Life is a Beautiful Book


ATV departs – briefly – from the established order

It’s the mid-1970s, and someone at ATV has a clever idea: let’s get rid of the boring instrumental opening music played each day and replace it with a rousing song.

Stephanie de Sykes sings Odyssey, a track off Rain’s 1974 album that had the catchy title ‘Rain featuring Stephanie de Sykes’, over one of two films – one showing the rural nature of the Midlands region and one showing the industrial side. Best of all for ATV, this was free: the film was produced by a staff member whose hobby was helicopter rides and the album was on Bradley’s Records, a label owned by ATV Music.

The results are interesting – singing about how beautiful life is over shots of cooling towers and factory chimneys belching acrid smoke couldn’t not be – but also against both the spirit and the wording of the Independent Television Authority’s rules on formal station openings.

The IBA had inherited these rules from the General Post Office, who licensed each of the Authority’s transmitters and had seen itself as the regulator’s regulator, imposing a number of formal requirements and sometimes bizarre standards on the ITV companies that didn’t apply to the BBC. One of these was that a set instrumental piece of music had to be registered with the Authority and used without variation, except on Good Friday and over the Christmas holidays.

This piece obviously does not fit that pattern, and just as obviously was not registered for use. Eventually, the IBA’s Regional Officer in Birmingham happened to tune in one morning… and then song hit the fan, the IBA intervened, and order was restored.

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Founded in 1964, Transdiffusion's huge archive of television and radio material is provided free to people wishing to learn more about the history of broadcasting in the UK

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