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: July 11th 1963:
ATV News reported on the Miss Britain beauty contest held in Birmingham and won by Miss Diane Hickingbotham from Ilkeston. Reg Harcourt interviews Diane about her gong win.
The report contains: ‘Shots of Diane Hickingbotham being crowned Miss Britain in the Mecca sponsored event held in Birmingham. Reg Harcourt talks to Diane about her victory. She talks about rumours that she is planning to change her name.’
Diane Hickingbotham did in fact change her name shortly afterwards to Diane Westbury going on to win the Miss United Kingdom contest in September 1963 and Miss Great Britain in 1965.
On this Day: July 10th 1979:
ATV Today visited the Tenbury Regal Cinema.
Tony Maycock reported from Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, where the local cinema had been taken over by the town’s people and was being run as a community cinema, staffed by volunteers. The venture proved a success and most recently the cinema was operated by a charitable trust since 2012 onwards. The foyer, however, was damaged by water in February 2020 and Covid-19 has seen it out of business since March 2020. Hopefully the 1937 art deco Grade II listed building will see its doors reopen soon.
Back in 1979 though, ‘Tony Maycock visits the cinema and talks to the ticket seller, an usherette, the projectionist and the cinema organiser.’
On this Day: July 9th 1980:
ATV Today met up with the latest music sensation from the midlands, UB40.
UB40 were formed in December 1978. The band members began as friends with the name of the group taken from a form issued to people claiming unemployment benefits from the UK government’s Department of Employment. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40. The early members included Ali Campbell, Jimmy Brown, Earl Falconer, Yomi Babayemi, Norman Hassan, Brian Travers, Jimmy Lynn and Robin Campbell.
The report contains: ‘We see shots of the Handsworth group in various settings, including a home recording studio. Cut to their hit single, ‘Ivory Madonna’.’
On this Day: July 8th 1974:
Bev Smith joined Crossroads actress Noele Gordon for a drive around in ‘Harriet’, the vintage Morris Oxford that had been rebuilt by British Leyland apprentices for ATV over a series of reports for ATV Today.
Noele learns to drive the car as it is to now feature in episodes of Crossroads, with sequences recorded across the West Midlands with the car that dates back to 1927. The scenes will be set to new cast member Stephanie-De-Sykes’ song Born with a Smile on my Face, specially written for the series by Simon May.
The car proved so popular with ITV viewers she was given her own ATV photo card to send out to fans.
The report contains: ‘Bev Smith explaining to Noele Gordon how to drive ‘Harriet’, the vintage Morris Oxford that has been rebuilt by British Leyland apprentices for ATV. We see Noele and Bev driving ‘Harriet’ in Birmingham.’
On this Day: July 7th 1978:
A Haggis Hurling Competition took place in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham. ATV Today reported on the history of the ancient contest with correspondent Brian MacLaurin finding out more.
The report contains: ‘Brian MacLaurin piece to camera. Shots of the haggis and an explanation of the rules followed by a demonstration of the haggis hurling technique.’
On this Day: July 6th 1972:
ATV Today’s Bev Smith took a flight on the Goodyear airship Europa during its journey over the Midlands.
Later, Bev has a chat with the French born pilot about the controls and techniques of flying.
On this Day: July 4th 1960:
It was the 38th pilgrimage to the war memorial at Crich in Derbyshire by the Sherwood Foresters army regiment As ATV Midlands News reported.
On this Day: July 3rd 1981:
Geoff Meade reports for ATV Today on six Oxford teenagers who were spending two weeks in a make-shift nuclear fall-out shelter in Oxford city centre to highlight the inadequacy of Britain’s defences in the event of nuclear war.
The report contains: ‘Shots of the students inside the shelter that they have assembled in the Oxford shopping centre. Close up of a copy of the government’s pamphlet ‘Protect and Survive’ being leafed through.
‘Interview with Alex Christou, a member of the Young CND, who said that hygiene and cooking had presented problems. He also talked about the reaction from the public. Geoff Meade piece to camera with a wartime gas mask. It took the students 80 minutes to assemble their shelter; in the event of a nuclear war they may only have four.’
On this Day: July 2nd 1956:
ATV Midland News took a look at a new helicopter service which will link Birmingham with Leicester and Nottingham that was launched on July 2nd by BEA at Elmdon Airport.
The report contains: “We first see a Sikorsky helicopter, operated by BEA, landing at Elmdon airport. A group of dignitaries, including the Conservative MP John Profumo in his role as the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, then board the helicopter.”
On this Day: July 1st 1981:
ATV Today brought footage of a two hundred foot gas tower in Corby that was demolished following the plant’s closure. By 1982 the former steelworks site will be flattened.
The report contains: “John McLeod interview with explosives expert, John Briddon who likens it to felling a tree. Skyline shot of Corby showing the closed steelworks. Views of the gas tower being demolished.”
The previous month’s archive news reports can be seen on the next page.