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Marking 60 years of independent television in north-east

By David Porter

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The Grampian TV ident was a common sight on screens across the whole of Scotland.
The Grampian TV ident was a common sight on screens across the whole of Scotland.

Gordon MP Richard Thomson has tabled a Motion in the House of Commons to mark 60 years since Independent Television came to the north-east with the first broadcast of Grampian Television.

At the same time a new book will look back over the years of Grampian TV, which has been collated by former presenter Jimmy Spankie.

The MP’s Motion reflected that many of the programmes produced by Grampian during its time on air from 1961 to 2006 are now a valuable archive of the languages and culture of the north and north-east of scotland.

Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said: “Many people will have fond memories of the programmes produced by Grampian.

"At a time when the world was getting smaller and transatlantic culture was everywhere, Grampian reflected back its local communities in its output, whether that was traditional music in the north-east or Gaelic language programmes.

“These programmes now provide an important archive and are part of the culture of the north and north-east.

“Commercial pressures today mean that these subjects are largely left to the BBC Alba and Scotland channels.

"It’s real progress that we have these two dedicated channels, but Scotland is still without a truly national broadcaster."

Grampian TV was part of the fabric of communities across large swathes of Scotland, a television station that was a conveyor belt of news, current affairs, documentaries and entertainment.

Now, a new book celebrates sixty years since the birth of Grampian TV, a broadcasting institution that produced a long list of household names in the world of television.

From its headquarters in Aberdeen, Grampian’s presenters, newsreaders and reporters were in the living rooms of a huge percentage of its potential 1.2 million viewers each night and in The Way it Was: Grampian - the little TV station with the big reputation, many of the well-known faces from over the years tell their stories of life in the spotlight.

Contributers range from Selina Scott, who cut her TV teeth there before moving to ITV’s News at Ten, to Generation Game hostess Isla St Clair, and from the distinguished golf writer Renton Laidlaw to Grampian originals, Douglas Kynoch and Jimmy Spankie.

“We have brought together around forty on-screen and behind the scenes staff from yesteryear,” said Jimmy, who helped collate the book, “and invited them to relive some of their experiences, anecdotes and memories.

“It’s a book which is unashamedly nostalgic and certainly entertaining with readers invited to take a walk down memory lane through tales of a TV station whose name and logo disappeared in 2006, nine years after it was taken over by STV.”

Grampian TV also had offices and reporters in Dundee, Inverness and Stornoway and was at the heart of many major news stories, like the Fraserburgh Lifeboat disaster of January 1970 and the tragic Piper Alpha disaster of the summer of 1988.

The Way it Was: Grampian - the little TV station with the big reputation, will be published on September 30 and will be available through Amazon.

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