ⓘ Continuity announcers in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, continuity announcers are people who are employed to introduce programmes on radio and television networks, to promote forthcoming programmes on the station, to cross-promote programmes on the broadcasters other stations where applicable and, sometimes, to provide information relating to the programme just broadcast.
The six pre-digital terrestrial television channels in the UK make use of continuity announcers, and for most of the time, continuity announcements are presented live. Continuity announcers can also be found on digital and satellite channels, but most of these channels make use of pre-recorded announcements.
The BBC mainly uses live announcers on its flagship television channels BBC One and BBC Two, and mainly uses pre-recorded announcements on its digital channels apart from BBC News and BBC Parliament, which do not use announcers at all. Separate continuity for BBC One and BBC Two in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is provided by regional announcers who also double as transmission directors. BBC Wales announcers also direct Wales Today news bulletins during breakfast, mid-afternoon and late night.
Presently, the only national radio station to use continuity announcers is BBC Radio 4, where many of the announcing staff also act as newsreaders and also introduce the stations Shipping Forecast. Until about 1990, BBC Radio 2 used continuity announcers separate from newsreaders for its weekend and evening output, but these have since disappeared. Similarly, BBC Radio 3 has downgraded the former role of its announcers in favour of a new style of presenter. Continuity announcers played a much heavier role on the pre-1967 BBC Home Service, BBC Light Programme and BBC Third Programme and other services on the last-nameds frequency. Announcing staff for BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Wales double as newsreaders and technical operators.
Continuity announcements for BBC television channels are broadcast from Red Bee Media at the White City Media Village in West London, with separate continuity teams for the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based in the broadcasting centres in Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow, providing links for the local variations of BBC One and BBC Two.
CBBC and CBeebies continuity now airs from studios at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays – up until September 2011, CBBC presentation was broadcast from a small studio in the East Tower of BBC Television Centre while CBeebies presentation was pre-recorded at Teddington Studios. The announcing team for BBC Radio 4 work from a suite of studios on the 7th floor of Broadcasting House in London.
Historically, BBC announcers mostly spoke with Received Pronunciation, but the range of accents heard has widened considerably in recent years, and the general tone has become more informal.
1.1. BBC Early continuity
Andrew Martin, an expert from the BBC archives, described continuity announcements as "an essential part of television," which "actually tell us quite a lot about the style, the kind of attitudes of television in their particular era."
In-vision continuity announcers, who appeared on screen between programmes, were a staple part of television broadcasts from the very earliest days of television, because "there was a need for linking material between programmes just to kind of announce them." In the early days of television, it was almost like a variety bill in the theatre. an item would come on, somebody had to say what it was often listing an entire evenings up-coming programming in one link.
The early announcers became "celebrities in their own right," often receiving considerable amounts of fan mail, as they were among the most recognisable on-screen individuals, appearing every day, at the start of an era when television celebrity was really invented. Early in-vision announcers included Jasmine Bligh, Elizabeth Cowell and Leslie Mitchell, formerly a newsreel announcer who famously re-opened the television service in 1946. The early continuity announcers were auditioned, as "they had to look good but they also had to speak well", not solely because of the class divide, but because clear speaking was crucial to their role.
1.2. BBC Later continuity
It is believed that in-vision continuity was last used during the peak viewing hours on BBC TV in the early 1960s, with a link into the Eurovision Song Contest 1963 the last-known example of the corporations use of in-vision continuity as well as existing out-of-vision continuity across the national network.
Between the late 1960s and circa 1980, many of the BBCs English regions provided their own continuity on weekday evenings, including in-vision presentation – particularly at closedown. Regional in-vision continuity was still used by BBC South in Southampton, BBC Midlands in Birmingham and BBC North West in Manchester by the time English regional continuity was phased out. From 1998 to 2001, the Northern Ireland regional service on BBC Choice used in-vision continuity links.
1.3. BBC Childrens continuity
The presentation of childrens programmes had in-vision continuity from its instigation until 1965. The best-known childrens in-vision continuity face was that of schoolgirl Jennifer Gay, one of the Childrens Hour announcers, who introduced such favourites as Muffin the Mule between 1949 and 1953.
