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Tyne Tees Television (now known as ITV Tyne Tees, part of the multiple franchise ITV Tyne Tees & Border region) is the ITV television franchise for North East England and some of North Yorkshire. The structure of Tyne Tees has altered across its history, notably in various mergers with Yorkshire Television, and then the larger regional companies that would eventually control the entire ITV network. As of 2009, it forms part of a non-franchise ITV Tyne Tees & Border region, shared with the ITV Border region. Tyne Tees is owned and operated by ITV plc under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Tyne Tees is led by Graeme Thompson, who is the regional director for Tyne Tees and Border.

Tyne Tees launched on 15 January 1959 from studios at a converted warehouse in City Road, Newcastle upon Tynemarker, remaining in the city until July 2005 when Tyne Tees moved to smaller studios in Gatesheadmarker. Tyne Tees has contributed various programming to the ITV network and Channel 4, as well as its regional output. Some of Tyne Tees best known programming includes the groundbreaking music show The Tube and critically acclaimed adaptations of Catherine Cookson novels. Its current regional news programme is North East Tonight. The analogue signals in the Tyne Tees region are expected to be switched off in 2012, one of the last ITV regions to solely broadcast digitally.


Launch, and the 1960s

Independent television was introduced to Britain in September 1955. Initially only available in the London region, commercial television steadily became available in other regions. After a financially difficult time for the first ITV companies, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) decided to offer independent television to the rest of the country and advertised for bids. Several offers were submitted, including from the existing four companies, to the ITA. North East England was the last of the English regions without a television transmitter. Sir Richard Pease headed a local consortium that included film producer Sydney Box and News Chronicle executives George and Alfred Black. This consortium, was chosen from among eleven applicants because of its strong local links, commitment to local programming, concentrating on regional topical matters, and educational and children's programmes. The contract was awarded on 12 December 1957. Experienced television executive Anthony Jelly was appointed as managing director, although historian Andrew Spicer credits the Black brothers as the driving force and public face of Tyne Tees; George was programme director, and both brothers were prominent board members. The company opened its first Newcastle office at Bradburn House on Northumberland Streetmarker. From there, on 3 January 1958, the company directors issued 300,000 ordinary shares at fours shillings each.

The station's first logo.
The three Ts morphed from an anchor, reflecting the nautical influence of the station's name.
Tyne Tees is named after two of the region's three primary rivers. ITA considered the original name, "North East England", was imprecise. Some of the consortium's suggestions were rejected: "Three Rivers Television" for being obscure, and "Tyne, Wear, and Tees" for being too long. Eventually, in October 1958, the name "Tyne Tees" was announced. The other major river, the Wearmarker (which runs between the Tyne and the Teesmarker), was represented within Tyne Tees' early signature tune "Three Rivers Fantasy", a specially commissioned work by composer and arranger Arthur Wilkinson. The musical overture merged several regional folk tunes, such as "Water of Tyne", ending in The "Blaydon Races". Part of the medley was based upon "The Sailor's Hornpipe". The nautical theme was also reflected in the station's first logo: an anchor gradually transformed into the triple Ts of the Tyne Tees Television logo.

Two converted warehouses provided the base for Tyne Tees on City Road until 2005.
Two furniture warehouses were purchased on City Road in Newcastle and converted into a studio and office complex. The location was chosen because of its proximity to the telephone exchange in Carliol Square. Television signals were relayed by land-line from the studios to the switching centre; a distance between the studios and the exchange greater than would have significantly increased the cost of receiving the networked programmes from the other ITV stations. The complex initially contained four studios, with a fifth built in 1981 to accommodate productions for Channel 4. Two nearby pubs, The Egypt Cottage and Rose & Crown, became affectionately known as Studio 5 because of the amount of time that the station's staff spent in them. Scottish and Newcastle Breweries offered to sell the adjacent The Egypt Cottage to the station when it was established, but Tyne Tees declined. However, the upstairs room was used as rehearsal space, and the pub would regularly feature in the the '80s music show The Tube.

