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London Weekend Television

London Weekend Television
logo, c. 1979

London Weekend Television Limited (LWT) is the ITV contractor for London, Friday 5:15pm to Monday, 5:59am. The company took over from ATV Network Limited in 1968 (ATV continued broadcasting to the Midlands until 1981). ATV's weekend franchise had covered Saturdays and Sundays only; when LWT came on air it was also awarded Friday night from 7 PM, which meant there was an on-screen handover from Thames Television at 6:59. In the 1980s LWT's hours were extended to begin at 5:15, much to the chagrin of Thames. When Carlton Television took over from Thames in 1993 the times were retained.

David Frost was an original director of LWT, and he presented a late-night talk show in the station's early years. Another talk show host who made his debut on LWT was Russell Harty.

Other notable early shows included We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, a sketch show starring Frank Muir (it was the first program scheduled to be aired on LWT, but industrial action that occured during the preceding week blacked it out early into the first show); the children's fantasy Catweazle; and several sitcoms, including On the Buses, Please, Sir and Mind your Language.

Beacause it was a weekend station LWT's output tended to concentrate on more lightweight material than Thames, but it did produce a number of successful drama shows. Within These Walls, a prison drama starring veteran actress Googie Withers, later inspired the Australian soap opera Prisoner: Cell Block H. Lillie was based on the real-life story of Lillie Langtry. But by far the station's most successful drama was Upstairs, Downstairs, a successful attempt to produce a costume drama comparable in scale to the BBC's The Forsyte Saga.

The company was acquired by Granada Group plc (now Granada plc) in 1994. Major programmes on LWT include most of the ITV Saturday night lineup including Blind Date, You've Been Framed, and their arts strand, The South Bank Show. LWT also owns 50% of London News Network Limited, producers of their news programmes London Today and London Tonight.

On 25 October 2002, LWT's famous blue-white-red ribbon ident aired for the last time. The following Friday, LWT became known as ITV1 (London Weekends), with only the ITV1 logo appearing before programmes. This means that there is no distinction between LWT and its London weekday neighbour Carlton Television (ITV1 (London)). The LWT logo continues to appear at the end of its programmes however.