Westward Television

Westward Television

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = Westward Television


based = Plymouth
area = Devon
Cornwall
South Somerset
Taunton Deane
West Dorset
West Somerset
owner = Self-owned
airdate = 29 April 1961
old
captionb =
closeddate = 31 December 1981
replaced =
replacedby = TSW
website =

Westward Television was the first ITV franchise holder for the South West of England from 29 April 1961 until 31 December 1981. After a difficult start, Westward provided a popular, distinctive and highly regarded service to its region, until public boardroom squabbles led to its franchise not being renewed by the IBA. Westward launched the career of many broadcasters who became well known nationally, won numerous awards for its programming, and heavily influenced its successor, TSW.

Company History

.

Studios and Offices

Based at purpose-built studios at Derry's Cross in Plymouth, with a London office (sited at various locations including New Bond Street, Marble Arch and Sloane Square) and a sales office in Bristol.

The Derry's Cross studios were designed by the architects Treadgold and Elsey, who had previously designed the TWW Studios at Pontcanna, Cardiff and Arno's Court, Bristol (Howett 1994).

During Westward's tenure, Derry's Cross boasted three studios. Studio 1 was convert|2500|sqft|m2|abbr=on, Studio 2 was convert|400|sqft|m2|abbr=on and used for news, sport and interview programmes and an announcer's studio was located beside Master control.

The studios were originally fitted out by Marconi, using top of the range studio equipment. Westward engineer Peter Rodgers recalled "From the start, where we could afford it, we bought the best" (Howett 1994).

By the time Westward began broadcasting Derry's Cross had cost Westward over £500,000, with the company committed to spending another £20,000 on the studios by April 1962.

Local Programming

Westward's small size and the structure of ITV (which, at the time, deliberately made it hard for small- and medium-sized ITV companies to contribute to the network) meant it produced comparatively little output for the network. Instead, Westward concentrated on regional programming.

From 1968 until the end of Westward's life, the ITA/IBA gave Westward a target of providing 6.5 hours of new regional programming a week; Westward always exceeded this target.

Westward had a dual policy for its local programming: it produced a wide range of programmes of particular interest to the south west's rural and agricultural communities, whilst simultaneously producing programming designed to stimulate its audience's interest in new areas.

News and Current Affairs

By 1969, Westward had more than 100 correspondents across the region informing Westward of newsworthy local events and eight film cameramen who would travel the region gathering news.

Westward's flagship programme was "Westward Diary", which began life as a regional magazine programme that broadcast three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) between 6:15pm and 7pm. There were three presenters, Barry Westwood, Reginald Bosanquet and Kenneth MacLeod, who rotated on a weekly basis. The regional news was contained in a separate bulletin called "Westward News", which was broadcast every weekday from 6.05pm-6.15pm.

"Westward Diary" was soon merged with "Westward News", to become what was known at the time as a 'regional news magazine', and was broadcast every weekday between 6.00pm and 6:30pm. Kenneth MacLeod was asked to join Westward and present the new weekday programme permanently. The news would be read by the duty announcer, so MacLeod's role on the "Diary" was not that of a newsreader, but of a presenter holding the whole package together.

The five-day-a-week "Westward Diary" had two halves, separated by a commercial break. The first half concentrated on the regional news, whereas the second half included other items of interest to local viewers. A number of experts would visit to present regular features: Ted Tuckerman would present a fishing spot called "Tight Lines" , Jon Miller (the zoologist, and also presenter of Southern Television's "How!") would present a spot about nature, architect David Young would examine local architecture of interest, and Topline Broadhurst would present regular gardening spots. There was a regular spot called "Help!" (for charity and voluntary groups), a slot called "Pick Of The Post" (in which viewers' letters would be read) and the popular "Picture Puzzle" (in which viewers had to try and guess the location shown in a photograph taken somewhere in the region.

Westward staff returned to work a few days before the end of the ITV National Strike of 1979. However, Kenneth MacLeod had to present "Westward Diary" in what looked to viewers like almost total darkness, as the union only permitted the house lights to be switched on in the studio.

In the early '70s, "A Date With Danton" was a stand-alone weekly programme that provided a round-up of local arts and entertainment events. This later became a spot entitled "What's On", in Friday's edition of "Westward Diary". The Friday edition of "Sports Desk" was a stand-alone programme in the early '70s, but this too had become part of the "Diary" towards the end of that decade. To accommodate this, the length of Friday's edition of "Diary" was extended to an hour.

