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London Weekend Television

London Weekend Television

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London Weekend Television (LWT) (now part of ITV London) was the name of the ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 network franchise holder for Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 and the Home Counties
Home Counties
The home counties is a term which refers to the counties of South East England and the East of England which border London, but do not include the capital city itself...

 including south Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

, middle and east Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire , Buckinghamshire , Berkshire , Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ....

, south Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms part of the East of England region.It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east....

, south Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...

, parts of Herefordshire
Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

 & Worcestershire
Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, east Dorset
Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

 and east Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

 at weekends, broadcasting from Fridays at 5:15pm (prior to 1982 at 7:00pm) to Monday mornings at 6:00am.

London Weekend Television is no longer individually identified on air, and uses the generic ITV1
ITV1
ITV1 is a generic brand that is used by twelve franchises of the British ITV Network in the English regions, Wales, southern Scotland , the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. The ITV1 brand was introduced by Carlton and Granada in 2001, alongside the regional identities of their...

 logo for continuity announcements (the announcement of the next programme and forthcoming ones), and as a banner during commercial advertising breaks. The company is managed with Carlton Television
Carlton Television
Carlton Television was the ITV franchise holder for London and the surrounding counties including the cities of Solihull and Coventry of the West Midlands, south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire,...

 as a single entity (ITV London
ITV London
ITV London is the on-air brand name used by ITV Broadcasting Limited for the two Channel 3 broadcast franchises, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television in the London ITV region.-History:...

), but the two companies are still separately licensed. The franchise is currently operated by ITV plc
ITV plc
ITV plc is a British media company that operates 12 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom...

 under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. In its original guise LWT ran from July 1968 until October 2002 when it became part of ITV London. Like most of the ITV regions, the logo (in this case, the initials LWT in striped bold letters) was kept for endcaps until October 2004 when LWT vanished from UK screens.

Early years


In its original application for the contract to provide programming for London at the weekends from 1968 to 1974, the London Television Consortium (LTC, which went on to name the company London Weekend Television) promised a variety of high-brow arts and drama productions and had accordingly caught the attention of the contract judges, the Independent Television Authority
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

 (ITA). The authority had been worried by criticism of the network's output, which at the time was seen as downmarket. The LTC plans were seen by the ITA as serious contenders to the quality educational programming of the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

; so keen were the ITA that they were quoted, at the time, as saying the LTC had to have its chance, whatever the repercussions.

The consortium was offered the contract to serve London at weekends, which at the time was held by ATV London
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

. The new company benefited from a slight extension in broadcasting hours as they were allocated Friday evenings from 7pm as well as the traditional weekend.

The changes within ITV in the 1968 franchise round meant a surplus of studio facilities in London. The LTC had planned on buying the superior Teddington Studios
Teddington Studios
Teddington Studios is a large British television studio complex located in Teddington, South-West London, providing studio facilities for programmes airing on BBC television, ITV, and Channel 4 along with others...

 of ABC
Associated British Corporation
Associated British Corporation was one of a number of commercial television companies established in the United Kingdom during the 1950s by cinema chain companies in an attempt to safeguard their business by becoming involved with television which was taking away their cinema audiences.In this...

, but following ABC's merger with Rediffusion, London
Associated-Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion, later Rediffusion, London, was the British ITV contractor for London and parts of the surrounding counties, on weekdays between 1954 and 29 July 1968. Transmissions started on 22 September 1955.-Formation:...

 to form Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

, the LTC were forced by the ITA to purchase Rediffusion's site at Wembley
Wembley
Wembley is an area of northwest London, England, and part of the London Borough of Brent. It is home to the famous Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena...

.

Wembley employed a bigger workforce than Teddington, and legally LWT were obliged to employ them all. In addition, the studios required far more upgrading for colour production as Teddington had been a test centre for ITV's colour research and was well advanced in the conversion to colour production. Having previously worked weekdays for Rediffusion, transmission staff now had to work at weekends, and as a result, wanted extra pay for the inconvenience. This led to threats of industrial action, and with the dispute still unresolved, fifteen seconds into their opening night of 2 August 1968, technicians went on strike and the screens went blank. An emergency service was provided by management from the transmission centre of ATV
Associated TeleVision
Associated Television, often referred to as ATV, was a British television company, holder of various licences to broadcast on the ITV network from 24 September 1955 until 00:34 on 1 January 1982...

 at Foley Street, London.

Upon resolving the dispute, LWT suffered poor rating figures as the station's idea of peak viewing included a Stravinsky musical drama, an avant-garde drama from Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement, French Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave"....

