Television South (TVS)

This section takes a look at Television South (TVS) who held the South and South East of England region between the 1st January 1982 and the 31st December 1992.

 

Company

TVS Television

Previous Names

Television South, TVS, TVS Entertainment PLC

Previous Shareholders

European Ferries (1982 – 1984)

Current Status

Defunct

Broadcast Dates

1st January 1982 – 31st December 1992

Current Addresses

Not Applicable

Previous Addresses

17a Mercer Street
London
WC2
 
TVS Television Centre
Southampton
SO14 0PZ
Tel: 0703 34211
Tel 0703 634211
Status – Demolished
 
Dover Studios
Russell Street
Dover
 
Maidstone Studios
Vinter’s Park
New Cut Road
Maidstone
ME14 5NZ
Tel 0622 54945
Tel: 0622 691111
Status – Independent studios
 
TVS Television Theatre
70 Duncan Road
Gillingham
ME7 4JS
Status – Demolished
 
London Offices
Spencer House
84 Buckingham Gate
Victoria
London
SE1E 6PD
Tel: 071 976 7199
Current Status – South Korean Embassy
 
Poole Arts Centre
21 Kingland Road
Poole
BH15 1UG
Tel: 0202 684375/681344
Current Status – now known as the Lighthouse, office space removed
 
Brighton Centre
Kings Road
Brighton
BN1 2GR
 
Reading Civic Centre
Bridge Street
Reading
RG1 2LU
 
7 Butts Centre
Reading
RG1 7QE
Tel: 0734 57515
 
63 High Street West
Dorchester
DT1 1UY
Tel: 0305 3324
 
39 Duke Street
Brighton
BN1 1AH
Tel: 0273 29053
 
Peter House
Oxford Street
Manchester
M1 5AQ
Tel: 061-236 2882

Key People

James Gatward
Bob Southgate
Martin Jackson
Michael Blackstad
Anna Holme
Burt Chapel
Fred Dinenage
Fern Britton
Carl Tyler
Mike Debens
Mike Fuller
Rob Lobeck
Liz Wickham
David Bobin
Gareth Evans
Christopher Peacock
Jane Wyatt

 

 

Memorable Programmes

Catchphrase

No.73

Motor Mouth

The Ruth Rendell Mysteries

C.A.T.S. Eyes

Concentration

Bobby Davro On The Box

Bobby Davro’s Sketch Pad

The Pyramid Game

Hitman

That’s What You Think

Tell The Truth

All Clued Up

Fraggle Rock (Co-Production)

The Story Teller (Co-Production)

TV Weekly

Perfect Scoundrels

Art Attack

How2

Do It!

The Heroes

That’s Love

The Inn Quiz

Country Ways

The Telebugs

Tugs

Finders Keepers

Love Me Love Me Not

Mandela

Titanic – A Question Of Murder?

Mr Majika

The Haunting Of Cassie Palmer

Henry’s Leg

Knights Of God

On Safari

Jeopardy!

It’s A Dog’s Life

Kelly’s Eye

Summertime Special

The Television Show

Ultra Quiz

The Vintage Quiz

Exclusive Yarns

Murderers Among Us – The Simon Wiesenthal Story

Airport 90

 

 Regional Programmes      

Agenda

The Human Factor

Facing South

Putting On The South

Horses For Courses

The Boat Show

Bring In The New

Goodbye To All That

Coast To Coast

Questions

Challenge Of The South

Arcade

Coast To Coast People

Enterprise South

Not For Women Only

A Full Life

 

The Birth of TVS

TVS started out as a company called South and South East Communications and was set up for the purposes of bidding for an ITV franchise, that of a new South and South East of England dual region.

 

The new South and South East region came about due to the poor service the South East had been receiving at that point. This was due to the way the broadcast transmitters were allocated which limited the reach into the South East. The incumbent, Southern Television, had a small studio in Dover but it made little sense for them to pool large resource in this small part of their much bigger region (they held the South of England franchise after all). The other part of the South East was part of the London region and they were not overly keen to provide much of a service here either.

