Presenter Bob Warman on TV news set changes

Bob Warman on one of many different news programme sets over the years Credit: ITV archive

Bob Warman has been presenting and reporting the news in the Midlands for more than 40 years. Here he remembers the fashions and foibles of set design through the decades.

"Is that it? Is that all there is to it? Television sets are a huge disappointment to casual visitors – the more so since the digital age arrived.

The on-screen kaleidoscope of images electronically stamped into reports and newscasts is a world away from the sets of earlier years which were so much a part of the success and disasters of programmes like ATV Today and Central News.

Early attempts seemed to mimic current office environments with striped wallpapers or emulsioned woodchip that included a clock. Big mistake. The clock invariably told the wrong time or stopped, and memorably, slipped its minute-hand the moment we went on air at six-o-clock to give a rather premature 6.30 reading. Typically no-one noticed until the phones started ringing.

Not one of Bob's favourite set designs..... Credit: ITV archive

Then there was a brown and grey period, dull or what ? And hadn't the designers heard that brown should never be worn in town, where most of our viewers reside ?

It was complemented, if that’s not to oversell its qualities, by a huge desk covered in a light fawn non-reflective vinyl. I suspect it was an off-cut from theold British Leyland trim shop and it was wrapped around and securedunderneath by a trillion sharp tacks. Over time, these loosened and left tears in many a decent pair of suit trousers.

Bob Warman on our most recent set before June's set change Credit: ITV News Central

Blue seems to be the favourite default colour. It’s crisp and fresh, and combined with a grey floor, offers a variety of visual opportunities. One drawback is that it doesn’t define or ‘brand’ the programme for the simple reason that others look like it too.

Attempts to brand the programme through colour have had a mixed response. Who can forget the ‘yellow and black’ period which, by the time it degeneratedthrough the transmission process, looked like dog’s vomit?

Sea-greens and shades of pink offer a refreshing change, and we’ve had a fair number over the years. But like my ties and Sam’s dresses, fashions change.

The new ITV News Central set takes shape Credit: Liz Hannam, Head of News, ITV News Central

What’s next ? I offer you silver and black, with an illuminated blue desk, and inset monitors that offer a window on the world. Smart."