|The ITV region
in the North of Scotland was established in
1961 with VHF transmitters serving the areas
around Aberdeen and Inverness. Grampian Television
won the contract in 1960.
The Grampian story began in a granite
built tram depot in the westend of Aberdeen.
Humble beginings for what was to be an industry
pushing forward the frontiers of technology.
The BBC with it’s monopoly of the
air in sound and vision was firmly entrenched
but Britain's newest independent television
station was set to change that.
As viewers in the North East of Scotland
scanned their first edition of the Grampian
TV Times on Saturday the 30th of September
1961. At 2.45 pm Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick Chairman
of the Independent Television Authority
threw the switch and welcomed Grampian viewers
to the Independent Television Network. Grampian
was on air and their first programme at
2.46 pm was Racing From Catterick Bridge.
UHF transmitters in the north-east began
in 1971 and the transmitter building programme
continued until coverage extended across
northern Scotland to the Orkneys and Shetlands,
the Western isles and parts of the west
coast northwards from the isle of Skye.
By 1979 there were eight main UHF transmitters,
thirty-six UHF relay stations and five VHF
stations. As one of the smallest ITV regions
in the number of viewers, geographically,
it became the largest - stretching some
200 miles from Aberdeen in the east to the
Isle of Lewis in the west, and some 400
miles from the Shetlands in the north to
Fife in the south. Aberdeen, Inverness and
Perth were the major centres of the population.
In the specifications by the IBA, this contract
area from 1982, the enlarged coverage was
recognised in a change of name from North-East
Scotland to North Scotland.
Among the noteworthy features of Grampian’s
output was the way it reflected the life
of North Scotland. As the financial position
improved during the 1970’s, priority
was given nevertheless to expanding news
and current affairs coverage, particularly
from Dundee and Inverness. Grampian pioneered
the concept of subsidiary studios with cameras
equipment remotely controlled from headquarters
‘Flare up Shetland’, shown in September
1972, was Grampian’s first oil documentary.
So great was local interest and involvement
in the oil phenomenon, that a series of
hour-long debates followed at peak viewing
times that autumn, when Grampian moved into
colour production. ‘What Price Oil?’
was launched, the series was presented by
the then Head Of News, Charles Smith and
won an award for the programme having done
most to promote the understanding of trade
industry. Later developments in the news
department equipped the company to become
a valuable supplier to ITN, and coverage
of the disaster in the Ekofisk field in
April 1977 was a world scoop, screened in
107 countries. This was to be followed by
a networked documentary, ‘Blow Out
In 1978, Grampian became the first company
in mainland Britain to introduce ENG (Electronic
News Gathering) units at its three centres
in Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness. Grampian
was also the first small regional company
to have its own outside broadcast unit,
initially built by its own engineers and
using the same cameras as the main studio.
Designed originally for football coverage,
the unit was soon in use for church services
and entertainment programmes as well.
The most significant event affecting the
company’s programme policy and financial
well-being during this period, was the discovery
and development of North sea oil. Nearly
all the major fields were off the coast
of Grampian’s region and, as Europe’s
off shore oil capital, Aberdeen suddenly
became a "boomtown". The impact
of the oil industry affected every aspect
of life - housing communications and public
services commerce, industry and employment.
All of this came to be reflected in Grampian’s
news programmes, News and Views –
Wednesday File, Grampian Week, and Grampian
News. By 1978 Grampian Today the nightly
news magazine programme was launched five
nights a week by that time Grampian was
transmitting to the north and north east
of Scotland the programme name had to change
to reflect true coverage of the region.
North Tonight was born in 1980 and Presented
by Selina Scott and John Duncanson.