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50 golden TV memories from 'the other side'

BEFORE the advent of satellite and digital television the BBC's only challenge came from commercial television in the form of ITV. To celebrate ITV's 50th birthday, we look back at half a century of "channel three".

1. On ITV's opening night on September 22, 1955, only 170,000 TV sets were equipped to pick up the channel and, of those, a mere 100,000 tuned in.

2. ITV's first night was introduced by Leslie Mitchell, who 19 years earlier had presented the opening of BBC TV.

3. The first advert on British television was for Gibbs SR toothpaste.

4. Barbara Mandell was the first female newsreader on British television. She read the News At Noon on ITV's second day of broadcasting.

5. Soap powder and household cleaners were the most advertised products in ITV's first five years. But washing powders that claimed to 'wash whiter than white' were banned by the ITA.

6. ITV was first referred to as CTV, ITA, Channel 9 or simply 'the other side'.

7. Take Your Pick was ITV's first Friday night gameshow in 1955.

8. Rolf Harris, crayon in hand, appeared during ITV's first week on air. Harris, then 25, was just one of three TV regulars still appearing on ITV in the 1990s.

9. In 1960, there were complaints from Labour MPs that there were far too many commercial breaks.

10. By its 10th birthday in 1965 ITV's audience had grown with over 12 million homes tuning into the channel.

11. In 1967 the infamous 'Bongs at 10' hailed the arrival of the News At Ten with Alastair Burnet. It was the first news to have a commercial break.

12. 1958 saw the TV debut of Laurence Olivier in Ibsen, newcomer Roger Moore star as Ivanhoe and Bruce Forsythe join the Palladium as host.

13. Prince Charles gave his first public TV interview to Brian Connell on ITV and Cliff Michelmore from the BBC, in 1969, when he was 20.

14. In 1957 the first recording machines were introduced, making it possible to tape programmes for later transmission.

15. TV history was made in 1961 with the start of Coronation Street. What started as a 13-week try-out in December 1960 turned into a TV phenomenon. To date, Corrie has never fallen out of the charts.

16. The ban on showing toilet bowls in commercials was lifted in 1972. Up to then the rule had been: '. . . toilet cleanser may be shown on a bathroom window ledge or being above the actual toilet, but this should not reveal any part of the toilet itself.'

17. Emmerdale Farm was launched on daytime television in 1972. After the first series, Yorkshire TV was forced to abandon their location as the residents were getting fed up with tourists.

18. ITV bought the TV rights for the first six James Bond films for £850,000 in 1974. One cinema owner described the sale as 'Not only killing the golden goose, but auctioning off the eggs'.

19. In 1973, Gerald Pasqua, of Sussex, booked a seven-second commercial on Thames TV to sell his house. It cost him £380, he received 30 calls and sold the house for £85,000.

20. The South Bank show began in 1978 with a profile of Paul McCartney - Songsmith.

21. Ken Barlow and Deirdre Langton of Corrie fame were married in 1981, the same week of the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Dianna Spencer. Ken and Deirdre recently remarried, just the day before Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles.

22. The Bill began as a one-off play called Woodentop in a 1983 series called Storyboard.

23. In an incredibly frank documentary, Prince Charles first admitted to Jonathan Dimbleby in 1994, that he had been unfaithful to the Princess of Wales, but only after the marriage had 'irretrievably broken down'.

24. During a live Armchair Theatre production in 1958, one of the cast dies but the play continues.

25. An all-out strike at the BBC meant victory for ITV in 1978 ratings. The victory was particularly sweet for Anglia Television who produced the top two shows in prime time: Sale Of The Century and a Survival Special.

26. Brideshead Revisited seemed almost doomed to fail through two years of production, but it was watched by over 10 million viewers across 11 episodes in 1980. It also won seven of its 13 BAFTA nominations including Best Drama Series.

27. In 1989, 5,000 people responded to Coronation Street's call for a new moggie to grace its opening credits. After exhaustive auditions, they chose Frisky, a pretty tortoiseshell who was seen basking on the roof three-times-a-week.

28. Unknown Catherine Zeta-Jones is made an overnight star in the The Darling Buds of May in 1989.

29. The Morecambe And Wise Show was the start of Eric and Ernie's phenomenal comedy success in 1962. It was their first series since a failed showcase called Running Wild in 1952.