As part of the 1980 franchise award the regulator of commercial television in the UK at that time, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) redrew the map and decided to re-allocate the transmitter at Bluebell Hill which was at that time part of the London region much to the dismay of the contractors there (in particular LWT who went on a PR campaign to serve their viewers better).

The IBA created a new franchise which would serve not only the south but also the south east of England. A condition of any broadcaster serving this new dual region would be a requirement to provide a distinctive individual service to both parts of the region.

This new region was a big area to cover but also predominately an affluent one and this was an attractive prospect to any prospective bidder as it could attract the big money with advertising revenue. Southern Television was also seen by others to be vulnerable due to the way the company was structured. Southern was controlled by three large shareholders (Associated Newspapers, Rank Organisation and D.C. Thompson) who had no real connection with the region they served, the company was run from London where most decisions were made and this structure met disapproval from the IBA.

Nine applications were made for the franchise and this would make it the most hotly contested region in the whole of the ITV network, no other area has generated that much interest previously or indeed since.

 

One of the nine applicants was South and South East Communications which became TVS, they saw that Southern were vulnerable and wanted a slice of the action. The team consisted of

James Gatward – An independent drama producer

Bob Southgate – former TV executive at Thames and news provider ITN

Martin Jackson – Fleet Street Journalist

Initial meetings were held in a small room above a club in Mercer Street, London where the team assembled to prepare their bid and discuss their progress Other members of the initial group would include

Michael Blackstad

Burt Chappell

Anna Home

 

Finance for the bid was provided by Barclays and investment bank Charterhouse

 

The IBA announced the decision of the franchise awards on the 28th December 1980, it was a decision that would be a huge shock to those involved. TVS was awarded an eight year franchise to run the new dual region, the IBA felt that TVS gave a better proposal on how it was going to serve the two parts of it’s region. The TVS bid was new and exciting while that of Southern seemed to be more of the same in comparison although they did have new plans to build studios in the South East .

 

TVS Franchise Application
1980
© Television South
IBA Franchise Awards
28th December 1980
© OfCom

 

The decision left Southern Television stunned as they had never expected to loose, they had been a solid and dependable broadcaster with a good track record, needless to say they were very unhappy with the decision. The decision was also a huge shock to TVS who had not really expected to win outright thinking may they would be asked to form a partnership with the incumbent broadcaster.

As part of their franchise application TVS has ambitions wanting to be different to what had been before, it would provide more targeted programmes towards specific audiences rather than going for the lowest common denominator. TVS was not going to be home to the big named stars instead the company would use that money on providing good quality programmes investing in content rather than style.

With the franchise awarded TVS started trying to bring into reality the plans they had submitted. They purchased a former bakery in the heart of Victoria to act as it’s London offices, converting the building over a period of six months. The London offices would include viewing rooms, a restaurant and dining facilities along with housing the sales teams that would sell air time for the company.

TVS also approached Southern about buying their facilities however the incumbent broadcaster was still licking their wounds and in no mood to get into discussions with the new company taking over. TVS decided to look elsewhere and selected a site on the Boyatt Wood Estate in Eastleigh, starting the process of approaching local authorities about their plans and submitting planning applications for conversion of this large warehouse.

 

Southern Television had initially thought of carrying on in some form, perhaps as an independent producer and continuing to supply programmes to the ITV network but these would not come to fruition and the eventually they agreed to part with the studios at Southampton and Dover which they paid £11M for. Southern also sold the news archives to TVS but decided to retain the rights to their other programmes deciding to market them themselves. Under a union agreement where members should not loose their position as part of the franchise changes TVS would also take on the majority of Southern staff both on and off screen.

 

The purchase of assets from Southern would also include a plot of land in Maidstone where Southern had planned to build studios to serve the south east part of the region, TVS paid a premium over the cost Southern had paid for the land and would use it for their own studio plans.