The BBC transmitted their programmes from the Pontop Pike transmitting stationmarker in County Durham. The ITA built a new transmitter nearby at Burnhopemarker, to cover an area from Alnwickmarker to Northallertonmarker, and west to Middleton-in-Teesdalemarker. Television sets required a new aerial, the Yagi array, to receive the high frequency that the transmitter was using.

Tyne Tees went on air at 5 pm on 15 January 1959, three years after the first British independent television station. The then-prime minister Harold Macmillan, who had been the Member of Parliament for the nearby Stockton-on-Tees for two decades, was interviewed live on the opening night. This was followed by a live variety show, named The Big Show, broadcast from a small studio. However, this local content was followed by an episode of the American police series Highway Patrol and an evening of entertainment programmes including I Love Lucy and Double Your Money.

In the 2006 documentary A History of Tyneside, veteran North East newsreader Mike Neville suggested that the launch of Tyne Tees enabled local people to be able to hear local accents and dialects on television, since early broadcasters, particularly those from the BBC, tended to speak in Received Pronunciation. Scholar Natasha Vall suggests that the station's commitment to broadcasting comedy helped establish a regional identity. George and Alfred Black had toured working men's clubs looking for material for television. Local comic Bobby Thompson was invited to host a solo show. However, poor ratings and an unenthusiastic cast led to the show's cancellation after barely a year.

Where most independent television companies published their schedules in the magazine TV Times, Tyne Tees produced their own listings magazine. The Viewer was published by News Chronicle, a company with connections to the station through the Black brothers. It was produced to satisfy " 'Tyne Tees' policy to be be most regional of all the independent stations". Initially produced from an office in Forth Lane, near to Newcastle Central stationmarker, it moved to the City Road studios when Dickens Press took over publication in 1963. The magazine became the biggest selling magazine in the region, with a circulation of 300,000 per week. New contracts issued by the ITA in 1968 stipulated that all ITV companies publish their listings in the TV Times, which became a national magazine with regional variations for the listings. After 498 editions, the last issues of The Viewer was published in September 1968.

The first advertisement screened on Tyne Tees was for Welch's Toffee. The proprietor's daughter is Denise, who would become a well-known actress and personality. In 1959, Tyne Tees charged advertisers £100 for 15 seconds during prime time. The station launched a marketing campaign in the 1960s to sell advertising time named 'Through Plan'. One of the range of promotional material was a poster called 'Sweet Sixteen', featuring photographs of 15 men accompanied by their full names, job titles and other formal history. The sole woman was simply referred to by her first name and her measurements. Historian Geoff Phillips comments that this "was a profound statement of the culture of the time". Tyne Tees produced Advertising Magazines (AdMags), which were programmes with a loose storyline designed to advertise several products within an edition. The 15-minute programmes each endorsed about 12 products. Clients sat in the control room during rehearsals to ensure that their products were getting the exposure for which they had paid.

A committee was established in 1960 under the leadership of British industrialist Sir Harry Pilkington to consider the future of broadcasting. The 1962 Pilkington Report criticised ITV, and Tyne Tees in particular. Some companies, historian Simon Cherry notes, were scrambling "very readily for the lowest common denominator ... Tyne Tees was notorious for avoiding minority programmes and putting out cop shows or westerns instead."


The logo with which Tyne Tees was most identified.
Various versions were used in the 1970s through the 1990s, and it was integrated within some generic ITV logos in the late 1990s.

The arrival of colour to ITV in 1969 led the companions to re-evaluate their on-screen identities. Tyne Tees replaced the triple-T logo in 1970 with the basic layout of two letter Ts above 'TV', an icon which would be incorporated into many future redesigns. Commentator Andrew Bowden observes that this interlinked design remains strongly associated with the company. The ident also introduced the blue and yellow colour scheme that would remain in use for many years. The dark blue was popular amongst ITV contractors because it closely approximated to black on a black and white television set. The version of the logo included the word 'COLOUR', boasting the new technology.

