Laurence Olivier Launches UTV October 1959 – popular channel

Laurence Olivier launches UTV 1959
Share this story...Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn

Ulster Television went to air to a community eager for a channel devoted to the region.

UTV celebrated its 55th Birthday. To present and the first face on the network was Laurence Olivier. Olivier invited to introduce and launch the channel on air at 4.45pm on 31st October 1959.

Ulster Television the first commercial television channel in Ireland when it opened as part of the ITV Network back in 1959

It marked an important development for the people of Northern Ireland. They would have a second TV channel to choose from when making a viewing selection.

Lord Olivier, the icon and heart throb of the fifties, was seen in almost 100,000 homes as he welcomed viewers.  In his perfect English he described the pleasure at being chosen to launch UTV.  He said it was a privilege in fact more than that a unique privilege.

Another Lord in attendance for the opening night, was Lord Wakehurst the Governor of Northern Ireland

The channel was overwhelmed with job applications when they placed ads in the local newspapers.  Over 8000 people applied and of those 800 were interviewed for all sorts of jobs, both onscreen and behind the scenes.

Some of the programmes produced by UTV in their first decade included Seven Degrees West hosted by Charlie Witherspoon.  Also Zoom-In produced by Gordon Burns.

An amazing piece of video.

Enjoy a journey back to the fifties when television transmitted into homes in black and white



  1. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Trailer - 14 August - a Tarantino film | YNUKtvYNUKtv - April 6, 2019

    […] faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry.  This is […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.