The local weather forecast in "Westward Diary" (with an emphasis on information useful to fishermen and farmers) was given by a popular local personality, Graham Danton, who presented several programmes for Westward, including "Holiday Times" (an events listings programme aimed at people holiday-making in the region) and "Late With Danton" (a consumer programme).

Westward was one of the first ITV regions to broadcast a late evening regional news bulletin ("Westward Late News"). [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1976", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.134]

On April Fools Day, 1973, Westward broadcast a film about the village of Spiggot, which had boycotted decimalisation and were still using pre-decimal currency. Many viewers wrote to Westward in support of the villagers' stance, oblivious to the date the film was broadcast.

Children

An early programme for young people was "Spin Along", a regional pop music programme presented by Alan 'Fluff' Freeman. The first edition was broadcast on Tuesday 12 September1961 between 6:15-6:45 pm ("Westward Diary" was not broadcast on a Tuesday in 1961). [ [http://missingepisodes.proboards20.com/index.cgi?board=totp&action=display&thread=1149768857] ,Missing Episodes forum post about "Spin Along"] A second series began on 24 September1962 between 7:00pm-7:30pm. [ [http://tonyreespopdiaries2.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/page4.html] ,Tony Rees Pop Diaries entry for "Spin Along"]

Another local music programme was "Move Over Dad". In November 1963 [ [http://www.nemsworld.com/beatles/63vid/63vid.htm] ,Nemsworld entry for "Move Over Dad"] The Beatles had to be smuggled into Derry's Cross through a tunnel to record an interview with Stuart Hutchison for this programme, due to the number of fans outside the studios.

Other 60s music programmes included "Pop And Leslie" [ [http://tonyreespopdiaries4.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/page1.html] ,Tony Rees Pop Diaries entry for "Pop and Leslie"] and "The Westward Beat Competition" from 1964. The "Westward Beat Competition" had a panel of judges that included Brian Epstein and Dick Rowe and was won by The Rustiks. [ [http://website.lineone.net/~macvicar/westwardtv.htm] ,Bill Covington's website about The Rustiks]

In 1969, Angela Rippon joined Westward from BBC South West, as a producer of children's and women's programmes; she also produced a monthly show during the summer of 1972 which laid claim to being the first "Open Access" TV show for young people in the UK. This was called "The Show Without A Title", and was the brainchild of the station's then Programme Controller Terry Fleet. The monthly show was presented by members of an editorial team that included David Rodgers - who later went on to become a familiar Westward TV staff presenter. Angela Rippon was the programme's Editor, with Roger Gage being its director. Unfortunately, the show's run (which was broadcast at 5.20pm on Fridays after being pre-recorded in Studio One on the preceding Wednesday) was short-lived, its demise coinciding with Terry Fleet's departure from the company. A year later, in 1973, another series aimed at young people called "Young Eyes" took to the WTV airwaves; this was co-presented by Andy Price and a young actress fresh out of drama school named Lesley Manville (who since went on to greater fame in UK television drama). David Rodgers was again one of the regular contributors.

Another popular long-running programme featured a puppet rabbit, Gus Honeybun, who appeared with the duty announcer who read out birthday greetings to the region's children: The story went that Gus was found wandering Dartmoor by a Westward Outside Broadcast unit. Children could request that Gus waggle his ears, wink, stand on his head, count their age in "bunny-hops", turn off the lights or go off screen to press his "magic button". Gus's behaviour tended to be excellent for Roger Shaw, but for Judi Spiers and Iain Stirling he could be rather unpredictable. Gus was retained by TSW when they took over the franchise.

On Sunday mornings there was "Look and See", a five minute religious slot for the under-8s broadcast from the continuity studio. Its presenters included Norah Thomas, Jill Mapson, Pat Webber and Ann Davey.

In 1980, Westward produced "Maggies Moor", a seven part networked children's' drama series about a young girl living on Dartmoor during the Second World War. It starred Tamar le Bailly as Maggie. [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/10272] ,BFI database listing of "Maggies Moor"] It was produced and directed by John King, [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/individual/31101] ,BFI Database entry for John King] the father of wildlife photographer and presenter Simon King. Simon King featured as "The Buzzard Boy" in Episode 5, "The Buzzard Boy". [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/692021] ,BFI Database entry for episode 7 of "Maggies Moor"]

Agriculture

Agriculture was an important industry in South West England during Westward's franchise. Approximately 80% of land in the South West England is in agricultural use (19.6% of England's total) [ [http://www.swcore.co.uk/southwest.htm] , South West Chamber of Rural Enterprise] . Westward TV had an Agricultural Advisory committee chaired by R. G. Pomeroy [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1981", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.139] to advise the company on its agricultural output.