 

 
Newspaper clippings about TVS winning the franchise
1980
©
 

 

Work started at Vinter’s Park, Maidstone in the spring with the breaking ground ceremony being attended by key members of the TVS team with the regulator attending to welcome them into the region

 

Construction of the studios at Maidstone
1981
© ITV PLC

 

17a Mercer Street, London - Original meeting place for TVS board
1981
© ITV PLC
Chris Pollard trying out for a newsreading position
1981
© ITV PLC

 

The purchases by TVS continued when they acquired a former cinema, The Plaza, in Gillingham which had been lying derelict since 1980. This would be converted to a single studio which would be used for mostly programmes for their region and initially was the base for magazine programme “Not For Women Only”. The TVS Television Theatre as it would be come know was intended as a interim solution while work was underway on the studios at Maidstone.

 

Coversion work at the old Plaza Cimena in Gillingham to create the TVS Television Theatre
1981
© ITV PLC

 

South and South East Communications header - the original name for TVS
1981
© ITV PLC
Trying out for a newsreading position
1981
© ITV PLC

 

Newspaper clippings about TVS winning the franchise
1981
©
 

 

By the summer work continued to stay on track at Gillingham and Maidstone although the latter would not be completed in time for the launch in January. The company set up temporary buildings in the car park of Southern Television’s studios which created a bit of tension between the two companies and earned TVS the nickname “Portakabin Television” by the Southern staff. TVS paid Southern to use their facilites and staff to create programmes ahead of them taking over the site in 1982.

 

The temporary buildings housing TVS in the carpark of Southern Television earning them the nickname Portakabin TV
1981
© ITV PLC

 

TVS - On The Air

At 09:30 on the 1st January 1982 Television South went on the air. The first voice heard from viewers was that of continuity announcer Malcolm Brown who eleven years later would announce Fern and Fred on the final programme. Malcolm would announce…

 

“Good morning. It's New Year's Day 1982, and this is Television South. TVS, the new independent television company that's proud to serve both the South and South East of England. To begin with, we bring in the new with for the first time our symbol which will soon become very familiar”

The TVS ident came on the screen and the first programme, Bring in the New, presented by Khalid Aziz who flew in at the beginning of the show in what he calls a glorified eggbeater. The show talked to some of the people who would appear on our screen along with a news report at the start from Chris Pollard and general discussion of the new ITV company.

 

Later that evening TVS followed up Bring in the New with another show about the company called ‘Birth Of A Station’. This show was presented by Peter Williams and looked at the struggle to get on the air from the franchise application process to their dealings with Southern Television and the process of building their new studios.

 

 

The news programme for TVS was called Coast To Coast and there would be two distinct versions, one for each part of their region as part of their franchise commitment. These would be two full editions rather than the opt-out news that had existed under Southern.  The Southampton version would be fronted by Khalid but would also include various presenters that had appeared on Southern’s Day By Day including Trevor ‘The Weather’ Baker.

 

The South East edition was presented by Vyvyan Mackeson and would initially come from Dover, located in the old Southern studios in Russell Street while work continued at Maidstone. They would move to Maidstone later in the year and the Dover studios were later demolished to make way for a car park (which has since made way for housing).

 

The original look for TVS would be a colourful ident on a black background, this would be in contrast to the blue and white from Southern. There would be a different on screen clock for the two parts of the region and to begin with there was a combination of continuity either shown in the whole region or part of it as required. TVS would later do away with this. There were two versions of the main ident although there was other versions titled “Best View Of The South” with views from the region.

 

By October Maidstone was open and TVS were operating from three sites (Southampton, Maidstone and Gillingham) however they were struggling and had issues with over capacity in their studios. The company struggled to get their programmes onto the ITV network and in particular the lucrative primetime slots which were dominated by the big five ITV companies (Granada, Yorkshire, Central, Thames and LWT). The big five were responsible for the scheduling as they were the biggest and had deeper pockets to be able to accommodate the huge costs with some of these types of programmes. This situation did not suit TVS as they were ambitious and they felt that it should be a ‘Big Six’ as they could play a big part of the network, something that stayed with them throughout their short existence. The situation was no better with TVS’ staff, some who were made redundant in those early times as they could not make the scale of programmes they wished to.

