Thursday, September 22, 1955

ITV began broadcasting in the London region from its main transmitter at Croydon on the evening of September 22, 1955. Weekday programmes in the capital were provided by Rediffusion Television which, in collaboration with Associated Newspapers, formed the broadcasting company Associated-Rediffusion. Weekend schedules were the responsibility of ABC Television which later changed its name to ATV, to avoid confusion with another broadcaster, Associated British Corporation.


The first programme to be transmitted was an outside broadcast from London’s Guildhall of a dinner to celebrate the launch of ITV.

Just prior to the start of programmes, a short film was broadcast to give viewers an idea of how the new service would look and the kinds of thing they could expect to see.

That trailer included the full range of programmes from drama to the Arts, news and current affairs. It also promised a wide selection of sporting events and, amongst the clips shown was one of some speedway racing, presumably from one of the London tracks operating in 1955.

No mention was actually made of the sport in the commentary, which indicated how familiar speedway racing would have been to London audiences of the time.

How different it would be today with no tracks in the capital and a viewing public largely unfamiliar with the sport.

What’s in a name?

Originally, Lew Grade’s company, Associated British Television, (ABC), adopted the logo at the top of the page in readiness for its launch.

Unfortunately, it clashed with the name of another broadcaster, Associated British Corporation who had been awarded one of the franchises in the Midlands and the North. The more familiar ABC logo is shown above.

If the image used for Grade’s ABC looks uncannily familiar, it is probably because it remained in use when he changed the name of his company to the more familiar Associated TeleVision or ATV.

Speedway on TV


Opening night broadcast, Associated-Rediffusion

Scenes from ITV’s pre-launch trailer The first commercial shown on ITV was for Gibbs SR toothpaste

Click PLAY to watch that first ever British TV commercial

And, while you’re watching, here’s a quiz.

Do you know what the first ever colour commercial on British television advertised?

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