One of our favourite YouTube channels – Killianm2 – has published lots of Irish TV pres-related goodies recently. Here are some of the items that caught our attention.
First up, a rare recording of the computer-animated version of the early 80s RTÉ One ident. First introduced in February 1980 as a mechanical model, this animated version came along in 1985. Your announcer is Máire de Barra. The video also includes a full episode of the RTÉ drama Inside.
Jumping on a few years now to 1990 and this commercial break from RTÉ One includes: a promotional trail for Head to Toe (no voiceover or channel reference – particularly odd since the programme was shown on both channels at the time IIRC); a selection of ads; another promotional trail – this time for Wednesday Report (no time/day or channel provided on the on-screen graphic) – voiced by David Harvey; the RTÉ One ident of the time; and the (rather poor) opening titles for Questions & Answers. The RTÉ One announcer is Marian Farrell.
Fast forward to December 1991 and RTÉ TV was celebrating 30 years of broadcasting. RTÉ Network 2 aired a special strand of programming titled 30 Years a Glowing – and this was the ident.
31st May 1994 on RTÉ Network 2 now, and an unusually early start to proceedings for a weekday, owing to 2FM birthday celebrations and sport. Since the channel’s relaunch in October 1988, the start-up routine was: ident (no voiceover); nine minutes of programme menu, accompanied by music; one minute of clock; ident and voiceover, introducing the first programme of the day. We join the action for the last few minutes of the start-up routine. The announcer is Michael Kennealy.
The next clip is also thought to be from 1994 – it shows an RTÉ One closedown sequence, including some in-vision continuity featuring Noel Fogarty. By autumn 1994, the CSO background here was replaced by a real set.
Moving on now to September 1994 and RTÉ One comes on air at 10.50am, with a batch of trails promoting the autumn season of programming on the two TV channels. And you can see the updated in-vision continuity set that I referenced in the commentary for the previous clip. The RTÉ One announcer is Catherine Hogan. The trails are voiced by Gerry Wilson and Noel Fogarty. Note: a small amount of material has been edited out of the clip, due to tape damage.
Conventional in-vision continuity would cease on RTÉ One in September 1995, with the launch of a new look for the channel. However, in September 1998, in-vision continuity of sorts would return for late-night programming – details on our old site.
Christmas 1994 now (we think) and an early start for RTÉ Network 2. In this clip, we join the start-up for the last couple of minutes of the programme menu. The clock was suffering from a recurring glitch, where the hands didn’t line up properly with the hour markings. The hour and minute hands were almost the same length, which sometimes made it difficult to tell the time (note: the hand length issue had nothing to do with the software glitch). Your announcer is Deirdre McAndrew, who was usually heard on RTÉ One. This clip also includes the opening titles for Bosco.
Hopping across to RTÉ One and some in-vision continuity from Deirdre McAndrew, as the channel starts up on Good Friday 1995.
March 1996 now and RTÉ Network 2 stayed up late for Formula 1 coverage. Michael Comyn is on announcing duties. And a good demonstration here of one of the issues with the channel’s on-air clock – having the hour and minute hands the same size wasn’t the best of ideas: is it 2.25am or 5.10am? Michael keeps us right. And at the end of this clip, a brief glimpse of the overnight testcard – the colour/black and white chroma bars – which from c. 1992, was accompanied by the sound of RTÉ 2FM. The audio would usually arrive in sync with the appearance of the testcard – but for some reason here, there’s a slight delay. At some point around 9am or so (TBC), the PM5544 testcard would appear. But this was in the days before RTÉ One and RTÉ 2 went 24 hours, so if you were watching RTÉ 2 via the analogue transmitter network, well, the transmitter would’ve been switched off shortly after the overnight chroma bars appeared. Dublin cable viewers could watch the testcard all night.
A start-up now from Easter Saturday 1996 (30th March). The format of the start-up changed in September 1995 when the channel was given a new look. The new routine was: ten minutes of clock; ident and optional voiceover; programme menu and voiceover; ident and voiceover into the first programme. The two ident playouts here were usually off tape, rather than laserdisc. The channel’s idents were generally played off laserdisc, since September 1995. The playout suite was equipped with two laserdisc machines: one of these would’ve been used to play out the animating background for the clock. And since presentation liked to use an animated background on the first programme menu of the day – and it was technically tricky to utilise the laserdisc machines for four consecutive events – the two idents were played off tape to simplify things. The first ident of the day was always Earth and the second was generally Fire (but they did occasionally use Water or Wind). Your announcer here is Michael Comyn.