 

By May of ’82 they had got their foot in the door and were allowed to attend the network contractor meetings although they were only there to observe and had little impact in the meetings themselves.

 

A couple of years on and in the August of 1984 a new director of programmes was appointed in Greg Dyke who had been at the breakfast television operator TV-am. Greg’s arrival at TVS began a shift in focus at the company; the initial ideals of those highly focused programmes went out the window to be replaced with those that were going to generate higher revenue for the company and those easier to sell to other ITV companies. One other change was that Greg had bought with him presenter Fern Britton who had previously worked on BBC’s breakfast Time to appear alongside Fred for the Southampton version of Coast To Coast.

 

Within a year TVS had formed a partnership with London Weekend Television (LWT) to get more profitable slots on the ITV network. LWT had wanted to acquire more British shows for their allocated slots but it did not want the expense of shooting them so the agreement was beneficial to both parties concerned.

 

One area in which TVS will excel was in children’s programmes and they would provide many for the ITV network. Much of this came from the Maidstone studios including Saturday mornings with No73 and later Motor Mouth. This approach followed on from Southern who had also been a big provider of this genre.

 

In addition to the studios in Maidstone, Southampton and the television theatre in Gillingham TVS also had small single camera studios located in Reading Civic Centre, the Brighton Centre and Poole Arts Centre, these all had a small crew of reporters and technical crew in addition to a vehicle equipped to make contact with the TVS news helicopter. These mini studios would be used for local news and for opt-outs in the main news programmes. Outside the region was a small studio in the basement of the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre at Westminster for political coverage which the company would rent out to other broadcasters when it was not in use along with a roof camera to give a backdrop of parliament when required.  

 

Filming For TVS
1981
© ITV PLC
James Gatward
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC

 

Bob Southgate
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC
Anna Holme - TVS Head of Childrens / South East Controller
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC

 

Burt Chappel - TVS head of Music
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC

 

 
Coast To Coast Titles - Dover Edition
1st January 1982

© ITV PLC

 

Lord Boston raising the TVS flag at Maidstone
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC

 

Coast To Coast - Dover
1982
© ITV PLC
 

 

John Miller
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC
Peter Shaw
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC

 

Michael Blackstad
1982
© ITV PLC
Martin Jackson
1982
© ITV PLC

 

Peter Williams
1982
© ITV PLC

 

Ron Lobeck
1st January 1982
© ITV PLC
Paul Davies reporting from the Falklands
1982
© ITV PLC

 

 
TVS Break Bumper
1983
© Television South

 

Roy Rogers
1980s
© ITV PLC

 

Mike Fuller
1980s
© ITV PLC
TVS News
1980s
© ITV PLC

 

Brown Shipley Report
1986
© BBC Worldwide

 

By the mid-1980s output had been ramped up but things were far from plain sailing still, the regulator was critical of the stations output in particular that for its region. Much of the criticism was aimed at the Southampton based edition of Coast To Coast although the IBA had issues in other areas also. This prompted the company to make changes to its management and included new heads of drama (George Benson) and religious programmes (Peter Williams). Another major change was the departure of Greg Dyke to take up the rains at LWT being replaced by Alan Boyd. 

 

Mike Fuller and Mike Debens
1980s
© ITV PLC
Trevor Baker
1980s
© ITV PLC

 

 
 TVS London Offices
1986
© ITV PLC

 

Coast To Coast Southampton Edition
1980s
© ITV PLC

 

Coast To Coast Southampton Edition
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
Coast To Coast Maidstone Edition
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
 Vinter's Park studios - Maidstone
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
TVS outside broadcast truck
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
Paul Fox - TVS director of sales
1986
© ITV PLC
TVS Peacock Report VT Clock
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
The TVS region
1986
© ITV PLC
TVS Studios - Southampton
1986
© ITV PLC

