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also formerly Nottingham and Abingdon, Oxfordshire
|Launched||1 January 1982|
The first Central logo, used from 1982 - 1983.The Central "cake" logo, used from 1986 - 1998.
|Closed||lost on-air identity 27 October 2002 (known as ITV at all times)|
|Owned by||ITV plc|
ITV Central, previously known as Central Independent Television PLC and commonly shortened to Central, is the Independent Television contractor for the Midlands, created following the restructuring of ATV and commencing broadcast on 1 January 1982. The station is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited.
During the 1970s, the previous Midlands licence holder ATV had often been criticised for its lack of regionality to its area. Although ATV had purpose-built a modern colour production complex in the centre of Birmingham many of its major productions were recorded at its main studios at Elstree, near London, a legacy of when the company also served London at the weekends prior to 1968. Equally, its corporate headquarters were in central London. ATV attempted to address its problem in 1980 as part of its franchise re-application; with plans for a second major facility in the area (to be based in Nottingham) and as part of the Independent Broadcasting Authority plan for the contract to be a dual region, they would provide separate news coverage for both the East and the West Midlands. The company name would also be changed from ATV Network Limited to ATV Midlands Limited, thus reinforcing the new regional focus. The IBA accepted ATV's assertion that ATV Midlands Ltd planned to take a more local identity, and awarded the contract to ATV Midlands Ltd on the basis that further changes were to be implemented, including that the parent company Associated Communications Corporation would divest 49% of its shareholding in ATV Midlands Ltd in an attempt to introduce local shareholders and that ATV Midlands Ltd's registered office should be within the region. To demonstrate this change of share structure, the IBA insisted that ATV change its company name, to show that it was a substantially new company.
It has been reported that, around the time of the franchise changing hands, a local businessman had registered dozens of company names (some of which included the words "Central" and "Television"), in the hope of being offered substantial financial compensation to relinquish the rights to one of these, if chosen by the new company. Central got around this by simply inserting "Independent" into their name on registering it (something the businessman had not thought of).
Central retained ATV's sub-regional split; one sub-region for the West Midlands (with studios in Birmingham), and one for the East Midlands (with studios in Nottingham). There were few differences between the sub-regions, but each had its own news service and advertisements. This led to the BBC also producing two news programmes (Midlands Today for the West and East Midlands Today for the East). Central pre-empted the 1990 Broadcasting Act (and a new condition of the Midlands licence) by adding a third sub-region - Central South - in 1989, broadcasting on the Oxford and Ridge Hill transmitters and establishing the news centre on an industrial park in Abingdon in Oxfordshire (retained for the Thames Valley service in 2006, although minus the studio).
The station opened transmission at 09:25 on Friday, 1 January 1982 with an authority announcement by duty announcer Su Evans, followed by an extended 5-minute promo entitled Welcome to Central, previewing the company's network and regional programming and the schedule for the first day of transmission. The logo is often thought of as a 'cake', but in fact it was an 'eclipse' after the Total Lunar Eclipse on 9 January 1982.
Carlton Communications had owned a stake in Central since the early eighties (before Carlton Television became an ITV Franchisee in its own right). In 1994, Central was completely bought by Carlton and on 6 September 1999 was rebranded as Carlton Central, though the registered company name remained Central Independent Television Limited. The new identity, produced by Lambie-Nairn was used across all of Carlton's franchises; Carlton London, Carlton Westcountry and some elements on HTV. Only the "Carlton" name was used on air, however Central's regional news programmes retained the "Central" brand.
With the merger of Carlton and Granada on 2 February 2004, the brand became ITV1 Central. Central Independent Television is currently owned by ITV plc and on 29 December 2006, Central's registered company name was changed from Central Independent Television Ltd to ITV Central Ltd.