, a tribute to Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel was a Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in France initially, and later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson...

 and 'Georgia Brown Sings Kurt Weill'. As a consequence viewers deserted their primetime offerings in favour of the more traditional Saturday night viewing on the BBC. Other ITV stations refused to show LWT shows because of poor ratings. ATV, still smarting at losing their London contract to LWT, refused to schedule any of their shows in peak time; elsewhere, the powerful sales department at rivals/neighbours Thames took advantage of LWT's ratings disaster by adopting a beggar thy neighbour
Beggar thy neighbour
In economics, a beggar-thy-neighbour policy is an economic policy through which one country attempts to remedy its economic problems by means that tend to worsen the economic problems of other countries.- Original application :...

 strategy, encouraging advertisers to use them during the week by heavily discounting airtime. (This caused great animosity, even decades later, with both Thames and LWT refusing to promote each others' programmes).

The crisis at LWT deepened so much that the ITA started to make emergency plans in the event of the company collapsing. At the same time, Thames started making enquiries about a seven-day contract in such an event, an offer quickly rebuffed by the ITA. LWT's saviour came in an unlikely form and in unlikely circumstances.

Between 1969 and 1970, Australian media owner Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....

 purchased a controlling interest in LWT, following an altercation on a live LWT show presented by David Frost
David Frost
Sir David Frost is a British broadcaster.David Frost may also refer to:*David Frost , South African golfer*David Frost , classical record producer*David Frost *Dave Frost, baseball pitcher...

 (coincidentally the first live colour programme shown on ITV). Immediately, he set about dismissing existing board members, and changing schedules and programme ideas. Although it made him unpopular within sections of LWT, audience share began to grow and, albeit slowly, so did income and profits.

However, Murdoch's presence rang alarm bells at the ITA
Independent Television Authority
The Independent Television Authority was an agency created by the Television Act 1954 to supervise the creation of "Independent Television" , the first commercial television network in the United Kingdom...

, who expressed concern that a foreign national and owner of significant British newspaper interests, could own a British television station. A discreet but effective ultimatum was given: Murdoch had to sell up, or LWT would have its licence revoked. The ITA won, and in 1971, Murdoch left.

1970s


LWT's original programming was considered high-brow but by 1972 it was more populist with comedies such as Please Sir!
Please Sir!
Please Sir! was a London Weekend Television produced situation comedy, created by writers John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and featured the actors John Alderton, Deryck Guyler, Joan Sanderson, Noel Howlett, Erik Chitty and Richard Davies...

and On the Buses
On The Buses
On the Buses was a British situation comedy created by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney which was broadcast in the UK from 1969 to 1973. The writers' previous successes with The Rag Trade and Meet the Wife were for the BBC, but the Corporation rejected On the Buses, not seeing much comedy potential...

being the mainstay of its productions. In the same year, the new South Bank Television Centre
The London Studios
The London Studios is a television studio complex which is owned by London Weekend Television and has been home to the London Weekend ITV provider since 1972...

 (called Kent House because it was opened by the Duke of Kent) was opened on the south bank of the Thames, at Upper Ground. Built on a plot of land called King's Reach, the studios' network ident is still KRS, for King's Reach Studios. These facilities at the time were considered the best colour studios in Europe, which allowed LWT to produce shows with the 'gloss' that it became famous for. The problems of 1968-1971 were soon forgotten; audience share grew, and in 1975 the company won seven BAFTA awards, more than the rest of ITV put together. Although programming changed from their original remit LWT still produced shows which were considered more upmarket, notably the dramas Upstairs, Downstairs
Upstairs, Downstairs
Upstairs, Downstairs is a British drama television series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975, and a sixth series shown on the BBC on three consecutive nights, 26–28 December 2010.Set in a...

and Bouquet of Barbed Wire
Bouquet of Barbed Wire
Bouquet of Barbed Wire is a British television series based on a 1969 novel by Andrea Newman. The series – whose title comes from an incident that occurred to Newman and her mother while on a walk – was made by London Weekend Television for ITV in 1976...

; Unlike earlier offerings these were both critically acclaimed and attracted high audiences. LWT continued to show arts programming, notably Aquarius
Aquarius (TV series)
Aquarius is a British arts television series, produced by London Weekend Television for the ITV network. It ran from 1970-1977 when it was replaced by The South Bank Show....

and its successor The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

.

Despite this, LWT was more vulnerable to economic downturn than the rest of ITV. Other network companies had between five and seven days of transmission, whereas LWT had two days and Friday evenings (even these were not particularly attractive to advertisers, as shops were closed on a Sunday and people returned to work on a Monday). It also had competition for advertising with another company (Thames), something which affected no other company outside of London.

The battles with Thames' sales force were fierce. Thames had massive and wealthy shareholders (unlike the independent LWT), a far longer pedigree, bigger facilities, and made the most programmes. It also had an international reputation. LWT's response to this was to reinvent itself as possibly ITV's first 'brand': the on-screen identity changed from the cumbersome 'London Weekend Television' to 'LWT', the 'river ident' was modified to three letters, the strapline 'The weekend starts here' was introduced, and greater use of the distinct black-and-white-layered tower block that was its studios, was used in continuity. A well-known London landmark, this cemented LWT's role in the life of the people of London, and helped to distinguish it from its rival across the river.

