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Thread: Regional News Programmes

  1. #1
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    Default Regional News Programmes

    Regional news happens three or four times a day on BBC 1 and ITV, but of course, I am mostly referring to the half hour news programmes that are on at around 6.00 pm, and mostly ITV ones as well.

    Looking at regional variations on the TV listings page of daily newspapers almost seem to feel as if one is going on an adventure, even if one cannot pick up all the regions in the dark days before Sky Digital. Just like the regional showings of films that I recently started, regional news has always been the core part of regional variations, and on ITV it is often seen as the last survivor of the regional programmes to a degree - the last common dominator if you like. At least it made the value of the TV Licence go further, pre-satellite and cable.

    As soon as the News at 5.45 newsreader shuffles his papers (or indeed the end of Crossroads in some regions), the time to bring on the regional news magazines commences. In London, Thames News on Monday to Friday became The Six O'clock Show on a Friday come 1982 with Michael Aspel and the team, which prompted other regions to do a special Friday evening version of their programme. Most were on at 6.00 pm while some were at 6.25 pm. Most regions had their own title for their programmes which were different to their short news bulletins, although Central News kept the same name.

    I live in the Central East region and used to spend money on aerials in the bedroom so that I could pick up Yorkshire TV as well, all pre-Sky Digital of course. If you know your Northern Life from your About Anglia, then you should know which region has which news back to front. I can just about remember Bob Warman doing Central News just before the region was split for the East Midlands. An hour long Central News on a Friday meant that one could look forward to Play Your Cards Right or Family Fortunes at 7.00 pm. Incumbent Conservative MP Anna Soubry used to be a presenter on Central News long before she entered the House of Commons, and before that, she co-presented Grampian's North Tonight - a programme that Selina Scott also presented.

    As well as Bob Warman we had other nationally known (and not so nationally known) stalwarts doing regional news such as Fred Dinenage, Mike Neville, Bruce Hockin (the Trevor McDonald of HTV West), and Anglia's own Helen McDermott. I was surprised to pick up a North West Radio Times in Manchester and find that Gordon Burns of the Krypton Factor fame was presenting North West Tonight, giving anyone outside the region the illusion that he had became a "where are they now?" person. Richard Whiteley was Calendar's presenter for so many years long before Channel 4 helped to launch his national fame with Countdown. And in the mid 1970s, Derek Hobson presented ATV Today meaning that he was on TV in the Midlands six days a week when doing New Faces on Saturdays.

    A lot of ITN alumnus also had connections with different regions - Fiona Armstrong presented Border TV's Lookaround; Sue Carpenter found her way to About Anglia, and even reporter Jeremy Hands worked for Westward and Border and arrived as a news editor for About Anglia. while TV-am presenters Anne and Nick and Mike Morris were with ATV Today and Calendar respectively.

    Most of the news happens to be token stuff like house fires, lottery wins, people stabbed to death and lots of other stuff which seem to more likely to be promoted to national news if it happens in London - on BBC 1 until the early 1980s, there was an "all or nothing" aspect regarding this has anything happening in London did become national news by default.

    Indeed, it makes its BBC 1 counterpart quite ordinary in comparison: Look East is presented by ex-ATV and Central announcer Stewart White, although Christopher Trace could also be seen presenting it during its Nationwide era a few years after he disappeared from Blue Peter. Harry Gration mostly presented Look North, although he did a stint on South Today as well. Cue the two second "pregnant pause" to allow the other regions to opt out before the BBC South East caption comes up, and Newsroom South East begins - a programme that lacked the regional feel as its other counterparts. Jill Dando started out on Spotlight before she gained national fame.

    Back in the 1980s, were you interested in the regional news as much as I was? - How many regions could you pick up, and which one was the furthest away? If only I could have picked up Tyne Tees in Nottingham on an ordinary TV aerial back in 1985...
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

  2. #2

    Default Re: Regional News Programmes

    We could only pick up ATV and can remember ATV Today quite well. Yes, Derek Hobson and Bob Warman were familiar faces on our TV. Others on ATV Today were:

    Terry Thomas, who presented an angling feature once per week. "Tight lines" was his signing-off catchphrase

    Ex-footballer Billy Wright did sports coverage, particularly football.

    Ex-jockey Terry Biddlecombe covered horse racing.

    Chris Tarrant and John Swallow did the lighter stories. On one occasion, Swallow jumped into a river as he was reporting on some legend about someone being able to jump across it.

    I think Trevor East, who was part of early Tiswas episodes, also covered sport.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Regional News Programmes

    Some others from ATV Today....

    Reg Harcourt reported on local politics.

    Gary Newbon covered sport.

    Peter Plant....not sure if he did business.

    Sue Jay, Wendy Nelson, Wendy Jones, and probably the most famous of the ladies Anne Diamond.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Regional News Programmes

    I suppose that Derek Hobson was the Richard Whiteley of the Midlands - i.e. a regional newsreader who was also a national presenter.

    Amazing the Bob Warman has been the only one who have survived over the years - wasn't Warman Whiteley's godson or the other way round? I know that they both worked together at Yorkshire TV circa 1977 - think of Good Morning Calendar!

    Even Police 5 was part of ATV Today with Shaw Taylor before becoming a separate programme on Thursdays after Central News - as a tribute to the great man I still "keep 'em peeled" just in case any crime is committed locally.

    What about the other regions? - was Bob Greaves a good presenter on Granada Reports? (He was famous for that elephant outtake seen on IBAOTN where its trunk was trying to make contact with Greaves), although I always thought it was F Talbot who was in that clip. And Fred Dinenage (still going in the south, I think) also seen on the 1981 IBAOTN when he was the sports presenter for Southern where he looks as if he is calling Laurie McMenemy a pillock.
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Regional News Programmes

    TVS with Coast to Coast. It won two awards for the best ITV news programme despite TVS only lasting 11 years.

    ITV local news is a shadow of its former self and no longer as influential as it once was. In fact ITV considers local news a complete nuisance just to get position 3 in the EPG.

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