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22-09-1955

ITV launches in London

It’s TV With an Extra I

If you’re anything like me (and I sincerely hope you are) then you will get unduly excited when you think of Brian the Robot, that talking meerkat thing or that monkey that sells tea. Yes, I love commercials. And commercials (and their fantastic mascots) became a reality on this day in 1955 when ITV (or ITA as it was known back then) was born. Only available in the London area at first, the new network, created to break the BBC’s TV monopoly, started with a live celebratory event at the Guildhall featuring stars such as Postmaster General, Charles Hill. Very much the Ant and Dec of his day.The programming continued with drama excerpts, a variety show and some boxing. The first ever advert was, unsurprisingly, for toothpaste though commercials for chocolate and petrol also featured. But the BBC weren’t going to take this independent interloper lying down. They ‘coincidentally’ scheduled a major plot development in their radio soap The Archers for the same evening of the launch which drew 20 million listeners. ITV never forgot this and 60 years later they nicked The Voice off The Beeb. Ouch.