1980s


The 1982 franchise round was the first time LWT had to re-apply for its licence. The original 1968 contract ran only to 1974 (like the rest of ITV), but the ITA elected to extend all contracts to 1981 because of the enormous costs of introducing colour television. It is debatable whether the licence would have been renewed if LWT had had to re-apply in 1973. By 1982, the company was in good health, and it easily beat off weak competition to secure a second contract (although it lost the Blue Bell Hill
Blue Bell Hill
Blue Bell Hill is a chalk hill between Maidstone and Rochester in the English county of Kent. It overlooks the River Medway and is part of the North Downs. Settlements on the hill include Walderslade; and Blue Bell Hill and Kit's Coty villages...

 transmitter near Maidstone to TVS
Television South
Television South was the ITV franchise holder in the south and south east of England between 1 January 1982 and 31 December 1992. The company operated under various names, initially as Television South plc and then following reorganisation in 1989 as TVS Entertainment plc, with its UK...

 as part of a re-organisation of the new South and South East dual-region). LWT had developed a reputation in many fields, and co-ordinated the network's sport production and presentation. The station was credited with bringing reality television
Reality television
Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded...

 to the UK with the audience participation show Game For A Laugh
Game for a Laugh
Game For A Laugh was a popular British TV light entertainment show which ran for 56 editions and 4 specials between 26 September 1981 and 23 November 1985, made by London Weekend Television for the ITV network.- Origins :...

. Elsewhere, shows such as Play Your Cards Right
Play Your Cards Right
Play Your Cards Right is a British television game show based on the American show known as Card Sharks. The gameplay was basically the same as in the American version.-Broadcast History:...

and Blind Date
Blind Date (UK TV series)
Blind Date is a British dating game show produced by London Weekend Television. An unscreened pilot was made with comic Duncan Norvelle as presenter but it was eventually hosted by Cilla Black, who already hosted the LWT series, Surprise, Surprise...

drew audiences of millions, and ran for many years.

However many changes were scheduled to hit ITV in this decade. Industrial action at breakfast station TV-am
TV-am
TV-am was a breakfast television station that broadcast to the United Kingdom from 1 February 1983 to 31 December 1992. It made history by being the first national operator of a commercial television franchise at breakfast-time , and broadcast every day of the week for most or all of the period...

 had seen it dismiss striking staff, and replace them with non-unionised labour. Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 had commented on the excess over-manning within the network, and plans were afoot to deregulate ITV. LWT executives were receptive to this and began to streamline operations: by the end of the decade, the number of employees had fallen from 1200 to around 700. This became an advantage to LWT as the 1993 franchise round was no longer the traditional "beauty contest", but was now an auction.

1990s and takeover



The Broadcasting Act 1990
Broadcasting Act 1990
The Broadcasting Act 1990 is a law of the British parliament, often regarded by both its supporters and its critics as a quintessential example of Thatcherism. The aim of the Act was to reform the entire structure of British broadcasting; British television, in particular, had earlier been...

 changed the way ITV contracts were awarded. No longer the 'beauty-contest', the rounds were conducted on the basis of cash being handed to the Exchequer
Exchequer
The Exchequer is a government department of the United Kingdom responsible for the management and collection of taxation and other government revenues. The historical Exchequer developed judicial roles...

. Incumbents and applicants had to bid a sum to the Treasury
Treasury
A treasury is either*A government department related to finance and taxation.*A place where currency or precious items is/are kept....

 for what they thought the contract was worth each year, in a blind auction; the winner was to be the applicant who bid the most. This led to fears that applicants would bankrupt themselves, or offer cheaper programming so as to be able to pay the fees. Opposition led to the introduction of a 'quality threshold' which allowed that, in exceptional circumstances, a bid could be rejected if it were deemed excessive, or that an incumbent could be chosen against a higher- bidding applicant, if it were felt that incumbent's programming was 'exceptional'. As described by LWT's managing director Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke
Gregory "Greg" Dyke is a British media executive, journalist and broadcaster. Since the 1960s, Dyke has a long career in the UK in print and then broadcast journalism. He is credited with introducing 'tabloid' television to British broadcasting, and reviving the ratings of TV-am...

, the franchise round, '...became a crapshoot. You had to work out [in the franchise round] who was bidding against you. Of those, would they pass the quality threshold and would they pass the financial test... Scottish Television
Scottish Television
Scottish Television is Scotland's largest ITV franchisee, and has held the ITV franchise for Central Scotland since 31 August 1957. It is the second oldest ITV franchisee still active...

 and Central Television
Central Independent Television
Central Independent Television, more commonly known as Central is the Independent Television contractor for the Midlands, created following the restructuring of ATV and commencing broadcast on 1 January 1982. The station is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting...

 both found out that nobody was bidding against them and both bid virtually nothing. It was the quality threshold that saved LWT.