Pilkington prompted the government to impose a levy on ITV's revenue, the effects of which were heightened by a recession in 1970 when revenue had declined by 12 percent in real terms. Despite a reduction of the levy, Tyne Tees was one of the contractors facing collapse. To ensure Tyne Tees's survival, the ITA allowed it to affiliate with Yorkshire Television under a joint management company named 'Trident Television'. The third 'prong' of Trident was intended to be Anglia Television, but the IBA ruled out their involvement. Trident Television was formed in March 1969 as a joint venture to sell advertisements for Tyne Tees and Yorkshire. Yorkshire and Tyne Tees then came under Trident's ownership on 1 January 1974. For the first time, one company owned two distinct and separate ITV franchises although the new company was dominated by the larger, stronger Yorkshire whose shareholders owned 71.5 percent of the new company. Trident had sales offices in Londonmarker, where most agencies are located and where most advertising is bought and sold.

A major factor in the merger was that when UHF transmission was introduced in 1969 to accommodate colour television it was found that the key Bilsdale transmitting stationmarker in North Yorkshire so dominated the territories of both companies that its allotment to either individual company would have seriously prejudiced the coverage and sales revenue of the other. The ITA agreed that Tyne Tees and Yorkshire could be considered as one company for the purposes of selling airtime, while expressing their individual identities in their programming output.

A political scandal caused problems during one of Tyne Tees' franchise renewals. Producer Tony Sandford recalls that Lord Pilkington was sent by the ITA to question the station's executives. One-time leader of Newcastle City Council T. Dan Smith had been convicted for accepting bribes concerning the redevelopment of Newcastle city centre. Pointing out that Smith became a director of the station, Pilkington asked why Tyne Tees failed to produce a documentary about a Newcastle politician, instead leaving it to Manchester-based Granada's current affairs programme World in Action.


Trident became redundant as business became healthier. Yorkshire and Tyne Tees were required to demerge from January 1982 as a condition of the renewal of their ITV franchises. The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the successor to the ITA, imposed the condition that for the 1980 franchise round a company could only own one franchise, although it could earn up to 30 percent of another. When the new licenses started in January 1982, Trident sold all but 30 percent of Yorkshire, and 25 percent of Tyne Tees.

However, developments in satellite and cable television, in addition to the two BBC channels and the new Channel 4, began to put pressure on ITV's finances. ITV lost 3 percent of advertising between 1993 and 1994. Media historian Andrew Crisell comments that it was beginning to make even less sense to operate a regional structure in such a small country as Britain.

The ident was redesigned in 1988. The colour scheme was reversed, lighter shades of blue and yellow were used, and Tyne Tees used computer animation for the first time. A year later, though, a new logo was introduced in an attempt to unite all of the ITV companies. The bulk of the 'ITV' logo was generic to the network, with the station's name appearing underneath. A portion of each station's traditional logo was incorporated in the space within letter 'V'. However, not every ITV station embraced the new logo, and Tyne Tees abandoned it in 1991. It was replaced with new versions of the logo introduced in 1970.


In 1990, Yorkshire bought Vaux Breweries' 19 percent stake in Tyne Tees, costing £5.1 million. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had initiated a blind auction system, through the Broadcasting Act 1990, through which companies had to bid for the regional franchises. Granada Television, the franchise holder for North West England, had long thought that the North of England should consolidate to "counter the potential dominance of the south east". Tyne Tees outbid their main competition by £10 million; their main challenger was 'North East Television', which was backed by Granada, Border and local newspaper the Evening Chronicle. Along with HTV and Yorkshire, Tyne Tees believed that they had to bid high to win. These companies bid so high that the Independent Television Commission seriously considered rejecting the business plans of each in turn and disqualifying them. However, they eventually decided in their favour. Together, the now-merged companies were committed to paying about £80 million a year to the government for the right to broadcast, a substantial amount compared to the £3,000 bid by Central, ITV's largest station.

