Television Wales and the West

Last updated
Television Wales and the West
TypeRegion of television network
Branding
  TWW
  Teledu Cymru, TWW network for Wales
Country
England and Wales
First air date
14 January 1958;62 years ago (1958-01-14)
TV transmitters St Hilary, Preseli, Arfon, Moel-y-Parc
Headquarters London, Bristol, Cardiff
Broadcast area
South Wales
West of England
West and North Wales from 1964
OwnerSelf-owned
Dissolved3 March 1968;52 years ago (1968-03-03)
Picture format
405-line
Affiliation(s) ITV
LanguageEnglish and Welsh
Replaced Wales West and North Television in west and north Wales in 1964
Replaced by Independent Television Service for Wales and the West

Television Wales and the West [1] [2] (TWW) was the British Independent Television (commercial television) contractor for the franchise area serving South Wales and West of England (franchise awarded 26 October 1956, started transmissions on 14 January 1958, the eighth franchise to launch) until 1968.

Contents

For the first six years, TWW's service was provided from a single VHF transmitter serving both south east Wales and the west of England. The later acquisition of Teledu Cymru in 1964 enabled TWW to extend its coverage across most of Wales and to provide separate services for the Welsh and English parts of the resulting 'dual region' franchise.

After losing their franchise to Harlech, TWW ended their service early in protest long before Harlech was ready to take over. This forced the Independent Television Authority to organise an emergency transitional service run by Harlech but using TWW's staff, leftover programming, and some assets.

History

Launch

Television Wales and the West opened transmission at 4:45 pm on 14 January 1958 with a live, 15-minute opening ceremony by station chairman Lord Derby, Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards and Alfred Francis. The master of ceremonies was chief continuity announcer, Bruce Lewis.

At 5:00 pm, Youth Wants to Know, a children's interview programme produced by Granada Television, became the first programme to be broadcast by TWW. In the programme, Lady Megan Lloyd George and Raymond Gower fielded questions from Welsh school children. Following Youth Wants to Know, ITN's early evening news at 5:40 pm was read by Huw Thomas from TWW's studios at Pontcanna.

The main opening programme came at 7:00 pm with The Stars Rise in the West, a filmed special introduced by It's That Man Again regular Jack Train. The programme, produced in association with ITN, featured appearances from Sir Ralph Richardson, Stanley Baker (later a founder of TWW's successors, Harlech Television), Naunton Wayne, Donald Sinden, Tessie O'Shea, Donald Houston, Petula Clark, Tommy Cooper and Ralph Reader. Harry Secombe also appeared in a short film clip, performing Nessun Dorma .

Franchise loss

Partly because its regional programming was so well regarded it came as a great shock when TWW lost its franchise in the 1967 franchise review, in favour of the Harlech Consortium, whose bid promised a glittering future of star-filled entertainment and quality documentaries.

No reason was given for the dismissal (as is common practice for franchise changes) but it was believed that TWW's decision to keep its corporate headquarters in London and not move them to within the region was a significant factor. A darker explanation proffered at the time was that it was "government revenge" against the broadcaster's major shareholder the News of the World newspaper, which had printed a series of critical articles about the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. This does appear unlikely as although the ITA was answerable to Parliament it was a wholly independent body.

Despite there being many months left on the contract, TWW quit its franchise early in protest, selling the last five months to Harlech for £500,000 even though the new company was not yet ready to start broadcasting at the time. Following the intervention of the ITA, a temporary service was set up — Independent Television Service for Wales and the West, broadcasting from the old TWW Pontcanna studios in Cardiff, and staffed by former TWW workers, until Harlech (soon renamed "HTV") was ready to take over its franchise early, on 20 May 1968.

Closure

Much of the station's closing night was made up of in-house produced output including Live Like A Lord (a music and comedy show with mainstay TWW personality Ivor Emmanuel and Clive Dunn), teenybopper music show Discs a Go-Go (with future Radio Caroline/United DJs presenter Tony Prince) [3] [4] [5] [6] and Sing Me A Fantasy (a musical film). The feature programme of the night was TWW's penultimate production, All Good Things, a late night variety special presented by Bernard Braden and featuring amongst others, Tessie O'Shea, Stan Stennett, Ivor Emmanuel, Manfred Mann, Clifford Evans, Anita Harris and Morecambe & Wise. The programme was preceded by an introduction from company chairman Lord Derby.

