Before being known as Children’s ITV, the timeslot for children’s programmes on the ITV Network was briefly branded as Watch It! The Watch It! brand started on 29 December 1980 and was presented live by the duty continuity announcer in each ITV region. The notion of networking children’s continuity was first suggested within ITV as far back as the early 1970s, but with fierce regional identities prevalent – including scheduling, presentation and programming – the idea stalled until the late 1970s, when the IBA began to express concern that most ITV shows for children were not consistent or fully networked. On many occasions, the ITV regions were able to broadcast whatever programmes they wished; many non-children’s programmes appeared, such as Little House on the Prairie. In December 1980, ITV announced its first concerted effort at a more coherent approach to children’s output, with the introduction of Watch It! each weekday from 4.15pm to 5.15pm, after the IBA continued to emphasized issues.
Watch It! was conceived by the promotions department at ATV, with the implementation of the branding differed from region to region, thus it was always transmitted locally and never provided on a network basis. ATV provide different animations each season, to freshen up what was available to each company. Most regions, including Southern/TVS and Granada, would use their own station announcers during Watch It! airtime.
Shortly after the start of new franchises in 1982, some ITV stations raised concerns that Watch It! had not gone far enough to address previous concerns. Central’s Controller of Children’s Programmes, Lewis Rudd, suggested a different approach to the presentation method. As a result, the Central promotions department came up with the initial concept for Children’s ITV. The new look was devised, and links between programmes were pre-recorded using presenters drawn from the constituent programmes. The networking arrangements were similar to those already in place for the transmission of schools programmes – the links were played out from Central and the component programmes came from the supplying companies.
Credits: Sid N, Transdiffusion and TV bits.