In-vision continuity was re-introduced as part of Childrens BBC/CBBC) on 9 September 1985. From then until 1994, this came from the main BBC1 continuity suite itself, referred to as "the broom cupboard" and introduced by various presenters including Andy Crane, Andi Peters and Phillip Schofield; Since then, it has come from larger, specialised studios. As of September 2011, presentation for both CBBC and CBeebies originates from the BBCs MediaCityUK studios in Salford Quays, following the BBC Childrens department move from London.
1.4. BBC Modern continuity
In February 2008, BBC Three introduced in-vision continuity links, in the form of live links with presenter Jose Vanders and recorded links with BBC Three viewers. For a time, the BBC Three website offered viewers the opportunity to record links for programmes. The live in-vision links were dropped after only a few months although live out-of-vision continuity during peak time returned in September 2011.
On 19 September 2008, the Scottish Gaelic-language digital channel BBC Alba launched with in-vision continuity from the channels sole announcer, Fiona MacKenzie. A second in-vision announcer, Moira MacDonald, was appointed in July 2009. All continuity links are pre-recorded in Stornoway and transmitted from BBC Scotlands headquarters in Glasgow.
All announcements for ITV plc-owned stations on ITV, and for ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 originate from the companys main transmission facilities at Technicolor in Chiswick, with separate teams of announcers based at the separately-owned STVs headquarters in Pacific Quay, Glasgow, and at UTVs headquarters at City Quays, Belfast.
Most announcements broadcast on ITV are conducted live, while overnight announcements, regional continuity on UTV and continuity for ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 are usually pre-recorded. All of ITV plcs announcers work on a freelance basis.
STV uses live continuity during the evening between around 5 pm and midnight with daytime announcements pre-recorded by the duty prime time announcer during their shift. STV-branded presentation is used throughout the stations broadcast hours with transmission manned by technical staff in Glasgow 24 hours a day.
The consolidation of ITV companies during the 1990s and 2000s led to the closure of transmission and continuity facilities at some ITV company studios:
2.1. ITV In-vision continuity
The use of on screen continuity announcers was common on ITV when each region was run by an independent company with their own transmission and continuity facilities. During the 1980s and 1990s, many regional companies abandoned the use of in-vision continuity announcers:
The only ITV companies which have never used in-vision continuity are Carlton Television London and Westcountry Television, who both began broadcasting on 1 January 1993.
Granada Television, for its first 20 years or so, never used in-vision continuity as its CEO, Sidney Bernstein, considered it frivolous for a station that was trying to match the BBC in image and respectability despite the BBC employing in-vision announcers at the time of Granadas launch and felt that having a mere functionary would cheapen the station. This decision was reversed in the late 1970s, soon after Sidney Bernstein retired.
3. Channel 4
Channel 4 employs continuity announcers on its network of stations; 4seven, Channel 4, E4, Film4 and More4. All announcements come from Red Bee Media at White City Media Village in West London. Since 2009, Red Bee have provided playout facilities for Channel 4. On 4seven, E4 and More4, announcements during evening primetime are now commonly broadcast live, with recorded announcements at other times; most announcements on Channel 4 are live. Announcements for 4Music programming, where used, are usually pre-recorded.
Channel 4 used links featuring the announcer on-screen for a brief period following its launch in 1982, mainly at closedown. The station briefly reprised the use of in-vision continuity links for a short period from 1996, used mainly in evening transmissions.
S4C announcers provide live out-of-vision continuity links from the channels headquarters in Llanishen, Cardiff.
S4C used in-vision continuity throughout broadcast hours from launch in November 1982 until around 1991.
In-vision presentation continues to be used during S4Cs children strands, Cyw for young children and Stwnsh for older children. Stwnsh links are mostly conducted live whereas Cyw links are mostly pre-recorded. Characters and presenters from S4Cs Cyw output occasionally appear to provide continuity links.
Childrens presentation is produced by independent production companies Boomerang Stwnsh / Cyw in-vision links and Cwmni Da Cyw.
5. Channel 5
Channel 5 use announcers on its network of stations; 5*, 5USA and Channel 5. All announcements come from Channel 5s transmission facility in London.
Channel 5 has only used on-screen announcers as part of its childrens strand, Milkshake! which comes from studios at Hawley Crescent, London.
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