Meanwhile, on the same day, RTÉ One was having a bit of a meltdown, as the playout desk developed a fault. Looking closer at the clip, it seems that there was a faulty source on the desk, which partially overlaid the live output from the desk.
We start off with the problem source – which happens to be outputting what is presumably the opening frame of the clock background animation from one of the two laserdiscs available in the pres suite. Then another source, playing the clock background + hands is faded up. But you can see that the problem source remains on screen (by the duplicate clock background – clearly the output from the two laserdisc sources is not precisely lined up).
The intended live output source – featuring the full clock output (laserdisc background + clock hands) is faded out and the ident is cut up. Note the faulty source is still putting out the still of the clock background. The faulty source is then changed to a still frame from the start of the main ident – whilst the ident animation on the other laserdisc continues to play out, on what is the intended live output of the desk.
The faulty source stays on the ident still (you can see the St Bridget’s Cross) for quite some time. Whilst the main source is switched to slides of programme menus. Bizarrely, for the ident into the first programme, both laserdiscs play out the same ident simultaneously (live source + faulty source – each source playing out from a different laserdisc machine). And again, you can see the slight double-vision effect resulting from the output of the two laserdisc machines not precisely lining up.
The faulty laserdisc source then persists into the start of programme (and freezes). A few seconds in, someone moves that laserdisc on to the next event, which is a different version of the channel ident (the one with the ‘STEREO’ caption). It remains on the first frame of this ident, until the fault is finally corrected a few moments later and the programme continues normally. Your announcer is Lucy Potter-Cogan.
Another start-up here – possibly from 1996, though I suspect it’s autumn 1995. Bit of a blunder leading into the first programme of the day – the Fire ident is cued up a second time in error. And on closer inspection of the footage, the first playout of the ident is off tape, the second seems to be from laserdisc. Your announcer is Martin Fawcett.
A programme trail and other pres items in this next clip, from an RTÉ Network 2 commercial break, from 26th June 1996. We start with an RTÉ One promotional trail for A Touch of Frost, voiced by Gerry Wilson. Then come the ads, followed by the RTÉ Network 2 Water ident, with Neil O’Shea announcing. We then have the opening of Network News, presented by Ken Hammond.
A few months later and some anomalies turn up in an RTÉ One start-up routine. The first bit of oddness is the lack of St Bridget’s Cross at the start of the channel ident. When launched in September 1995, the ident did not include the St Bridget’s Cross. However, this was quickly remedied following complaints from viewers. And the programme listings slide seems to use a template that was initially used for programme slides. The programme details are also displayed in the wrong font but this was a fairly common occurrence.
Possibly RTÉ One was being played out from a spare playout suite, due to maintenance work in its usual home and some of the presentation assets weren’t updated in the spare facility?
Also curious that the transition to Aertel In-Vision was relatively smooth – there was usually a lack of vision sync between the source for the teletext generator and most other sources on the playout desk, which often led to the picture momentarily switching to black and white. The announcer here is Noel Fogarty.
When the RTÉ One and RTÉ Network 2 clocks received a facelift in September 1995 and were given animated backgrounds, played off laserdisc, accidents were always going to happen. In this clip from 22nd November 1996, we see the latter stages of RTÉ Network 2’s start-up routine. The background clock imagery disappears, leaving only the hands on screen. And if you look carefully, you’ll see evidence of a glitch that also affected the RTÉ One clock – on the movement of the second hand, a white horizontal line is sometimes seen at the top of the clock. Gerry Wilson announcing.
Turning to RTÉ One now and the first home news bulletin of the day at 9am. This clip, from 16th June 1997, shows the same pre-recorded ident and announcement (provided by Nigel Gordon) that played out each morning. Although the RTÉ One ident was played out from laserdisc during most junctions, the playout for this early morning junction was pre-recorded on tape, along with the announcement, and the opening titles for the news bulletin (which is presented by Sharon Ní Bheoláin).
2nd July 1997 and another start-up from RTÉ Network 2. Your announcer is Mary Lowe.