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Television South West
TSW Logo.jpg
Based in Plymouth
Broadcast area Devon
South & West Somerset
West Dorset
Launched 1 January 1982
Closed 31 December 1992
Replaced Westward
Replaced by Westcountry
Owned by Self-owned

Television South West (TSW) was the ITV franchise holder for the South West England region from 1 January 1982 until 31 December 1992, broadcasting from the former Westward Television studios in Plymouth, Devon.



On 28 December 1980 Television South West was awarded the contract to serve the south-west of England from 1 January 1982 for a ten-year period, succeeding incumbent Westward, which had served the area since 1961.

TSW promised greater investment in the area including the introduction of Electronic News Gathering facilities at a number of sites in the region (a process already started by Westward) and a stronger emphasis on local programming (an area in which Westward were particularly successful).

However TSW's success in winning the contract may have been helped by boardroom friction within Westward which had blighted the company for several years and incurred criticism from the Independent Broadcasting Authority. During negotiations to purchase Westward's facilities at Derry's Cross, Plymouth the management of TSW bought the whole company for £2.38million and thus went on-air four months early in August 1981, although they transmitted under the Westward name until the end of the year.

The studios, which had suffered from a lack of investment under Westward Television, were completely refurbished with a £4 million investment programme which saw the introduction of new production equipment and an additional studio being constructed. The refurbishment was completed two years later


Like its predecessor, TSW produced few programmes for the ITV network. Exceptions to this included the game shows, That's My Dog and Sounds Like Music and children's cartoon Tube Mice, about mice who lived beneath the London Underground. It also produced The Cut Price Comedy Show, a short-lived production broadcast in the early days of Channel 4. Locally, TSW continued to utilise the Westward star Gus Honeybun, a rabbit puppet that (along with the station's continuity announcers) read out birthday dedications on-air to children from the area, who had sent in their cards to him.

TSW also specialised in making relatively highbrow programmes for the region; in the arts world, it produced documentaries showcasing amongst others, leading concert pianist Moura Lympany, potter Bernard Leach, and sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

TSW was one of the last ITV companies to start broadcasting 24 hours, which it did so in September 1988, alongside Border, Tyne Tees and Grampian. However, it was one of the first ITV companies to start broadcasting in Nicam Digital Stereo, which it started doing in summer 1990.

TSW was seen as slightly more ambitious than both its predecessor Westward Television and its successor Westcountry Television and its presentation, although still homelier than much seen on ITV and not dissimilar to that of Westward, was considered more professional than its forebear.

Station idents

TSW's original ident (a jingle that preceded station output) attracted much derision for failing to reflect the identity of the area it served. Although the static version showed green hills and a river to symbolize the West Country, the bubble and wave animation of the moving version was said to confuse viewers. In 1985 the ident was remodeled solely on the hills and river motif with a reworking of the accompanying tune. Whereas the original used a mixture of CGI and stop-frame animation the latter comprised purely of CGI. The ident was originally created by a graphic designer called, Paul Honeywill, who said in the 2001 documentary, 40 Years of ITV In The South-West: "It doesn't actually represent anything in particular, but through its simplicity it stays in your brain.".

Their first ident from 1982, was on a black background, with an overhead view of a static television screen with a red border around it. A blue square comes out of the screen. The square curves and starts to cover the screen as a pink volcano-like thing rises out of the screen. Once the screen is covered, it is now a blue sphere. The sphere splits into three and then six in a mitosis like effect. The spheres then flip to reveal that they are green hemispheres with a blue interior. The hemispheres then form pairs at various angles (looking a bit like the Sydney Opera House) and move toward the center of the screen. A blue zigzag line appears below them and "TSW" appears below the line. The music accompanying the ident was a section of the station theme, That's Soul, Write, written and composed by Will Malone, which was also aired regularly at closedown until 1986.

