From switch-on to profit in six months
Yorkshire Television went on air for the first time on July 29 1968, heralding an exciting era of regional and network TV for millions in the north of England. Until then, Granada had provided programming coast to coast during the week and ABC had broadcast at weekends, both operating out of Manchester. Fine for the people of Lancashire and the west but far from satisfactory for the vast population on the Yorkshire side of the Pennines.
It was recognised that the Yorkshire region needed its own service, reflecting its identity, and in February 1967, as part of a shake-up of the ITV network, new regional licences were advertised in the national press. Applications were invited from parties competent and solvent and entrepreneurial enough to take over these lucrative franchises and the Yorkshire region attracted considerable interest.
Just over three months later, on June 11, the Blackpool based TV rental firm Telefusion won the day. Its Telefusion Yorkshire Consortium combined with leading elements from rival Yorkshire Independent Television. … and Yorkshire Television was born. On Aug 3 1967 building work began. The first pile was sunk on a 13 acre slum clearance site just off Kirkstall Road in Leeds and 11 months later the Duchess of Kent had the honour of pulling the switch which launched the channel onto the airwaves.
Granted, the building wasn’t entirely finished. Studio 4 had yet to come on stream and broadcasts were still in black and white, but YTV was broadcasting to its own regional audience from that day onwards. There were union problems, of course. Coronation Street was blacked out on the opening night by a dispute at Granada and there was a two-hour blackout on the evening of day two as well.
But it wasn’t long before the press were reporting that YTV had made a profit of £160,000 in the first six months. It had the advertising monopoly, of course. But a TV station isn’t worth watching without innovative and engaging shows, and Yorkshire Television’s real success was down to the many people who worked there - the talented and enthusiastic staff who created thousands of programmes for both the region and the network.
It is some of their memories of the company that are recorded here.