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ITV3 : 2003
Graphics and text © Chris Oakley
February 2003 saw the launch of BBC3, the third channel belonging to the UK's non-commercial state broadcaster. With programmes aimed at the twenty- and thirty-somethings, they commissioned new material for their all-new digital-only channel, but their main commercial rival was not to be outdone. They, too, launched a third channel later in the same year, but employed a different and ultimately more popular tact to win over their specifically targeted audience.

ITV3 hit the airwaves on September 7th 2003 and was this time aimed at the 30-40 year olds. What seemed like a cheap, corner-cutting tactic of trawling through previously shown programming from the 1960's, 70's and 80's was actually a brilliantly perceptive piece of planning on the part of the schedulers. They figured that the 'I Love TV' generation would not hesitate to watch classic ITV programmes from the last 30 years if shown all on one channel, and promptly publicised it as their own version of UK Gold but with all the modern styling of ITV1 and ITV2.

During the summer of 2003, there seemed to be one ominous barrier to get over, but this was overcome with a commendable degree of discussion and negotiation. Granada Plus had for some years been showing classic programmes on Digital TV, most of which having been loaned out from ITV themselves. There seemed no point in ITV3 showing the same stuff as Granada Plus and wanted there to be no confusion by the public as to who was showing what. As a result, the Head of ITV3, Richard Eyre, began the long process of trying to persuade Granada Plus to cease broadcasting and instead help form the bedrock on which ITV3 was to be built. With little in the way of argument, Granada Plus agreed to the new motion and by late July, an announcement was made to the media that Granada Plus would soon be no more.

Two months on and ITV3 began transmitting an eclectic mix of classic comedy, drama, soap but even more than that, sheer unadulterated nostalgia. The simple premise worked: it seemed nobody minded watching repeats of programmes they'd seen before, as long as they were entertaining, well made programmes. Viewers were promised re-runs of programmes like Coronation Street, Live From Her Majesty's, Minder and much more besides. By the end of the year, word had got round and viewing figures were pleasingly high by digital TV standards, so much so that some journalists were questioning whether the BBC had pitched their third channel at the wrong people...

ITV3 2003

And so to the day of the launch. At 6pm, after a 60-second countdown featuring famous faces from ITV's past, the new channel opened with a cheery welcome message above its distinctive orange and yellow logo.

ITV3 2003

An interesting approach was used for the lead-ins to each programme. Using as its premise the short celebrity trailers used on ITV1, ITV3 used archive photographs from their vintage TV shows to produce something not entirely dissimilar.

Each picture would very slowly zoom towards the camera as if the viewer were taking a closer look, and this was accompanied by the usual jingle heard on ITV1.

 

ITV3 2003

The lead-ins featured pictures of many memorable ITV programmes in the past. Comedy, drama and the soaps were all featured. This one has Auf Wiedersehen, Pet as its subject.

ITV3 2003

Leonard Rossiter as Rigsby in Rising Damp made an appearance on this one...

 

ITV3 2003

...and who could forget The Professionals from the late-70's / early 80's?

ITV3 2003

Here was a short break bumper used to hammer home the identity of the new channel. The lurid orange background slowly rotated before heading into the commercials.

 

ITV3 2003

Another break bumper here, this time featuring the ITV3 logo in three-dimensional form. From what seemed to be a nondescript yellow box, the camera angle lowered to show the vital details.

ITV3 2003

ITV3 leant heavily on ITV1 for inspiration when it came to the use of graphics, and end-of-programme cut-ins were no exception. Shown here, the end of one edition of Blockbusters is squeezed into the window on the left while we find out about three of the programmes coming up later that evening.

 

ITV3 2003

ITV3's preview trailers also took on a similar appearance to those used on ITV1, except for the different colour-scheme. Realising that the orange and yellow motif could become a little overplayed, the designers opted for a purple colour in such instances. This trailer looks forward to an hour spent with The Sweeney.

LAST UPDATE: 23rd February 2003

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