For six decades, ITV has entertained and informed the nation with award‐winning dramas and compelling soaps.
But the channel has also been home to influential figures both in front of, and behind, the camera and has made some fledgling people into big stars. Here’s our list of names inextricably linked to ITV.
1. Ant and Dec.
Anthony McPartlin And Declan Donnelly are officially the nation’s favourite entertainers. And they have a mantelpiece bursting with awards to prove it. The duo first found fame in 1990s BBC1 children’s drama Byker Grove, even going on to forge a pop career as their characters PJ & Duncan.
Ant and Dec have been together for 26 years, spending the majority of that time presenting and producing shows on ITV including SMTV Live, Pop Idol, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, PokerFace, Red Or Black? and Britain’s Got Talent.
2. Simon Cowell.
A global TV star, a record company executive and a producer, Simon Cowell has had an impact on popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic through his TV and music interests. A stint judging ITV’s Pop Idol led to the equivalent position on US version American Idol, where his blunt appraisals of contestants consolidated his image as Mr Nasty, the TV judge everyone loved to hate.
Simon’s series, and international formats, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor remain important revenue generators for ITV.
3. David Frost.
The late broadcaster’s professional activities are so diverse, he was once described as “a one-man conglomerate”. Sir David first came to notice nationally with the BBC’s Saturday night satirical programme That Was The Week That Was. Following its success, he set up David Paradine Productions, with programmes including ITV’s Spitting Image and Through The Keyhole.
Sir David was instrumental in starting up two important TV franchises: London Weekend Television (LWT) in 1967 before going on to become one of the Famous Five who launched TV-am in February 1983.
4. Lord Michael Grade.
One of the most respected figures in British television, the nephew of ITV founder Lew Grade served as director of programming at LWT from 1976-1981. Under his stewardship, ITV aired landmark black working-class comedy The Fosters, which starred Lenny Henry and the late Norman Beaton, and he launched popular programming ranging from long-running arts series The South Bank Show to adrenaline-fuelled drama The Professionals.
Lord Grade became executive chairman of ITV plc in 2007, but left two years later.
5. William Roache.
The world’s longest-serving soap actor has played Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow since its 1960 launch. Professionally, William has spent so much of his working life with commercial broadcaster ITV in the soap, some Corrie fans find it hard to separate the star from the famous character he portrays.
6. Cilla Black.
(Myung Jung Kim/PA)
Cilla, who sadly passed away back in August, became one of the nation’s favourite entertainers after transforming from a successful singer in the 1960s to ITV’s queen of light entertainment fronting shows such as Surprise! Surprise! and Blind Date. Lord Grade said the once-nervous star soon gained a natural confidence in front of the cameras, which explains why her shows were ITV staples for so many years.
Surprise! Surprise! aired from 1984-2001 while Blind Date ran from 1985-2003, when Cilla announced she was quitting the show live on air.
7. Lord Melvyn Bragg.
The South Bank Show launched on ITV in 1978 with Lord Bragg as presenter; he remained at the helm until 2010. Dedicated to popularising the arts on the small screen, the multi award-winning series kicked off with a profile of Paul McCartney.
As Controller of ITV’s Specialist Factual and Arts, Lord Bragg produced several series such as The Story Of ITV – The People’s Channel and The Adventure of English, winning many broadcasting awards including the Broadcasting Press Guild’s Harvey Lee Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting.
8. Sir Trevor McDonald.
Born in Trinidad, Sir Trevor joined ITN as its first black reporter in 1973, rising steadily through the ranks to become diplomatic editor and newscaster. He came to public attention as an ITN newsreader in the late 1970s, gaining even more of a profile when comedian Lenny Henry frequently imitated him on Saturday morning children’s programme, Tiswas.
Sir Trevor confirmed his place as a household favourite anchoring ITV’s flagship News At Ten where his “and finally” catchphrase, accompanied by a light-hearted story at the end of each bulletin, added a personal touch. Knighted in 1999, Sir Trevor left News At Ten for the final time in 2005, but he continues to present other series for ITV including The Mighty Mississippi with Trevor McDonald and The Mafia With Trevor McDonald.
9. Phillip Schofield.
Phillip made his name as a presenter for Children’s BBC, appearing with Gordon The Gopher in the Broom Cupboard. In 1996, he signed an exclusive contract to present a series of shows including Talking Telephone Numbers, Schofield’s Quest and TV Gold.
However, his ITV career truly took flight in 2002 when he co-presented ITV’s flagship show This Morning with Fern Britton. They are credited with making it must-see TV again following the departure of original presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan in 2001.
Phillip has a number of popular TV shows to his name including The British Soap Awards, 2006 celebrity ice skating show Dancing On Ice, 2009 game show The Cube and the commercial broadcaster’s annual TV fundraiser, Text Santa.
10. Richard and Judy.
The husband and wife team that launched This Morning quit in 2001 after 13 years to present a Channel 4 chat show. Broadcast from Liverpool’s Albert Dock before transferring to London, it was the relationship between Richard and Judy that gave ITV’s daytime series a unique quality rival shows simply could not match.
Richard and Judy went on to present prime-time shows for ITV, but none capitalised on the magic they had on This Morning. And the less said about their evening chat show, the better. The pair’s infamous 1996 interview with American actor OJ Simpson, who had been acquitted of his wife’s murder, was accused of giving him a soft ride by critics.