New regulations from the ITC allowed Yorkshire to merge with Tyne Tees, this time under the name Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television plc (YTTTV), although their ITV franchises remained separate. The merger allowed the companies to avoid collapse following their high franchise bids. This was the first step to ITV becoming one company in England and Wales. The merger led to the culling of staff. YTTTV's two largest shareholders became Pearson and LWT. From 1 January 1993, Yorkshire and Tyne Tees broadcast all regional programmes simultaneously, affecting programming that had been shown at different paces in different regions (such as Blockbusters and the Australian soap operas The Young Doctors and Prisoner: Cell Block H). Most of the regional programming was produced by Yorkshire and broadcast across the two stations, an area that the ITC considered too broad to be of local interest.

The annual cost of the franchise began to take its toll on the company. At the end of 1993, the company revealed that it was heading for a pre-tax loss in the 1992–93 fiscal year instead of the expected profit. Chairman and chief executive Clive Leach was sacked as a consequence. According to Variety, YTTTV "oversold its airtime to advertisers and failed to meet its ratings targets, resulting in a huge revenue shortfall estimated by analysts at over $20 million." The industry newspaper also reported that the company "attempted to bolster its flagging 1992-93 revenues by giving advertisers deep discounts for advance airtime bookings made for the following year." Local MP Peter Mandelson wrote to the Secretary of State for National Heritage, David Mellor, in June 1992, saying "Yorkshire and Tyne Tees are motivated by the interests of their shareholders, not their viewers, and need to make urgent savings ... it is quite clear that this is not so much a merger but a gobbling up of a smaller franchise held by a larger company."

The Channel 3 North East branding, introduced in 1996, was derided by viewers.
Granada removed the branding in 1997.
On 16 March 1996, the presentation department in Newcastle was closed, and continuity was centralised in Leedsmarker. (Transmission for the station had already been handled by Yorkshire since 1993). In September that year, Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television plc made the controversial move of dual branding its stations as Channel 3. The Broadcasting Act 1990 had made Channel 3 the 'official' name for ITV, and "3" was the preset used by most television sets and videocassette recorders (VCRs) for ITV. Tyne Tees was forced to use the rather long-winded name "Channel 3 North East - Tyne Tees Television". The famous "TTTV" logo was dropped in favour of a large '3'. The name "Tyne Tees Television" was only seen in small letters at the bottom of the screen. Its neighbour, Yorkshire, was allowed to keep its own logo alongside the '3', but Tyne Tees was not. The new branding was launched on 2 September 1996, with "Going Home (The Theme of the Local Hero)" by Mark Knopfler regularly accompanying ident sequences.

In 1997, Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television plc was acquired by the Granada Media Group plc (now ITV plc). The takeover concentrated ownership of the ITV network into three large groups: Granada, Carlton and United News. One of Granada's first moves was to scrap the often-derided Channel 3 branding. The "TTTV" logo returned to television screens in a new form on 9 March 1998. However, dual branding with the "ITV" name was introduced a year later.

The new guidelines, published by the ITC in 1998, about the Channel 3 license renewals signalled substantial cuts in the companies' payments to the Treasurymarker. Licenses awarded in 1991 were due to expire in January 2001. However, companies, including Tyne Tees, which had bid high in 1991 were allowed to apply early to try to win financial relief. The new 10-year contract began in January 1999. In 1999, the cost of the tender fee that Tyne Tees was paying fell to £46 million, from the £70.5 million that it paid in 1998.


This 1999 ident was generic to the ITV network, with each region's familiar logo appearing in a smaller form.
The "ITV1" logo was added to the caption in 2001.
Tyne Tees Television was rebranded as ITV1 Tyne Tees on 28 October 2002. The name "Tyne Tees" only appears before regional programmes; the rest of the time, only the "ITV1" name is shown. The Tyne Tees logo continued to appear after its own programmes. In 2004, Granada plc and Carlton Communications merged, creating a single company for all ITV franchises in England and Wales. Tyne Tees became part of ITV plc, the largest television production company in the world, which now owned 90 percent of ITV. One of the consequences of the merger was (according to the company) an over-capacity of studio facilities and production units around the country, which had previously been rivals, but were now all part of the same group. In order to save money, several large regional headquarters, studio sites and programme departments closed and merged. The decision was taken to close the City Road studios and relocate to a smaller purpose-built complex housing a newsroom and studio, resulting in the loss of up to 30 jobs. A documentary about the move to new premises, The Big Move, reflected that over the years the staff numbers had dropped by about 800, and around 170 people would be moving to the new site.

