A piece on the Guardian about the possibility of the BBC stopping transmitting during the night in order to save money has sent me into nostalgic mode and i have been remembering when TV did indeed close down at midnight or sometime shortly after.
When my parents had gone out i always enjoyed the chance to stay up late until they came home. I remember the end of the TV schedule for the day. Usually the last programme was the weather forecast then, if it was ITV, there would be some information about local radio (in my case BRMB) and the actual shutdown itself. I think the national anthem played. Then we had snow.
Sometime in the 1980s Central TV began experimenting with late night broadcasts and that included programming especially bought in. Thats how i got introduced to the joys of the WWF long before Sky was even a glimmer in Rupert's eye. I used to stay up to watch it live even though we had a video recorder. Staying up until 3am sometimes 4am and then going to school the next day. I was as hardcore as Jake The Snake.
I did enjoy TV closing down though. It added to the magic of the night. To me radio is more a medium of the night. TV is an interloper which spoils the darkness. I remember the thrill of being alone in the house for the first time when my parents went on holiday (i was 16 or something we're not talking Home Alone) and staying up until dawn listening to the radio. It didn't matter what was on, just the magical effect or watching the world wake up again while listening to BRMB at 4am. Its stayed with me forever.
Watching TV until dawn would not have given the same effect. For a start i probably would have missed the dawn.
(I won't get into testcards and my collection of testcard music, i don't want you to think i am weird.)