Initially, Central inherited ATV's 1970s Broad Street studios, ATV Centre, which was renamed Central House when the contractor changed its name; It was retained as Central's main base of activity until 1996. Upon winning the franchise, Central decided to construct new studios for its East sub-region, based in Nottingham, Lenton Lane. (This move was even brought in to play in one of its most famous shows Boon when the main characters moved from Birmingham to Nottingham in its fourth series in 1989.) This facility was to be called 'The Television House'. Until the new Nottingham studios were ready, Central operated from a converted facility on an industrial estate at Giltbrook, near Eastwood on the outskirts of Nottingham. Operations at Nottingham were to be staffed by employees originally based at Elstree, which led to many problems due to the relocation, including industrial action (in fact, it was because of this industrial action that the promised separate news service for the East Midlands did not begin until 1984, by which time they had vacated Giltbrook).
In 1994, the company's new owners Carlton acquired land on Gas Street, Birmingham, to begin work on building a new digital studio complex, with the intention of replacing Central's Broad Street studios. The new centre was completed in 1997, when Central West's regional news department moved from its Broad Street base. A tribute to the Broad Street studios was broadcast on Central News West.
Having been one of the first fully computerised news programmes, Central News South was again a pioneer of new technology when, in the Spring of 2001, state-of-the-art Quantel digital video servers and edit suites were installed, along with a complete re-fit of camera and VTR equipment, placing Central South at the forefront of digital news-gathering in regional news.
In February 2004, ITV plc announced plans to close and sell the Nottingham Lenton Lane production centre. Following the closure of the studios, a new news-gathering centre was established in the city, but production of Central News East moved to Central's Birmingham Gas Street studio in Spring 2005. The former studio complex is now part of The University of Nottingham and is known as 'King's Meadow Campus'. It still maintains one Studio (Studio 7), and this is rented out to television and film Companies, generating income for the University.
In October 2004, ITV plc closed Central's presentation/transmission department and moved transmission to the Northern Transmission Centre in Leeds. Although there was heavy opposition, the role of presentation and transmission at Birmingham had been significantly reduced after network presentation was centralised to LNN in London in 2002 and so there was an inevitability that this function would be moved out. CITV (Children's ITV), which had been presented from Central's Birmingham studios since 1983, was also re-homed to Granada's studios in Manchester, with all content pre-recorded and with out-of vision presentation.
It was announced on 6 June 2006 that Central News South's existence as a news region was to end after 17 years when the eastern half of the region (the area served by the Oxford transmitter) would merge its operations with Meridian West's output, forming a new news region named ITV Thames Valley and a new news programme, Thames Valley Tonight would begin. Originally, the changes were supposed to make over 40 workers redundant from the closure of Central South's Abingdon base, however this was later reduced to 20. The last edition was broadcast on Sunday 3 December, although there was a pan-regional Central News broadcast the following morning during GMTV. At the same time, ITV West's broadcast footprint was expanded to cover North Gloucestershire from the West's Bristol studios, while Herefordshire re-joined Central News West from Birmingham. Abingdon was retained as a newsgathering base, whilst equipment was sold off.
In September 2007, Central House on Broad Street was covered in scaffolding, ready for demolition, which commenced the following month. The facade, exhibition hall and studio block still remain as of November 2009.
A documentary about the Broad Street studios complex is in the process of being put together. Entitled 'From ATVLand In Colour' (referring to the nickname used on Tiswas, and the building being purpose-built by ATV for colour broadcasting), the documentary features presenters, actors, announcers and behind-the-scenes staff talking about their time working in the studios, and the programmes that were made there by Central, and predecessor ATV. Contributors include Chris Tarrant, Shaw Taylor, Jane Rossington and Bob Carolgees.
ITV have since also sold the Gas Street office building to Cube Real Estate, a commercial property developer, which has refurbished the interior of the building. While Central maintains office space and a single ground floor studio, the other studio and floors are available to rent as office space. The property is marketed as '22 Gas Street'.
Central currently operates two sub-regions with shared involvement in a third:
- Central West – based in Birmingham Gas Street.
- Central East – with newsgathering centre in Nottingham but now based in Birmingham Gas Street.