 

 
 
 TVS London Offices
1987
© Television South

 

 
 Fern Britton
1987
© ITV PLC

 

Alan Boyd
1987
© Television South
Clive Jones
1987
© Television South

John Kaye-Cooper
1987
© Television South
Graham Benson
1987
© Television South

 
Nigel Pickard
1987
© ITV PLC
TVS Music
1987
© ITV PLC

 
Peter Williams
1987
© ITV PLC

 
TVS Limited
1987
© ITV PLC
Telebug Enterprises Limited
1987
© ITV PLC

 
The TVS Region
1987
© ITV PLC

TVS Logo
1987
© Television South
Mike Fuller and Mike Debens
1987
© Television South

 
 
Maidstone Studios
1987
© Television South

 
Blackrod Logo
1987
© Television South
Fred Dinenage
1987
© ITV PLC

 
TVS - Southampton Studios
1987
© Television South

 

 
TVS outside broadcast garages and vehicles
1987
© ITV PLC

 

TVS plane which flew daily between Southampton and Maidstone
1987
© ITV PLC

 

TVS paperwork
1987
© ITV PLC

 

TVS Television Theatre - Gillingham
1987
© ITV PLC

 

TVS London taxi
1987
© ITV PLC
Coast To Coast Maidstone fault
Late 1980s
© ITV PLC

 

Veronica Charlwood
Late 1980s
© ITV PLC
Mark Bishop
Late 1980s
© ITV PLC

 

 

By the latter part of the 1980’s the early struggles had been largely forgotten, they were making massive profits and by 1987 were taking more in advertising revenue that of Yorkshire Television, one of the big five ITV companies (they were not far beind the others either). The company was looking to increase it’s reach still further but was still fustrated as it felt it was not being taken seriously as one of the big ITV companies, resulting it in looking for investments elsewhere. 1987 also resulted in a change of look at TVS with the original colour ident being replaced with one that was a blue/grey coloured.

 

1988 would see the end of the road for the TVS Television Theatre in Gillingham which was sold off to an independent production company.

 

Following failed bids to enquire Thorn EMI Screen entertainment and TF1 the company made purchases in Gilsen International (a distribution company in California selling programmes outside the states), a stake in Austrailian firm Northern Star (part of their Network Ten) and a company called Midem which promoted trade fairs.

 

Their biggest and most well known purchase was that of the Americian production company Mary Tyler Moore (MTM) Enterprises which had produced programmes such as Hill Street Blues. TVS paid £190m for MTM in July 1988 which involved both Mary Tyler Moore and Arthur price getting a stake in TVS (5.1% and 6.6% respectively) and TVS finances the deal through shareholders (£47M), bank loans (£38M) and selling stakes of 10% to Canal Plus and Generle D’Images.

 

As part of the purchase of TVS the company became TVS Entertainment with the station becoming TVS Television on air. The look of the station was changed again in 1989 to reflect the name change and this time was a brighter blue and would be used to link in with the titles of Coast To Coast.

 

 

 
TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 1A
1989
© Television South
 

TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 1B
1989
© Television South
TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 2A
1989
© Television South

 
TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 2B
1989
© Television South
 

TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 3A
1989
© Television South
 

TVS News Helicopter
1989
© Television South
TVS Making It Here In The South Promo - 3B
1989
© Television South
 

TVS Endcap
1989
© Television South
  Andy Steggall
1990s
© ITV PLC
 

 
Mike Debens
1990
© ITV PLC
Mike Debens and Liz Wickham
1990
© ITV PLC

 

Liz Wickham
1990s
© ITV PLC
Fred Dinenage
1991
© ITV PLC

 

 
Ron Lobeck
1990s
© ITV PLC

 

 

The Demise Of TVS

In the UK during the late 1980s and early 1990s recession loomed and things looked bleak for TVS. This was not helped by things in the US where many syndication stations were effected leading to loses of £7.3M for its subsiduary MTM. The company was also forced to write of its stake following the disposal of cable channel Super Channel which would cost them a further £5.7M

 

In early 1990 TVS set about trying to sell a 49% stake in MTM as part of restructuring following reports of the groups profits had been hit by 35%. TVS set about a programme of redundencies loosing 140 jobs in the UK althouh this had been less than anticipated.

