Up until the mid 1980s, all British television stations closed down for the night at around 12:30am, sometimes up to an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights. Some of the ITV companies wanted to expand their broadcasting hours in the belief there was an untapped market for television through the night. As early as 1983, London Weekend Television (LWT) was experimenting with extra hours on Friday and Saturday nights during its Nightlife strand, which pushed back closedown until after 2am.
Towards the latter part of the decade, Channel 4 had extended late night broadcasting hours and transmission staff for the ITV regional companies were required to playout the network's commercial breaks, even if the main ITV station had already closed down. There was also speculation of a threat from the Independent Broadcasting Authority to franchise overnight hours to a new company as had been done with breakfast television (TV-am) in 1983.
Within just over two years of ITV's first overnight experiment (at Yorkshire Television in 1986), the entire network had commenced 24 hour transmission. On 9 August 1986, Yorkshire Television became the first ITV company and the first British terrestrial television station to offer 24-hour broadcasting. This was achieved by simulcasting the satellite station Music Box. The arrangement come about when Yorkshire were able to get a three month trial from the IBA to broadcast the station overnight from the last programme until 06.15. IBA said "it would review the trial, but if loads of youngsters are going in to school bleary-eyed through watching that its a question of parental responsibility, but if its a teenager or a little older that is the decision we will evaluate from the public". The trial lasted until Friday, January 02, 1987; Thereafter, Yorkshire ran a teletext-based Jobfinder service for one hour after closedown with a Through Till 3 strand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights introduced a few months later.
On 25 April 1987, Central Independent Television began extending its programming hours to 3am on weeknights and 4am at weekends, airing its own schedule of films, series and hourly Central News bulletins under the branding of More Central. The station's Jobfinder service (launched a year beforehand) was expanded from a single hour after closedown to fill the remainder of the night until TV-am took over at 6am. Meanwhile, Granada Television took a more restrictive approach - during 1987, the station introduced a Nightlife strand, which saw programming hours extended until around 3am on Friday and Saturday nights only. A short-lived joint schedule was introduced by Central, Granada and Scottish Television when the companies began full 24-hour transmission on 13 February 1988, but was abandoned within a few months. During this time, all three stations provided local presentation. Central continued to air its own overnight service until 1995 (with opt-outs for regional programming until circa 2003).
By late August 1987, Anglia Television, Thames Television and LWT began 24-hour broadcasting - Anglia originally opted to air Night Network on weekends alongside its own overnight schedule on weeknights while LWT filled the post-Night Network slot with a short-lived Thru to 6 strand. Thames's Into the Night strand began during the summer of 1987 with broadcasts originally running until around 4am. Tyne Tees Television also experimented with 24-hour transmission when in November 1987, it began airing its own teletext Jobfinder service between closedown and 6am. This continued until Granada's Night Time service launched on Tyne Tees the following September.
TVS started its own Late Night Late strand in September 1987, gradually extending its broadcast hours until a full 24-hour service began on 20 June 1988 - the strand was the first to be simulcast on another ITV station (Channel Television). HTV Wales and HTV West began broadcasting its own Night Club service on 22 August 1988. Both Late Night Late and Night Club took on a different approach to the practice of in-vision continuity - incorporating viewers' letters, competitions and live studio guests - such features were also used by Thames and Anglia's regional overnight strands.
With thanks to Deltic1976, Benriggers and md69k5 for their contributions to this page.
Local ITV Night time brands
Night Time from Granada: 1988 - 1995
On 2 September 1988, four of the smaller ITV companies (Border, Grampian, Tyne Tees and TSW - joined from 3 October 1988 by Ulster) began 24 hour broadcasting with the introduction of Night Time, a part-networked service provided by Granada Television's presentation department in Manchester and intended to help the smaller ITV stations who were unable to provide a service of their own.
This new late night line up consisted mainly of films, syndicated American shows such as America's Top Ten (presented by Casey Kasem), American Gladiators, WCW Worldwide (which would later be promoted to a Saturday afternoon slot) and Donahue. There was also a limited number of home-produced programming such as Granada's Nightbeat, The Other Side of Midnight, The Hitman and Her, Quiz Night, Stand Up and LWT's Cue the Music.
Tyne Tees left the service from 5 October 1992, when it joined the Yorkshire overnight service, from Leeds.
From 1 January 1993 Anglia, HTV and Westcountry joined the service. From January 1995, The programme line up was the same as in London, but the branding was kept separate until June 1995 when services were fully merged and took on the same idents and branding as London.