Tyne Tees moved to Television House at The Watermark, a new business park adjacent to the MetroCentremarker in Gateshead, in 2005. The first broadcast from their new base took place on 2 July 2005. Along with the move, news reporters had to learn a range of new skills, such as editing their own reports. The new practices contrasted with early reporting, which had an average crew of five. The new equipment required only a camera operator, who could also operate sound equipment, and a reporter.

Television House also acts as a base for ITV SignPost, Britain's biggest supplier of British Sign Language (BSL) services for television, video, CD-ROM, DVD, film and the Internet. Tyne Tees also has smaller studios and offices in Billinghammarker, Yorkmarker, Londonmarker and within the Media Centre at the University of Sunderland.

On 9 February 2005, Ofcommarker issued a proposed timetable for ending analogue terrestrial television transmissions as part of the switchover to digital television. Tyne Tees is the penultimate station scheduled to cease broadcasting in analogue, with a target year of 2012. Tyne Tees took over the relay transmitter at Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker in December 2006 from Border Television in order to extend the deadline of the town's upgrade to digital TV by four years, since Border will be the first to switch off its analogue signal in 2008.

In September 2007, Executive Chairman of ITV plc Michael Grade announced that as part of ITV's five-year business strategy, Tyne Tees' newsroom would merge with Border Television. Politicians have expressed concern, however, that the merger would affect the quality of news for southern Scotland, in particular, would fail if it lost its customised bulletins. The changes would mean that aside from the merged Border-Tyne Tees regional news and political programmes, the station could broadcast only 25 minutes of dedicated North East news every weekday. In October 2008, the National Union of Journalists threatened industrial action if ITV tried to force any of the changes without discussion. Between December 2008 and February 2009, around 50 staff at the station were made redundant or accepted voluntary redundancy, including presenters, journalists and production staff. The new merged ITV Tyne Tees & Border service launched on 25 February 2009.

In March 2009, The Guardian newspaper reported that there was bullying at Tyne Tees that lasted for six years. One manager was accused of using inappropriate language about people with disabilities, women reporters, Chinese people and gypsies. The manager was disciplined after one inquiry, but then more journalists complained about the same manager. The manager defended himself by claiming he was using black humour. He finally left the company with a pay-off of about £50,000. The original whistle blower left the company in 2006 and was paid £80,000 after threatening to take his case to an employment tribunal. Following this incident, ITV adopted an anti-bullying programme. However, in 2008 three female journalists complained about bullying, sexism, and racism. One woman claimed she was called a "Gypo" and was physically pushed aside by one of two male colleagues. The bullies left Tyne Tees with substantial pay-offs. Two of the women received a combined sum of more than £110,000. An ITV spokesman advised that the total cost of the five bullying investigations is £1 million.


The station's founding executives George and Alfred Black used their theatrical background to produce a lot of light entertainment programming on Tyne Tees in the early years. One of the best known was The One O'Clock Show, a 40-minute variety show broadcast on weekdays. After 1,098 editions and more than five years on air, the final show was broadcast in March 1964.

The bulk of Tyne Tees' output has been its regional programming, consisting of news, current affairs and local interest. Its longest running news programme was Northern Life, which ran from 1976 to 1992. The main news show has been rebranded several times; the 2009 version is North East Tonight. Until December 2008, local-interest programming was usually broadcast at 19:30 on Thursdays, which are low-profile slots due to the high-rating EastEnders being broadcast at those times on BBC One. Local non-news programming was also broadcast on early Sunday evenings and various late slots following News at Ten on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Such documentaries concentrate upon local history, landscape and architecture, such as the various shows by John Grundy. A monthly political programme, Around the House, continues to be produced for ITV Tyne Tees and Border.

