A look at what the television version of ATV News and ATV Today was reporting on between February 1956 and December 31st 1981. ATV Midland Newsday launched with ATV Midlands in 1956. The first main announcer, the first regional female news anchor, Patricia Cox, provided news and features from the East and West Midlands.

In 1964 a magazine series, ATV Today, was added to the schedules and by 1970 the programme had been extended to included the evening’s news content, with the stand-alone news programme merged into the production.

First aired from the Alpha Television Studios in Aston, the programme aired from the ATV Centre in Birmingham from 1969 onwards. ATV Today provided commercial television in the Midlands with news and feature reports until 1981. Hosts of ATV Today included Anne Diamond, Nick Owen, Bob Warman, Sue Jay and Derek Hobson.


On this Day: September 22nd 1976:

ATV Today reporter John Swallow took a visit to the Midland-famous Antonia Amoroso, an Italian barber, in Union Street, Wednesbury, who was a popular figure thanks to his hairdressing while singing. John interviewed Antonia while he had a shave.


On this Day: September 20th 1978:

The first of two ‘On this Day’ for September 20th. Both concerning ATV personality Noele Gordon.

ATV Today reports on the 3000th episode celebration of ATV motel based serial Crossroads. The party was held at the Chateau Impney Hotel, it had previously featured in the soap over a couple of storylines between 1972 and 1975. Interviews with Sue Hanson, Ronald Allen, Sally Adcock, Paul Henry, Noele Gordon and Larry Grayson about their roles in Crossroads.

And also…

On this Day: September 20th 1960:

ATV’s Lunchbox celebrated airing 1000 episodes. Slightly more than Steph’s Packed Lunch is likely to manage.

The programme was presented by Noele Gordon with music provided by Jerry Allen and his TV Trio. The magazine and entertainment show, aimed at ‘housewives’ ran from 1956 to 1964. It was usually broadcast live from the Alpha TV Studios at Aston, near Birmingham. The show also held outside special broadcasts and spin-off game show, Bongo.


On this Day: September 19th 1974:

Models of Hitler were being manufactured in Earls Barton, David Eggleton visited Northamptonshire and found out why for ATV Today.

Brian Marlow was making the figures for sale, with many being exported from the East Midlands for export to Germany for use in War Games.


On this Day: September 18th 1957:

ATV News cameras captured the final moments of a West Midlands landmark with the demolition of the three-hundred-year-old Solihull Lodge Windmill. The structure was being taken down in order to make way for new housing.

The report features an exterior shot of the windmill with sails removed. Demolition experts have been working for three days at the site. ATV News captured the final charges being inserted and the windmill being blown up.


On this Day: September 16th 1959:

ATV News visited the Derby Radio Show opened by ATV Midlands’ boss Philip Dorte.

Over at the ATV stand at the event cameras captured newsreader Pat (Patricia) Cox and continuity announcer Jean Morton promoting the virtues of commercial television in the region.


On this Day: September 15th 1960:

Midland Montage took a trip to a West Midland’s dance hall for a Jazz Festival.

ATV cameras capture scenes of young people dancing in the large hall. A jazz band is briefly seen playing music on stage while the final shot shows the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Garnet Boughton dancing.


On this Day: September 14th 1977:

ATV Today took a trip to the Wells pure spring water bottling plant at Church Stretton in Shropshire. It really is as thrilling as it sounds.

Exterior shot of the Wells drink factory at Church Stretton and a shot of the spring. Views inside showing the bottling plant. Margaret Hounsell interview with the firm’s director, John Davies, about the purity of the water and the great demand from abroad for the water.


On this Day: September 8th 1969:

ATV announcer, Joan Palmer, shows the ‘ATV Colour Promotion girls’ around the new studios at the Paradise Centre in Birmingham. The group of women (wearing ‘ATV Goes Colour’ sashes) walk around the inside of the ATV Centre in Birmingham. The studios opened in 1969 and replaced the former Aston Cross Alpha TV Studios that had been shared between ABC TV and ATV Midlands from 1956.

The ATV Centre was used by ATV Network until 1981, with Central Television occupying the complex until 1997. The base was also a hub for ITN, Carlton International and Sky News.


On this Day: September 7th 1978:

Peter Green accompanied Alan Evans and his pet pig, ‘Spotty’, to the local pub at Colwall near Malvern, where the 7-month-old pig drank whatever it could. The report contains views inside the pub with Spotty drinking heavily.

We have no information on what happened to the pig, did it become a raving boozer? if you know, let us know…


On this Day: September 1st 1975:

Bev Smith was at the Friar Tuck Inn for ATV Today to find out more about the first British licensed pub on a motorway. The inn was located on the M1 at Trowell in Nottinghamshire.

Bev starts the report with bottles of alcohol found in a bin, he reports that Mecca – who own the services – have opened a pub on the site called the Friar Tuck Inn which offers non-alcoholic drinks. Interview with the service station manager, Barney Labani, about the non-alcoholic Swiss-made Birell lager and other drinks like non-alcoholic Campari they serve. The venture was not a success and it wasn’t until 2014 that a ‘proper’ pub was opened in the UK on a motorway service station.


On this Day: August 29th 1978:

Peter Green visited for ATV Today the vast model village constructed in the garden of Ray and Hiliary Phillips at Matlock Bath in Derbyshire.

The report brings footage of the model village in the garden which included historic local buildings such as the now demolished Matlock Bath Palais Royal.

Peter speaks with Hiliary and Ray Phillips about how they have tried to reflect local history in the buildings and discussing plans for the future expansion of the model village.


On this Day: August 28th 1980:

ATV Today’s Wendy Jones reports from Fradley Airfield in Staffordshire where model helicopter enthusiasts have brought Yoshide Fujita from Japan to teach them how to fly their models.

