Bye Bye LWT.

Posted on 28 October 2002 in Television (No comments)

5:15am. The front room is rather cold.

I'd had a pretty sleepless night - the noise of the gushing wind battering the trees outside had kept me awake. I'd had about an hours sleep since going to bed around half eleven. To make matters worse, the clocks have gone back and I've gained an extra hour. Awake.

The pointless ITV Nightscreen is flickering away with some dreadful musak playing. If you've never seen it, it is the epitamy of pointless TV - a dull text information service probably done in Powerpoint, promoting ITV's dull programmes.

5:26. What'd I'd been waiting, what I'd got out of bed for (well I wasn't asleep so it was no loss) had arrived.

ITV Nightscreen abruptly faded out. A blue caption appears showing Transmitters in Service - analogue and digital.

Music starts playing. It's called A Well Swung Fanfair, but most people won't know that. An old LWT blue, white and red logo appears on screen.

Eh?

October 27th, 2002 was the last day on air for LWT. After 34 years, a proud and long lasting television brand was to be scrapped in favour of dull, boring, corporate monotony.

The big-wigs at ITV had decided their main channel needed a single identity of ITV1. Regional names would be relegated to appearing to appearing before regional programmes only. For LWT, it was one step further. The station's very identity would be removed and buried under the name ITV1 London. LWT's weekday counterpart Carlton would suffer the same fate.

LWT was going out in style, with a specially made startup sequence, a ritual hailing from the days when commercial television started the day with pomp and ceremony. Each station had one until the 1980s.

The Early Worm...

Okay it was at 5:25am, but it probably had more viewers than the rest of ITV1 put together (who were all still suffering the 'delights' of ITV Nightscreen).

The modern startup broadcast to the band of viewers watching or taping were in for a treat.

And there's more.

The nostalgia continued at 9:25 when GMTV handed back to LWT. In the days of TVam, this usually contained various picture problems as the switch was made. Some were replicated for us. Sadly I was asleep, having finally managed to drift off at 6:15, and my attempts to video it were foiled.

Then hours later at 23:14, the usual LWT logo was replaced by one of the best logos from LWT's history. A three colour ribbon tracing out a stylised path of the Thames, before morphing into three letters. LWT.

We're invited us to tune in an our later for a short tribute to LWT, after one of LWT's most famous programmes, The South Bank Show.

(Actually I'm in bed at this point, asleep. Thank goodness for videos.)

And so it came to pass...

An hour later and viewers and LWT says goodbye for the last time, before handing over to the generic night time continuity. From today (Monday), all continuity on ITV1 in England will come from London - but non of the LWT team will be staying.

But you can't let a great name like LWT go out with a whimper. Can you?

Of course not!

The LWT ident plays, before fading into a shot of the transmission suite, the camera moving into the continuity booth where we see the back of the man who has been talking to us all evening - LWT announcer Glen Thompsett is there, with his colleague Trish Bertram.

The pair tell us what is to come. According to Trish, "ITV1 will be commin' at ya with a whole new look" - interesting choice of words there. (Still trying to work out whether there was some hidden meaning to it).

And the pair bow out, but not before giving us a treat. A review of 34 years of LWT's presentation.

Gone but not forgotten.

With that, it was goodbye. Goodbye LWT. Technically LWT will still be around, as a programme producer and as the technical owner of the London weekend ITV franchise. But before our programmes, national continuity. From Newcastle to Newbury, St Ives to Stratford, it will all be the same.

For London it will be as if two companies have become one. They haven't of course, but the average viewer won't know that.

ITV lost something last night - its character, its soul. What made it special. What made it unique in this country. Except for viewers in Scotland and Northern Ireland who have their own presentation.

But let us not dwell on that. LWT's departure did at least happened in style. To have it just disappear as HTV Wales (now ITV1 Wales) did, would have been a tragedy.

To all those inside and outside LWT who made sure the send off was so special, a big thank you from me. We'll have some fond memories to remember you by.

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