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Launched 3 January 1983 (1983-01-03) (Block);
11 March 2006 (2006-03-11) (Channel)
Owned by ITV Digital Channels Ltd
(ITV plc)
Picture format 576i (4:3/16:9 SDTV)
Audience share 0.3% (
July 2012, BARB)
Country United Kingdom
ITV Network Block Channel 3/103
(all platforms)
Freeview Channel 72
Freesat Channel 602
Sky (UK only) Channel 621
Astra 1N 10758V 22000 5/6
Virgin Media Channel 734
Smallworld Cable Channel 629
TalkTalk TV Channel 307
Internet television
TVCatchup Watch live (UK only)
ITV Player Catch up

CITV (short for Children's ITV or Children's Independent Television) is a British television channel from ITV Digital Channels Ltd, a division of ITV plc. It broadcasts content from the CITV archive, as well as commissions and acquisitions. It airs daily from 06:00 to 18:00.

CITV itself is the programming block on ITV[1]. "Children's ITV" launched on 3 January 1983, featuring pre-recorded (later 'live') in-vision continuity links in between programmes, that came from Central Independent Television's studios in Birmingham.

CITV as a slot airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings on the ITV network from 06:00 to 08:25, as part of the ITV Breakfast timeslot occupied by Daybreak on weekdays. CITV presentation is produced by Granada Television in Manchester, with pre-recorded continuity links voiced by Tim Dann.


Watch It! and early years of Children's ITV

Before being known as Children's ITV, the timeslot for children's programmes on the ITV Network was briefly branded as Watch It!. The Watch It! brand started on 29 December 1980[2] and was presented by the live continuity announcer in each ITV region.

The notion of networking children's continuity was first suggested within ITV as far back as the early 1970s, but with fierce regional identities prevalent, the idea was to fall at the first hurdle - stalled until the late 1970s, when the IBA began to express concern that most Children's ITV shows were not consistent or fully networked. On many occasions, the ITV regions were able to broadcast whatever programmes they wished; many non children's programmes appeared, such as Little House on the Prairie. In December 1980 ITV announced improvements to children's programmes, with the introduction of "Watch it!" each weekday from 16.15-17.15, after theIBA continued to emphasized issues, [3]

"Watch It!" was conceived by the promotions department at ATV, with the Implementation of the branding differed from region to region, thus it was always sourced locally and never provided on a network basis. ATV provide different animations each season, to freshen up what was available to each company. Most regions, including Southern/TVS and Granada, would use their own station announcers during Watch It! airtime.

By early 1982 some ITV station had become more aware "Watch it!" had not gone far enough, with some wishing to see more homegrown cartoons such as the success of Dangermouse. Having more episodes of series which ITV consider good, instead of relaying on higher amount of Short runs programmes. Thames had also set up a new teenagers unit to help explore new programming as it felt, ITV was not providing the best possible service to quarter of the available television audience. Head of Children programmes at Thames television Julian Mounter said " I feel its is desperately important for the network subcommittee on Children's programmes to agree with this, the ratings are not as good as we would like and this is something theIBA is also concerned about"[4]

Central's Controller of Children's Programmes, Lewis Rudd, suggested a different approach to the method of presentation. As a result, the Central promotions department came up with the initial concept for Children's ITV. The new look was devised, and links between programmes were pre-recorded using presenters drawn from the constituent programmes. The networking arrangements were similar to those already in place for the transmission of schools programmes - the links were played out from Central and the component programmes came from the supplying companies[5].

Children's ITV went to air from 3 January 1983[6], between 16:00 and 17:15 each weekday afternoon, the extra fifteen minutes being filled by a repeat of one of the pre-school programmes shown at lunchtime the same day. Initially featuring a different presenter each month (usually from children's television), the links were pre-recorded in advance in a small studio at a London facility called Molinare, using a single locked-off camera. The first set design was a rocket ship and was used for most of 1983. The concept was eventually retired, and the the set and style of presentation used began to reflect the artist presenting that month or the programme that he/she fronted. By 1984, the links were still being recorded, but using a common, stylized set known as Network Control. The exterior of this fictitious location also featured in the animations and stings. Although it worked well on screen, the technical considerations often left the system flawed. With each programme coming from a different source, and each link being pre-recorded, things often went wrong on air: programmes would be rolled early and the links be cut short. Or programmes would fail to appear and the presenter would be left on screen looking gormless. Because each link was recorded for the slot available, the presenter would hold the final pose for a further minute so that the transmission controller had something to leave on screen just in case. Pre-recording the links also meant that late schedule changes could not be easily referenced.

