Archive find highlights poor technical quality of BBC NI 80s presentation

A rare find on YouTube highlights the poor technical quality of BBC One Northern Ireland continuity back in the day. The clip from 1980 includes a very poor blue and white clock (the network clock face was, of course, orange) and a very messy jump back to network.

VIDEO: BBC One Northern Ireland junction. Anouncer: Michael Nunan. TX DATE/TIME: 30th April 1980, 8.59pm. SUPPLIED BY: YouTube Channel – Kaleidoscope Presentation Vault. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Today any operational shortcomings in BBC presentation in the nations can be blamed on specific mistakes. Fundamentally the quality should be as good as London’s in every respect. But these dodgy junctions from yesteryear make you wonder why the BBC introduced full-time continuity in the nations and, initially, English regions to begin with.

It’s thought full-time regional continuity began in 1976. Until then, local continuity was only provided around regional programmes. From then on, each nation and region covered all the evening junctions.

It is safe to say the technical quality was often inferior to network’s. The local globes and clocks were sometimes fuzzy around the edges though Northern Ireland’s were particularly bad. Local slides were sometimes a bit off colour too. And there were the inevitable glimpses of network.

Technically, Northern Ireland’s junctions were very messy too with obvious picture disturbances in and out of network. None of this was the fault of the announcers. It was a reflection of the quality of the equipment available to them.

So did having a regional name and voice really add anything? Especially given the poor technical quality.

The BBC was by the 70s all too aware that some people preferred ITV because of its friendly local image. Announcers were in place anyway to cover regional opts and news bulletins so the costs involved with covering all the junctions were minimal.

Still, in September 1980 English regional continuity was abandoned in a widespread round of cuts. It was little mourned.

As the 1980s went on, things improved in the nations. By 1985 the globe and clock were both electronically generated and identical to the network version (bar the ‘Scotland’, ‘Wales’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ branding). A few years later electronic slides also improved the image.

By then politics meant the BBC was well aware of the need to highlight its output in the nations. Local continuity reinforced this message.

But one wonders how network presentation staff felt in the late-70s. Their peak-time work would often only be seen in London and the south east. And they must have been painfully aware of the clunks, poor graphics and inevitable cock-ups elsewhere.

Not perhaps the right image for a world class broadcaster’s flagship channel.



PICTURED: BBC One NI clock (1980). SUPPLIED BY: YouTube Channel - Kaleidoscope Presentation Vault. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Posted by Andrew Nairn

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.