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updated on Friday, October 13, 2006 at 6:45:58 AM
ITV and Channel 4/S4C Schools Continuity until the late
Britain's first regular broadcasts for schools, broadcast
by ITV, began on 13th May 1957, the first programme being Associated-Rediffusion's
Looking and Seeing. Associated-Rediffusion installed 200 sets
in London schools.
Rediffusion networked schools programmes at the start,
although it appears ATV won the contract to supply the schools presentation
later on. More on this follows shorty (to coin a phrase).
Rediffusion and ABC formed a new company (they did not
merge - the parent companies continued on) as a result of the 1967 franchise
awards, Thames, which began broadcasting on 30 July 1968.
The 'Lightspots' caption below, it is thought, was transmitted
from November 1969 (possibly the 17th, as this is the first weekday
after ITV first began broadcasting on 625 lines UHF colour) and is believed
to have been networked from ATV in Brimingham (due to its similarity to the ATV
Zoom ident). The announcers in the late 70s/80s were from ATV -
I remember Mike Prince doing some links
I don't have many captions from before this. Can anyone
help me out here?
Can anyone shed any light on the dates/franchisees
involved, or even supply any captions?
ITV Schools from the 70s always had an interval card,
which remained on screen until a minute before the programme was to
begin. The card was accompanied by some music, which was always nicely
timed to end just before the countdown clock appeared, which meant that
the programme was soon to start.
If you can add more information, any help
would be much appreciated!
This is a rare, off-screen shot of the ITV Schools
interlude caption used in the 1960s, from the Transdiffusion archive.
Chris Bowden-Smith writes: "The slide was used
for all the general interlude music between schools programmes,
and for the first 60 seconds of the 2 minute countdown piece [contrast
this with the later, separate, 1 minute clock music].
"The vision cut to the countdown clock for
60 seconds over the last 60 seconds of the countdown piece, which
lasted 1 minute 55 seconds in total.
"There was no vision change at 2 mins before
the programme, just the start of the countdown music as if it
were the next interlude piece. The first change in the vision
was the countdown appearing in vision 60 seconds before the programme,
and half way through the music. The clock had no hands, just a
disappearing rim, with one-second gradations similar to the later
ITV colour one."
Sadly we don't have an original shot of the clock.
If you do, please let us know!
However, below you can see an animated reconstruction.
As the above shot is indistinct in areas, Dave Jeffery
has re-created it so it can be seen more clearly.
You can download an MP3
of a piece used to accompany this slide, Finale to a Dance
Suite by Thomas Arne recorded off-air. There's another, clearer
version of the same tune here.
The music used pre-1968 was used for extended periods of time
and not changed termly as it was later.
There's an 'end of schools programmes' announcement
from the 60s available here,
where the announcer reads the schedule for schools the following
day and leads in to a short stab of the ATV station music Sound
and Vision, which Chris Bowden Smith says was used to close
ATV after schools programmes had finished.
Chris adds "[The end of schools clip] is from
the early 60s, I think. Only three schools programmes [were] common
then, as it was in the mid sixties that schools TV expanded as
more schools got TVs!
"The Sound & Vision clip signalled a formal
closedown, and ATV Midlands going off air again till 4.45. It
was traditional throughout the network for morning and afternoon
closedowns to use the final bars / final verse (depending on time
available) of the startup theme to close with."
This clips would have been followed by 5 mins silence
& black screen, before reverting to Test Card C and tone /
(Thanks to Trevor Wells and to the Test Card
Circle for additional information about the caption)
This is a reconstruction of the ITV Schools clock from the 60s,
which accompanied the static slide above.
Despite not having a photograph to work from, Dave Jeffery and
Rory Clark have reconstructed it with the help of Chris Bowden-Smith.
It consists of the still slide cutting into the clock, accompanied
by Arne's Finale to a Dance Suite.
Shift-click to download the MPEG. This time though, I recommend
you download the RealVideo version below, it's inexplicably of
RealVideo - 1.56Mb
Andy Simpson believes that this and the following two captions,
ran (not all at the same time though!) from November 1969 until
the end of the academic year 1974/5.
The ITA first started to transmit in colour on Saturday, 15th
November 1969, so perhaps its first transmission was on the Monday,
This slide is the first variant.
Another school of thought (excuse the pun) is that this was an
opt-out slide, used in regions broadcasting their own schools
programmes. Can you confirm/disprove?
This is the second variant of the first version of the Lightspots
caption. Note the the word "FOR" is in larger text than before.
Whether the slide's background colour is different than variant
1 or the colour change is a video artifact is not known.
Thanks to Dave "Eagle-Eyes" Jeffery for spotting that one!
An MP3 example of some interval music that accompanied this slide
can be downloaded here.
There were two versions on the light-spots interval caption.
There was this one, which says "ITV for Schools and Colleges"
in a serif typeface, ...
... and this one, which uses a sans-serif typeface.
Andy believes that this caption ran for one year only, in the
academic year 1975/6, then replaced by the picture captions (see
As an aside, these cards could also be classed as tuning signals.
Yorkshire Television would sometimes show Picture Roll, which
consisted of a roll of black paper with pictures drawn by children
The roll continually scrolled up the screen, looping around as
it got to the end.
Click on the picture for an MPEG.
(With thanks to Neil Page for YTV info)
Here's another Picture Roll caption. I'll have to grab some actual
Picture Roll at some point!
Tony Currie says that between 10.30 and 11.00
each morning schools' programmes were suspended. Each ITV contractor
had their own set of interval slides and music which were broadcast
locally during this time.
