If you’ve got it – flaunt it. This message, sadly, didn’t seem to be appreciated by senior managers in the BBC’s “national regions” until the early 1990s.
Network presentation staff were, of course, masters when it came to programme promotion. They knew how to adopt a range of techniques to “sell” different programmes – some much more subtle than others. And with only one promotion in a typical junction, they had to hit the msrk.
Perhaps the most visible promotion of the day was the “illustrated menu” – the trail for that evening or the following evening’s schedule. And, of course, in the national regions this could cause problems if even one programme was displaced.
With no budget or staff for regular local promotions, BBC Scotland’s solution was crude. A menu and music – or a run through the programme slides.
Perhaps the most embarrassingly awful example to come to resurface dates from November 1984. The Saturday evening schedule is promoted with one off-centred slide and the well-known schools interval track BART.
Think about it. New BBC One controller Michael Grade is trying to boost the flagging ratings of the corporation’s main channel. A strong Saturday line-up includes The Late Late Breakfast Show, Hi-de-Hi and Juliet Bravo.
Meanwhile The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance was (and is) an important public service commitment. It was a diverse line-up which showed the corporation’s major channel at its best and the network trail would have promoted the schedule well – with an appropriate change of mood halfway through.
In Scotland they just reached for a cart of schools interval music and a slide.
At this point, it’s thought there were no promotions staff in the BBC nations. Trails for local programmes were generally made by the production teams and usually amounted to little more than the presenter inviting viewers to join them later.
In hindsight it’s unbelievable this state of affairs carried on for so long. Surely network could have produced modified versions of the “evening highlights” trail for the nations?
Sometimes the modern BBC is accused of taking marketing too seriously or of showing too many trails in each junction.
The woeful 1984 junction is a reminder that the old days weren’t always good ones.
PICTURED: BBC One Scotland programme menu graphic. SUPPLIED BY: Twitter user UKPRES1. COPYRIGHT: BBC.