25th Anniversary of village TV ‘experiment’

WVTV presenters (L-R) Jonathan Brown, Deborah Cowking, James Warburton and Michelle Hornby. (s)
WVTV presenters (L-R) Jonathan Brown, Deborah Cowking, James Warburton and Michelle Hornby. (s)

A unique glimpse into the future of TV was sampled by Ribble Valley villagers when Granada Television set up home to conduct a ground-breaking experiment 25 years ago this week.

Filmed for a documentary entitled “The Television Village” the residents of Waddington were helped by Granada to set up a local TV station which broadcast between 7 and 8 pm nightly from the church hall.

The idea behind the experiment was to provide hyper-local news and information and also to see how householders would react to the multi-channel world which was then still in its embryonic stages.

A demographic cross section of 10% of village households were given access to the satellite channels and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) gave their permission for a UHF transmitter to be set up in the pub car park which enabled villagers to receive the village channel Waddington Village TV. It was a hit, with one industry insider citing “local people, without any experience, making programmes which local people wanted to watch”.

The main presenters were locals including Deborah Cowking, Jonathan Brown, James Warburton and Michelle Hornby and programmes included the vicar giving his thought for the day, a Saturday morning children’s programme presented by the village’s youngsters and music from local barbershop singers.

Barring one technical glitch when sheep nibbled through vital TV cabling leading to the transmitter, WVTV gained 95% of the available audience, beating Eastenders significantly in the ratings.