived and worked with the French school which included Paul Gauguin and whose work has only recently been re-discovered. Password, a word association quiz, with Gordon Burns as host and a selection of top TV names and faces as celebrity guests, had a 20-programme afternoon run on the network.

Some earlier Ulster Television programmes featured in the awards lists at several prestigious festivals. The drama The Hidden Curriculum was awarded the Samuel G. Engel International Drama award at the fifth International Conference on Television Drama at Michigan State University, while the Medical Journalists/Pearl award for the best medical programmme was won by one of the programmes in the Medicine Matters series, ‘On The Move Again’, which dealt with reconstructive medicine and particularly hip replacement as a treatment for osteo-arthritis.

The company undertook sponsorship in association with five education and library boards in the province to promote a major Schools’ Science and Technology Exhibition in November 1987. This was in addition to other regular sponsorship of science and the arts to a total of more than £50,000.

The new daily news and features flagship Six Tonight was launched in the autumn, with hour-long programmes on Mondays and Fridays, presented by the new team of Kate Smith and Ronan Kelly. This replaced the earlier long-running Good Evening Ulster. Summer Edition kept up with all the local news during the holiday months. Additional news programmes were introduced in mid-morning and afternoon in addition to the regular midday Ulster Newstime after the ITN evening news; and in Bedtime at close-down. There are also lunchtime and afternoon bulletins on Saturdays and Sundays.

Following on the earlier Kelly’s People, Gerry Kelly went On Tour around the province with the OB unit for eight weeks meeting people and entertainers on their home ground. To mark ‘European Year of the Environment’ there were two major film documentaries. One looked at Strangford Lough with all its unique tidal and marine life qualities, while Shark Hunters of Achill Island offered another chance to study the characters of a dying breed – the men who hunt the great basking sharks in frail coracles. Other regular programmes during the year included Ask Anne, and Advice, which looked at consumer and social action matters; Counterpoint, the station’s main current affairs programme and the fortnightly Farming Ulster magazine for the agricultural community. Spectrum featured a series of six film documentaries dealing with the arts, books, theatre and films, including a look at the world of James Bond, and one on actor James Ellis. Top names in Irish folk music, supported by artists from Scotland and England, featured in Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, while pop music was the priority of Finding Fax Future in which fans introduced their own special choices.

Religious programmes included further contributions to the networked Morning Worship and Highway series, as well as the regular local Friday evening Witness slot.

Sports coverage included some of the main GAA finals; showjumping from the Royal Dublin Society; the main Irish car rally events; and European Cup Football.

Programming for schools included Swings and Roundabouts, for the 6-to-7- year-olds and Life After School for the 14- to-18-year-olds to help them understand some of the choices, challenges and opportunities as they approach school leaving age. Make it Pay was a series giving advice to those interested in the possibility of turning a creative hobby into a source of income, while Police Six continued its role advising the public on crime prevention and detection.

The production schedule included work on a major drama-documentary, God’s Frontiersmen, about the influence of the Scots-Irish in America; six half- hour documentaries about a small town or village in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland; a history of dance in many countries, Those Dancing Years; and a new series of Sing Out based on material recorded for the earlier network series.


Two men stand in water pulling a rope between them

Filming using stuntmen for ‘Undertow of the Armada’ made for Dramarama on location at the Giant’s Causeway.


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