In September 1985, the BBC revamped their own children's presentation with the introduction of "Children's BBC". Using the BBC1 announcer booth at Television Centre, later dubbed "The Broom Cupboard", a then-unknown called Phillip Schofield provided links between the programmes. This format of a small studio using one single presenter (and an occasional puppet) continued in largely the same format until 1993[7]. The Children's BBC service was very similar to Children's ITV, but with one major difference: it was live.

As a result, in September 1987, Children's ITV also went live. Using the small presentation studio at their Broad Street studios - which had become available since in-vision continuity for the Central region was dropped - former Central announcer Gary Terzza and Page 3 model Debbie Shore presented live links from a large set built to look like a transmitting station. Although the studio space was small, the designers' clever use of a plate glass mirror gave the effect of a much larger set. The new live format gave brought a great deal of flexibility; timings could be altered, schedule changes reflected and breakdowns dealt with in a continuous manner.

In 1988, the format was refreshed again with A new single presenter Mark Granger, replacing Terzza and Shore, with a new look studio which include in-vision monitors showing the VT clock of the next scheduled item. Granger lasted around a year, although during his holiday leave, a presenter was brought in from the Thames series "Freetime" - Andi Peters, a 19-year old Londoner who later switched to Children's BBC and stayed there for four years.

Watch it! Black Ident
Watch it! Blue Ident
CITV Ident 1984-1988

Stonewall Productions

From 3rd April 1989, the independent production company Stonewall Productions won the contract to produce Children's ITV presentation. Stonewall Productions was headed up by Michael Jackson, a Central staffer who used his expertise to prepare a suitable application.

Whereas Central had restricted links to the station's former in-vision presentation studio, Stonewall chose not to use a fixed set, but instead presented links from various areas of Central's headquarters at Broad Street in Birmingham, utilising a rotating team of presenters which included Clive Warren (now a DJ), Jeanne Downs (a singer), Jerry Foulkes (a producer who left Children's ITV on 22nd December 1989) and a large puppet dog called Scally[8].

TSW Opt-Out

TSW, The ITV franchise holder for the south-west, frequently opted-out of the first and last CITV links from 1987 - 1990 to show their local 'Magic Birthdays' programme with Gus Honeybun, the station's mascot. The practice was stopped after complaints from the Children's ITV committee and the rescheduling of popular Australian soap Home And Away. The opt-outs were phased out by January 1990, with only 3 more opt-outs ever happening; one day in early 1990, once again on the 20th December 1991, and finally on one day in August 1992.


  • First set of idents: 3rd April - 22nd December. 6 were created.
  • Second set of idents: 2nd January - 31st August 1990. 4 were created.
  • Third set of idents: 1st September 1990 - 31st March 1991. 5 were created. [2]
  • Generic ITV idents: from 4th September 1989

Central Regains Control

Central won back the contract to produce the continuity links from 1st April 1991, choosing to revert back to a small in-vision studio and using one regular presenter, Tommy Boyd. During the 1991-3 era, greater importance was being placed throughout television on promotions (trailers) as a way of effectively detailing areas of the schedule to viewers who might not know about them. The 1993 invitation to tender for the provision of the Children's ITV service specified a minimum number of high quality trailers that the successful applicant must produce over the term of the contract. With a large promotions department, the contract remained with Central.

In February 1993, in-vision presentation was dropped by the new and first Network Centre Controller of Children's & Daytime Programming Dawn Airey - a former Central management trainee - with Steven Ryde providing out-of-vision continuity links featuring a wide variety of animated characters. On 6 September 1993, CITV was extended to start at 15:30; ITV network centre had decided to move the pre-school children slot from 12:10. Around the same time, the Children's ITV name was changed to CITV, having been used in some form or another since the previous year. However, the Children's wasn't removed from the logo until September 1996, the same month a Digital On-screen Graphic (DOG) was introduced.