30. ITV2 launched in December 1998 and ITV3 in November 2004. ITV4 is due to launch on November 1

Round our way:

31. Anglia, ITV's station for the east of England, launched on October 1959.

32. Lord Townsend and Sir Ivan Kirkpatrick pressed the switch the put Anglia on air.

33. The first programme was Introducing Anglia, presented by Drew Russell.

34. The station's famous ident, The Anglia Knight, was originally made as a sports trophy for the King of the Netherlands more than 100 years ago. It was made of sterling silver and weighed more than 700 pounds. The music that accompanied it was an excerpt from Handel's Water Music, specially arranged for Anglia by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

35. TV was such a new and expensive thing that only a handful of viewers tuned in as the Mendlesham transmitter went into service.

36. One of the fresh faced new team who joined Anglia in 59 was Wally Sparrow. Answering an ad for a traineeship with a wage of £5 a week, Wally stayed with Anglia for 43 years until his recent retirement. "Everything was brand new, a lot of the staff had come into the industry from outside like from the Navy, post office, so it was a bunch of new people," recalls Wally. "Everybody was very keen, excited, we worked extraordinarily long hours to get it all together."

37. Probably Anglia's most famous show was Sale Of The Century, which attracted huge audiences throughout the 1970s and 80s. Making a great virtue of the fact it was recorded in Norwich, the self-styled "quiz of the week" was hosted by the incomparable Nicholas Parsons.

38. Another classic, Tales Of The Unexpected, based on the best-selling short stories of Roald Dahl, was the most expensive project Anglia had ever taken on. The first season stars included Joan Collins, Sir John Gielgud, Elaine Stritch, Susan George and Timothy West. It is still best remembered for its theme music and title sequence, in which silhouettes of naked women danced in the flames.

39. Anglia was an independent corporation for much of its existence. In 1994, it was bought by MAI, who were themselves eventually acquired by Granada. In 2004, Granada merged with Carlton to form ITV plc, which ended Anglia's existence as a separate brand.

Famous Anglia presenters:

40. Dick Joice - About Anglia's first presenter, from 1960 - 65

41. Patrick Anthony - firget the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, this TV chef was a local legend thanks to his popular cookery slot, Patrick's Pantry

42. John Bacon - probably Anglia's best- known newscaster, he began his stint on About Anglia in 1964 and stayed for more than 20 years

43. Katie Glass - long-serving on-screen continuity announcer - and presenter of the legendary Birthday Club

44. Susan Hampshire - continuity announcer and presenter of The Midday Show from 1959, Hampshire went on to become one of British TV's best-loved actresses and can currently be seen in BBC1's Monarch of the Glen

45 Christopher Robbie - continuity announcer who also played a Cyberman in Doctor Who!

46. Rosalyn Thompson - presented Anglia's long-running children's show, The Romper Room

47. Judy Finnigan - About Anglia reporter in the mid 70s. Later moved to Granada, where she met and married colleague Richard Madeley. And the rest is TV history…

48. Michael Hunt - Anglia weatherman from 1962 to 1985, famous for his magnificent moustache

49. Jim Bacon - popular weatherman who defected from the BBC to Anglia in 1986.

Cambridge connections

50. Many Cambridge University graduates went on to enjoy success on ITV. They include:

*Sir Ian McKellen (St Catharine's). Best known for his stage and film roles, McKellen recently fulfilled a long-held ambition with a stint on his favourite TV show, Coronation Street

*Stephen Fry (Queens') and Hugh Laurie (Selwyn). Scored a huge hit on ITV playing PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster

*Colin Dexter (Christ's). Dexter's creation Inspector Morse became one of ITV's most popular dramas, running for 13 years from 1987, with John Thaw in the title role

*Katie Derham (Magdalene). One of ITV's most prominent newsreaders of recent years

*David Baddiel (King's). One half of the ITV comedy hit Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned

*Sir David Frost (Gonville and Caius) - Has often switched loyalties between the BBC and ITV. One of his less glorious ITV episodes was as one of launch stars of the ill-fated TV-am - which was famously rescued from oblivion by Roland Rat

*Richard Whiteley (Christ's). The late Countdownpresenter was the main anchor of Calendar, Yorkshire Television's regional news programme, for many years

*Sid Waddell (St John's). History graduateturned- darts commentator Waddell was the brains behind The Indoor League, ITV's legendary pub sports competition, fronted by a pipe-smoking Freddie Trueman ("Ahl si thee")

*Vanessa Feltz (Trinity). Fronted her own ITV daytime studio debate show for Anglia before being fired, allegedly after demanding a huge salary increase

*Carol Vorderman (Emmanuel). Made her name on Channel 4's Countdown but has fronted loads of shows for ITV, including Carol Vorderman's Better Homes

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22 September 2005

First appeared in the Cambridge Evening News
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