Although these are regional idents, many of them became familiar to a national audience, due to them being used at the start of networked programmes made by each company. Major changes to the holders of the various regional franchises took effect in 1968, 1982 and 1993. All but the Scottish licences are now held by one company, ITV plc.
Some of these idents may make you think of specific programmes. For example, the early 80s Central symbol always reminds me of the children's programme Let's Pretend, while the LWT ident of the same period conjures up memories of Metal Mickey and The Goodies.
The first ITV company to begin broadcasting were the London weekday franchise holder, Associated-Rediffusion, on 22nd September 1955. They later shortened their name to Rediffusion. The dormant Associated-Rediffusion name was later revived by Victor Lewis-Smith for his independent production company. As part of the 1968 franchise changes, the London weekday licence was taken over by Thames Television. This was a new company formed jointly by Rediffusion and ABC, the former Midlands and North weekend franchise holders. For some twenty years Thames was identified by one of the most famous ITV idents of all, the London skyline. Controversially, Thames lost their licence to Carlton in 1993.
The London weekend franchise was originally held by ATV, who also held the weekday Midlands licence. In 1968 they were replaced by London Weekend. Their ident in the 1970s was meant to vaguely represent the River Thames. It was amended in 1978 when they changed their on-screen name to LWT.
ATV originally held the weekday Midlands licence, in addition to London weekends. In 1968 they lost the latter, but gained weekends in the Midlands. Their famous ident complete with triumphant fanfare lasted right through the 70s, but seemed somewhat dated by the start of the 80s. As part of the 1982 franchise changes, the IBA forced ATV to change their name and base themselves fully in the Midlands region. The name chosen was Central, and their symbol was a sphere, accompanied by a warm synthesised jingle. Later in the 80s it was updated to become a segmented 'cake'.
Midlands (weekends)/North (weekends)
ABC held the weekend licences for both the Midlands and the North until 1968, when separate weekend licences were abolished for both areas. They went on to form Thames Television with Rediffusion.
Originally stretching across the North of England from coast to coast, Granada's coverage area reduced in 1968 to just cover the North West. Their most famous ident, shown on the right, lacked any animation or music.
The Yorkshire television area was split away from the rest of the North of England in 1968. The region now appears somewhat misnamed, as in 1974 the broadcast area expanded to cover parts of the north Midlands, Lincolnshire and even north Norfolk, while some parts of Yorkshire itself actually came under Tyne Tees. Yorkshire Television's ident is famous for its strident jingle, which scared a whole generation of children!
Wales and West
HTV (Harlech Television, after its founder Lord Harlech) took over the Wales and West franchise from TWW in 1968. Their first ident is something of an assault on the eyes! It was replaced by what always looked to me to be simply the letters 'HTV' joined together, but later learnt is actually meant to represent a television aerial.
South and South East
Southern were the original franchise holders for the South of England. They lost their licence to TVS in 1982, who in turn were replaced by Meridian in 1993.
The South West franchise was held by Westward Television until they lost their licence to TSW. The new company took over a few months early, in August 1981, but continued to use the Westward name until the new year. Westward's idents showed a model of the Golden Hind, while who knows what TSW's ident is meant to represent! Westcountry took over the franchise in 1993.
One of the areas that never saw the licence change hands, the East of England franchise was held by Anglia Television from 1959. Their most famous ident is perhaps one of the cheapest, a revolving model of a knight on horseback.
Tyne Tees broadcast to North East England and parts of Yorkshire. Unfortunately I don't have their more famous colour ident.
Scotland is covered by three ITV licence areas - Scottish in the centre, Grampian to the north, and Border (not shown here) to the south, which also covers the northernmost parts of England. The first two are the only two areas that are not now controlled by ITV plc.
Ulster Television held the Northern Ireland franchise from its inception in 1959 right up until the company was sold to ITV plc in 2016. The UTV name continues to be used on air.
From our YouTube channel, and dating from a later time period than the images above, a few Carlton idents recorded in 2001.
If you want to explore the subject of television idents and continuity in greater depth, I recommend the following websites:
The Ident Gallery
The Ident Zone
The TV Room
625: Television Room
History of ITV Television Idents at Wikipedia
Text copyright © Robert Williams, images and video copyright © ITV