In the late 90s and early 00s it seemed like that every programme on YSTV was produced with black drapes as the backdrop.
One of the effects of the studio shutdown was that at the relaunch of the studio in 1994 the society had almost no set to speak of. The few set boards were inadequate for shows which wanted more than one 'set' - such as Campus Today and useless on any shot involving Ian France who was taller than any of the boards. The productions teams of 1995/6 did battle with the society Treasurer for funds to rectify this situation. The Black Drapes were one of the solutions they came up with. These long black curtains with poles at the tops could be suspended right around the studio to provide a plain, uniform backdrop for programmes, thanks to fixings and hooks attached to the top of the walls by . The drapes were installed sometime during Spring or Summer 1996.
As mentioned below there were also some alternative White Drapes. These may or may not have been bleached at considerable health-risk by Andrew Hood.
The obvious benefit of the black drapes was that as a set they were very easy to store, put up and take down, and adaptable as well as being cheap. However it did make the output look very dark. Presenters also had to be encouraged not to turn up wearing black tops, unless they wanted to end up looking like Holly from "Red Dwarf" on screen (although this did work rather well for Games Disaster III)! At one point in 1996/7 lots of programmes seemed to use white drape - or more accurately off-yellow drape. At least one edition of Week by Week was presented using white drape as the backdrop, and draped over the desk and the floor of the studio, making the show look like it was being hosted from a cloud.
The end of the road
Towards the end of 2003 it was decided to try and limit the use of what had become known as "dreaded black drape" (or DBD for short),and this is one reason the Elections 2003 set elements were used for a number of programmes. These days it is rarely used, except perhaps to cover up the studio wall where a set ends!