- ITV Thames Valley – Now merged with Meridian. Previously two sub-regions; Central South and Meridian North, merged in 2006. They merged again in 2009 with Meridian. Central South's Abingdon base was retained as a news-gathering centre and general office, however produced from Meridian's studios in Whiteley, Hampshire.
Upon launch, Central's on screen presentation featured a sphere which resembled as moon/total eclipses would burst open with light, before reforming, accompanied by a light jingle, but was dropped and revised during 1982, so the moon ident would just be flashed with colour spectrum appearing to its left hand side. This ident was dropped in 1985 except for Front and end caps on Networked programmes until 1988.
In August 1985 a new presentation package "One to watch" was launched using the Cake Which saw the moon redesigned into a 3-dimensional computer graphics shapes to from the Central 'Cake' while still keeping the colour spectrum on the left. Originally it was only used for continuity purposes, but by 1986 it become an ident in its own right. In 1987 a new Promotion package was introduced called Lets Get Together while Front-end idents were dropped in September 1987 for all show. By 1988, a new station logo was adopted, featuring all the elements of the disc. The new logo was a circle in shape, but with a curved line running down the left hand side and five horizontal lines dividing the sphere up into twelve segments. The left six segments were coloured red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple and the whole symbol was computer animated. The symbol, nicknamed The Cake, would have a variety of form ups, mainly involved with bringing the segments together or applying the colour to the symbol. The soundtrack was the same composition, but played in a variety of different ways.
Central adopted the ITV 1989 generic look as another ident to use alongside the Cake. The generic ident was used in its raw form, with altered music, and as part of another ident giving greater emphasis to the cake but was dropped in 1990. Between 1988 and 1997, well over 10,000 different piece of variations were made, including break bumpers, ident, "next" or many other features, Which give the channel a hugh range of presentation. The last batch to be created was in 1997, in which the cake became more abstract with both more advanced computer graphics used and more live action models and sequences.
The cake' lasted 12 years before being replaced in April 1998, by adapting a version of the idents used by Carlton who had been using since 1996. This featured the name Central in the font Gill Sans in centre screen against a bright and colourful background. The idents featured a 2D animation of either the letters interacting in some way, a letter being replaced with another object, or the word being part of a larger scene, such as a cross word of place names in the region. The look was to subside however in 1999.
Central adopted the Carlton 'Star' branding in 6 September 1999, shortly before much of the network adopted the second generic look under the theme of 'Hearts'. The Carlton idents featured an opening film featuring a heart at the end, before a star shaped light came from the heart, engulfing the screen, and showing the endboard, which featured a background of spinning stars in different colours with the brand name centre screen above an ITV logo. The ident itself technically was praised, however the presentational package received complaints and criticisms due to the fact that the Central brand was replaced by the Carlton brand. These idents only featured the Carlton name on screen but the announcements that featured with idents used the name "Carlton for the Central Region" and separate continuity was retained.
ITV Central 
In August 2001 the ITV1 brand was formed, which replaced the 'ITV' on the Carlton idents. As the ITV1 idents began to be used on their own more and more, and Carlton and Granada owned all the franchises in England and Wales, Carlton and Granada decided to axe regional branding, and replace it with a full-time ITV1 identity. Before regional programmes, the logo 'ITV1 Carlton' was used, until late 2003, when they were known as 'ITV1 for Central England'. The regional idents began to be used less and less, and by 2006, on most days, the only regional branding was for the regional news. In November 2006, the Central Brand was taken away forever, when regional idents were axed. It would then be known as just ITV1 at all times.
The Carlton brand continued to be seen on production captions until February 2004, when the caption A Carlton Production or A Carlton Production for Central England being used. This was replaced, following the merger of Granada plc and Carlton Communications to form ITV plc, with an ITV regional logo featuring the word Central below the ITV logo. Today, all productions have been moved away from the Midlands region, and any productions are accredited to ITV Studios.
On 14 January 2013, the station's on-air identity was changed to ITV, along with all other ITV plc-owned franchises.
