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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
ITV celebrates 50-year milestone
John Thaw as Inspector Morse and co-star Kevin Whateley as Sgt Lewis
Inspector Morse was seen on ITV in 33 shows before he was killed off
ITV, Britain's first commercial TV channel, is celebrating 50 years.

First broadcast to the London area at 1915 (BST) on 22 September 1955, it reached an audience of just 100,000.

But the channel soon reached millions with the likes of Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Coronation Street, the Jewel in the Crown and TV-am.

As part of a number of events to mark the milestone, former ITV newscasters have returned to the network to present bulletins until 23 September.

The Queen is also due to attend a gala dinner next month at London's Guildhall.

Guinness advert
The channel was the first to bring advertisements to the small screen

Until ITV hit the small screen in the mid-1950s, the BBC had dominated the airwaves for 20 years unchallenged.

It brought a younger, less stuffy approach to broadcasting, with shows that became increasingly popular.

Soap opera Coronation Street - still an ITV staple - was first aired in 1960, while Blind Date, presented by Cilla Black, ran for 18 years.

Inspector Morse, starring John Thaw and Kevin Whateley, set a new standard in crime drama, and a Touch of Frost - starring David Jason - is enduringly popular.

But the advent of ITV also brought advertisements to television.

The first ad shown in 1955 was for Gibbs SR toothpaste and was followed by many products still known today, such as Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate and Shredded Wheat.

ITV delivers the best and always the best to a mass audience
John Ledward, Stafford, England

Current-day ITV is still evolving, with a management shake-up at announced on Wednesday. Its chief executive Charles Allen said the move will leave the group "ready to move into its next phase of growth".

Under the plans, head of broadcasting Mick Desmond will step down and his role will split between new commercial director Ian McCulloch and the new director of television, Simon Shaps.

The Advertising Standards Authority has also criticised the network after a complaint that some of its advertisements were too loud.

The sound levels on the adverts had been compressed to make them subjectively louder and although ITV was found to have reduced the loudness, it had not done so sufficiently, the watchdog said.

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