For 9 months of the year, Westward broadcast "Farming News" [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Independent Television 1970", London: Independent Television Authority, p.215] (later retitled "Farm and Country News" [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1975", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.205] ) on Sunday lunchtimes presented and edited by Peter Forde [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/731451] , BFI listing of "Farm and Country News"] . Westward also produced an adult education series aimed at farmers called "Acres For Profit".

Network contributions

Westward's contributions to the network were very rare at first, mainly consisting of one-off programmes and editions of the "Morning Service" (later renamed "Morning Worship").

On January 19, 1972, there was a relaxation on the restrictions of broadcast hours that had been set by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. This allowed regular daytime programming on weekday afternoons, and weekday morning programming during out-of-school term time. These extra off-peak hours gave smaller ITV companies a chance to provide some networked or part-networked programmes. By the mid '70s, Westward had taken advantage of this opportunity by finding a small niche producing adult education programmes for the ITV network. These included the series "Westcountry Fayre" (cookery), "Freeze!" (freezing food) and "Keep Britain Slim" (slimming).

About Britain

One of the new daytime weekday programmes introduced through the relaxation of broadcast hours was "About Britain". This strand was made up of half-hour documentaries contributed by each of the ITV regions covering interesting aspects of their respective regions.

In 1973 the Countryside Commission opened the South West Coast Peninsula Walk from Minehead in Somerset to Swanage in Dorset via Land's End. Westward Television asked "Diary" reporter Clive Gunnell to walk the new route and film his journey. [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1978", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.29]

Clive was a Londoner. He had begun his television career as a props man at Associated-Rediffusion, where he first met Kenneth McLeod. [ [http://www.walter.org.uk/westwardshrine.htm] ,Westward Shrine: Clive Gunnell obituary] He had already walked the new Two Moors Walk from Plymouth to Lynmouth and filmed his journey for "Westward Diary". This had proved popular and led to the new series "Walking Westward". [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1978", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.29]

Clive Gunnell set off from Weston-super-Mare rather than Minehead, and his journey took many series to complete. It took five series before he reached the south coast. [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1978", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.29] Westward used a selection of Clive's films as part of their contribution to "About Britain", [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1975", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.205] and due to its network exposure "Walking Westward" remains one of Westward Television's best remembered programmes.

Clive Gunnell also made documentaries about inland areas that were also contributed to "About Britain". In 1977 his documentary "To Tavistock Goosie Fair" [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/373031] , BFI Database listing for "To Tavistock Goosie Fair"] won "Most Outstanding Regional Production of 1977". [ [http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/itw/Westward/programmes.html] , ITW Programme Listing for Westward Television] In 1980 he began work on a series of six films on Dartmoor called "Dartmoor". [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1981", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.139] Some of these films were featured in the "About Britain" strand in 1981. [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/2462] , BFI Database listing for "About Britain"]

Doing Things

Like "About Britain", "Doing Things" was a series of half hour filmed documentaries contributed by the various ITV regions and broadcast in the early afternoon. It was broadcast in 1973-1974 and looked at hobbies. [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/42291] ,BFI Database synopses of "Doing Things"] Westward Television contributed "Beachcombing", a film presented and directed by Clive Gunnell, to this series. [Croston, Eric (Editor): "Television and Radio 1975", London: Independent Broadcasting Authority, p.205]

Programmes from the Network

Initially, Westward had an arrangement with ABC Weekend Television (ABC) to provide its network programming. As Channel Television took its network feed from Stockland Hill, this obliged Channel to affiliate to ABC. These 'affiliate' arrangements lasted until they were abolished in the 1964 franchise round. Westward also had an arrangement with Associated TeleVision (ATV), to play out any networked Westward programmes onto the ITV network.

Programme Journal

Initially, Westward published weekly programme listings in its own programme journal, "Look Westward". The first edition cost 5d, and featured a special article by Westward board member Daphne du Maurier. Many Westward personalities, such as announcer Sheila Kennedy, contributed articles to "Look Westward".

However, as part of the 1968 franchise round, the ITA created Independent Television Publications (ITP), and Westward's weekly listings would be obliged to appear solely in the Westward edition of the national listings magazine "TV Times", which was published by ITP.

