On Friday 1 January 1982, LWT began extending its broadcasting hours on Friday evenings – taking over from the ITV London weekday franchise Thames Television at 5:15pm, rather than the previous start time of 7pm. The Independent Broadcasting Authority’s decision to award extended hours to LWT meant that the station became contractually responsible for providing the nightly regional news programme on Fridays.
Prior to the franchise round, the regulator had warned that the winning London contractors were expected to provide an improved regional news service for the capital throughout the week. The Authority suggested the two companies provided a jointly produced 7-day news service, but the idea was rejected by both Thames and LWT as unfeasible – the companies argued there would be little news to justify a full bulletin (as had been proven in other ITV regions).
LWT also claimed a lack of resources and cost reasons would prevent them from producing a service – despite the company employing around 90 journalists for its current affairs output, such as Weekend World and The London Programme. Up until December 1981, Thames aired a Friday edition of its nightly Thames News programme at 6pm followed by a half-hour sports magazine show, Thames Sport. LWT believed Thames’ regional output on Fridays – particularly, Thames Sport – was leaving them with a low viewing audience when it began transmissions at 7pm. According to press reports at the time, Thames staff felt LWT’s replacement for their Friday evening news would resemble more of a chat show and entertainment format, despite the company’s success in local current affairs and social action programming.
London News Headlines
Following the start of the new franchise period on 1 January 1982, LWT began broadcasting short London News Headlines bulletins, usually in mid-afternoon and late evening slots. These bulletins usually consisted solely of the duty continuity announcer in-vision reading copy sourced from the Independent Local Radio station LBC and later, local wire agencies.
Regular newsreaders included Peter Lewis, Sue Peacock, Ruth Anders, Keith Harrison and Trish Bertram.
January – August 1986
Six O’clock show: 1982-1988
Rather than produce a conventional regional news programme on Fridays, LWT opted to air an hour-long local magazine show entitled The Six O’Clock Show, The series was created by Greg Dyke, who was given the tasked, after his “bustling energy” was notice while working as a researcher for The London Programme. The series launched on Friday 8 January 1982 and presented in front of a live studio audience by Michael Aspel with co-hosts Danny Baker, Janet Street-Porter and Mastermind champion Fred Housego. Later presenters included Gloria Hunniford, Paula Yates, Andy Price, Shyama Perera and former Page 3 model Samantha Fox. Intended as a light-hearted introduction to the weekend, which covered current affairs, leisure activities and people of London’s hobbies. There was also a short-lived Saturday edition of the programme, which ran for six weeks during May and June 1985. The programme also included a fifteen-minute news bulletin produced by Thames Television titled Thames Weekend News until December 1987.
By the end of the first series, the rating were outperforming what Thames was offering in the same spot and for the rest of its run it become one of the the most watched regional programme in Britain. Concern from the Independent Broadcasting Authority about the lack of a proper local news service at weekends forced LWT to introduce its own service of LWT News bulletins throughout the weekend in 1988 (the bulletins were produced originally by the news agency ‘Screen News’). The Six O’Clock Show was axed in july 1988 and replaced by a smaller scale magazine show entitled Friday Now
As part of the launch of LWT News, The Six O’Clock Show was axed in July 1988 and replaced on 7 October 1988 by a smaller-scale current affairs programme entitled Friday Now, presented by Pam Royle with reporters Charles Colville, Rob Sprackling, Jeni Barnett and Chris Serle.
Originally intended to air for 50 weeks each year, the programme was axed after just ten months, airing its final edition on Friday 28 July 1989.
LWT NEWS 1988-1990
During 1987, LWT finally responded to the IBA’s concerns by announcing plans to launch a full-strength weekend news service for the first time. The company decided to outsource production of LWT News (on a two-year contract worth around £3.5 million) to the news agency Screen News, after beating around twenty applications from other groups.
The service launched on Friday 8 January 1988, providing at least eight bulletins of local news, sport and weather each weekend. The bulletins were later supplemented by a weekly in-depth review programme entitled LWT News Weekend. At the time, LWT’s head of news was Mark Sharman, who would later become ITV’s controller of news and sport. Presenters included Lynda Dryburgh, Pam Royle, Anna Maria Ashe, Ed Boyle and Linsday Charlton.
LWT News ceased operation on Sunday 3 January 1993 to make way for the launch of a new seven days a week news service jointly run by LWT and Carlton Television, in a joint venture known as London News Network.
Launch of the new London weekend news service
Presenter and title
LWT NEWS 1990-1993
Production switched to Chrysalis Television in January 1990, who won the next contact.
Presenter Shots and Graphics
Presenter Shots, Friday edition