RTÉ TV daily start-ups

Last updated: 6th June 2020.

Long after elaborate daily start-up routines were dispensed with on British TV, the tradition continued on Irish TV – until c. 1997 in fact. Though it must be said, RTÉ’s daily ritual was a fairly simple affair, lacking the pomposity of some of the ITV regional routines.

Over the years, the format of the start-up routines was tweaked – but across the decades, one or more of these four elements featured: ident, clock, programme menu and music.

One constant down through the years was that a period of black and silence separated the start-up and the preceding test card/in-vision teletext. The duration of the black/silence varied (RTÉ never seemed as pedantic about this as their BBC/ITV colleagues), but it was usually at least 30 seconds.

It is unclear if the test card/in-vision teletext was played out from the main channel presentation suites, or if they were put to air by the MCR. There was usually a slight picture/audio disturbance when the test card/in-vision teletext cut to black. Up until the 1990s, it was not uncommon to hear a brief burst of tone during the period of black between the test card/in-vision teletext and the start-up.

Here’s a summary of the start-up procedure over the years:

  • RTÉ/RTÉ One
    • Pre-January 1971
      • During the RTÉ single-channel days, the station was always referred to on-air as “RTÉ”.
      • Other details to be confirmed.
    • January 1971 – November 1978
      • Autumn/winter (when the first programme of the day was at 5.35pm):
        • 1 minute of the RTÉ ident (in silence).
        • 14 minutes of the clock, accompanied by music.
        • Ident, with announcement: “Radio Telefís Éireann. RTÉ anseo agaibh.”
        • In-vision continuity link into the first programme.
      • Summer (the first programme of the day – The Angelus – was at 6pm):
        • 1 minute of the RTÉ ident (in silence).
        • 14 minutes of the clock, accompanied by music.
        • The Angelus: bells accompanied by an old masters nativity scene.
        • Ident, with announcement: “Radio Telefís Éireann. RTÉ anseo agaibh.”
    • November 1978 – September 1995
      • 15 minutes of the channel clock, accompanied by music.
        • Though in the early 1980s, it was not unusual for the RTE One St Bridget’s Cross ident to appear, with the ‘RTÉ 1’ logo revolving in and out of view at intervals.
      • Ident, followed by in-vision continuity, with the announcer welcoming viewers and introducing the first programme.
    • September 1995 – 1997
      • 10 minutes of the clock, accompanied by music.
      • Ident followed by programme menu, voiced out-of-vision by the announcer.
      • Ident, with the announcer introducing the first programme of the day.
  • RTÉ Two/RTÉ Network 2
    • November 1978 – 1984
      • 10 minutes of the clock, accompanied by music.
        • The clock included a text-based preview of a programme coming up that evening.
      • Ident and short verbal welcome from the announcer.
      • In-vision continuity link into the first programme of the day.
    • 1984 – 1985
      • 10 minutes of the clock, accompanied by music.
        • A modified clock design was introduced c. 1984. Preview text was no longer present.
      • Ident and welcome from the announcer.
      • In-vision continuity link into the first programme.
    • 1985 – October 1988
      • 9 minutes of programme menu, accompanied by music.
      • 1 minute of the clock (music continues). An electronically generated clock was introduced in 1985.
        • The clock was later dropped from the channel. The reason is not known, but the software had been seen to crash on air.
      • Ident (played off tape) accompanied by short out-of-vision welcome from the announcer.
        • A new orange/red version of the logo was introduced in 1985. It was a accompanied by a short soundtrack when it was played off tape.
      • In-vision announcement into the first programme.
    • October 1988 – September 1995
      • Ident.
      • 10 minutes of programme menu and music.
        • This was reduced to 9 minutes when the channel’s clock was brought into service.
      • 1 minute of the clock (music continues).
        • The clock was first used some time after the channel launched – possibly early 1989.
        • Prior to its proper on-air debut, the new clock was first spotted on the TV monitor on the set of Dempsey’s Den.
    • September 1995 – 1997
      • Short start-up sequence.
      • 5 minutes of clock, accompanied by music.
      • Ident.
      • Programme menu, voiced out-of-vision by the announcer.
      • Ident and announcer’s link into the first programme.

Video clips

RTÉ One

NEW CLIP 1: this is from 31st August 1995, a couple of days before the channel got a new look. The norm here would’ve been fifteen minutes of clock and music, followed by ident and in-vision continuity link into the first programme of the day. Unfortunately, our recording only captures the final few minutes of the start-up. The announcer is Deirdre McAndrew.

NEW CLIP 2: this is from the first day of a new look for RTÉ One and Network 2 – on Saturday 2nd September 1995. The Saturdays: This Autumn preview, featuring Ready, Willing and Able, Lois and Clark, Winning Streak, Kenny Live and The Monroes, formed part of the start-up routine for the initial weeks of the autumn 1995 season (the voiceover on this example is provided by Gerry Wilson). This style of visual preview of the evening schedule was not a regular item in the daily start-up beyond autumn 1995.

In-vision continuity was banished from RTÉ One as part of the OSP revamp in September 1995. So the announcer is now out-of-vision for the start-up. Announcer: Catherine Hogan.

Select a clip from the playlist:

Network 2

Frank McNamara is believed to have produced the soundtrack for Network 2’s ident, as well as the tracks that accompanied the programme menus during start-ups in the first couple of years of the channel’s life.

Programme menu graphics were updated for each new season. Frank is also believed to have produced the soundtracks for many of the short daily evening programme line-up previews (which were generally broadcast at closedown and in the early evening).

CLIP 1: our earliest Network 2 start-up is from 25th May 1989. The new channel was still in its infancy at this stage. Apologies for the poor picture/sound quality on this recording, which was recovered from a Betamax tape that had seen better days. The announcer here is Lucy Potter-Cogan.

CLIP 2: the format for Network 2’s start-up routine remained unchanged until the channel got a new look in September 1995. This example is from summer 1995. Announcer: Mary Lowe.

NEW CLIP 3: this is from the first day of a new look for the channel, on Saturday 2nd September 1995. The Saturdays: This Autumn preview (voiced by a combination of Noel Fogarty and possibly, Mary Lowe), featuring Hamish McBeth, James Bond Season, The X-Files, The End, The Critic and Absolutely, formed part of the start-up routine for the initial weeks of the autumn 1995 season. This style of visual preview of the evening schedule was not a regular item in the daily start-up beyond autumn 1995. Announcer: Michael Kennealy.

Select a clip from the playlist:

REQUEST: we’re happy to receive VHS/Betamax recordings of start-ups that you may have in your archive. Also keen to receive any additional input from those who worked in the RTÉ Presentation department during these years.

Acknowledgements

CONTRIBUTORS:

Our thanks to Richard Logue for information about the 1971 - 1978 period.

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: RTÉ Two programme menu. SUPPLIED BY: Online. COPYRIGHT: RTÉ.

Posted by The Clean Feed Team

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