Despite the streamlining and the successful battle with trade unions, LWT knew that if it were to keep on making quality programmes, it could not over-bid. It had to rely on the quality of its programmes and submit the best offer it could, knowing it could be far less than a rival bid; the strategy worked, and LWT won a third contract with an annual bid of £7.5m, against a rival who bid £36m but whose plans were deemed not good enough.

The round brought many changes around the network and caused much confusion. TVS
Television South
Television South was the ITV franchise holder in the south and south east of England between 1 January 1982 and 31 December 1992. The company operated under various names, initially as Television South plc and then following reorganisation in 1989 as TVS Entertainment plc, with its UK...

 bid £59m and lost, Yorkshire Television
Yorkshire Television
Yorkshire Television, now officially known as ITV Yorkshire and sometimes unofficially abbreviated to YTV, is a British television broadcaster and the contractor for the Yorkshire franchise area on the ITV network...

 bid £43m and won, and Central
Central Independent Television
Central Independent Television, more commonly known as Central is the Independent Television contractor for the Midlands, created following the restructuring of ATV and commencing broadcast on 1 January 1982. The station is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting...

 succeeded with a bid of £2,000, knowing it had no rival bidders. LWT even had a stake in Sunrise Television
GMTV
GMTV was the national Channel 3 breakfast television contractor, broadcasting in the United Kingdom from 1 January 1993 to 3 September 2010. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of ITV plc. in November 2009. Shortly after, ITV plc announced the programme would end...

, who outbid TV-am
TV-am
TV-am was a breakfast television station that broadcast to the United Kingdom from 1 February 1983 to 31 December 1992. It made history by being the first national operator of a commercial television franchise at breakfast-time , and broadcast every day of the week for most or all of the period...

.

LWT's weekday rival, Thames, lost its licence - outbid by Carlton
Carlton Television
Carlton Television was the ITV franchise holder for London and the surrounding counties including the cities of Solihull and Coventry of the West Midlands, south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire,...

. It was told it could not fall back on its long history of programme-making. After 24 years living in its shadow, LWT now outlived the station that was its fiercest enemy. LWT had a far better relationship with Carlton, and shared many operations including playout and studio space, but most notably creating a joint news service, London News Network
London News Network
London News Network was a television news and facilities organisation in London. It was created in 1992 as a joint operation between London's two ITV contractors, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television, with each company holding a 50% stake...

.

From 1993, LWT's low bid made it attractive to others wishing to take it over. The Broadcasting Act allowed for some consolidation in the network, and in 1994, the North West franchise holder, Granada
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

 launched a hostile takeover for the company. Eventually, a deal was agreed, valuing LWT at over £650m.

ITV London


By 2001, Carlton and Granada owned all of the franchises in England and Wales, and in 2002 took the decision to unify the playout and branding of all of the companies to become ITV1
ITV1
ITV1 is a generic brand that is used by twelve franchises of the British ITV Network in the English regions, Wales, southern Scotland , the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. The ITV1 brand was introduced by Carlton and Granada in 2001, alongside the regional identities of their...

, with regional references used only in accordance with regional programming.

LWT marked its final day on air with a series of tributes to LWT's past, beginning with an authentic startup routine leading into the ITN Morning News. All elements of the startup were recreated in Macromedia Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

 and in the 16:9
16:9
16:9 is an aspect ratio with a width of 16 units and height of 9. Since 2009, it has become the most common aspect ratio for sold televisions and computer monitors and is also the international standard format of HDTV, Full HD, non-HD digital television and analog widescreen television ...

 aspect ratio
Aspect ratio
The aspect ratio of a shape is the ratio of its longer dimension to its shorter dimension. It may be applied to two characteristic dimensions of a three-dimensional shape, such as the ratio of the longest and shortest axis, or for symmetrical objects that are described by just two measurements,...

, created by Dave Jeffery. Later that day, a recreation of LWT's famous River ident would lead into The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

, which would be the last programme broadcast under the LWT name. The show was followed by a final signoff featuring continuity announcers Glen Thompsett
Glen Thompsett
Glen Thompsett is a British television presenter, radio presenter, voiceover artist and continuity announcer.Glen's career has included working in Radio with British Independent Local Radio stations Heart in Gloucester , Heart in Wiltshire , Mercia Sound and Invicta FM.Glen was hosting the...

 and Trish Bertram
Trish Bertram
Trish Bertram is a British television continuity announcer and voice-over artist.-Background:Bertram has been a live TV announcer for over twenty five years, starting her career in 1982 with London Weekend Television...

 appearing 'in-vision' to toast the departing station, and a celebratory montage of LWT presentation across the years, assembled by senior ITV presentation producer Gareth Randall.