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ITV Night Time from Thames/LWT
During 1991, Anglia, HTV and TVS discontinued their own overnight strands and began carrying a new ITV Night Time service from London, provided by Thames from Monday to Thursday and LWT from Friday to Sunday. For the first time, both London companies utilised the same on-screen branding throughout the week - the only notable difference being LWT's near non-use of a continuity announcer at the weekend.
Around this time, original programming for the network included LWT's Cue the Music, Dial Midnight, ...in Profile, The Big E, Noisy Mothers, One to One, In Bed With Medinner, Night Shift and Thames's Video Fashion., albeit airing in differing timeslots depending on each strand's schedule. Imported output increased with featured shows including Night Heat, Soap, Three's Company, The Time Tunnel, Too Close for Comfort, The Equalizer and American sporting programmes.
When each ITV area took this branding:
- HTV (from 29 April 1991)
- TVS & Channel (from August 1991)
- Anglia (from 2 September 1991)
Following the loss of Thames' franchise on 31 December 1992, Anglia and HTV began taking Granada's Night Time, leaving LWT with its own overnight presentation (branded for a time as 3 Nights).
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Purple Break bumper
Orange Break bumper
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Orange Break bumper
ITV Night Time from LNN
From 13 February 1995, London News Network (a subsidiary of Carlton & LWT) launched a revamped overnight service featuring new neon-themed presentation (without any station-specific branding) and a year later, a brand slogan - Television with Attitude. Initially broadcast on Carlton only, LWT began taking the new service fours days later, and continued it's near non-use of a continuity announcer at the weekend. Most of the regions formerly served by Granada's version of Night Time switched in June (which had been following the same schedule as LNN's service since the start of the year). Within a year of its launch, HTV and Westcountry opted to run its own joint overnight service from Cardiff with locally branded presentation and programming carried from Meridian.
New original programming was also produced for the network including Bonkers!, Bushell on the Box, Carnal Knowledge, Club @vision, Cyber Cafe, Cybernet, Curtis Calls, Hotel Babylon, God's Gift, Late and Loud, The Paul Ross Show, Pyjama Party, The Lads and Rockmania. Although less reliant on imports than before, shows including Coach and Box Office America continued to feature within the schedules.
When each ITV area took this branding:
- Carlton and Central
- LWT (from 18 February 1995)
- Border, Granada and UTV (from June 1995)
- Grampian (From June 1995 until Mid 1998)
- HTV and Westcountry (June - December 1995)
- Tyne Tees and Yorkshire (from May 1998 onwards)
No1: Action (Dark Red).
Television With Attitude: 1995-1996
Television With Attitude: 1995 Promo.
Promo from 1997,
From Later 1999 the LNN neon idents were replaced by a standard ITV ident. By May 2000 All English ITV station were using a standard ITV logo for all overnight presentation. We are working hard to obtain copies of the both versions used.
With 24-hour programming becoming the norm on British television, ITV phased out the ''Night Time'' logos and presentation on overnight shows by late 1999 with generic network branding taking its place in most regions (Meridian's night time service remained in use until May 2000 when it then adopted the generic branding. Channel and Anglia adopted the look at the same time.) and ''ITV Nightscreen'' starting to take up timeslots (particularly towards the end of the night). From 2001 onwards, many of the former overnight programmes associated with the old ''Night Network'' and ''Night Time'' services were replaced with repeats of networked daytime shows (many of these including on-screen British Sign Language signing for the deaf). By 2005, the only original ''Night Time'' programme still airing was the offbeat cookery show ''Get Stuffed''. Scottish and Grampian (both branded overnight as "Nighttime TV") continued to run its own overnight schedule until around late 2004.
Quiz programming in the form of ''Quizmania'' and later, ITV Play output such as ''The Mint'' and ''Make Your Play'' aired overnight between December 2005 and December 2007.
All ITV plc regions now carry the same schedule from London. ITV's current overnight schedule consists mainly of repeats of talk and lifestyle shows such as ''The Jeremy Kyle Show'' and ''Loose Women'', sport reviews, teleshopping, documentaries such as ''Nightwatch with Steve Scott'', films and ''ITV Nightscreen''. STV in Northern & Central Scotland, UTV in Northern Ireland and ITV Channel Television opt-out of the overnight schedule regularly for teleshopping, repeats, films and quiz programming.
STV also continues to provide its own localised presentation overnight - in April 2010, the station introduced ''The Nightshift"', a nightly strand consisting of interactive viewers' chat, local & national news and extracts from current and archived STV programming, linked by live out-of-vision announcers in Glasgow. Initially launched as a pilot in the Central Scotland region, the programme began airing a separate edition for Northern Scotland and later, separate editions for each of STV's four sub-regions. A single pan-regional programme is now broadcast across the STV North and STV Central regions at weekends, with opt-outs for sub-regional news.