Having felt desperately hard-done-by the ITA, and in the fits of a corporate tantrum, the company showed their final display of anger by closing down with Come To An End, a reflective epilogue with John Betjeman, who had made several films for the station, paying tribute to the personnel, programmes and achievements of TWW (which Betjeman affectionately referred to as Tellywelly).

Ironically recorded at the Granville Theatre in London, Betjeman closed the epilogue and the station with these words:

The new firm, Harlech, which will be centred in Cardiff, must build up its own personality. Tellywelly, you had a warm, friendly and inspiring one. Like many others, I'm very grateful to you. I'm sorry to see you go. It's like the death of an old friend.

As Betjeman walked out of the theatre and the credits rolled, the camera tilted up to the "EXIT" sign on the wall, and TWW ended its transmission for the last time. An interim service, Independent Television Service for Wales and the West, managed by TWW on behalf of the incoming Harlech Television, replaced it.

Studios

TWW operated from two sites – a converted farm at Pontcanna, near Cardiff (now demolished and replaced by a housing estate) and similar facilities at Bath Road in Bristol. In January 1964, TWW was required to take over the franchise of its neighbour, Teledu Cymru (the on-screen name of Wales West and North Television, WWN) when that company became the only ITV company to fail financially. The former WWN area was still run as a separate area under the banner TWW – Teledu Cymru.

Although TWW inherited Teledu Cymru's studios in Western Avenue, Cardiff it was decided to sell these and base both operations at Pontcanna. To accommodate this dual presentation and general increase in production the takeover created, £2 million was spent on updating and extending the studios at Pontcanna, including a new studio and separate transmission control suites.

TWW was also a player in the development of 625-line colour transmission for the ITV network. Although the bulk of test transmissions and research were conducted for the Independent Television Authority (ITA) at the ABC studios at Teddington, TWW leased two prototype EMI colour cameras and associated equipment in 1966 and began running trials, with shows being transmitted on internal networks for viewing by employees. [7]

Transmitters and Sub-regions

Until 1965, viewers in both south east Wales and the English West parts of the franchise received ITV on VHF channel 10 from the ITA transmitter at St Hilary located on Stalling Down, near Cowbridge in south Wales. This did not accommodate separate programme services and so a combined service was provided to viewers in both the Welsh and English parts of the single licence area. Although TWW had studios in both Cardiff and Bristol, the outputs of these were combined at Cardiff into a single programme stream to feed the single transmitter at St Hilary. Hence, for example, local news bulletins involved an on-air switch or handover between the two studios and viewers would alternately see items from both sources.

Whilst the original service provided by TWW from St Hilary had to carry a mix of content for viewers on each side of the Bristol Channel, the west and north of Wales were served by other VHF transmitters which carried a more specific Welsh programme service branded Teledu Cymru. TWW had acquired the licence to broadcast to the west and north of Wales following the commercial failure of Wales West and North Television (WWN) [8] which originally held a separate franchise licence for a much larger but, critically, less densely populated part of Wales. [9] Following the acquisition of WWN, a second VHF transmitter (using VHF channel 7) was added at St Hilary in 1965 [10] to effectively extend the ex-WWN transmitter network into SE Wales thus permitting programmes of specific interest in Wales to be broadcast exclusively to Wales whilst running a separate schedule for English viewers on channel 10. [11] This was the first significant step in providing two distinct and separate programme services for Wales and for West and effectively established TWW's area as a 'dual region' during the last few years of their tenure.

The introduction of the UHF transmitter network for ITV, including particularly the Mendip transmitter and the start of HTV's UHF transmissions from there and Wenvoe in 1970, replicated the separation of ITV programme services to Wales and the West. St Hilary was never used as part of the UHF network and TV transmission from it ceased when the VHF services were closed down many years later in 1985. The mast continues to be used for communications and radio broadcasting.