In 1971, ITP launched a junior version of "TV Times" called "Look In", which featured weekly listings of Westward programmes for younger viewers (including Gus Honeybun), along with listings for the other ITV regions.

Franchise loss

On 28 December 1980, while the ITV network was showing "Drake's Venture", Westward Television's two-hour filmed drama to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe (starring John Thaw), ITN broke into a commercial break to announce that ATV was to undergo major changes and Southern and Westward had not had their licences renewed by the IBA; the south-west franchise was awarded to TSW (Television South West).

Following the loss of its franchise, Westward's management decided to sell up quickly, and the company (including its staff, premises and programme library) was purchased by TSW, early in 1981, for £2.38 million. TSW continued using the Westward name and galleon on screen until 31 December 1981, before it was replaced at midnight by the hills and river of TSW.

A special programme, "20 Years Of Westward", was broadcast on 21 December 1981 [ [http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/727533?view=transmission] ,BFI Database TX listing for "20 Years of Westward"] to look back on the company's achievements. It was presented by Roger Shaw, and recorded in front of a studio audience. Hastings Mann's "Westward Ho!" [ [http://www.rfsoc.org.uk/jim9.shtml] , Robert Farnon Society: Original start-up theme title and composer identified] was used as the theme music. Studio guests included Angela Rippon, Kenneth McLeod and Sheila Kennedy. There were filmed contributions from Alan Freeman, Jan Leeming and David Vine and many clips of Westward programmes were shown. The programme ended with a message from Peter Cadbury, in which he wished Westward's successor well.

Handover to TSW

Unlike the other ITV stations that lost their franchises in this round, Westward (having been run by successor TSW for the last couple months) opted to hand over at midnight. On 31 December 1981 at 11:58pm, after a truncated repeat of Scottish Television's Hogmanay show from the year before, Roger Shaw closed Westward Television with this pre-recorded announcement:

"Many thanks to our friends at Scottish Television, north-of-the-border. Well, it's very nearly the end of 1981 and for Westward Television, it's the end of its franchise to provide your independent television service for the south-west. So as we wish you a happy new year from Westward Television, it's also goodbye and thank you for your support over the past 20 years. But New Year's Eve is a time to look ahead and as Samuel Johnson said, 'New things are made familiar and familiar things are new.' So as we say goodbye from Westward in 1981...."

TSW then began with a still caption of the TSW ident (accompanied by a short version of the station theme "That's Soul, Write") and their first announcement, made live by Shaw:

...Let's say welcome to 1982 from our new television station, Television South West. We will promise a new full-bodied blend of the new and familiar. And from all of us here on duty in these first few seconds of 1982, a happy new year from and with TSW"'. And to get the new year off to a good-humoured start, we have a brand new comedy featuring Peter Cook and Mimi Kennedy in "The Two of Us"."

This was followed by the full version of TSW's ident.

The handover is known to exist in audio form [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=646emsFWCGw] .

Footnotes

References

* Croston, Eric (Ed.) (January 1976). "TV and Radio 1976". London: Independent Broadcasting Authority. ISBN 0-900485-21-3.
* Howett, Dicky (Autumn, 1994). "Television Simply Wonderful". "405 Alive", issue 23 p. 25-28.
* Sendall, Bernard "Independent Television in Britain: Volume 1 - Origin and Foundation, 1946-62" London: The Macmillan Press Ltd 1982 (1984 reprint)

External links

* [http://www.tswfta.co.uk The South West Film and Television Archive] .
* [http://www.itw.org.uk/ Independent TeleWeb]
* [http://www.walter.org.uk/westwardshrine.htm The Westward Shrine]
* [http://tvannouncers.thetvroomplus.com/channel-41.html The TV Room]
* [http://625.uk.com/tv_logos/flash4.htm Andrew Wiseman's 625 TV Room]
* [http://www2.tv-ark.org.uk/itvsouthwest/westwardmain.html Westward Television at TV Ark]

See also

*An obituary for Peter Cadbury can be found [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2006/04/18/db1801.xml here] .
*Graham Danton's BBC Radio Devon programme can be found [http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/content/articles/2005/09/29/graham_danton_radio_devon_feature.shtml here]
*Loeki The Lion's website is [http://www.loeki.nl/ here] .
*Paul Lewis' website has can be found [http://www.paullewiscomposer.co.uk/ here] .
*Pictures of and coverage information for the VHF and UHF transmitters and relays that broadcast Westward to the South West can be found [http://tx.mb21.co.uk/ here] .


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