Presentation for the service was moved in 1997, when Central switched to new, smaller studios at Gas Street Studios in Birmingham. This continued until Tuesday 26 May 1998, when a new in-vision service was introduced by the new controller of ITV children's output, Nigel Pickard. Steven Ryde became a producer, with Stephen Mulhern and Danielle Nicholls as the new presentaters. A new logo was introduced, with traces of its predecessors, and henceforth the service was referred to as CiTV, until 2006. Initially being broadcast from Studio B at Central's Gas Street Studios, Central retained the contact to produce CITV for a further two years with a winning bid against two other ITV companies.[9] Shortly thereafter in September 1999, CITV started sharing studio space with the West Midlands edition of Central Tonight allowing room for a large stylised set created by a company called Dorans Propmakers. The main studio for Central News West had previously been used for live music performances during CITV.

April 1991 - September 1996
New ident 1998 - 1999
Updated ident 1999-2004


During 2001, CITV's budget was cut by 17% due to the advertising recession. CITV's controller Janie Grace publicly criticised both Carlton and Granada Television - then the main controlling forces in the network - for underinvestment in ITV's children's service.[10] Grace went even further and complained to the regulator ITC, stating that CITV was unlikely to fulfill its range of programming commitments in the following year. Grace was also seeking support from the ITC - for a radical change away from what she called "a sick, advertising-funded system": her plan would have seen the creation of CITV Ltd pulling in children's TV experts within ITV, plus a commitment from the likes of Carlton and Granada, allowing it to plough revenue from merchandising rights back into programmes. The plan would have seen a reduction in programmes made by independents and far more made by ITV companies. However, the plan required backing from the Office of Fair Trading, and a change in the law.[11] Further cuts took place again during 2002 which brought the total cutback to 25% of the overall budget (£30million less).[12] Despite this, the ITC commented that CITV had a "sustained an impressive schedule", were able to give "factual material a fresh look" and "continued to produce good dramas"[13] Just after CITV celebrated its 20th birthday in January 2003, Janie Grace resigned from the post, and just before Nigel Pickard was named as ITV's new Director of Programmes.[14][15] Pickard pledged to produce 80 more hours of children's programming in 2003 - against a target of 520 hours in 2002 - and extend the range of programmes to include more factual and topical programmes and more mixed entertainment and drama,[16] which included high-profile show Boohbah. Once again, concerns about CITV and its structure where highlighted by the president of Jim Henson Television Europe Angus Fletcher, and Anne Wood, founder of Ragdoll Productions. CITV could only earn money from the unreliable advertising market, unlike BBC Worldwide, where the likes of Teletubbies, Tweenies and Bob the Builder have become major money earners for the BBC.[14] Steven Andrew become the new ITV Controller of Children and Youth. He oversaw the merger of Carlton and Granada's children's departments and started looking at benefits for a multichannel kids offering, with a new CITV channel. On-screen, various changes to the presentation team saw no less than eight additions and replacements in the space of four years. By September 2004, ITV plc announced the closure of its presentation and transmission facilities in Birmingham, signalling the end of CITV continuity from Central. Presentation was relocated to Granada in Manchester and all in-vision continuity was replaced by voice overs.

Further cuts back took place in 2005[17] added with the perceived rising costs of original production and the effects on advertising revenues following the ban by OFCOM on 'junk food' advertising within children's schedules from 2007[18][19] and increasing competition from CBBC and countless digital children's channels for new programmes (especially imported cartoons, typically from America). In the summer of 2006, ITV closed down its in-house children's production unit, as part of ITV's then on-going process of restructuring ITV Productions, citing the competitive production environment. ITV denied any intention of ditching its children's programming from its ITV schedule.[20] At the start of 2007, CITV's weekday afternoon strand on the main ITV network was axed after 24 years.

