The Viewing Room


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Television Wales

Wales 1968 - 1981

Introduction

The Lord-Derby-throwing-toys-from-the-pram story has been covered elsewhere, so it's time to turn our attention to the company which replaced Derby's beloved TWW.

The decision of the Postmaster General and the ITA to create separate franchise areas for Wales and the West of England had been condemned in some quarters, but it was strongly defended by the Government and the ITA who saw it as a means of ensuring that the two areas had distinctive coverage, and nothing at all to do with the rise of militant Welsh nationalism, oh dear me, no....

So it was that TeleVision Wales (a consortium of hard-headed businessmen given a public face by a few revered media and sporting figures, such as Richard Burton, Shirley Bassey and Dewi Bebb) first took to the air at the end of July 1968, after the embarrassing interregnum caused by His Lordship's huff.

It seemed from the very first few seconds of transmission that here was a rather different way of doing things to the very staid, almost patrician ethos of the former provider...


Firstly, two white lines entered the picture... Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 1
Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 2 ...to meet...
...merge, and flow down the screen... Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 3
Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 4 ...pulling the white lines up short behind it...
...before splitting into two and creating a sort of stick-man... Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 5
Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 6 ...who was clearly double-jointed...

...and whose arms were in a funny place.

(Can you see what it is yet?)

Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 7
Television Wales 1968 ident - Frame 8 Finally, the station's name appeared in a fast wipe like the removal of a long sticking plaster off a hairy area (only without the screaming), explaining all. This was the future for commercial television in Wales.
Note the upper-case 'V' in 'TeleVision': reminiscent of the first ATV ident more than a decade before. Each addition to the picture (the formation of the upright of the 'T', the split, the upward arms of the 'W', the 'V' and the appearance of the name was made in time to a five-note melody on a Welsh harp.

(An interesting trick which was played with this ident and its 1975 successor was that, at closedown, the animation (though not, mercifully, the music) was run backwards to end on a plain screen. This could be a strangely disturbing sight...)

This was the production slide. Television Wales 1968 production slide
Television Wales 1968 ident - Teledu Cymru This made the sewage farm hit the windmill chez Milord Derby. It had been bad enough losing his licence to print money, but to see the usurpers using one of his company's names made His Lordship gather together his brigade of teddy bears as a preamble to hurling them out of the Tansad a second time.
TeleVision Wales made a conciliatory offer to Derby of a non-executive directorship and a small but lucrative number of shares. Derby, being a man of principle, accepted with alacrity and no more was said. Teledu Cymru was re-born, this time as an identity for the company's Welsh-language output...
...which meant, of course, that it had its own production slide as well, although in neither case did the actual LOGO change - it still maintained the parental authority of TeleVision Wales. Television Wales 1968 Teledu Cymru production slide
1970 colour ident Colour had come to the most populous areas of TeleVision Wales' territory by the Spring of 1970. The company marked this occasion by revealing its very first colour ident. It looked strangely familiar. Perhaps no-one had told them that they were allowed more than one colour...
Teledu Cymru fared no better. Television Wales 1970 Teledu Cymru colour ident
Television Wales 1970 second colour ident Finally, after a few months' soul-searching, they decided to push the boat out with this...
...which could scarcely be said to be an improvement, but was at least broadly in sync with other ITV companies (most notably, Granada) in terms of its choice of colours.
(Teledu Cymru had their ident 'enhanced' in the same way).
Nevertheless, it was routinely derided as being neither up-front enough nor sufficiently inventive. And the shade of yellow wasn't very nice, either. The company's response was to compromise with their production slides, relegating the second colour to the most relevant place. This was how it worked for TeleVision Wales... Television Wales 1970 colour production slide
Television Wales 1970 Teledu Cymru production slide ...and Teledu Cymru.

By early 1975, with most of Wales now within reach of colour transmissions, it was clear that something more substantial was needed, ident-wise, both visually and musically. The finest minds in graphic design were trawled for ideas, but the company eventually plumped for an ident created by its own in-house team.

