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Tuesday 25 March 2003
Look North is 35!
Look North's opening shot in 1968 with reporter talking to audience from boat
Reporter David Seymour welcomed viewers to the first Look North from a flooded York
Thirty-five years ago, on March 25th 1968, the first edition of Look North, was broadcast from Leeds to the BBC's new North Region, now BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
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Of course, Yorkshire people had enjoyed TV since the early 1950s when the transmitter at Holme Moss brought the medium to the north and later they were able to share in the nightly magazine programme Look North, transmitted
from Manchester.
Eddie Wareing
Eddie Waring, rugby league commentator and It's A Knockout presenter, was a regular face on Look North.

However, the first Look North from Yorkshire turned out to be much more memorable than is usually the case with such programmes. The centre of York was flooded, the only way anyone could get round was by boat and it was from a boat that reporter David Seymour uttered the programme's first words: "Goodnight, and welcome to Look North from the new Leeds studios."

The 'new' studio was situated not in the present BBC building in Woodhouse Lane
but in a former church nearby.

Bill Greaves was the programme's first news editor, and later Regional Television Manager. Looking back on the occasion of the programme's 25th anniversary, he remembered: "When I first clapped eyes on All Souls in Blackman Lane, I thought they had to be joking. I'd come down from London on a day trip to meet local freelances and say hello to my new domain. I'd just been appointed news editor of the BBC's North Region and was eager to please. But the insouciant smile playing around my lips froze in to a rictus grin as I entered the dank and dusty interior.

gallery in 1968
The Look North gallery in 1968

"My instructions were to be on the air by March. It was November 25th already and there was only me and this peeling office. I had nightmares for weeks to come but soon I was too busy to worry any more. We de-rigged the ancient OB, installed mobile film processing outside the front door, convinced the church Brownie pack they should meet in the room beneath the studio at some time other than six pm (the time Look North was then broadcast) and recruited as good a bunch of guys and gals as you'd ever wish to meet. Suddenly we were through the dreaded opening night and into the hectic and happy time beyond."

In those days regional television programmes used to be all too often associated with stories involving talking parrots, and the like.

Journalist and producer John Irwin remembers: "Back in the mists of time, the seventies actually, when Look North programmes stumbled out live on air as few items were recorded, it was all a bit amateurish, bringing on rage, frustration and yes, fun. Some of the items were excruciating but we had a few laughs.

gun in hand
The mole- shooting vicar

"When we had empty spaces to fill, and nothing much to fill them with, the then news editor would call up one of his favourites, a dotty vicar story. This Lincolnshire vicar had an obsession with moles in his garden. His unusual method of pest control was by tracking them down by sound. He appeared to be able to hear them moving about underground and, when he did, he would open fire with his air rifle at their position on his lawn. Then he would stare at his empty lawn for a while, suddenly shout, 'There's one,' and open fire again. All the reporters had to do was to ask the vicar a few deadpan questions and leave him to blaze away. No mole, dead or alive appeared."

Of course, it has not always been fun and Look North has covered all too many tragic stories over the years.

Now the technology too is very different. The newsroom typewriters were disposed of long ago, the graphics are no longer done on the back of cereal packets and it is difficult to imagine that, in the early days, the first time film items would not be seen in their negative form was when they were transmitted.

Today you can catch up with Look North from other parts of the UK on this website or by satellite and next year Look North will be moving into new state-of-the-art premises on Quarry Hill.

The BBC in Bradford is also on the move and this summer, as part of the celebrations to mark our arrival at our new home at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, this website hopes to bring you more about the past, present and future of television in West Yorkshire, and beyond.

We would like you to help us by telling us about your best television moments or favourite programmes:

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