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Southern Television

Southern Television
colour logo, 1969 - 1981

Southern Television was one of the original ITV companies, serving the south and south-east of England from August 30, 1958 until 12:45 AM on January 1, 1982.

In the Independent Television Authority's bidding war, Southern beat eight other applicants for the franchise. Its shareholders were Associated Newspapers, The Rank Organisation and the Amalgamated Press. Associated Newspapers was allowed to remain a shareholder in Southern only on the condition that it sold its stake in Associated-Rediffusion to avoid owning parts of two ITV companies (a very different situation from today).

Notable programmes produced by Southern over the years included Out of Town, a countryside programme introduced by Jack Hargreaves, who just happened to be on Southern's board of directors; How, also featuring Hargreaves with Fred Dinenage and others, a children's science programme; Freewheelers, a children's spy series; Winston Churchill: the Wilderness Years; and Worzel Gummidge, starring Jon Pertwee as the eponymous walking scarecrow.

Southern's failure to win a renewal of its franchise in the 1980 bidding session was met with anger and disbelief by its board of directors. Although the Independent Broadcasting Authority did not give a reason for its decision, it is widely believed that the station's London ownership may have swayed the balance against it.

The winning bidder was Television South (TVS). TVS spent months trying to persuade Southern to sell its studios; until it finally succeeded, TVS was forced to use Portakabins in Southern's car park as offices. Finally Southern agreed to lease its studios for the production of TVS programmes and to sell them to TVS outright at the end of 1981.