Identity

TWW's on screen identity consisted, originally, of a circle containing the letters TWW, with a large 'T' in the centre and a small 'W' to either side. This apparently static caption was used for the first few years of the stations existence before the familiar box logo appeared. This logo was animated and formed when the boxes rotated revealing one letter at a time, accompanied by a twelve note fanfare. [12]

Following the acquisition of WWN, their Teledu Cymru branding was utilised by TWW for the North and West Wales service. The TWW logo was added beneath the Teledu Cymru dragon, along with the caption 'Network for Wales'. [12]

Programmes

TWW did not produce many programmes for the ITV network, although the monthly Sunday evening Welsh musical entertainment show, Land of Song, proved very popular during it six-year run 1958-64; but TWW's news and local programming were well regarded (it won many plaudits for its sensitive coverage of the Aberfan Disaster).

Its Welsh magazine programme was called Amser Te (Tea Time). Amongst other items, it featured a regular cookery item hosted by Myfanwy Howell and the popular Welsh music show Gwlad y Gan .

TWW also launched the careers of many famous faces, who appeared on their early broadcasts. These include John Humphrys and Claire Rayner. TWW was the first to showcase Adge Cutler – his appearances on the TWW programme 'The Cider Apple' led to Adge's fame spreading and the formation of The Wurzels. Michael Palin was one of the presenters of TWW's pop show 'NOW!'. Bruce Lewis was one of TWW's main news presenters; he went on to write various books about his experience during the Second World War, "Aircrew, a Few of the First", plus other titles such as How to be A TV Presenter – his son, Peter Lewis, hosted Movie Magazine and went on to announce for TWW, HTV West, and most famously, LWT.

See also

Related Research Articles

Independent Television Authority the regulator for commercial television in the UK from 1954 until 1972

The Independent Television Authority (ITA) was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" (ITV), the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom. The ITA existed from 1954 until 1972. It was responsible for determining the location, constructing, building, and operating the transmission stations used by the ITV network, as well as determining the franchise areas and awarding the franchises for each regional commercial broadcaster. The Authority began its operations on 4 August 1954, a mere four days after the Television Act received Royal Assent, under the Chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Clark. The Authority's first Director General, Sir Robert Fraser was appointed by Clark a month later on 14 September.

Wales West and North Television

Wales Television, known on screen as Teledu Cymru and often abbreviated to WWN, was the Welsh "Independent Television" contractor awarded the franchise area serving North and West Wales, from 1962. It began transmitting on 14 September 1962, and ceased on 26 January 1964 through financial failure; the franchise area was soon combined with the South Wales and West of England area, operated by TWW. TWW retained the Teledu Cymru name in the former WWN franchise area, as did successor Harlech during their emergency transitional franchise, only retiring the name when they were able to officially take over.

Pontcanna community in Cardiff

Pontcanna is a district and community in the city of Cardiff, Wales. It is located a short distance to the west of the city centre, and its borders are approximately indicated by Western Avenue, the River Taff, Cowbridge Road East, Llandaff Road and Cardiff Road.

Independent Television Service for Wales and the West

Independent Television Service for Wales and the West or ITSWW was a temporary emergency service provided by the ITA in light of the early termination of service of the previous franchise holder, TWW after they lost their ITV franchise in 1967.

Winter Hill transmitting station transmitting station in Lancashire, UK

The Winter Hill transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications site on Winter Hill, at the southern boundary of the Borough of Chorley, Lancashire and above Bolton. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Arfon transmitting station

The Arfon transmitting station is a facility for FM, DAB digital radio and television transmission near the villages of Nebo and Nasareth in Gwynedd, northwestern Wales. It includes a 308.5 m (1,012 ft) guyed mast with antennas attached at various heights. The mast is surmounted by a television transmitting antenna, which brings the total height of the structure to 317.4 m (1,041 ft), making it the tallest structure in Wales. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Moel-y-Parc transmitting station

The Moel-y-Parc transmitting station is situated on Moel y Parc, a hill in north-east Wales at the northern end of the Clwydian range, close to the town of Caerwys and several miles (kilometres) north-east of Denbigh. It was built in 1962/1963 by the IBA to bring 405-line VHF ITV television to North Wales and it has been on the air since 1963. Its original height of 229 metres (751 ft) made it the tallest structure in North Wales and it stands on land that is itself about 335 metres (1,099 ft) above sea level. In 1965, VHF television transmissions from the BBC commenced from the site.

