Tyne Tees History – Page 1
Independent Television began in the North East soon after the birth of the service in the South East in 1955.
Contractors in the region were appointed in 1957.
On January 4th, 1958, the region learnt more about its new television station when the national as well as North East newspapers reported that the first meeting had taken place in Newcastle of the directors of ‘the new company which is to provide commercial television in the North East’.
Sir Richard Pease, a member of the famous Teesside family of industrialists, was appointed Chairman with other members of the board, Claude Darling, film producer Sidney Box and Sunderland-born brothers George and Alfred Black.
By October the public learnt a good deal more about their new station.
It was to be named Tyne Tees Television and its home would be a site formerly occupied by two warehouses on City Road in Newcastle near the Quayside.
Stripped to their shells, the former warehouses provided two huge studios, one of 3,300 and another of 2,400 square feet.
Building for the future
In some ways, it must be said, the site was less than salubrious.
Behind the studios themselves was a derelict area that had awaited clearance and rebuilding since the war.
However, it was a worthy setting as City Road stands directly above Newcastle’s oldest stretch of Quayside, which runs from the Tyne bridge and past the eighteenth century Customs House to the berth used by minesweepers and frigates of the Royal Navy.
Since redevelopment of the whole area Tyne Tees now stands in one of the most sought after areas of the city.
Anthony Jelly was appointed Managing Director, George and Alfred Black were joint Programme Directors and former Head of BBC Light Entertainment Bill Lyon-Shaw was to be Controller of Programmes.
By now the new studios on City Road were almost ready for the opening in january.
On January 15th, 1959, at 5 pm a quarter of a million people tuned in to the first transmission from Tyne Tees Television.The opening ceremony was performed by the Duke of Northumberland in the presence of the Prime Minister, Mr Harold Macmillan.
Another distinguished guest was Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, the ITA’s Chairman (Independent Television Authority now known as the ITC – Independent Television Commission), who told the audience that ITV had been criticised for giving ‘the customers what they want rather than what they ought to have’.
Sir Ivone made no apology for that. ‘We will make every effort to give you what you want,’ he told them firmly.Viewers were shown round the new studios and introduced to the people who were to provide their programmes.
At 7 pm Tyne Tees’ own one-hour entertainment show The Big Show was transmitted LIVE from Studio One hosted by Jimmy James, standing in for Dickie Henderson who had gone down with ‘flu.
Concluding the transmission was The Epilogue given by The Bishop of Durham, The Rt. Rev. Maurice Harland.