When GMTV handed over to the weekday franchise the following morning, the national ITV1
ITV1
ITV1 is a generic brand that is used by twelve franchises of the British ITV Network in the English regions, Wales, southern Scotland , the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. The ITV1 brand was introduced by Carlton and Granada in 2001, alongside the regional identities of their...

 brand was on-air, with the new team of Network Continuity Announcers announcing for the first time; former Meridian
Meridian Broadcasting
Meridian Broadcasting is the holder of the ITV franchise for the South and South East of England. The station is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited....

 announcer Paul Seed
Paul Seed
Paul Seed is a British television director and former actor.Born in Bideford in Devon, he began his career as an actor, appearing in numerous television series, including Z-Cars, Softly Softly: Taskforce, Survivors, Doctor Who, Secret Army, Coronation Street, Crown Court and Tales of the Unexpected...

 was the first network voice.

The operations of LWT and Carlton Television were merged to become ITV London
ITV London
ITV London is the on-air brand name used by ITV Broadcasting Limited for the two Channel 3 broadcast franchises, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television in the London ITV region.-History:...

, a 7-day service. Unlike the other English and Welsh franchises, ITV London did not receive regional idents featuring the London name until the 2003 refresh; only one of these idents was ever used at a single junction from launch. Apart from this rare occasion, the channel was only known verbally as "ITV1 London" prior to regional programmes only. In February 2004 Granada and Carlton completed their merger to become ITV plc
ITV plc
ITV plc is a British media company that operates 12 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom...

, owning eleven of the fifteen ITV regional franchises.

The LWT logo continued to appear at the end of its programmes until 31 October 2004. However from 1 November, it was replaced by a Granada endcap, with programmes either credited as "A Granada London Production", or "A Granada Production" instead. Since 16 January 2006, all network productions produced by any ITV plc-owned company carry an "ITV Productions" endcap and since the start of 2009 have adopted the "ITV Studios" brand.

Studios




LWT's first studio base were the Wembley
Wembley
Wembley is an area of northwest London, England, and part of the London Borough of Brent. It is home to the famous Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena...

 studios, former home of Associated-Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion
Associated-Rediffusion, later Rediffusion, London, was the British ITV contractor for London and parts of the surrounding counties, on weekdays between 1954 and 29 July 1968. Transmissions started on 22 September 1955.-Formation:...

, the previous London Weekday franchise holder. These studios were not LWT's first choice, as they preferred the Teddington studios, home of ABC, but Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

 had taken control of these through ABC themselves. The Wembley studios themselves were problamatic to begin with to LWT; the studios would need costly conversions to colour in the next few years, the workforce was slightly larger than LWT had wanted but had to employ all of the staff, and the workers who had previously worked Weekdays under Rediffusion were now working Weekends under LWT, and so wanted extra pay to cover the inconvenience.

LWT only had to use Wembley for four years, as their new purpose built studios were opened in 1972. The new studios were distinctive for the large tower block that formed part of the complex. This block, called Kent House, housed a number of studios in addition to those on ground level around the building. The complex was originally called the South Bank Television Centre, but was renamed the London Television Centre in 1992. The studios have also been known as The London Studios
The London Studios
The London Studios is a television studio complex which is owned by London Weekend Television and has been home to the London Weekend ITV provider since 1972...

 since the early 1990s as part of the trading name of LWT's studio operations, and the studio complex was officially rebranded to that name in previous years. The studios now form the centre of ITV plc
ITV plc
ITV plc is a British media company that operates 12 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom...

's studio operations and are the chief production centre.

Identity


LWT has always had very distinctive branding, used in an attempt to stand out from the crowd as an ITV company and in a hope to gain advertising revenues. LWT's branding looks changed frequently so as not to appear boring or dull.

LWT's initial on-screen look featured the name London Weekend in white zooming in on a black background accompanied by an electronic jingle. This was replaced the following year by an ident featuring a spinning disc on screen against a grey background with the caption in the centre accompanied by a soundtrack of electric notes. The same ident was retained until later that year when colour was introduced to LWT, in which the ident was modified so grey was replaced by orange.

One of LWT's most recognisable idents was that of the 'River'. Introduced in 1971, the river ident featured a stripe made up of blue, white and red moving across the black background in the shape of an 'L' and a 'W' following on from the bottom of the 'L'. This design is based on the course of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

 which has a similar layout in one section. The ident was accompanied by a xylophone
Xylophone
The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

 and brass jingle. This ident was parodied by a number of people and was modified in 1978 to represent the new London Weekend brand of LWT. The ident remained the same with same soundtrack, but at the end, the river sections snapped down into the stripped LWT logo.

It was this stripped logo that was enhanced further as the years progressed. In 1986, computer graphics were used for the first time in presentation as LWT changed their ident. This one featured the individual stripes of the LWT logo animating on by twisting into view against a white textured background, when upon formation, the LWT logo would become embossed in a 3D effect. This was accompanied by a version in which each letter, and then the whole logo, animated on with the effect of a venetian blind.

