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1968 in British television

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List of years in British television (table)

This is a list of British television related events from 1968.




  • 4 February – Cult series The Prisoner finishes its first run on British television.
  • 5 February – BBC2's Newsroom becomes the first news programme in the UK to be broadcast in colour.[2]
  • 12 February – Children's stop-motion animation The Herbs debuts on BBC1.


  • 4 March – TWW closes. The station has lost its franchise in the previous ITV licensing awards and decided to close 10 weeks early, selling its remaining airtime to HTV for £500,000; however Harlech is not ready to commence transmissions and to fill the gap an interim service, staffed by former TWW staff, is provided until Harlech's launch on 20 May.


  • 1 April – Reporting Scotland launches on BBC1 Scotland, replacing A Quick Look Round.
  • 6 April – The 13th Eurovision Song Contest is held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Spain wins the contest with the song "La, la, la", performed by Massiel. This year marks the first time the event is broadcast in colour, with several European countries transmitting the event in colour. Because BBC1 does not yet broadcast in colour, BBC2 airs an encore edition of the show in colour the following day.
  • 20 April – Conservative MP Enoch Powell makes his infamous Rivers of Blood speech about immigration and anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom.[3] The speech is made at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham to a meeting of the Conservative Political Centre at 2:30 pm. The Birmingham-based television company ATV has seen an advance copy of the speech this morning, and its news editor has ordered a television crew to go to the venue, where they film sections of the speech. The speech provokes great outcry among the British public, making Powell simultaneously one of the most popular and loathed politicians in the country, and leading to his rapid dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet by Conservative party leader Edward Heath.



  • No events.


  • 9 July – American time-travel series The Time Tunnel debuts on BBC1.
  • 28 July – Final day on air for ABC which has broadcast to the North and Midlands regions during weekends. The 1968 Contract Round sees the end of weekend franchises in these regions. It is also the last day on air for ATV London which loses its weekend franchise to the newly formed London Weekend Television.
  • 29 July – Granada and ATV broadcast seven days a week to the North-West and Midlands respectively. The North is split into two regions with Granada broadcasting to the North-West and Yorkshire Television broadcasting to the Yorkshire region. It is also the last day on air for Rediffusion, London in the London area.
  • 30 July
    • Thames Television goes on air, having taken over the ITV London weekday franchise from Rediffusion, London. Thames is a new joint venture between the respective parent companies of ABC (ABPC, known for the ABC cinema chain) and Rediffusion (British Electric Traction), the ABPC having been awarded the controlling 51% stake in the new London weekday broadcaster but profits shared equally. Thames's evening news program Today, presented by Eamonn Andrews, features Jamaican Barbara Blake Hannah as the first black news presenter on British television.[4]
    • Children's magazine programme Magpie premieres on ITV.
  • 31 July – Popular sitcom Dad's Army begins its nine-year run on BBC1 with the episode "The Man and the Hour".


  • 2 August – London Weekend Television takes over the ITV London weekend franchise from ATV London. Going on air initially as London Weekend Television, it later adopts the name London Weekend before reverting to London Weekend Television (often abbreviated to LWT) in 1978.
  • August – Independent Television technicians strike immediately after the 1968 franchise changes,[5] causing a national stoppage.[6] The individual companies are off the air for several weeks and an emergency service is established. The ITV Emergency National Service is presented by management personnel with no regional variations, the first time that a uniform presentation practice has been adopted across all regions.[7]
  • 21 August – The BBC's scheduled transmission of the fourth Dad's Army episode is postponed for coverage of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.[8]



  • 12–27 October – The BBC and ITV provide coverage of the 1968 Olympic Games. The BBC's coverage is extensive, with live coverage into the night and a daily breakfast programme Good Morning Mexico. This is also the first time the Games are broadcast in colour, albeit only on BBC2 which simulcasts the majority of BBC1's coverage. This is also the first time that ITV shows the Olympic Games.


  • No events.






Continuing television shows


  • BBC Wimbledon (1927–1939, 1946–2019, 2021–2024)


  • The Boat Race (1938–1939, 1946–2019)
  • BBC Cricket (1939, 1946–1999, 2020–2024)




Ending this year


See also


  1. ^ Tucker, Anthony (13 January 2015). "BBC to let Sooty go: from the archive, 13 January 1968". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  2. ^ "And now... the news in colour". BBC Genome Blog.
  3. ^ ""1968: Powell slates immigration policy", BBC On This Day". BBC News. 20 April 1968. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  4. ^ Hannah, Barbara Blake (23 October 2008). "It wasn't Trevor or Moira – I was the first black British TV presenter". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  5. ^ Bowden-Smith, Kif Strike Service Vision On, 1 January 2002, accessed 7 May 2009. Archived 2009-05-09.
  6. ^ Carmody, Robin The Bradshaw of Broadcasting Off the Telly June 2000, accessed 7 May 2009. Archived 2009-05-09.
  7. ^ Alyett, Glenn Strike Out Archived 23 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine' Talk of Thames, 2005, accessed 7 May 2009
  8. ^ "A Love Affair in a Night of Crisis". Daily Mirror. 22 August 1968. p. 14.
  9. ^ Mark Duguid "Armchair Theatre (1956–74)", BFI screenonline
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