Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day by Day

Day by Day (Southern TV) from Doc Sleaze on Vimeo.

We're back with my childhood memories of the old Southern TV franchise.  Most specifically, we're looking at its weekday regional magazine programme, Day by Day, broadcast in the early evening.  Growing up in a 'BBC household', I rarely got to see Day by Day, as 'we' watched the BBC equivalent, South Today.  There's no doubt that the ITV programme was far more 'flamboyant' than the BBC offering, pitching itself as much as entertainment as a serious regional news programme.  Indeed, as the clip above indicates, to today's eyes, it looks like a parody of a US local TV news programme.  The title sequence, featuring various of the regular presenters doing 'wacky' things seems particularly cringe worthy to modern eyes - especially Fred Dineage and his hat on the golf course.  Dineage was a stalwart of the programme, advancing from sports reporter to anchor during the seventies.  In between presenting Day by Day and being Dickie Davies' stand-in on World of Sport, Fred could also be found presenting the long-running Southern TV produced children's TV series How (with Jack Hargreaves of Out of Town infamy).

By the early eighties, Southern had reinforced the Day by Day presenting team with 'heavyweights' Sarah Kennedy and Cliff Michelmore, as part of their attempt to retain their franchise.  Alas, the addition of such nationally recognised presenters proved to be in vain, as Southern found themselves ousted in favour of TVS.  Ever the survivor, Fred Dineage - along with a lot of the regular Southern presenters and continuity announcers - moved over to the new company, anchoring the TVS regional news programme, Coast to Coast.  (Incredibly, he's still presenting in the region today, regularly anchoring Meridian Tonight, the regional programme which replaced Coast to Coast after TVS, in turn, lost the south of England TV franchise in 1991).  Another old favourite in evidence in the clip is 'Trevor the Weather' Baker, who also made the transition to TVS, despite being renowned as the least accurate TV weather forecaster in the UK.  The era when Southern TV held the south of England franchise was also a time when continuity presenters in the ITV regions often appeared 'in vision' making their announcements.  Consequently, many became familiar faces to the viewers at home.  Amongst the most prominent of Southern's continuity announcers in the 1970s was Christopher Robbie, who was also an actor and has a certain cult status in some quarters thanks to his two appearances in Dr Who, (he was a fictional superhero in the Patrick Troughton story The Mind Robber in the sixties and the Cyberleader in the Tom Baker story Revenge of the Cybermen in the seventies).

So, there you have it - more TV memories of an era long since past.  For all the cheesiness of the likes of Southern TV, I can't help but miss the days when ITV was a network of regional franchises.  It was what distinguished it from the BBC (and later Channel Four).  I enjoyed the fact that when you visited relatives in another part of the country, you found yourself watching a completely different ITV, with its own logos, announcers, news programmes and even schedules.  A lot of the creative energy went out of ITV once the regions - all competing to get their programmes into prime time - were amalgamated, not to mention the variety. 

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