The first image is of a large, white cross fading in at the centre of the screen (which is now a darker shade of blue than that used previously)... Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 1
Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 2 ...which is suddenly joined by the largest cue-dot ever seen on British television. And it's green...
...and makes a bee-line for the cross, while a yellow square patiently waits its turn... Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 3
Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 4 ...whilst the green arrow loses its tail and takes up cosy residence in the arms of the cross. The yellow square, seeing this, decides to get a bit for itself... A dark blue square is now eager to get in on the choreography...
...and dives in... Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 5
Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 6 ...followed by the Red Arrow.
The final effect is intended to be a stylised map of Wales, although the people of Anglesey were deeply cheesed-off to find that, once again, there seemed to be no place for them on it. Even representations by the island's MP (who was also Welsh Secretary) couldn't persuade the company to add an extra little triangle above the green one... Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 7
Television Wales 1975 ident - Frame 8 The whole ensemble is then set off by the arrival of the company's name in an oh-so-seventies double-line font. (Note that the upper-case 'V' has finally gone to The Great Presentation Suite In The Sky)...
...although Teledu Cymru was allowed something a little more... well... ethnic.
The music for both was a pleasing 13-note fanfare which one unkind critic nonetheless described as "two parts "Tom Dooley" and one part Yorkshire Television".
Television Wales 1975 Teledu Cymru ident
Television Wales 1975 production slide Even the production slides looked pretty groovy...
...irrespective of the language or font used. Television Wales 1975 Teledu Cymru production slide

After scarcely four years of a very popular, easily-recognisable and award-winning ident, a new team of executives at Television Wales decided that they would make their mark straight away by commissioning a brand new ident. A bunch of bright young things in London was handed the task and, after due prayer and fasting in search of inspiration, they came up with this:

Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 1 On a background of a lighter blue than ever before, a dark blue triangle zooms in...
...which is then jumped on by a dark green one... Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 2
Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 3 ...with a red one materialising underneath.
Then the green triangle rotates to display a 'T'... Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 4
Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 5 ...and the blue triangle to show a 'V' (still with it so far?).
Then the red triangle appears with - oh, what a surprise! - a 'W' on it. Television Wales 1979 ident - Frame 6

But, where's the station's name? Well...that's it. Another style 'feature' - 'Television Wales' is no more. Harking back to the 60's (with their ABC, ATV and, of course, TWW) and pre-empting the 80's, with its own plethora of initials (TSW, TVS, TV-am, etc.), the station is now announced as 'TVW'. This is also reflected in a new eight-note jingle, the last five notes of which emphasise the syllables of "Tee Vee / Double-Yoo".

Television Wales 1979 production slide The only place where the full name of the company now appeared was in the copyright line at the bottom of the production slide.
Teledu Cymru, however, was allowed to retain its own name, if only to distinguish it from the station's English-language output. Television Wales 1979 ident - Teledu Cymru
Television Wales 1979 Teledu Cymru production slide The same was true of its production slide.
But they did have this very fetching static slide for late night continuity. Television Wales 1979 static caption

The idents were due to be launched in September 1979, but the ITV strike delayed matters. However, when the dispute was over, ITV viewers in Wales were to see the old 'cross and triangles' idents no more.

The idents were cordially disliked by many viewers, who felt that they lacked the style and distinctiveness of the previous set. This, along with general dissatisfaction with the programming direction undertaken at the behest of the new brooms, was surely a key factor in the deliberations in Brompton Road which led to the announcement that, as of 1st January 1982, TVW itself would cease to exist, at least as an ITV contractor. In a reversion to the earlier system, the franchises for both Wales and the West of England were to be awarded to a new consortium called Severn Broadcasting which, ironically, contained some figures who had been with TWW.

And so it goes in circles : Lord Derby would have been delighted.

**********

Remembering His Lordship's ignoble conduct back in '68, TVW were determined that, whatever else happened, they were going to go out with a bit more dignity. And so, as the nation counted down the seconds to midnight at the end of 1981, the (out-of-vision) announcer could be heard as follows :-

"And with that, we have come to the end of broadcasting from TVW - Television Wales. We hope that during the past thirteen-and-a-half years we have been able to bring you programmes that have given you pleasure and interest. And so, for the last time, from TVW - Television Wales, good night, good luck...and a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year. Nos da a hwyl fawr. Good night...and goodbye."

Television Wales 1981 goodbye Then came the big finish : the '79 ident, but on a black background (which, ironically, made the ident look much better than it ever had on light blue), and accompanied by a sign-off "Goodbye & Good Luck from TVW". After about five seconds, the ident faded from the screen for the last time, and TVW - Television Wales was no more.

All images and text Nigel Stapley 2002