Tyne Tees was obliged to contribute programming for the ITV network, although the bulk of network programming was purchased from the largest stations. Tyne Tees contributed game shows to the network, including Crosswits (1985–98) and Chain Letters (1987–97). Tyne Tees became a prolific producer of children's entertainment for the ITV network in the 1970s and 1980s. From the late 1970s, it produced series such as The Paper Lads, Quest of Eagles, Barriers and Andy Robson. This continued into the 1980s with How Dare You!, and weekday pop-music show Razzamatazz, a pop programme that attracted many major recording artists to appear in a 17:15 slot. Tyne Tees also managed the production of Get Fresh, a Saturday morning show hosted in various weeks by different ITV regions. Super Gran, based on a series of books about a grandmother with superhuman powers, was also successful in the mid-1980s.

With independent production company Festival Films and Television, Tyne Tees produced several adaptations of books by local novelist Catherine Cookson. The second dramatisation, The Black Velvet Gown, was the number one drama of 1991, winning an Emmy Award for best TV drama. Long-running soap opera Coronation Streetmarker was briefly produced at Tyne Tees' City Road studios in 1963 while all of the studios at the show's home, Granada Television in Manchestermarker, were occupied by a production of the opera Orpheus in the Underworld.

Tyne Tees has also produced a wide range of music programming. One of the first attempts at reaching the teenage audience was Young at Heart, hosted by Jimmy Savile and Valerie Masters. Launched in May 1960, it was Saville's first television series. In 1979, Tyne Tees launched two national series, Alright Now and Check it Out, the latter a mix of rock music and segments on youth-oriented social issues; among performances by established acts, the two shows offered early exposure to bands linked to the North East, notably Dire Straits and The Police.
The public entrance to Studio 5 at City Road gave The Tube its title.
The most famous music show from the station, though, derived its name from the studios themselves. Produced for Channel 4, and first broadcast three days after the new station's launch in November 1982, The Tube acquired its name from the architecture of the public entrance to Studio 5, from where the show was broadcast, at the City Road complex. Under the direction of Gavin Taylor, The Tube filmed rock band Queen's 1986 Wembley concert for later broadcast and video release. Cameras bearing the Tyne Tees logo can be seen throughout the concert. The Tube was dropped in 1987 as a result of falling audience figures and an incident involving Jools Holland, who cursed during a live trailer. A couple of months later, Tyne Tees launched another music show, this time for the ITV network. Whereas The Tube featured rock and punk bands and emerging musicians, The Roxy, concentrated on the mainstream UK singles chart. The show suffered, however, from not having a regular slot on the ITV network. Also, unlike The Tube, which had gained a loyal fanbase and respect from artists, mainstream acts were reluctant to travel to Newcastle for a three-minute performance when they could appear on the more established Top of the Pops in the more accessible London.

Further reading




  1. Phillips, p. 4
  2. Vall, p. 192
  3. Evans, p. 545
  4. Spicer, p. 166
  5. Phillips, p. 28
  6. Phillips, p. 5
  7. Vall, p. 191
  8. Phillips, p. 8
  9. Phillips, p. 27
  10. Phillips, p. 12
  11. Vall, p. 193
  12. Phillips, p. 140-1
  13. Phillips, p. 3
  14. Phillips, p. 34–5
  15. Phillips, p. 36–7
  16. Cherry, p. 165
  17. Crisell, p. 132
  18. Evans, p. 545–6
  19. Paulu, p. 126–7
  20. Phillips, p. 73
  21. Currie, p. 81
  22. Crisell, p. 253
  23. Fitzwalter, p. 130
  24. Cherry, p. 205
  25. Johnson and Turnock, p. 206
  26. Harrison, p. 76
  27. Fitzwalter, p. 158
  28. Franklin, p. 64
  29. Franklin, p. 65
  30. The Big Move, pr. & dir. Sheila Matheson, ITV Tyne Tees, 3 July 2005.
  31. Phillips, p. 94
  32. Phillips, p. 104
  33. Hobson, p. 113
  34. Phillips, p. 46
  35. Phillips, p. 25
  36. Queen - The DVD Collection: Live At Wembley Stadium (Two Disc Set) [1986], dir. Gavin Taylor
  37. Evans, p. 541

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