In 1989, LWT adopted the first ITV generic look and retained it until 1992, with their three coloured striped featuring in their segment of the ITV logo. It was replaced in 1992 with a large 3D logo forming from the left to a remixed version of the generic music. An ITV logo could also be present at the bottom of the screen.

In 1996, the logo was redesigned on the same concept as before. The letters LWT remained and as did the idea of the stripes, but there were only two stripes instead of three and the colours were arranged one colour per letter, rather than one per stripe. The ident itself started with small particles of the three colours moving through the screen to form the striped LWT logo against a loud and brash soundtrack.

In 1999, LWT was forced to adopt the second ITV generic look, based on the theme of hearts. This time, the idents were bland and boring compared to LWT's normal fast paced presentational package, and as a result LWT was the only company to drop this look in 2000 and replaced it with the theme of a video wall. The ident would start with a pan of the video wall before drawing out to see the LWT logo spinning into place with the ITV logo below it. The theory was good, however the first version had two problems: the colour scheme of primarily red and the soundtrack of electronic bleeps, which caused complaints from the continuity announcers and viewers alike. It was altered in 2001 to include the new ITV1 logo, to reduce the red colour scheme and to introduce a soundtrack that was similar, but had a discernible crescendo.

From October 2002, LWT no longer has any regional branding, with the new ITV London
ITV London
ITV London is the on-air brand name used by ITV Broadcasting Limited for the two Channel 3 broadcast franchises, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television in the London ITV region.-History:...

 using the generic network idents with name checks used only.

Personalities


The station's output was limited, producing an average of 50 hours of programming a week. However, LWT had a disproportionate effect on post-war British television
British television
Public television broadcasting started in the United Kingdom in 1936, and now has a collection of free and subscription services over a variety of distribution media, through which there are over 480 channelsTaking the base Sky EPG TV Channels. A breakdown is impossible due to a) the number of...

, as a number of high-flying media personalities including John Birt, Michael Grade
Michael Grade
Michael Ian Grade, Baron Grade of Yarmouth CBE is a British broadcast executive and businessman. He was BBC chairman from 2004 to 2006 and executive chairman of ITV plc from 2007 to 2009.-Early life:...

 and Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke
Gregory "Greg" Dyke is a British media executive, journalist and broadcaster. Since the 1960s, Dyke has a long career in the UK in print and then broadcast journalism. He is credited with introducing 'tabloid' television to British broadcasting, and reviving the ratings of TV-am...

 were 'LWT Boys'.

David Frost
David Frost (broadcaster)
Sir David Paradine Frost, OBE is a British journalist, comedian, writer, media personality and daytime TV game show host best known for his two decades as host of Through the Keyhole and serious interviews with various political figures, the most notable being Richard Nixon...

 was an original director of LWT, and he presented a late-night chat show on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the station's early years; another chat show host who made his debut on LWT was Russell Harty
Russell Harty
Russell Harty was an English television presenter of arts programmes and chat shows.-Early life:Born Frederick Russell Harty in Blackburn, Lancashire, he was the son of a fruit and vegetable stallholder on the local market...

.

Programmes


Other notable early shows included We Have Ways of Making You Laugh (a sketch show starring Frank Muir
Frank Muir
Frank Herbert Muir was an English comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. His writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden endured for most of their careers. Together they wrote BBC radio's Take It From Here for over 10 years, and then appeared on BBC radio...

 which was due to be the first programme scheduled to be aired on LWT, but industrial action blacked it out early in the first show); the children's fantasy Catweazle
Catweazle
Catweazle was a British television series, created and written by Richard Carpenter which was produced and directed by Quentin Lawrence for London Weekend Television under the LWI banner, and screened in the UK on ITV in 1970 and 1971...

; and several sitcoms, including On the Buses
On The Buses
On the Buses was a British situation comedy created by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney which was broadcast in the UK from 1969 to 1973. The writers' previous successes with The Rag Trade and Meet the Wife were for the BBC, but the Corporation rejected On the Buses, not seeing much comedy potential...

, Please Sir!
Please Sir!
Please Sir! was a London Weekend Television produced situation comedy, created by writers John Esmonde and Bob Larbey and featured the actors John Alderton, Deryck Guyler, Joan Sanderson, Noel Howlett, Erik Chitty and Richard Davies...

, Me and My Girl
Me and My Girl (TV series)
Me and My Girl was a 1980s British television situation comedy starring Richard O'Sullivanwhich centred on the challenges faced by a widower raising his adolescent daughter. It was broadcast on ITV between 1984 and 1988.-Plot:...

and Mind Your Language
Mind Your Language
Mind Your Language is a British comedy television series, that premiered on ITV in late 1977. Produced by LWT and directed by Stuart Allen, it is set in an adult education college in London and focuses on the English as a Foreign Language class taught by Mr. Jeremy Brown, portrayed by Barry Evans,...