By early July 2009, ITV announced it was the only channel to have an increased budget. Emma Tennant, controller of CITV, told the Showcomotion conference “The commissioning budgets for all channels next year are going to be smaller, except CITV which is growing – but it will not necessarily spend the additional money on original commissions". It was also made clear that due to tight budgets, it may lead to more acquisitions instead of new programmes being commissioned. At the time, CITV were looking for ideas for homegrown live action productions aimed at pre-schoolers, in addition to factual shows [21]

CITV Channel

The CITV channel was due to start in 2001, but axed when CITV lost 25% of its budget. When Steven Andrew become Controller of Children and Youth, he stated "No kids strategy is complete without us being able to play in the cable and satellite world. In fact, we can't not do this and ultimately survive as a kids player in the future".[22] In early 2004 ITV finally confirmed it was planning to launch a children’s channel - but as a joint venture. Charles Allen, then chief executive of ITV, did not believe in ITV creating a new channel in an already "over-populated market" - with talks being held with Nickelodeon and Disney.[23] The plans were dropped 12 months later, with ITV instead using its own branding for the upcoming channel, using spare Daytime capacity on the new ITV4. The original joint channel plans - with Nickelodeon dubbed "INK" (ITV Nickelodeon Kids) - would have seen the two companies share programmes across each other's networks, however each side failed to agree on the exact structure of the new venture and how it would be branded. ITV said: "we just got to the point of thinking that it was more sustainable for us to do it ourselves. The deal fizzled out over a period of time" with Nickelodeon describing the decision to end the talks as a "mutual backing away".[24]

The original launch date of the channel was set for November 2005, to coincide with the launch of ITV4[25] but was pushed back to the 11th February. As a result of problems "clearing the digital rights to children's programming" and "comprehensive" re-branding, it was again pushed back by another four weeks[26] Promos for the channel began on 20 February, including an online countdown clock, running to the channel's launch date. As has become standard for Freeview channel launches, the channel was allocated an EPG number well before transmission started. Initially, a static 'coming soon' graphic was shown, followed by a preview video loop running from late February 2006 until the launch.[27]. The channel launched on 11 March 2006 at 09:25, replacing the ITV News Channel on Freeview, Homechoice (now known as TalkTalk TV) and Telewest.[28] It also launched on Sky on 8 May 2006 and NTL[28] on the 6 June. Additionally, the channel simulcasts CITV Breakfast (previously known as GMTV2, which was originally broadcast on ITV2, then ITV4)) on weekdays between 06:00 and 09:25.

The channel broadcasts daily from 06:00 to 18:00 and previously time-shared with ITV4 until 5 February 2008 when ITV4 expanded its broadcast hours to become a full 24 hour channel. As a consequence, it moved to the multiplex space on Freeview originally held by ABC1 from English and Scottish transmitters and S4C from Welsh transmitters, this meant that viewers of the latter were unable to receive the channel on Freeview unless they could receive transmissions from England. On 9 January 2012, a change in the Forward error correction mode on the multiplex allowed CITV to broadcast in Wales on Freeview.On 2 November 2009, the channel was relaunched, with a new logo and new branding to match ITV1 as part of ITV plc's corporate look. The channel's preschool strand was given a dramatic overhaul, and renamed Mini CITV. Mini CITV is hosted by a group of spacemen-like beings called the Minis, who oversee presentation items on the channel. With the exception of weekends and holidays, Mini CITV now takes up the majority of output on the channel.

On 21 December 2012, ITV produced and aired its first in-house children's live entertainment show for the CITV Channel since Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown in 2006 - Text Santa: CITV Special. This was presented by Laura Hamilton and Jeff Brazier and hence the title, it was in aid of ITV's Christmas charity appeal Text Santa.

On the weekend of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 January 2013, CITV celebrated its thirty years of service with an "Old Skool" marathon of archive programming. In line with the corporate rebranding of ITV, CITV received a new look on 14 January 2013. The channel adopted a "yellowy-orange" logo with playful idents that "burp and fart, and do other things kids love".[29]


Mini CITV is the slot that houses CITV's pre-school programming. It airs every weekday from 08:45 to 15:00 and weekends from 06:00 to 07:25 during school term; during school holidays Mini CITV programming airs from 08:30 to 11:00, due to the main CITV programming taking over the schedules. The strand also airs as part of ITV Breakfast every weekend morning from 06:00 to 07:25. It launched on 2 November 2009, as part of a major revamp of CITV. A series of little animated spacemen characters called the Mini's are the mascots of the strand (similar to the yellow 'bugs' of rival CBeebies). As of 7 January 2013, pre-school programming is now fully broadcast on CITV, meaning that the Mini CITV name and the Mini's mascots are no longer used on-screen.


