The Land

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started22nd Sep 1975
ended22nd Mar 1976
last rpt25th Nov 1983
9 school years
duration20 mins
subject 🌏Geography
age rangeAge 14-17Age 13-16 & Age 16-19
languageenIn English

The Land is an ITV schools TV series from the 1970s and 1980s, covering geography for secondary school and further education students.

A geography series for GCE O-level and CSE students looking at specific areas of the physical landscape of Britain and man's interaction with it.

The series was influenced by the "new geography" teaching of the 1970s, about "the relationships between one region and another"[1] and their shared characteristics, and human interaction with them, informed by the development of infrastructure and links to urban hubs - rather than isolated studies of a single region as if it was the only place that, for example, dairy farming ever took place.

For this reason the broadcast order of the episodes into units is arranged thematically around four types of area - sea coast, mountains, uplands and river valleys. Teachers seeking a more geographically-aligned study were encouraged to record the programmes and show them to their class in the order that suited them.[2]

Widespread areas of the UK are covered - by no means only local to the Granada Television area - and there are six programmes looking at areas in Scotland and four looking at Wales.

The series' major innovation as a schools' resource in 1975 is that it features extensive location footage, and in particular aerial photography taken by helicopter. But this was at first its undoing. Originally planned to be broadcast in 1974, the national fuel crisis in 1973-74 made it impossible to complete the planned aerial photography, and so the entire series was postponed by a year.[3]

Once they were completed, the full set of 20 films had a long life and much repeat-ability[4], broadcast consistently for almost a decade and taking them well into the 1980s. From 1981 the series continued to be repeated but reduced to one term per year, with a set of 10 episodes selected from across all four units.

Filming The Land on location (but in this picture at least not by helicopter)


The series was shown first locally in the Granada region, as detailed in the Broadcasts section below, and then across the ITV network two days later. These dates are for the initial, local broadcasts by Granada.

# Title Broadcast
The Sea Coast
1. The Lizard and Land's End #1975-09-22-00-00-0022 Sep 1975
2. South Pembrokeshire #1975-09-29-00-00-0029 Sep 1975
3. Aldeburgh and Orford Ness #1975-10-06-00-00-006 Oct 1975
4. The South Lancashire Coast #1975-10-13-00-00-0013 Oct 1975
5. The Culbin Sands #1975-10-20-00-00-0020 Oct 1975
6. The Cairngorns #1975-11-03-00-00-003 Nov 1975
7. The North-West Highlands #1975-11-10-00-00-0010 Nov 1975
8. Snowdonia #1975-11-17-00-00-0017 Nov 1975
9. The Cumbrian Lake District #1975-11-24-00-00-0024 Nov 1975
10. The Northern Pennines #1975-12-01-00-00-001 Dec 1975
11. The Peak District and Sheffield #1976-01-12-00-00-0012 Jan 1976
12. Dartmoor #1976-01-19-00-00-0019 Jan 1976
13. The Brecon Beacons #1976-01-26-00-00-0026 Jan 1976
14. The South Downs #1976-02-02-00-00-002 Feb 1976*
15. The Isle of Skye #1976-02-09-00-00-009 Feb 1976
River Valleys
16. The River Dee in Scotland #1976-02-23-00-00-0023 Feb 1976
17. The Tweed Valley #1976-03-01-00-00-001 Mar 1976
18. The Middle Trent #1976-03-08-00-00-008 Mar 1976
19. The Tyne Valley #1976-03-15-00-00-0015 Mar 1976
20. The River Dee in Wales #1976-03-22-00-00-0022 Mar 1976

* - The South Downs was previewed in an Out of School programme at around 10:10am on Wednesday 31st December 1975.[5]


  • 1975-76 (Autumn & Spring) - Mondays 10:35am in the Granada region. Shown nationally (and repeated in the Granada region) Wednesdays 11:39am and Fridays 9:48am
  • 1976-77 (Autumn & Spring) - Mondays 10:40am in the Granada region. Shown nationally (and repeated in the Granada region) Wednesdays 11:39am and Fridays 10:30am
  • 1977-78 (Autumn & Spring) - Mondays 10:09am, repeated Fridays 10:30am. Also repeated Wednesdays 10:31am in the Granada region.[6]
  • 1978-79 (Autumn & Spring) - Mondays 10:30am in the Granada region. Shown nationally (and repeated in the Granada region) Tuesdays 11:39am
  • 1979-80 (Autumn & Spring) - Tuesdays 11:39am, repeated Wednesdays 10:33am in the Granada region. Due to the long ITV strike the first unit, on The Sea Coast, was not shown. Granada Television locally showed extra episodes of The Land on Thursdays at 10:45am in December after the end of the school term.
  • 1980-81 (Autumn & Spring) - Tuesdays 10:26am[7]
  • 1981-82 (Autumn only) - Thursdays 10:26am, repeated Fridays 11:34am in the Granada region
  • 1982-83 (Autumn & Summer) - Tuesdays 10:21am in the autumn, 8 episodes repeated on Fridays 9:30am in the summer
  • 1983-84 (Autumn only) - Fridays 11:39am

The Land was also broadcast as a Summer School programme for a general audience during the 1977 school summer holidays, on Tuesday mornings at 9:30am.