The history of ITV, the United Kingdom "Independent Television" commercial network, goes back to 1955.

<i>Wales at Six</i> Welsh national television news programme

Wales at Six is the evening news programme produced by ITV Cymru Wales and broadcasting to Wales. It broadcasts for thirty minutes each Monday to Friday from 18:00, covering national news stories, features, sport and weather. It is presented by Andrea Byrne or Jonathan Hill. Shorter bulletins air at other times.

<i>The West Tonight</i> television series

The West Tonight is a regional news programme for the West of England, produced by ITV West.

Preseli transmitting station transmitting station

The Preseli transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility, situated close to the village of Crymych, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It is owned and operated by Arqiva.

Analogue terrestrial television in the United Kingdom was originally the method by which the significant majority of viewers in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man received television. Analogue terrestrial television broadcasts have ceased everywhere in the UK with Northern Ireland being the last region to have ceased broadcasting analogue terrestrial television broadcasts. Northern Ireland switched off the last analogue television signals, making all of the United Kingdom only capable of receiving digital television, in the early hours of 24 October 2012. It has been completely replaced by digital terrestrial television and other non-terrestrial means as of the end of 2012.

ITV Wales & West independent television franchise area

ITV Wales and West, previously known as Harlech Television (HTV), was the Independent Television franchise area in the United Kingdom until 31 December 2013, licensed to a broadcaster by the regulator Ofcom.

Gwlad y Gân was a monthly television series that was broadcast on the United Kingdom television network ITV from 1958 to 1964. Featuring traditional Welsh music and song, with costumed performers and choreography, the programme went out on early Sunday evenings.

St Hilary transmitting station Transmitting station in Wales

The St Hilary transmitting station is a facility for telecommunications situated close to the village of St Hilary, Glamorgan in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, in the UK. It comprises a 229-metre (750 ft) guyed mast with antennas attached at various heights. The site was established in 1958 for Independent Television transmission on VHF. Current transmissions from the site include FM radio, DAB radio and mobile telephone signals.

In the 1960s and 1970s, an envisioned fourth UK television service was popularly referred to as ITV-2, before the launch of Channel 4 and its Welsh counterpart, Sianel Pedwar Cymru in November 1982.

ITV Cymru Wales

ITV Cymru Wales, previously known as Harlech Television and HTV Wales, is the ITV franchise for Wales. The new separate licence began on 1 January 2014, replacing the long-serving dual franchise region serving Wales and the West of England.

This is a timeline of the history of ITV Cymru Wales.

This is a timeline of the history of HTV West.

This is a timeline of the history of television in Wales.

References

  1. Ident Archived 2006-07-15 at the Wayback Machine (Transdiffusion Broadcasting System / Electromusications), accessed 19 August 2006
  2. Royal Television Society, accessed 19 August 2006
  3. https://www.uniteddj.com/members/tony-prince-royal-ruler-2/
  4. https://nostalgiacentral.com/music/music-on-film-and-tv/discs-gogo/
  5. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0403757/
  6. https://radiotoday.co.uk/2018/04/mike-read-launches-united-djs-radio-online/
  7. Historical Television Website Archived 2007-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2003/oct/07/citynews.ITV
  9. List of counties of Wales by population in 1971
  10. St Hilary transmitting station
  11. http://www.pembers.freeserve.co.uk/405-Lines/tx-list.html#ITA Archived 2012-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
  12. 1 2 "Idents, Clocks and Testcards". Harlech House of Graphics. Retrieved 21 August 2011.