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Thread: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

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    Default Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    I have been thinking about this and have been fascinated by it as well - up until around 1989 (or as late as the early 1990s in some of the northern regions), different ITV regions used to show old films usually on a Monday or a Friday afternoon - presumably the viewers mostly consisted of the housewives, the retired (who probably remembered when they were made), pre-schoolers, the disabled, the unwell (both temporally and permanently - probably in bed with the portable, as well as some Lucozade and some Kleenex), and those playing truant from school (almost ditto) . As soon as News at One's very own Leonard Parkin shuffled his papers as he prepared to go off air, giving way to the regional news, the film followed - and what a choice there was provided you could have the capability of picking up as many ITV regions as you can from the aerial on your roof.

    What was fascinating about the films was the obscurity that it had on such a mainstream television channel just like lots of regional programmes are - watching ITV on a Monday or Friday afternoon and seeing a film from the 1950s or early 1960s, and if one lived ten miles away, it would be a completely different film on the same channel. The films started at 2.00 pm, and then at 1.30 pm, making way for that pre-Children's ITV Australian soap fest of either The Young Doctors or Sons and Daughters at 3.30 pm.

    At a time of day when one would probably find Words and Pictures, You and Me, Music Time or other schools programmes on BBC 2; Pages from Ceefax or the TUC Conference on BBC 1 (or perhaps the other way round), and Channel 4 not even bothering to show anything until Countdown came on a couple of hours later, these films were sometimes the only proper source of entertainment for the housebound. Looking at the regional variations column in the TV listings we see what film Grampian was showing and whether it was being shown up there a month after Tyne Tees or a few weeks before TSW. On days when Farmhouse Kitchen, Crown Court, and other series were shunted midweek, two hours of afternoon scheduling as a "free period" was given to regional ITV companies to show what they darn well liked - we are talking either side of 1985 here. And then Channel 4 started to show them, right up until around five years ago, I believe.

    I have access to The Times Digital Archive and have looked at the regional variations of afternoon films, certainly from around 1982 to 1988, and these are those that caught my eye:

    1) TO SIR WITH LOVE - Despite its very 1960s setting (and Lulu singing the signature tune), the decision to cast Sidney Poitier as a forwards looking teacher in an inner-city London school was ahead of its time - I don't think we would have had Please Sir! or even Grange Hill if it wasn't for this film. It is nice to have a black character seen so positively as early as the 1960s, and I just have nothing but kudos for Poitier for taking the part back then. The film was shown in the afternoons by Central on 6th June 1983, Grampian on 21st May 1984, Yorkshire on 16th July 1984, TSW and Channel on 22nd April 1985, Grampian again on 20th October 1986, Ulster on 1st December 1986, Tyne Tees of 19th March 1987, Ulster again on 15th February 1988, HTV on 16th May 1988, Border on 31st October 1988, Thames on 9th October 1989 and Granada a week later in the same slot. Any other transmissions (eg post News at Ten, weekends etc) are ignored for the benefit of this.

    2) VIOLENT PLAYGROUND - The death of George A Cooper recently made me think of the fact that he had actually appeared in this film - I believe that he could have been the last surviving adult cast member. The number of youngsters in the black and white film are probably still around but are probably in their 70s now for this was made back in 1958 - even Stanley Baker died in 1976. I am just watching this online courtesy of YouTube. There is nothing quite like seeing a British film from the late 1950s in black and white, wishing that I was around back then. Shown by Granada on 22nd November 1982, Grampian on 31st January 1983, Border on 4th July 1983, TSW a week after Border on 11th July 1983, Grampian again on 18th March 1985, Granada again on 3rd February 1986, and Thames and Border (once again) on 6th October 1986,

    3) MELODY aka SWALK - The film was all over place up until the early 1990s. Jack Wild of course (most associate him with this) and Mark Lester of Black Beauty fame were in this, and so were a few CFF "stars" as well. The Bee Gees sung the signature tune as well - it was all about a boy and girl in love, sitting next to each other in class, etc - how innocent it would have looked back then - very much of its time. Only in 1971 could this film have been made. Used to sell for quite a lot online as a VHS copy. Shown by Central on 11th November 1983, Thames on 5th December 1983, Border on 17th September 1984, TSW and Channel on 26th November 1984, Thames again on 17th November 1986, Border again on 22nd June 1987, Thames once again on 23rd November 1987 just over a year since they last shown it, Granada on 6th June 1988, and Central again on 24th April 1989.