Some episodes were due to be shown again as part of a similar Summer Break line-up in summer 1979, taking over from It's More Life on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:45am from 29th August (curiously in a 15 minute timeslot although The Land films are 20 minutes long). However the long ITV strike which started on 10th August and lasted until October meant that these broadcasts never took place.

An advert aimed at geography teachers about the 1977-78 broadcasts


Presenter Bill Grundy
Adviser Michael Williams
Camera John Shann
Sound Richard Laughton
Dubbing Mixer John Whitworth
Graphic Designer Ian Scaife
Rostrum Camera Howard Phillips
Helicopter Pilot Terry Dixon
Researcher Marian Nelson
Film Editor David Rees
Director Richard Guinea
Producer Julia Spark


A booklet of teacher's notes was available to accompany the broadcasts.

Originally in 1975 a pair of booklets was sold, one for each term costing 22p each. From 1976 onwards the notes were combined into a single publication covering the whole year. In 1976 this was sold for 50p.

The notes contained descriptions of the programmes, suggestions for follow-up work and maps and diagrams including the locations of the filming, although one geography teacher reviewing the series raised a complaint that many geography students must have shared during their years at school - that the locations "were sometimes difficult to find without [Ordnance Survey] maps"![8]

Sources & References

  • Independent Television Authority Annual Reports and Accounts, 1975-1983
  • ITV Schools Annual Programme catalogues, 1975-83
  • Jones, Christopher (1975a) 'Educational Broadcasting: IBA' in Visual Education August/September 1975. p.10.
  • Jones, Christopher (1975b) 'Educational Broadcasting: IBA' in Visual Education December 1975. p.10.
  • Littler, Margaret & Huggins, Graham (1978) 'The Granada TV series 'The Land' - Two Viewpoints' in Teaching Geography vol. 4 no. 1, July 1978, p.45. Geographical Association.
  • Thomas, P.R. (1970) 'Education and the New Geography' in Geography vol. 55 no. 3, July 1970. pp.274-280. Geographical Association.
  • TV Times television listings, 1975-83, including London editions via TV Times Project database
  • Weltman, Joseph (1978) 21 Years of Independent Television for Schools, 1957 to 1978 as published with Independent Broadcasting no 16, May 1978, London: IBA
  • Williams, Michael (1978) 'Schools' Television: Viewing 'The Land'' in Teaching Geography vol. 3 no. 3, January 1978, pp.130-131. Geographical Association
  1. Thomas (1970) p.275 talks about the "new geography" as "the key to understanding in geography no longer lies in the appreciation of the unique region, but in the study of the relationships between one region and another," and goes on to focus on quantitative methods. Jones (1975a) p.10 quotes the series adviser Michael Williams defining "new geography" by reflecting that "geographical problems ought to start from the reality of interpreting the environment. This requires careful observation and consideration of the processes which could have produced it, an apparently simple exercise which gives considerable scope for hypothesis testing."
  2. The ITV Schools Annual Programme guide for 1979-80 (Thames edition, p.31) advised of the series that "Schools which have a video recorder may choose to record and regroup the programmes into regional units."
  3. Jones (1975a) explains that "The last new series to be mentioned was postponed from 1974. Filming of The Land (for the age-range 14-17) was threatened last year by the fuel crisis. This term viewers of the series will be able to realise just how much territory the film unit covered within the comparatively narrow confines of the British Isles."
  4. Weltman (1978) p.20 said of The Land, "these quite outstanding location studies making skilful use of aerial photography in a wide variety of different regions have justified numerous repeat showings."
  5. The precise episode of The Land included in Out of School on 31st December 1975 was not specified in the TV Times listings, but details were confirmed in Jones (1975b) p.10 - although he described The South Downs as "the last programme of Unit Three on Uplands" when it was actually broadcast as the penultimate episode..
  6. The IBA Annual Report 1977-78 p.91 lists additional broadcasts during autumn 1977 on Tuesdays, at 9:29am nationally and 10:43am locally. In spring 1978 it (ibid p.92) lists additional local broadcasts on Tuesdays at 10:43am. I can find no trace of any Tuesday broadcasts in the London, Granada, Yorkshire, Anglia or Southern region TV Times listings, so they may have taken place in a particular region, but not those.
  7. I am not certain whether or not there were additional repeats in the Granada region during 1980-81
  8. Margaret Littler's review of the series in 1978 mentioned that "Filming locations which were given in the text were sometimes difficult to find without O.S. maps."

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