The remodeled 1986 ident was on a fading sky background, with 3 pairs of green semicircles (same design as the first logo) that flip from the bottom of the screen into 2D at the middle of the screen. The blue zigzag line comes with them and flips back into its normal place as the 3D letters "T", "S", and "W" appear from the top of the screen and spin a little as they go to their normal place.

In September 1989, when ITV introduced its first official corporate logo and national on-air identity, TSW was one of the five regions that refused to use the generic idents that were designed for their respective regions, each preferring to stay with their distinctive on-screen branding instead. In the case of TSW, the station instead chose to launch seasonal idents which would continue to be utilised, alongside the 1986 ident, until it went off air in 1992. Anglia, Channel, TVS and Ulster also chose to opt out of the network branding.

Scheduling opt-outs

TSW was a notably regional company, declaring itself as a channel in its own right, rather than just being part of the ITV network. It had a reputation for scheduling to suit its own requirements, and would often broadcast particular shows at different times to the other ITV regions or even opt-out of network activity completely.

Such notable scheduling changes included:

  • The replacement of ITV's major networked film for Christmas Day 1982, The Black Hole, with a Peter Falk film entitled The Inlaws - the then chief executive of TSW, Kevin Goldstein-Jackson had rejected the film as "rubbish". It was finally aired a few months later.
  • A regional Saturday morning show for children, The Saturday Show, replaced the final series of Central's Tiswas and its replacement, also called The Saturday Show. TSW's programme was later renamed as Freeze Frame to avoid confusion. It was axed in 1986 and replaced by TVS's networked series, Number 73.
  • The otherwise popular local gardening series, Gardens for All, controversially replaced screenings of Yorkshire Television's children's drama series Follyfoot, mid-way through the latter's repeat run. Viewer pressure later forced TSW to broadcast the remainder of the series.
  • Weekday editions of Gus Honeybun's Magic Birthdays often replaced the first & last Children's ITV in-vision continuity links of the day. As Gus was usually shown before & after Children's ITV, the links were opted-out of to give Gus some more air-time. This practice lasted for around 3 years from 1987 - 1990.
    TSW's TV listings from "Look-In" magazine, August 1989.
    However, following a request from the Children's ITV committee & also the rescheduling of popular Australian soap Home And Away, the opt-outs were phased out by January 1990, with only 3 more opt-outs ever happening; one day in early 1990, once again on the 20th December 1991 & finally on one day in August 1992.
  • The Australian soap, Home and Away was moved from its 5:10pm teatime repeat slot to a much earlier time-slot of 3:27pm on 20 September 1989. It stayed in this afternoon time-slot for 3 years, as TSW argued the move was necessary because they didn't want to schedule two quiz shows together, although their argument gradually became non-existent. It also meant the same episode of the show was broadcast twice in 3 hours, as the lunch-time first showing was at 12:30pm (later moved to 1:20pm in 1991) and a lot of the show's teenage audience missed the show, as they were still at school during both showings. However, it was rumoured that the actual reason for the move was to give Gus Honeybun some more air-time, therefore also ending anymore Children's ITV opt-outs. In September 1992, TSW finally moved the show back to a later slot of 6:30pm, for their final three months on-air. TSW's successors, Westcountry Television then moved the show back to its original 5:10pm slot on the 4 January 1993. Westcountry had replaced TSW 3 days earlier on 1 January 1993. After the move, TSW showed a number of other programmes in the 5:10pm slot, most notably the Australian/UK soap Families, the Scottish soap Take The High Road, Sportsmasters (a short-lived sports quiz show, presented by Dickie Davies) & repeats of the popular quiz show, Blockbusters.
  • The networked sitcom, The Piglet Files, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, was not shown on TSW until a few months after its original run in all other ITV regions.
  • Another networked sitcom, The Nineteenth Hole, starring Eric Sykes, was dropped mid-run after complaints from viewers regarding its politically incorrect humour. TSW replaced the series with compilations from the Carry On films. South-West viewers had to wait until UK Gold repeated the series almost a decade later to see the missing episodes.
  • The ITV Chart Show was dropped on occasions (mostly for special programmes) so that TSW could show its weekly news review for the deaf, The South West Week. But as this show was only 30 minutes long though, to fill up the 1-hour time slot, they would show another random half-hour show, such as repeats of Batman or America's Top Ten (which was normally shown as part of their Nightime service).