. The channel also created the comedy-clips format with It'll Be Alright on the Night
It'll be Alright on the Night
It'll be Alright on the Night is a British television bloopers show screened on ITV and produced by London Weekend Television. It was one of the first shows created with the specific purpose of showing behind the scenes bloopers from film and TV and it has been running since 18 September 1977...

, Clive James On Television
...on Television
"...on Television" or "...on TV", was a long running late-night television programme on ITV. The programme featured a number of clips from unusual or, , amusing television programmes and commercials from around the world. The show was fronted initially by Clive James, then by Keith Floyd, and...

and the much-derided Game for a Laugh
Game for a Laugh
Game For A Laugh was a popular British TV light entertainment show which ran for 56 editions and 4 specials between 26 September 1981 and 23 November 1985, made by London Weekend Television for the ITV network.- Origins :...

which in turn spawned Beadle's About
Beadle's About
Beadle's About was a British television programme hosted by the late Jeremy Beadle, where members of the public became victims of practical jokes behind hidden cameras...

and You've Been Framed!.

Because it was a weekend station, LWT's output tended to concentrate on more lightweight material than Thames and Carlton, but it did produce a number of successful drama series. Within These Walls
Within These Walls
Within These Walls is a British television drama programme made by London Weekend Television for ITV and shown between 1974 and 1978. It portrayed life in HMP Stone Park, a fictional women's prison...

, a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 drama starring veteran actress Googie Withers
Googie Withers
Georgette Lizette "Googie" Withers CBE, AO was an English theatre, film and television actress. She was a longtime resident of Australia with her husband, the actor John McCallum, with whom she often appeared.-Biography:...

, seems to have inspired the later Australian soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 Prisoner Cell Block H
Prisoner (TV series)
Prisoner is an Australian television soap opera which was set in the Wentworth Detention Centre, a fictional women's prison. The series was produced by the Reg Grundy Organisation and ran on Network Ten for 692 episodes from 27 February 1979 to 11 December 1986.The series was inspired by the 1970s...

. Lillie
Lillie
Lillie is a British television serial made by London Weekend Television for ITV and broadcast in 1978.This period serial starred Francesca Annis in the title role of Lillie Langtry...

was based on the real-life story of Lillie Langtry
Lillie Langtry
Lillie Langtry , usually spelled Lily Langtry when she was in the U.S., born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was a British actress born on the island of Jersey...

, and saw Francesca Annis
Francesca Annis
Francesca Annis is an English actress, known for her film and television appearances, most recently in the BBC series Wives and Daughters, Cranford, and Deceit.-Early life and education:...

 reprising the role from ATV's Edward the Seventh, and The Gentle Touch
The Gentle Touch
The Gentle Touch is a British police drama television series made by London Weekend Television for ITV which ran from 1980-1984. Commencing transmission on 11 April 1980, the series is notable for being the first British series to feature a female police detective as its leading character, ahead of...

starring Jill Gascoine
Jill Gascoine
Jill Gascoine is a British actress and novelist. She is most widely known for her role as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in the 1980s television series The Gentle Touch and its spin-off series C.A.T.S. Eyes...

 was the UK's first drama series with a female police detective in the lead role. However, by far the station's most successful drama was Upstairs, Downstairs
Upstairs, Downstairs
Upstairs, Downstairs is a British drama television series originally produced by London Weekend Television and revived by the BBC. It ran on ITV in 68 episodes divided into five series from 1971 to 1975, and a sixth series shown on the BBC on three consecutive nights, 26–28 December 2010.Set in a...

, a successful attempt to produce a costume drama
Costume drama
A costume drama or period drama is a period piece in which elaborate costumes, sets and properties are featured in order to capture the ambiance of a particular era.The term is usually used in the context of film and television...

 comparable in scale to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's The Forsyte Saga
The Forsyte Saga
The Forsyte Saga is a series of three novels and two interludes published between 1906 and 1921 by John Galsworthy. They chronicle the vicissitudes of the leading members of an upper-middle-class British family, similar to Galsworthy's own...

. Neither did it neglect other responsibilities: it established the long-running Sunday lunchtime political series Weekend World
Weekend World
Weekend World is a British television political series, made by London Weekend Television and broadcast from 1972 to 1988.Created by John Birt not long after he moved to LWT, the series was broadcast on the ITV network at lunchtimes on Sundays...

and ITV's most famous arts programmes Aquarius, and its replacement The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show
The South Bank Show was a television arts magazine show, originally made by London Weekend Television , presented by Melvyn Bragg, broadcast on ITV and seen in over 60 countries worldwide — including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States...

