By Peter Raven
From the beginning of it’s franchise in the Midlands, ATV offered its viewers a regional news service. Originally called ATV Midlands News, the programme consisted of a news bulletin read by a ‘news caster’. One of the first ‘news casters’ was Patricia Cox who read the news for the Midlands from the studios at Aston. There were other ‘features’ programmes which complemented the news output such as Midlands Montage which looked at every day life in the Midlands.
In 1964 ATV decided to change it’s news output, combining the elements of the ‘features’ programmes and the ATV Midlands News, thus ATV Today was born.
Originally coming from the Alpha Studios at Aston the news would be read by presenters like Reg Harcourt. The process of gathering the news was fairly complicated because the news offices were located at ATVs Birmingham HQ in the city centre, the film processing was done by a company in Erdington and the studios were of course at Aston.
In 1968, ATV retained its Midlands franchise and set about building a new studio complex in the centre of Birmingham. ATV Today was the first programme to be broadcast from this new television centre in November 1969 – in colour. The programme was now being made more or less under one roof, with the news offices and film processing now located in the basement of the new centre and the studio upstairs on the second floor. Studio 3 at the ATV Centre on Bridge Street would be the home of ATV Today until it’s demise in 1981.
Many presenters came and went over the years, but included these familiar names: Reg Harcourt, Margaret Hounsel, Derek Hobson, Chris Tarrant, John Swallow, Bob Warman, Wendy Nelson, Anne Diamond, Geoff Meade, Len Tingle, Wendy Jones, Billy Wright, Gary Newbon and Nick Owen.
Peter Raven is Co-Producer and Director of “From Headlines to ‘Tight-Lines’ – The Story of ATV Today” and Director of “From ATVLAND In Colour”.