    4) PLEASE SIR! - The feature film spin off of the sitcom, as I said before, possibly inspired by To Sir, With Love, and certainly Cilla was inspired by Lulu here - Alderton may not be a match for Poitier but all's fair in love and acting I suppose. Premiered on Christmas Day in 1976 just after that year's Queen's Message on ITV, but shown in the afternoons by HTV on 11th October 1985, Tyne Tees on 11th August 1986 (post-film continuity on YT), Thames on 20th November 1987, Anglia on 18th July 1988, and Ulster on 21st November 1988.

    5) THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY - Famous film from 1945. Shown by Anglia on 18th July 1983, Central on 17th November 1983 (a Thursday), HTV on 26th March 1984, Ulster on 4th February 1985, Granada on 28th June 1985, Yorkshire, along with TSW and Channel on 2nd September 1985, Tyne Tees and Ulster (again) on 24th March 1986 (ad breaks from Tyne Tees TX of the film are on YT), Anglia on 20th November 1987,


    There were loads of others as well - I have to admit that as it gets dark by 4.00 pm in December, I wouldn't mind watching one of these in the afternoons. I do wish that ITV schedules were still like this instead of the rubbish we see nowadays.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    Apart from the all time classics, many people don't like seeing b/w films on the mainstream channels, Talking Pictures has a nice selection of old films.

    I was reading something recently where someone mentioned being able to take a portable TV to help kill time during a boring job where the management didn't keep a close eye on hims.

    He mentions watching films like Sink The Bismark, as well as coverage of the Falklands, it was in the early 1980s.
    The Trickster On The Roof

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    I think it's a bit different when it comes to black and white films - I would probably get put off watching a TV series episode that was in black and white because I believe that films feel more timeless while TV series are very much "there and then" and go out of date a lot more.

    I also think that "cheap and cheerful" can also be the motto when it comes to a film being made - the fact that a film made in the 1950s or early 1960s in black and white would be British and probably made in Pinewood or somewhere like that, and would be distributed by Rank. I just cannot adapt to a more modern film being made in black and white for artistic reasons - I mean, why go backwards to when the technology was hardly available?

    Central had shown Carry On Teacher on a Saturday afternoon in the early 1990s, and it may sound silly, but seeing it in black and white gives a warm glow to the person watching it, and a link between now and then.
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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    It's a bit before my time but it further highlights how dull and sterile the unified ITV of recent years has become. The weekday afternoon time slot between the lunch time news and CITV was always a low value timeslot so ITV companies often had it to themselves unless there was some live event that ITV was televising. As a result it was an ideal timeslot to show older films.

    Did ITV companies circulate films between them as it could explain why the same film was shown in different regions on different days?

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    I remember the afternoon films on ITV. I had not realised that they were shown on mondays and fridays, but straining my memory I think I recall that as well.

    I remember a few films that were shown on Central in the early/mid 80s....

    Wholly Moses with Dudley Moore. I was ill and sofa-bound, and it cheered me up immensely, but I have not seen it since.

    The Monolith Monsters. A late 50s US sci-fi film with alien crystals growing to immense size and threatening Earth.

    They Came From Beyond Space. A really cheesey 60s UK sci-fi film.


    I would take viewing these old films over what passes for entertainment on ITV afternoons now anytime.

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    One of my favourite films of all time, A Bou De Souffle, was in B&W
    Time flies like the wind, fruit flies like bananas - go figure!

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    Quote Originally Posted by staffslad View Post
    I remember the afternoon films on ITV. I had not realised that they were shown on mondays and fridays, but straining my memory I think I recall that as well.

    I remember a few films that were shown on Central in the early/mid 80s....

    Wholly Moses with Dudley Moore. I was ill and sofa-bound, and it cheered me up immensely, but I have not seen it since.

    The Monolith Monsters. A late 50s US sci-fi film with alien crystals growing to immense size and threatening Earth.

    They Came From Beyond Space. A really cheesey 60s UK sci-fi film.