The report shows model helicopters being flown while Wendy speaks with Jim Davis who talks about the models and how the British had been finding it difficult to fly them while Mr. Fujita said the Brits were learning quickly how to pick up controlling the mini choppers.


On this Day: August 27th 1968:

ATV Today paid a visit to the original Snow Hill Train Station after its closure.

The footage starts with a view from train window passing through Snow Hill station, then there are shots on the platform and inside the building showing its abandoned condition. The report footage ends with an exterior shot of the former train station. The buildings dating from 1871 were demolished in 1977.

Today a modern train terminus operates on the site. The new Snow Hill Station opened in 1987.


On this Day: August 26th 1959:

Midland Montage took a look at Male and female fashion in this vintage footage.

The sequence shows both male and female models on stage in a Leicester ballroom including dressing gowns, a leather jacket and a bathing costume. The ATV features series also takes a look at the latest hairstyles and wedding fashions for both the bride and groom of ’59.

On this Day: August 25th 1964:

Fans of Lea and Perrins sauce were in mourning on this day in 1964 following a major fire at the production plant.

ATV News reported on the aftermath of the at the sauce factory in Worcester with shots showing the clear up operation and shots of the gutted Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce complex on Midland Road.


On this Day: August 21st 1974:

Mary Connors from Leicester attempted to become the first woman to be blasted across the River Avon at Tewkesbury. ATV Today reported on the feat with Bob Warman at the scene. However, things didn’t quite go to plan.

Unable to swim, Mary ended up thrown into the river and had to be rescued. Connors returned in 1975 for a second attempt using a catapult. Mary Connors was the secretary of Joe Weston Webb, a Leicestershire showman and the owner of the human cannonball device.


On this Day: August 20th 1957:

Founding ATV Newscaster Pat Cox took in the displays at a Toy Show at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham. Pat was the first in-vision regional newsreader in the UK. In 1959 she married ATV floor manager John De Coverley-Wilkins, she left the company to go freelance in the mid-1960s. As well as presenting and reporting for ATV News and Midland Montage Pat also worked as a continuity announcer in the fledgeling days of ATV Midlands. She had previously worked as a fashion model and as an announcer at the BBC.

In 1965 she joined the Bertram Agency as a talent scout.

Patricia died on the 28th March 2007 aged 77. She had for many years has suffered ill health, notably Multiple Sclerosis. At her death, she left behind husband John, daughter Joanna, (mother-in-law to Guy) and was gran to Ella. Her funeral took place at Macclesfield Crematorium. Former floor manager John passed away on 10th April 2013, aged 81.


On this Day: August 10th 1958:

ATV producer Reg Watson set off for his second visit to America for the company, as a short clip from ATV News shows. A second longer clip from magazine series Lunchbox shows Reg larking about as he heads to the plane.

This visit to America would see Reg observe the stateside soap operas and bring plans back to the UK for ATV to attempt a daily serial. While plans were discussed with boss Lew Grade in 1959 about the idea, it wouldn’t be until after the arrival of Coronation Street in 1960 that the company took the idea seriously. The outcome in 1964 was Crossroads.

Reg later returned to his native Australia in late 1974 and with Grundy Productions created some of the country’s most successful ‘soaps’ such as The Young Doctors, Prisoner: Cell Block H, Sons & Daughters and Neighbours.


On this Day: August 9th 1973:

ATV Today took a look at the latest ATV drama series, Edward VII. The report features an interview with Helen Ryan who played Princess Alexandra and also a chat with writer/director John Gorrie.

Edward VII also starred  Timothy West as the elder Edward VII and Simon Gipps-Kent and Charles Sturridge as Edward in his youth, and Annette Crosbie as Queen Victoria. The lavish period piece aired on ITV in 1975 and went on to be voted Best Drama series of 1975 by BAFTA. Crosby also took home a BAFTA gong for her performance in the production.

The drama charts the going-ons of the royal family through the life of Edward VII from his youthful years to his death in 1910. Despite the title, only the final three episodes dramatised Edward as King in line with his short, nine-year reign from 1901 onwards.


On this Day: August 8th 1972:

ATV Today paid a visit to some lovely Apple orchards in Herefordshire. The report contains, as you may have guessed shots of rows of apple trees in an orchard in Herefordshire. Enjoy all twenty seconds of this feature.


On this Day: August 7th 1979:

ATV Today were back in Skegness enjoying the sunny weather and asking Midlander’s at the holiday destination about their stay.

The film begins with shots of the monorail train at the Butlins holiday camp at Skegness and a building with the slogan: ‘Our True Intent is all for your Delight’.

Reporter Tony Maycock asks staff and visitors about their experiences at the Lincolnshire resort.


On this Day: August 6th 1979:

Anne Diamond visited Mrs Linda Blower from Nuneaton for ATV Today after newspaper reports her local vicar had refused to christen her fifth child, Elvis Aaron Presley, in memory of the late singer.

The vicar was named by the press at the time as Sidney Sneath of St Mary and St John at Nuneaton.

Mrs Blower explains in the report how she and her husband had decided that if they had another baby boy he should be named Elvis Aaron Presley following the American singers death in August 1977.


On this Day: August 5th 1976:

What was described as ‘Britain’s oldest cinema’, still in operation in 1976, was to close forever. The cinema on the site dated back to at least 1904.

ATV News reporter Margaret Hounsell interviews the final manager, Mike Roberts, to discuss the lack of patrons to the once-thriving theatre which is forcing the closure. The report also features a brief chat with an elderly cleaner, Mrs. Jean Impney, who reflects on the downfall of the movie theatre.

The Haven at Stourport later became a supermarket after the movies moved out and was later an indoor market. However, the building is currently shut once more.


The previous month’s archive news reports can be seen on the next page.