I Want to Write a Book About TVS

I wanted to take this deviation to tell you about a project which I will start working on.

My first exposure to Television South was via an old VHS I found in the cupboard about 20 years ago. I was struck by the logo in between programs and wondered about its significance. Intermittedly since then, I have had a fascination with the work pursued by the company. It is within the last year that I have truly begun to explore and find wonder at the sheer breadth of their output.

Television South was the franchise holder for the South and South East of ITV. Replacing Southern TV in 1982, they would run a service in their region for 10 years until 1992. After losing the franchise round of 1990, they were replaced by Meridian. They were known for a wide range of programming including Do It, How 2, Art Attack, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, No. 73, C.A.T.S Eyes and Catchphrase. Sadly, much of their archive is caught up in a tricky legal situation involving Disney and alleged lost paperwork.

I’ve been wanting to do something with my interest in TVS for some time, but have been unsure how to go about it. My initial plan was to write a book, telling their story. Even at the preliminary stages of planning, it became clear that this would be a mammoth task. Not to mention that once you dig below the surface, there are several unanswered questions, some of which if I had researched for 10 years, I would be no closer to answering.

Instead, I wanted to find a way to focus on the work they produced, and the joy they brought to millions. My aim is relatively straightforward. I want to compile a book about the programming produced by TVS. It would feature a short section on selected programs, with anecdotes from those who were there. I aim for there to be focused on game shows, dramas, comedy, Coast to Coast and documentaries. I want to hear from those who worked behind the scenes at Maidstone, Southampton, Gillingham or out and about, as well as those in front of the camera. Anyone who would be interested in talking to me over the phone for possible inclusion in the project should email Jamie@OldTimeReview.co.uk.

I’ve seen comments on social media questioning how commercially viable a book like this would be. I don’t have an answer to this question. What I do know is that the commercial potential of the TVS library sadly peaked a long time ago but by no fault of its own. The legal situation has left the archive unseen officially for decades, meaning that exposure has been limited. There is no telling what effect it would have had on television if it had survived. It is clear much of that programming will never be seen again, but I can at least leave some kind of basic record that it ever existed.

Now I can’t guarantee that it will ever see the light of day. It all depends on how many responses I get. All participation is voluntary.

I am not affiliated with anyone from any version of Television South or any companies that subsequently own their archive. I will seek permission to use any picture or logo elements when and if required. Thanks for reading.

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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