Television Wales and the West


Television Wales and the West

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = Television Wales and the West


based = Cardiff, Bristol, London
area = South Wales
West of England
owner = Self-owned
airdate = 14 January 1958
old
captionb =
closeddate = 3 March 1968
replaced = Wales West and North Television in west and north Wales in 1964
replacedby = Independent Television Service for Wales and the West
HTV
website =

Television Wales and the West [ [http://www.transdiffusion.org/emc/ident/album/tww.php Ident] (Transdiffusion Broadcasting System / Electromusications), accessed 19 August 2006] [ [http://www.rts.org.uk/Information_page_+_3_pic_det.asp?id=4570&sec_id=822 Royal Television Society] , accessed 19 August 2006] (TWW) was the British "Independent Television" (commercial television) contractor for the franchise area serving 'South Wales and West of England' 1956–68 (franchise awarded 26 October 1956, started transmissions on 14 January 1958).

Geography required that the 'South Wales and West of England' franchise would be operated differently from any other franchise, as VHF transmissions from one side of the Bristol Channel' could easily be received on the other side. This resulted in TWW setting up a 'dual franchise', with a service for South Wales being originated from Cardiff, and a service for the 'West of England' from Bristol, together with a common 'General Service'.

Opening night

Television Wales and West opened transmission at 4:45pm on 14 January 1958 with a live, 15-minute opening ceremony by station chairman Lord Derby, Sir Ian ab Owen Edwards and Alfred Francis. The master of ceremonies was chief continuity announcer, Bruce Lewis.

At 5:00pm, "Youth Wants to Know", a children's interview programme produced by Granada Television, became the first programme to be broadcast by TWW. In the programme, Lady Megan Lloyd George and Raymond Gower fielded questions from Welsh school children. Following "Youth Wants to Know" at 5:40pm, ITN's early evening news was read by Huw Thomas from TWW's studios at Pontcanna.

The main opening programme came at 7:00pm with "The Stars Rise in the West", a filmed special introduced by "It's That Man Again" regular Jack Train. The programme, produced in association with ITN, featured appearances from Sir Ralph Richardson, Stanley Baker (later a founder of TWW's successors, Harlech Television), Naunton Wayne, Donald Sinden, Tessie O'Shea, Donald Houston, Petula Clark, Tommy Cooper and Ralph Reader. Harry Secombe also appeared in a short film clip, performing "Nessun Dorma".

tudios

TWW operated from two sites - a converted farm at Pontcanna, near Cardiff (now demolished and replaced by a housing estate) and similar facilities in Bristol. In January 1964, TWW was required to take over the franchise of its neighbour, Teledu Cymru — Wales (West and North) (WWN) when that company became the only ITV company to ever fail financially. The former WWN area was still run as a separate area under the banner "TWW - Teledu Cymru". To accommodate this dual presentation and general increase in production the takeover created, £2m was spent on updating and extending the studios at Pontcanna, including a new studio and separate transmission control suites.

TWW was also a player in the development of 625-line colour transmission for the ITV network. Although the bulk of test transmissions and research were conducted for the Independent Television Authority (ITA) at the ABC studios at Teddington, TWW leased two prototype EMI colour cameras and associated equipment in 1966 and began running trials, with shows being transmitted on internal networks for viewing by employees [ [http://freespace.virgin.net/mymail.athome/features/colour/colour.html Historical Television Website ] ] .

Regional programming

TWW did not produce many programmes for the ITV network, but its news and local programming was well-regarded (it won many plaudits for its sensitive coverage of the Aberfan Disaster).

Its Welsh magazine programme was called "Amser Te" ("Tea Time"). Amongst other items, it featured a regular cookery item hosted by Myfanwy Howell.

Non-renewal of contract

Partly because its regional progamming was so well regarded it came as a great shock when TWW lost its franchise in the 1967 franchise review, in favour of the Harlech Consortium, whose bid promised a glittering future of star-filled entertainment and quality documentaries.

No reason was given for the dismissal (as is common practice for franchise changes) but it was believed that TWW's decision to keep its corporate headquarters in London and not move them to within the region was a significant factor. A more darker explanation proffered at the time was that it was "government revenge" against the broadcaster's major shareholder the "News of the World" newspaper, which had printed a series of critical articles about the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. This does appear unlikely as although the ITA was answerable to Parliament it was a wholly-independent body.

TWW's response was, in effect, to throw a temper tantrum — despite the ITA offering to order Harlech to buy TWW's studios and take on all the TWW staff. A later offer from the ITA was to let TWW buy 40% of Harlech's stock to guarantee a profit and a connection with the television industry: It is commonly believed that TWW spurned this offer in a fit of pique but were actually advised to reject it by their merchant bank [ Black, P, The Mirror in the Corner, Hutchinson, 1972 ] .

Instead TWW quit its franchise early, selling the last five months to Harlech for £500,000 even though the new company was not yet ready to start broadcasting at the time. Following the intervention of the ITA, a temporary service was set up — Independent Television Service for Wales and the West, broadcasting from the old TWW Pontcanna studios in Cardiff, and staffed by former TWW workers, until Harlech (soon renamed "HTV") was ready to take over its franchise early, on 20 May 1968.

Closing night

TWW was the first, but not the last, company to break the ultimate protocol of those tightly-regulated days; to close down for the last time without going through the formal procedure of announcement and national anthem.

TWW's penultimate programme was "All Good Things", a late night variety special presented by Bernard Braden and featuring Tessie O'Shea, Stan Stennett, Ivor Emmanuel, Manfred Mann, Clifford Evans and Morecambe & Wise. The programme was preceded by an introduction from company chairman Lord Derby.

Having felt desperately hard-done-by by the ITA, and in the fits of a corporate tantrum, the company showed their final display of anger by closing down with "Come To An End", a reflective epilogue with John Betjeman, who had made several films for the station, paying tribute to the personnel, programmes and achievements of TWW (which Betjeman affectionately referred to as "Tellywelly").

Ironically recorded at the Grenville Theatre in London, Betjeman closed the epilogue and the station with these words:

"The new firm, Harlech, which will be centred in Cardiff, must build up its own personality. Tellywelly, you had a warm, friendly and inspiring one. Like many others, I'm very grateful to you. I'm very sorry to see you go. It's like the death of an old friend."

As Betjeman walked out of the theatre and the credits rolled, the camera panned up to the "EXIT" sign on the wall, and TWW ended its transmission for the last time. Apart from their two months' involvement with the interim service before the opening transmission of Harlech, Television Wales and West were never heard of again.

Personalities

Among the famous faces who were early broadcasters on TWW are John Humphrys and Claire Rayner.

TWW was the first to showcase Adge Cutler - his appearances on the TWW programme 'The Cider Apple' led to Adge's fame spreading and the formation of The Wurzels.

Business interests

TWW also owned non-television interests including the optometrists Dollond & Aitchison.Fact|Date September 2007|date=September 2007

References

External links

* [http://www.hhg.org.uk/ Harlech House of Graphics (unofficial history site)]
* [http://www.625.uk.com/tv_logos/flash/tww_channel_10.asp Animated TWW Channel 10 logo] , 1960s, from 625.uk.com (Requires Macromedia Flash version 6 or later).
* [http://www.625.uk.com/tv_logos/flash/wwn.asp Animated TWW/Teledu Cymru ident] , 1964, from 625.uk.com
* [http://www.itvlocal.com/wales/50/?player=WAL_50_15&void=140560 ITV Local Wales: The Stars Rise in the West] - An opening night programme from TWW


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