This slightly-dodgy slide would have been used
as an announcement was being made in sound, and probably remained
on-screen whilst some music was played.
The ITV network was used in this half-hour to
distribute last-minute advertisements to all the contractors.
This slide must be from the early 70s, judging
by the font! Can anyone add anything?
Andy Simpson says that he vaguely recalls that
YTV used "a white on green caption saying when schools programmes
would resume (whether this originated from YTV, I'm not sure).
"However there would be an exception on a Friday
when I saw a caption which showed only the light spots part
of the ITV schools caption (no greyscale either at top or bottom)
and a message saying "Resumes 11.00" above the light spots."
Andy wonders if this different caption was networked
- perhaps when there was no material to distribute around the
network there was no need to opt-out.
He continues: "This occurred every Friday throughout
the use of the light spots caption. When they used the sans-serif
caption, they just used this and superimposed the 'Resumes 11.00'
caption just above the light spots pattern."
I suspect that opting-out only took place during
the Seventies as I cannot remember it - I only have detailed
memories of the 80s. Hey, if you can remember the 70s you weren't
really there, right ;-)
Dave Jeffery says that since 1975 (maybe earlier,
can anyone add anything?) Westward
always used their slide, instead of the light spots one,
i.e. not just during the half-hour break. On the other hand, HTV's
slide, a black slide with psychedelic purple lettering, was only
used during the half-hour interval; they transmitted the light-spots
during other times.
Dave adds that although the half-hour break had
ceased by the 80s, there was still a longer-than-usual interval,
which was a good time to catch the music in full!
Dave has created a tremendous Flash reconstruction
of a Westward opt-out which you can see in full slide / clock
and musical glory by going here.
Here's a Westward opt-out slide, of a different type to the one
above. Question is, which order should they be in, chronologically
Here's another Westward opt-out caption, from around 1976/77. Does
anyone know any more about this one?
Nicholas Willmott says: "I can only remember [this opt out
caption]. The first time I saw this on Westward TV was circa 1977,
and lasted until the last schools programmes day of the Autumn
Term 1981 (the Friday of Week 10), i.e. prior to the final day
of their franchise, New Year's Eve 1981. They ONLY showed this
one at 9:28 am, prior to the first schools programme of the day.
"This was the regime:
"Nothing (or coloured bars - albeit greyscale in my case!
- with tone)
Opening Film: Westward Coda (film of south west with music)
9:28 Westward TV Schools & Colleges Opt-Out Slide
9:29 Countdown Clock
9:30 Company logo (ATV, Thames, Granada, Yorkshire as the case
was) and start of programme.
"All subsequent programmes thereafter the remainder of the
morning Westward showed the standard national slide.
"I cannot remember the preceeding two Westward opt-out slides
with the ship in the centre of the screen (Westward TV and WTV),
so I am unable to answer which order those two were in. Both though
must have been before the third one I've just described.
"Spring Term 1982 Week One (after Television South West
- TSW - took over Westward on New Year's Day 1982) TSW showed
their static logo with "Schools & Colleges" under
it. Just like Westward, this was ONLY shown for the FIRST schools
programme of the day. All subsequent ones featured the national
slide, just like HTV and the rest of the network."
An interval caption - was this used as a 10.30 opt-out slide
by STV? There is no mention of schools programmes on it.
An STV opt-out slide - used when STV opted-out
from the network and had time left before the national continuity
Does anyone have any other examples of opt-out
slides that they'd like to contribute?
The interlude caption (or the Picture Roll) was followed by the
Although appearing on-screen in blue and white, I would imagine
that the mechanical model would be black and white and that the
colours were added electronically, as the BBC did with their mechanical
This would make changing the colours used very easy.
Andy Simpson believes that this clock was superceded for the
start of the Autumn term 1978.
Click on the image for an MPEG movie of the clock.
This particular clock is from no earlier than 1977. If you can
date the usage of this more precisely, please let me know.
Rory Clark says that the top image is a HTV Wales opt-out clock.
This may explain the cyan foreground - the bottom clock is clearly
white on blue.
Notice the difference between this clock and previous ones with
regards to the clock circle. This clock is believed to be an opt-out
The caption at the bottom says "Independent Television for Schools"
- this is thought to be an early version as the words "and Colleges"
are missing on the clock, as they are present on the accompanying
Instead of the clock disappearing continuously, the dots on this
clock vanished immediately in a 'digital' fashion.
On the footage, the clock background wobbles, whilst the "Images"
text is stationary, which leads us to think that this is a film
clock (as opposed to a mechanical model) with the text "Images"
superimposed over it. Additionally, the background clock blanks
leaving the word 'IMAGES' in vision, proving that it is a superimposition.
|| Whilst I was here, I couldn't resist putting these
marvellous titles on - check out the wacky music with the amusing
Comes complete with a Yorkshire ident (Ilkley Moor bar 'tat!).
Click the image to see the movie!
When schools programmes go wrong...
Why would schools programmes be temporarily suspended?
This sort of caption would be used in the event of something
like a union strike, or a breakdown on the network.
Charles Faulkner: "I remember seeing that when I was at
school - I was about 6 or 7 which would mean that it was in use
up to either 1983 or 1984."
Here's another one. I wonder what went on here?
Can anyone date any of
these three disruption captions?
Something really bad must have happened when the catch-all caption
We also have some MP3s of ITV schools interlude music.
On to ITV Schools - the late 70s and beyond
Back to sub-TV home