Additionally, Channel Television, the ITV contractor for the Channel Islands required a network feed from another nearby ITV region on the mainland, which was provided by Westward Television for many years, until they lost their franchise in 1981. TSW took over the requirement from 1982, until 1986, when Channel got tired of their many scheduling foilbles & switched to TVS for the feed instead. After TVS lost their franchise in the 1991 ITV auction round, Meridian Broadcasting provided the network feed from 1993 onwards.

Franchise loss

On 16 October 1991, following changes to the way ITV contracts were issued (now via a blind auction rather than a bid on merits and potential) it was announced that TSW had lost its franchise because of an 'unrealistic business plan' related to its bid, which was viewed by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) as being far too high. This triggered TSW to apply for a judicial review against the ITC, on the grounds that its bid had been unfairly dismissed. The case went right to the House of Lords, but was rejected in February 1992. The implications of the court case did change the behaviour of the ITC into being more open with regards to its business.

Westcountry Television were the south-west region franchise winners and took over from TSW at midnight on 1 January 1993. Westcountry chose not to purchase the studios of TSW at Derry's Cross, preferring new facilities just outside Plymouth, at Langage Science Park, Plympton instead. The old TSW studios were then stripped with the equipment being auctioned, and the building itself was converted into office space. A solicitors practice called Foot Anstey (formerly Foot & Bowden) were then based there until 16th March 2009 [1] The site is due to be demolished to make way for an adjacent retail development.

The End of TSW

On 31 December 1992, TSW marked its final transmission with a number of special programmes and continuity links. Continuity announcers Sally Meen and Tristram Payne shared the daytime announcing/newsreading shift with Ian Stirling and Ruth Langsford taking over for the final evening shift. The day's schedule included the final edition of Gus Honeybun's Magic Birthdays, a repeat of the award-winning documentary, A Day in the Life of...Beryl Cook and a one-hour TSW Today special featuring the last regional news bulletin and an expansive lookback at TSW's programming.

The final sign-off announcement was made by Ian Stirling and Ruth Langsford at 11:55pm - after which, TSW handed over to ITN for news headlines and the midnight chimes of Big Ben in a brief news bulletin entitled Into The New Year. At the end of the bulletin, transmission was switched from the Derry's Cross studios in Plymouth to HTV Wales in Cardiff from where Westcountry Television transmission would originate - thus ending TSW's 11 years of broadcasting to the South West of England and ending 31 years of broadcasting from Derry's Cross Studios.

South West Film and Television Archive

Upon losing the franchise, the directors of TSW established a public film and television archive, based around the back catalogue of Westward and TSW programmes they owned. They created the TSW Film and Television Archive, one of the first and largest of what has now become a network of regional film archives. The archive is a charitable trust, existing to preserve the region's moving image heritage. It is open to the public and holds film and television recordings from a wide variety of sources, including donations from the general public.

TSWFTA (renamed the SWFTA in 2003) holds the entire surviving back catalogue of Westward and TSW programmes, together with archive material from BBC South West several tens of thousands of other items (which all have a connection to the south-west of England) donated by members of the general public. The SWFTA aims to preserve moving image material as a resource for future generations. With five staff, four of whom came from TSW, they regularly supply material for a wide variety of educational and other uses. They provide community film shows, and help anyone with an interest in using or viewing the material they hold.

UK Safety Group

After the franchise loss, TSW undertook a reverse takeover with the White Ward Group, makers of safety footwear and associated articles. The name of the company was changed to UK Safety Ltd, and traded for a number of years, before entering administrative receivership.



External links

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