(cancelled by ITV after 30 years). Other current affairs output included Look Here, the pioneering TV programme about television. The Sports Department at LWT featured programmes such as World of Sport
World of Sport
World of Sport can refer to:*World of Sport made by London Weekend Television and broadcast nationwide.*World of Sport seen on Melbourne's HSV Channel 7...

 which ran for 20 years on a Saturday Afternoon and was billed as ITV's answer to Grandstand. Other shows included Saint & Greavsie, On the Ball
On The Ball (ITV television show)
On The Ball is a British ITV Saturday lunchtime television show about football, which ran as part of World of Sport in the 1980s, and as a stand-alone show from 1998 to 2004....

, and The Big Match
The Big Match
The Big Match is a British Association football television programme, which screened on ITV regularly between 1968 and 1992 ....

(re-named The Match between 1988 and 1992). The latter two shows were hosted for many years by ITV's main football commentator Brian Moore
Brian Moore (commentator)
Brian Moore was a British sports commentator.-Early life:Moore was born in Gillingham, Kent and educated at the Cranbrook School, Kent, which was also the school of fellow commentators Peter West and Barry Davies....

.

Major programmes on LWT included most of ITV's weekend line-up, which included gameshows like Friday night favourite Play Your Cards Right
Play Your Cards Right
Play Your Cards Right is a British television game show based on the American show known as Card Sharks. The gameplay was basically the same as in the American version.-Broadcast History:...

, Saturday night favourites Punchlines
Punchlines
Punchlines was a comedy game show series that was produced by LWT and aired on the ITV network from January 3, 1981 until December 22, 1984...

, Blind Date, and Gladiators, and long-running Sunday night drama series London's Burning
London's Burning
London's Burning was a British television drama programme produced by London Weekend Television for the ITV network that focused on the lives of members of the London Fire Brigade, principally those of the Blue Watch at a fictional fire station called Blackwall.It was broadcast between 1986 and...

. Nigel Lythgoe
Nigel Lythgoe
Nigel Lythgoe is an English television and film director and producer, and former dancer in the Young Generation and choreographer. He is noted for being the producer of the shows Pop Idol and American Idol as well as being a creator, executive producer and a regular judge for So You Think You Can...

, who won infamy as a judge on ITV's pop talent show Popstars
Popstars
Popstars is an international reality television franchise and a precursor to the Idol series. The series first began in New Zealand in 1999 when producer Jonathan Dowling formed the five member all-girl group TrueBliss...

and now appears on the BBC's So You Think You Can Dance
So You Think You Can Dance (UK)
So You Think You Can Dance is a televised dance competition and reality show that launched in the United Kingdom in January 2010 and similar to the version of the program that has began airing in the USA in 2005. The show is broadcast on BBC One. The content of the show is similar premise to the...

, is a former controller of entertainment at the company, working as an executive producer on many of the station's top-rating programmes during the 1990s and early 2000s. LWT also owned 50% of London News Network
London News Network
London News Network was a television news and facilities organisation in London. It was created in 1992 as a joint operation between London's two ITV contractors, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television, with each company holding a 50% stake...

 Limited, producers until February 2004 of the news programmes London Today and London Tonight; regional news for London is now produced by ITN
Independent Television News
ITN is a news and content provider with headquarters in the United Kingdom. It is made up of four key businesses: ITN News, ITN Source, ITN Productions and ITN Consulting. The ITN logotype can be displayed in any of 4 different colours, each of which represents a business unit. This is the...

.

See also

  • Carlton Television
    Carlton Television
    Carlton Television was the ITV franchise holder for London and the surrounding counties including the cities of Solihull and Coventry of the West Midlands, south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire,...

  • GMTV
    GMTV
    GMTV was the national Channel 3 breakfast television contractor, broadcasting in the United Kingdom from 1 January 1993 to 3 September 2010. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of ITV plc. in November 2009. Shortly after, ITV plc announced the programme would end...

  • London News Network
    London News Network
    London News Network was a television news and facilities organisation in London. It was created in 1992 as a joint operation between London's two ITV contractors, Carlton Television and London Weekend Television, with each company holding a 50% stake...

  • Rutland Weekend Television
    Rutland Weekend Television
    Rutland Weekend Television was a television sketch show on BBC2, written by Eric Idle with music by Neil Innes. Two series, the first consisting of six episodes, the second of seven, were broadcast, in 1975 and 1976. A Christmas special also aired on Boxing Day 1975.It was Idle's first television...


Further reading

  • Docherty, David
    David Docherty
    David Docherty is a British writer, journalist, academic and television executive and producer. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, the former falling into the thrillers genre and the latter being academic books relating to the media...

    , Running The Show: 21 Years of London Weekend Television, Boxtree
    Macmillan Publishers
    Macmillan Publishers Ltd, also known as The Macmillan Group, is a privately held international publishing company owned by Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. It has offices in 41 countries worldwide and operates in more than thirty others.-History:...

     (1990), ISBN 1852831030

External links