When ITV goes oops.

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ITV1 had an unfortunately long technical fault the other day at the beginning of their live broadcast of Hell’s Kitchen. Fortunately for me though its the perfect chance to show off what happens to a network when everything goes to hell. For over seven minutes the ITV technical fault caption graced viewers screens, along with an announcer apologising for the problems.

Besides the rather cool graphic used during the downtime, I wanted to mention that I’ve never seen something like this happen in Australia, I’m not saying we’ve never screwed up a live TV broadcast, but what happens when their is a technical fault? I’ve certainly never heard an announcer come on and apologise for it, is that a purely British oddity or do I just not watch enough television?

Thanks Andy for the video, and check out ITV1’s idents collection here.

17 Responses to “When ITV goes oops.”


  • I guess it’s part and parcel with the live announce the UK do over their station idents. I presume they’ve just got someone constantly ready to do a live announce.

    When stations die in Australia, I’ve just seen the logo pop up with accompanying silence or the ‘elevator music’ similar to what iTV just had. Interestingly, even though the ABC now have a ‘silvery’ looking logo, when the station dies I think it still brings up the old solid-looking logo similar to the idents of the early 90s. I remember seeing this once after the ABC had moved to the new style of logo and being surprised.

    Stu

  • Seven spent about an hour showing nothing but a black screen a year or two back when there was a power outage at the Melbourne Docklands (where Seven’s national broadcast operations and Melbourne news studios are based). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a holding caption like that on Australian TV though, when I was little I remember it going to the colour bars for a minute or two on ABC.

    Kenneth at Media Spy caught this breakdown screen on the Gold Coast: http://www.mediaspy.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=4001&st=2825&p=326033&hl=win breakdown&#entry326033

  • Australian networks show their logo and music like Stu said and then usually go to commercials or station promos until they can go back to what they were showing or they play some other show instead.

    That’s been my experience anyways.

  • Yes… the major 4 UK networks have a live continuity presence during peak, and I think Channel 5 may do as well. Bit of a tradition over here!

    (As for this breakdown, since only ITV stations in England and Wales actually carry the main ITV branding (as all owned by ITV plc), I wonder what UTV (Nothern Ireland), STV (Scotland) and Channel TV (Channel Islands) did in this instance!??!)

  • THe commericals have few technical problems like that. Aside from 7 a few years back and when 9 went out for a few ours in the early 90s cos bushfires knocked out the power at their syd broadcast centre and the back up generators didn’t kick in. Foxtel has them every so often and it just goes to a foxtel logo.

  • in italy, they let things happen and “the show must go on” .it´s very common to see mistakes inside the news, both technical and of speech as well as well as in other shows: here is a famous example of when live television gets out of hands: political debate inside the reality show “beauty and the nerd” (italy edition): http://youtube.com/watch?v=nkiE8HWs1Y8&mode=related&search= (if you want to jump directly to the fight, watch this then: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q-87ySZ_aSQ&mode=related&search= )

  • I think Stu’s got it right. With most UK tv channels there’s always someone on hand with a mic to do the live continuity anyway, so I guess it just comes as part of that.

    It must be an odd job. And it must be odd to think “Hells Kitchens on, this means I get to relax for the next 58 minutes” and then suddenly being thrust in to working again

  • @ Ornsack, I doubt it’s as easy as that. They have to script what they’re going to say during the next ident and what to say during the credits of the current programme. My guess is that they also have a part in running the adverts and promos.

    As for slides during down time, ITV’s has to be the worst. Usually (well, in the UK) the network will have a slide up explaining that there is a problem and they’re doing their best to sort it out. ITV just has this still. The old ones weren’t much better: one simply said “Back Soon” with the logo!

  • Here are a couple of links to TheTVRoomPlus site that has some well documented breakdowns from the UK a few years ago.

    The first is from when Channel 4 had to be evacuated to it’s Disaster Recovery Facility following a mains gas leak.
    http://tvfeatures.thetvroomplus.com/feature-12.html

    This next one is when a power failure effected all BBC TV channels.
    http://tvfeatures.thetvroomplus.com/feature-17.html

    The next is from when the BBC were plagued with power failures over a period of a few weeks. If I remember correctly the relaunch of BBC News 24 was actually put back a few weeks becuse of the problems.
    http://tvfeatures.thetvroomplus.com/feature-4.html

  • Sean O’Brien, I remember reading an article about the people who do it at Channel 4. Between the team of ‘narrators’ they have to watch most of the programming in advance and script what they’re going to say, which is all done live. They also have to stay put in their shifts to carry the channel when it breaks down

    And while they have fancy buttons that can bring up continuity screens etc I believe most of it is controlled elsewhere these days

  • Jim: I was under the impression that the 3 non-ITV plc stations took output directly from the network switching centre at prime time, so they’d see the normal captions. Is this not the case?

  • Last I checked, UTV and STV get a clean feed, and therefore do not get this ITV1 caption. I’m not sure about Channel. STV normally used aerial footage of Scotland with music and a caption overlayed. UTV I think use a still of their idents or something along those lines.

  • Prime NZ do exactly the same thing when it comes to breakdowns, except the announcer is pre-recorded.
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=By3TnUPlFUo (Bare in mind they’ve change looks now)

    Better than what 7 are doing with just a caption, *maybe* some music, but no announcement to viewers going WTF, communication is important.

  • This may sound a little odd, but does anyone know what track they used for this intermission? I witnessed this when it happened, and actually rather enjoyed the music! Hopefully it has a name and isn’t something made specially for ITV. It goes on for quite a while, but we don’t hear all of it – they usually restart it after the announcer says her lines.

    The poor woman was close to laughing near the end. Probably wondering why she was still having to talk. Couldn’t they just put up some text on-screen?

  • Apparently the reason for the fault was because the satellite truck feeding Hell’s Kitchen brokedown.

  • Live announcers? How decadent.

  • I remember my first job in TV in Australia, I guess almost 30 years ago, the on-air presentation control room had a voice over booth for a live announcer, hadn’t been used for sometime at that stage. Only ever seen prerecorded announcements used in australia, as stated previously it is normal policy to go a break to sort out the issues.

    I remember seeing a problem on the ABC I guess about 12 months ago, where the 7:30 Report crashed as it started, and the ABC sat on crash slide for about ten minutes, when the program restarted Kerry O’Brien apologised and stated that they had to move studios due to a technical fault.

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