ATV Today

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ATV Today
Genre Regional News
Presented by Various including:
Bob Warman
Anne Diamond
Chris Tarrant
Derek Hobson
Wendy Nelson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Producer(s) ATV
Running time Main edition: 30 minutes
Original channel ATV (ITV Midlands region)
Original run 5 October 1964 (1964-10-05)  – 31 December 1981 (1981-12-31)
Preceded by ATV Midlands News
Followed by Central News
Related shows BBC Midlands Today

ATV Today was a regional television news and current affairs programme, produced by ATV, serving the Midlands area of England. The programme aired from 5 October 1964 until 31 December 1981 – the final day of broadcasting from ATV before the company was restructured and relaunched as Central Independent Television.


Regional television came to the Midlands on 17 February 1956 with the launch of ATV's weekday ITV service. The first news programme, a daily 5-minute bulletin called ATV Midlands News, was broadcast on 7 May 1956 – three months after the channel first went on air. But following pressure from the Independent Television Authority for ATV to commit itself to greater regional coverage, ATV Today began on Monday 5 October 1964 as a 20-minute daily magazine programme, supplementing the Midlands News bulletin and airing at 6.15pm each weeknight. The programme introduced viewers to more light-hearted journalism not seen on television at the time. One of the programme's longest-serving and best known reporters was the late John Swallow, a journalist who brought his own individual style of reporting both serious and lighter stories from the Midlands to television screens.

ATV Today reached its peak during the 1970s when it was watched on a daily basis by some three million viewers.[1] By now airing for 30 minutes from 6pm, ATV Today was a popular mainstay of television in the Midlands, and alongside hard news coverage, it maintained its light-hearted and knockabout style of presenting. The emphasis was on entertainment rather than what was seen as a more starchy, sober alternative offered by the BBC's Midlands Today.

The programme was responsible for launching the television careers of many household names in British television. Among those who started as reporters and presenters on ATV Today are Chris Tarrant who joined in 1972 initially as a reporter and newsreader[1] [2] but later specialised in light hearted stories, and Bob Warman,[3] who presents ITV News Central to the present day.

As a result of the success of ATV Today, the station launched a number of other regional programmes for the Midlands. Farming Today reported on countryside matters throughout the 1970s,[1] and the long running crime series Police 5, hosted by Shaw Taylor, was first introduced as part of ATV Today during the 1960s.


Because the programme was based in Birmingham and tended to focus on news events in and around the West Midlands, it was often criticised for giving less coverage to other areas of the Midlands region such as the East Midlands. An attempt was made to address this after MPs and councillors from the East Midlands region lobbied ATV and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) for a separate ITV region. ATV believed the cost of a separate region would be too expensive, but did establish a small studio in Nottingham after renting space at the city's Theatre Royal.

Final broadcast[edit]

In 1980, all ITV regional franchises were up for renewal and the IBA decided that ATV's lack of regional programming and production was hampering the Midlands. It insisted that the new applicant for the franchise should be more clearly based in the region and have separate facilities for the East and West Midlands.[4] Although ATV won the new franchise, it was required to change its name and restructure the company.[4]

The final edition of ATV Today aired at 6pm on 31 December 1981 and was presented by John Swallow with Wendy Nelson reading the station's last news bulletin. The following day, the programme was replaced by Central News, which would launch separate news services for the East Midlands in 1983 and the south of the region in 1989. ITV News Central maintains separate news services for the East and West of the region.


Among those who presented on ATV Today were Bob Warman, Anne Diamond, Brian Maclaurin, Margaret Hounsell, Bill Spencer, Geoff Meade, Chris Tarrant, Wendy Nelson, Derek Hobson and Shaw Taylor. Others working on the programme included Lionel Hampden, Helen Piddock, Bev Smith, Terry Lloyd, Lance Beswick, Alan Jones, Mike Warman, Ted Trimmer, John Mitchell, Peter Plant, Wendy Jones, Val Lewis, Tony Maycock, Sue Jay, John Swallow, Bob Hall, Rob Golding, John McLeod, Peter Green, David Lloyd, Jennifer Gay, political editor Reg Harcourt and former ITV News editor-in-chief David Mannion.

The sports team included Gary Newbon, Trevor East, Jimmy Greaves, Terry Thomas, Terry Biddlecombe, Nick Owen and ATV head of sport Billy Wright.


  1. ^ a b c Buxton, R, 11 May 2008, "ATV Today – A Midland Montage", GeoHistory, Transdiffusion Broadcasting System [1]
  2. ^ "My Life In Media: Chris Tarrant". The Independent. 22 November 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  3. ^ "Central News anchor Warman marks three decades at ITV". Press Gazette. 11 April 2003. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "ATV (Associated Television) History". 

External links[edit]