Summertime in 1957 was hectic in Hope Street. New things were happening and “that old fashioned mechanism called a curtain” rose again on the 31st August. After a luncheon hosted by the Independent Television Authority and speeches in the City Chambers the Lord Provost Andrew Hood, dignitaries and special guests joined the audience, all in evening dress, making their way into the theatre, to the sounds of a pipe band playing in the street.
A variety show with film inserts and interviews of international and national talent was taking place, including the ballerina Moira Shearer. Her husband Ludovic Kennedy, a newsreader for Independent Television News, was also there. Just before 6pm the audience was asked to stay totally quiet, no noise. Unknown to them, on stage - and behind the curtain - Ludovic Kennedy read out the ITN News from Glasgow instead of the usual London. The curtain rose at 6.30pm with Jimmy Nairn announcing to all viewers “This is Scotland”. The show was “a sixty minutes tour of a country – its landscapes, its ordinary people, its celebrities, its heritage past and present” with a cast including Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Jack Buchanan, Alastair Sim, Moira Shearer, Jimmy Logan, Stanley Baxter, Kenneth McKellar, Fay Lenore, Glasgow Police Pipe Band, Clyde Valley Stompers, Mitchell Singers, Five Past Eight dancers and Geraldo and his Orchestra. Scripted by Robert Kemp, it was introduced by James Robertson Justice.
The show was produced and directed by Rai Purdy and watched in Scotland by 750,000 viewers and by millions more across the whole of the early ITV network in Britain, including the large areas served by the new Associated Rediffusion, Associated TV and Granada stations.
To reach that number of people in Scotland the Theatre Royal would need to play to a full house for about 15 months. The rest of the evening`s programmes on television were Scarlett Pimpernel, Wyatt Earp, and the Office of Strategic Services films and the 64,000 Challenge Quiz.
What had happened was the brainchild of Roy Thomson from Canada who was now the owner of the Scotsman newspaper in Edinburgh. He had experience of radio stations but none of television stations. From what he saw in North America he knew that television had potential and he expressed interest in commercial TV when its possibility was being discussed in the House of Commons.