August 2: 50 years ago today, London Weekend Television began broadcasting

London_Weekend_Television_logo_(1979)London Weekend Television (LWT) was the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties at weekends, broadcasting from Fridays to Monday mornings.

Like most former ITV regional franchises, the London weekend franchise is now operated by ITV plc. As of 2014, the franchise is still separately licensed, but unlike many other franchises, it is no longer distinguished on air in any way at all. LWT is now managed with Carlton Television as a single entity (ITV London), and the legal name for LWT is now ITV London (Weekends). London Weekend Television Ltd is now (along with most other former regional companies owned by ITV plc) listed at Companies House as a “Dormant company”.

 

July 13 on TV

40 years ago today, Top Gear shifted to BBC 1 Midlands to BBC 2 nationwide

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Top Gear (1977-2001), title card (1977-1983)

The original Top Gear started as a monthly television series produced by BBC Midlands and presented by Angela Rippon and Tom Coyne. The 30 minute programmes had a magazine format, and were transmitted at first to viewers in the Midlands region only.  The programme covered motoring related issues, such as new car road tests, fuel economy, safety, the police, speeding, insurance, second hand cars and holiday touring.

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Top Gear (1978-2001), title (1986-1987)

The BBC network took Top Gear and it became a weekly 30 minute BBC Two programme on July 13, 1978. Angela Rippon continued as presenter with new co-presenter, racing commentator, Barrie Gill. Noel Edmonds joined the team in the second networked series, eventually taking over from Rippon in 1980. Edmonds was replaced by Tomorrow’s World‘s William Woollard in 1981 who would front the programme for 10 years.

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Top Gear (1978-2001), title (1994-2001)

Jeremy Clarkson joined the team in 1988, until 1998.  Ex-car salesman Quentin Willson was added in 1991, and James May appeared in the final two seasons, when the original format ended in 2001.  Clarkson and May would return in a revamped version in 2002, joined by Richard Hammond and the Stig.