The company performed strongly on programming, carrying on several ATV shows, most notably the soap-opera Crossroads and the hit Drama series Boon. Original programming included the comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (more recently revived by the BBC) and the game shows The Price is Right, Bullseye and Blockbusters.
On the second day of transmissions, Central made a poor impression to viewers when the Tiswas spin-off O.T.T. went on air. The show was hosted by Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry and Helen Atkinson Wood. Though it did receive 13 million viewers on that night, it was criticised for being "too sexist" and it did not help that the opening titles were of a naked blow-up doll floating around the screen. Though its viewing figures would normally have earned another series, it was cancelled after the first series, mainly due to its risky and dangerous acts.
Aside from continuing the theme of ATV, Central also produced the heavyweight drama Walter for the first evening of Channel 4. A critically acclaimed drama it starred Ian McKellen in the eponymous lead role as a handicapped man adjusting to life after the death of his mother. The company also produced the detective drama Inspector Morse in association with Zenith Productions, a production company originally set up to be an in-house subsidiary of Central specialising in high-cost filmed drama, but which in 1987 was sold to Carlton Communications, the company that eventually was to purchase Central itself. Like ATV, Central was also a large contributor to programmes for schools and colleges on the ITV network.
It scored a failure however with the 1987 comedy Hardwicke House, about an anarchic comprehensive school. The first two episodes received so much public condemnation that the remainder were never transmitted.
Christmas 1990 saw Central enjoy its largest audience ever for a Christmas Show with well in excess of 16 million viewers for a pantomime special edition of Family Fortunes, produced by Tony Wolfe and Associate Producer Roger Edwards.
Whereas local news had been a constant criticism of ATV, Central invested more effort into it. As well as the east and west regions, in 1989 a third sub-region covering the South Midlands was created. With a news studio in Abingdon (near Oxford), Central News South was at the time of its creation the most automated news operation in the country. The service was launched on 9 January 1989, the opening night being fraught with technical problems. Presenters Wesley Smith and Anne Dawson co-presented the main programme, and were the longest-serving co-presenters of any ITV regional news programme, until Dawson's departure in 2003 to become a college lecturer. She was replaced as main presenter by Hannah Stewart-Jones, formerly of Channel TV.
As well as previously being at the heart of the ITV Network's children's and schools programming, Central was also a significant contributor to network sport production. Until it was moved to London (and merged with the London News Network's operations to form ITV Sport Productions), Central's sport department, under the leadership of Gary Newbon (who also occasionally appeared on-screen as a reporter and presenter), produced nearly all of ITV's football coverage (from FA Cup to UEFA Champions' League). Following its disbandment, Newbon moved to presenting full-time, first for talkSPORT, then Sky Sports.
Notable programmes 
- "Central: Idents". TV Live. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "Central ITV". Channel 3 Broadcast Licenses. Ofcom. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Rogers, Jeremy. "ATV (Associated Television) History". Independent TeleWeb. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Rogers, Jeremy. "Central Television History". Independent TeleWeb. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Robertson, Jason. "ATV History". sub-TV. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Buxton, Roddy. "A trip to Giltbrook". Studio One. Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Buxton, Roddy. "A trip to Broad Street". Studio One. Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "King's Meadow Campus". University of Nottingham. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- Holmwood, Leigh (20 September 2006). "Launch of ITV region delayed". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "The Press Release". ATVLAND.production. Retrieved 20 April 2012.[dead link]
- "Central Ident 1982". YouTube. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "Central Index". TVARK. TVARK. Retrieved 25 July 2011. Pages contain video images of all the idents.
- Barnes, Steve. "Carlton Midlands Index". TVARK. TVARK. Retrieved 25 July 2011.Contains videos of the idents.
- TVARK | Central Television | Programmes
- ITV faces live news fine Jason Deans, The Guardian, 5 April 2005
- Attorney General v ITV Central Ltd 5RB, 15 July 2008
- A £25,000 contempt of court fine for ITV Central Press Gazette, 16 July 2008