 

Changes were made at board level as they felt that the current chief executive, James Gatward, was not putting in enough effort to get things in order so was dismissed. Further redundancies took place with another 100 posts went to shore up the company further and progress was made in offloading MTM as four interested parties emerged and a price tag of

 

The other big issue for TVS was the franchise awards coming up and the company was in real trouble. The year of 1990 was a big change for the broadcasting industry with the abolotion of the IBA and the formation of a new regulator, the Independent Television Commission (ITC). One of their first tasks was the renewal of the ITV franchises (a task that had been delayed while changes too place as those starting in 1982 were up for renewal in 1990). The ITC felt things needed to change to make ITV a better competitor against those satellite and cable channels waiting in the wings and wanted ITV to be a lean mean fighting machine.

 

As part of this new ‘franchise auction’ the company would not only have to put in a plan of how it was going to serve it’s region but also had to put in a sealed bid, an amount they were prepared to pay the government for the right to broadcast in the area.

 

Initally this highest bid wins approach was the only requirement but later a quality threshold was introduce to protect programming standards and any sucessful applicant would need to pass this first. TVS passed the quality threshold and was the higest bidder by some margin. TVS had taken the approach that they needed to bid high or die and looked to put together the highest possible bid they could get away with. TVS bid the highest of any bid for any region with a whopping £59 million which the company would have to find each year for the next ten.

 

On the 16th October 1991 the ITC sent all applicants a fax with their result, TVS were told they were unsucessful and they had lost out to Meridian Broadcasting.

 

Meridian had bid £36 million, considerably less than TVS however the regulator decided they were unhappy with the large sum promised by TVS and that it would have a detrimental effect on programming, especially as the company was already struggling. TVS hit back at the regulator with numerous requests to get the ITC explain themselves and considered asking for a judicial review.

 

The prospects of TVS being sucessful with the judical review were slim and they were advised by their legal team the costs would be huge so reluctantly they started taking steps to liquidate the company

Talks started straight away between TVS, Meridian and the unions to transfer across TVS staff to Meridian from 1993, this would be a difficult task as Meridian would only want to take 370 out of the 800 that worked for TVS as they were not going to be making the large number of programmes that TVS had. Things had moved on since the early 80’s when TVS had won, there was no union agreements so people did not loose their jobs like there had been during the last awards.

 

Meridian was persuased to purchase the studios at Southampton which they got at a massive discount, far less than TVS had paid for them in 1981. TVS weere not in much of a position to argue over this, they were desperate for cash to keep the company afloat until the end of their franchise. Meridian lacked interest in Southampton as their plan was to comission independents to produce programmes and were lot looking to make many themselves so did not really need studios that size. Meridian would also rent space from TVS at the Maidstone studios on a ten year lease but TVS wanted to keep hold of the ownership of these studios.

 

TVS also sold their news archives to Meridian (which included the news archives of Southern Television) as well as some of their local programmes, keeping the main programmes archives themselves.

 

TVS Telethon
1992
© Television South

 

TVS Break Bumper
1992
© Television South

 

TVS News Helicopter
1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

 
Coast To Coast - Southampton
1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

TVS Newsroom - Maidstone
1992
© ITV PLC

 

Ray Rodgers
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Richard Brock
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

Mary Garn
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Sandy Flemming
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

David Forsdyke
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Mike Fuller
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

Coast To Coast - Maidstone
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

Lloyd Bracey
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Weather Map - South East
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

Coast To Coast - Maidstone
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Brian Sharlcross
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

Ron Lobeck
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 

TVS Presents
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC

 

 

 
TVS Continuity - Emmerdale
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Coast To Coast Book as held in our archives
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC

 
TVS Continuity - Goodbye To All That
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
TVS Continuity - Goodbye To All That
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC

At 10:45pm the final programme from TVS was aired where the company said Goodbye To All That. The show was presented by Fern Britton (who had come back for this one show having left the company earlier that year), Fred Dinenage and Matthew Kelly who had been in Panto at the Poole Arts Centre.

