Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The day ITV broke out

My grandfather always called ITV "the soap programme". Not that "soap opera" was common parlance in September 1955 when ITV was launched but it was assumed that any TV which wasn't funded by a licence fee was paid for by detergent advertising, which was to a certain extent true.

In our house we only had BBC. When ITV first arrived in 1955 we didn't have it. That must have required a different aerial. We didn't get that until years later. I remember I was at a friend's house and tried to wangle myself permission to stay for tea to watch "Champion The Wonder Horse". My friend's mother said, why didn't I go home because, you never know, you might be able to watch it there.

I trudged home reluctantly and found my mother and sister having tea in front of the newly-adapted TV and, magically, "Champion The Wonder Horse".

Meals were never taken in front of the TV in my house. This was a very special day. Two channels. Bewildering choice.


  1. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, now we have hundreds of channels and sometimes my wife and I can't find anything we both want to watch. There are still some superb things on TV but a great deal of 'filler', stuff that isn't a complete waste of time but doesn't make any difference to your life whether you see it or not.

  2. Back in the ancient times of my childhood, very few people had a telly. BBC was the only channel, of course.

    Our next door neighbour had a massive “H” aerial fastened to wooden stake as tall as telegraph pole. There were a few more of these on the estate, but this giant was almost in our garden.

    A couple of school pal neighbours did have a BBC telly and when ITV came along, they (their parents, I mean) snapped it up. New telly, new aerial. I’ve never discovered whether the new aerial was truly essential. But that’s what people were told and so that’s what they did.

    Based on David’s recollections I’m clearly wrong, because I saw Champion The Wonder Horse on a neighbour’s set before we got ours, and I thought it was on BBC. Along with The Range Rider and The Cisco Kid. Oh well.

    We didn’t get a telly until 1957/8, a Regentone. A splendid piece of furniture, it came complete with ITV and to accommodate it we had a special ITV aerial installed on the chimney. Channel 10 was ITV, Channel 2 was BBC. Bliss was it….etcetera.

  3. at the risk of raining on your parade Dave, Champion was on BBC
    see this RadioTimes from 1959

  4. Must have been My Friend Flicka then. It was something involving a miraculous horse.

  5. Maybe it was Mr Ed?