    I would take viewing these old films over what passes for entertainment on ITV afternoons now anytime.
    OK, I shall put my anorak on and give you these details:

    Wholly Moses was seen on both Central, Grampian, TSW and Channel all on 4th November 1985 - not all regions were published on that day so others might have shown it as well. Tyne Tees also showed it on 30th March 1987,

    The Monolith Monsters was shown on HTV on 9th January 1981, and Thames on 21st May 1982. I can't see a Central showing it though on the TDA search - it is possible that it was seen in the Midlands in the 1980s and that the search doesn't find it.

    They Came From Beyond Space was shown on Tyne Tees on 18th June 1981 (Thursday), Central on 10th December 1982, Border on 8th April 1983, Yorkshire, along with TSW and Channel on 12th December 1983, and Central again on 5th June 1987.

    I think that Zabadak means "A Bout De Souffle" which also has the English title of "Breathless" and was listed as such - premiered on BBC 1 during the early hours of 28th April 1990 (listings quoted for the 27th).
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    Quote Originally Posted by Arran View Post
    It's a bit before my time but it further highlights how dull and sterile the unified ITV of recent years has become. The weekday afternoon time slot between the lunch time news and CITV was always a low value timeslot so ITV companies often had it to themselves unless there was some live event that ITV was televising. As a result it was an ideal timeslot to show older films.

    Did ITV companies circulate films between them as it could explain why the same film was shown in different regions on different days?
    I suppose with the arrival of Channel 4 (a television station which screened minority programmes nationally, including old films) was a part solution to this - they did give obscure films and programmes a bit more respect in which ITV would have downgraded them to regional status.

    I suppose that the time in the afternoons for the different ITV companies was like a blank canvas where they could show what they wanted (as long as it wasn't post watershed of course). The only time when stuff was networked was at Christmas, New Year, Bank Holidays, Royal Weddings, and sport such as football or snooker, and things from ITN like the Budget.

    I have often thought that Thames was the default but of course, Thames was not a network endorsement for any programme - I just assume that ITV in a loose way had the rights to these films, but not from a network perspective, hence the "pass the parcel" concept over many years of the films turning up in different regions, and in many cases, one region showing a film exactly a week after another region has shown it. I just thought why doesn't Thames network it and the other regions opt into it, but I assume that the scheduling would lose its dimensions such as being sub-Channel 4, or when ITV was on strike and similar films were shown across the network - besides, the exciting obscurity of the different regions would be lost, which it has done in recent years.

    I just wish that my family had Sky Digital technology back in the 1980s when there were regional variations and all the regions would be obtainable (manually) - now that the technology has been available since the early 2000s, we have the irony that everything is the same in the regions apart from regional news, advertising and the odd extra programme such as political stuff.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    Did accurate maps ever exist for ITV regions or were the boundaries always blurred? There were instances of people watching the wrong ITV for where they lived because of various factors.

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    Default Re: Regional weekday afternoon ITV showings of old films in the 1980s

    Quote Originally Posted by Arran View Post
    Did accurate maps ever exist for ITV regions or were the boundaries always blurred? There were instances of people watching the wrong ITV for where they lived because of various factors.
    I think that most viewers weren't too bothered - anyone wanting to see Coronation Street or News at Ten probably didn't matter whether Anglia or Grampian was their local station. The question is, did it really take around 13 people to introduce Play Your Cards Right or The Bill? Yes it did back then.

    I know that the IBA and the ITC had issued some ITV region maps, and one could purchase a write-on, wipe-off map from the ITC back in the mid 1990s (their pocket book issued circa 1998 mentioned it). I actually thought that ITV regional boundaries were like council ones (or indeed the BBC regions as they like to assume) - there were overlaps, the most lucrative is London and the south of course.

    I believe that the boundaries didn't really run along roads, rivers and perhaps even the odd garden fence - the fact that they are based on television transmitter coverage, the "boundaries" were probably where there were high hills or mountains (the Pennines and the Peak District separating Granada and Yorkshire for example), and I suppose some viewers could have one ITV region at the top of a hill and another one at the bottom. In Nottingham towards the east, one can get the East Midlands on Waltham if one is on a hill close to the City, but at the bottom or on your way down, it would be the West Midlands from Sutton Coldfield - even the TV shops in the City Centre had the Birmingham regional news on it when I looked a few years ago.

    To tell you the truth, getting another region is like going on an adventure - even getting Yorkshire TV in Nottingham is a thrill, yet if I lived just ten miles north my probability of getting that region would have been very good. Now I have Sky, I do this regularly - the same with the BBC local radio stations on the Tunein App.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

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