 

The final programme was a look back at their output over their eleven years on the air, this was a fun packed show and was a celebration, a big contrast to the show that their predecessors Southern had put out at the end of their time onscreen (Southern were very unhappy about lossing their region and they certainly let viewers know that in their final show). The show included chats with Neil Buchanan, George Baker, Roy Walker, Bryan Murphy, Peter Bowles and Jill Gasgoine, all who had stared in various TVS programmes.

Fred Dinenage
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

Fern Britton
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Carl Tyler
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

Gareth Evans
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Mike Field
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

David Bobin
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Mai Davies
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

Veronica Charlwood
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
James Montgomery
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 


Steven McDonnell
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Jim Clegg
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

Jan Collins
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Jackie Block
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 


Jill Cochrane
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
Ted Harrison
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 
Roger Backhouse
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 

 
Martin H Clarke
31st December 1992
© ITV PLC
 
 

At the end of the show Fern and Fred gave a warm thanks to shareholders, suppliers staff and of course those watching and how lucky Meridian were to have them. The show ended with the TVS logo being shown for the final time but this time saying thanks for watching.

 

As the bells tolled midnight TVS ended their time on the air and handed over to Meridian.  



The final moments of TVS on air
31st December1992
© Television South

TVS Off The Air

After going off the air TVS had planned to be an independent production company, much in the same way that had happened with Thames Television. The company retreated to Maidstone where they had retained their studios (although had rented out one of them and the newsroom to Meridian for their south east service), TVS had also kept hold of their programme archives which they planned to distribute. This plan would not last long however as many TVS programmes were previously made by independents which had been formed out of TVS and this reduced the amount available in their archives.

In February 1993, a little over a month after going to air, TVS was acquired by International Family Entertainment (IFE). They were setting up a UK version of The Family Channel and had planned to use content from TVS on their service. TVS had been of interest to several companies back in 1992 including Lorne Michaels, TCW Capital and IFE who was left the main contender after others pulled out after examining the accounts. IFE would be turned down on a couple of occasions as it was felt by some that they were devaluing the company. The final offer was £56.5M.

 

The Family Channel did for a time use some of the TVS archives but this was eventually dropped as the channel focused more on US programmes. The channel was based at the Maidstone Studios. This purchase also meant the end of Meridian’s agreement to use the studios and they moved out for a time before moving back to a smaller newsroom in 2004. Flextech, a UK broadcaster who were joint owners of the UK TV network, would take a 39% stake in the channel.

In 1996 Flextech bought the 71% of the Family Channel they did not already own and it was closed down being replaced  by Challenge TV (now just called Challenge) which broadcast vintage game shows. IFE was to disappear also when it was sold to Fox Kids the following year and later Fox Kids being absorbed into Disney in 2001. This would leave Disney responsible for the TVS archives. The end of IFE also meant the end of TVS’ links to the Maidstone studios which were sold off and now operate independently.

The archives of TVS are currently inaccessible, this is due to them being moved from location to location, this resulted in the paperwork to the rights for programmes being displaced and therefore a number of programmes are unable to be shown on copyright grounds.

TVS’ former home at Southampton was used by Meridian until 2004 when they left for the smaller studios the company had always wanted (Meridian never has the need for the capacity that TVS did). The studios were stripped with equipment being sold at auction before becoming a storage area for trucks. The buildings were later demolished and the plot stayed empty for a few years, the site is now occupied by housing.

The TVS Television Theatre after being sold off by TVS in 1988 eventually became a laser gaming centre before being demolished. A campaign was established to fight the demolition and get the building listed however due to the alterations made by TVS this was refused.

The London offices in Victoria are now an embassy building.