Presenters and announcers on CITV over the years have included:

In-vision presenters

  • Tommy Boyd (July 1983, December 1984, April 1991 – December 1992)
  • Gary Terzza (July 1985 - September 1985 & September 1987 – August 1988)
  • Debbie Shore (July 1985 - September 1985 & September 1987 – August 1988)
  • Andi Peters (Summer 1988)
  • Nicky Brown (Summer 1988)
  • Mark Granger (September 1988 – March 1989)
  • Jerry Foulkes (April – December 1989)
  • Clive Warren (Summer mornings 1989 & 1990, Afternoons; Summer 1989 & 1990)
  • Jeanne Downs (Summer mornings 1989 & 1990, Afternoons; January 1990 – March 1991)
  • Scally The Dog (puppet dog) (January 1989 – March 1991)
  • Glenn Kinsey (Summer mornings 1991, Afternoons December 1991 & December 1992 – February 1993)
  • Stephen Mulhern (May 1998 – August 2002)

  • Danielle Nicholls (May 1998 – December 2001)
  • Thomas Darvill (December 1999 – December 2001)
  • Andrea Green (December 1999 – October 2000)
  • David Leon (September 2001 – December 2002)
  • Leigh Morrison (September 2001 – December 2002)
  • Leah Charles (September 2001 – December 2003)
  • Michael Underwood (August 2002 – December 2003)
  • Tim Dixon (January – March 2003)
  • Gail McKenna (Relief January 2003, October 2003 – Staff February 2004 – March 2004)
  • Andy Jaye (January 2004 – September 2004)
  • Laura Jaye (January 2004 – September 2004)

Out-of-vision announcers

  • Steven Ryde (February 1993 – February 1998)
  • Emily Morris (March – May 1998)

  • Tim Dann (September 2004 – present)
  • Taff (May – December 2006)

Guest presenters

Relief presenters

  • Bryn Musselwhite (November 1998)
  • Liana Bridges (November 1998)
  • Vanessa Bewley (November/December 1998, January 1999 & June 1999)
  • Fearne Cotton (December 1998 & December 2000)


The CITV channel launched with a full-day average of 33,000 viewers and a 2.5% share of the child audience. This put it ahead of its major commercial rivals Cartoon Network (20,000, a 1.5% share), Boomerang (28,000 a 2.1% share) and Nickelodeon (26,000 a 2.0% share). The channel peaked at 16:30 with Bratz gaining 51,000 viewers and a 3.6% share.[30] The channel took a 0.2% audience share in its first week compared to: CBBC 0.6, Cartoon Network 0.4, Boomerang 0.4% and CBeebies 1.4%. Its overall ratings share for March 2006 was 0.1%; by April 2006 this had risen to 0.2%, 0.3% followed in May. In August 2006, the channel became the most popular commercial kids channel between 06:00 and 18:00.[31].


  1. "ITV Interim Results - 6 months to 2005-06-30" (pdf). Archived from the original on 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2007-01-14. 
  2. Television and Radio, The Times: Monday Dec 29, 1980
  3. ITV denies profligacy in programme deals.By Kenneth Gosling. The Times ), Thursday, Dec 11, 1980; pg. 4;
  4. Donald Duck faces the cold shoulder from TV. By Kenneth Gosling. The Times Thursday, Jan 21, 1982; pg. 12
  14. 14.0 14.1
  21. CITV bucks trend to grow budget 2 July 2009 | By Katherine Rushton
  26. Brown, Maggie (13 February 2006). "Kidding Around Gets Serious". The Guardian (London).,7558,1708203,00.html. Retrieved 2006-02-13. 
  27. "CITV Channel to Launch". Retrieved 2006-02-28. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 NTL and Telewest are now both known as Virgin Media.
  29. Laughlin, Andrew (16 November 2012). "ITV1 to become 'ITV' in major corporate rebrand". Digital Spy. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  30. Timms, Dominic (13 March 2006). "ITV Ratings at Six-Month Low". The Guardian (London).,,1729992,00.html. Retrieved 2006-03-13. 
  31. "CITV Channel Celebrates First Birthday". Retrieved 2007-03-13. 

External links