Thames Television

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Thames Television
Based in London (1968 Teddington, Middlesex
Broadcast area Greater London
Established 30 July 1968
Founder Howard Thomas
First airdate 30 July 1968
Closed 31 December 1992
Slogan A Talent For Television
(30 June 1968 – 31 December 1992)
Key people Jeremy Isaacs,
Bryan Cowgill,
David Elstein,
Richard Dunn
Replaced Rediffusion, London
Replaced by Carlton Television
Former logo
Thames Television logo (1968-1989).jpg
The Thames Television ident featuring London landmarks

Thames Television was a franchise holder for a region of the British ITV television network serving London and surrounding area on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until the night of 31 December 1992.

Formed as a joint company, it merged the television interests of British Electric Traction (trading as Associated-Rediffusion) owning 49%, and Associated British Picture Corporation, soon taken over by EMI, owning 51%. It was both a broadcaster and a producer of television programmes, making shows both for the local region it covered and for networking nationally across the ITV regions. The British Film Institute describes Thames as having "served the capital and the network with a long-running, broad-based and extensive series of programmes, several of which either continue or are well-remembered today."[1] Thames covered a broad spectrum of commercial public-service television, with a strong mix of drama, current affairs and comedy.

After Thames was acquired by FremantleMedia it was merged with another Fremantle company, Talkback Productions, to form a new independent production company Talkback Thames; consequently Thames ceased to exist as a separate entity. However, on 1 January 2012, the Thames brand was revived and Talkback Thames has now been split into four different labels; Boundless, Retort, Talkback and Thames within the newly created FremantleMedia UK production arm.

Launch and the 1970s[edit]

Formation[edit]

From launch on 22 September 1955 to July 1968, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) contract to provide programming on the ITV network for London on weekdays had been operated by Associated-Rediffusion. Geographical and structural changes in the network created by the ITA's 1967 invitation for applicants for new franchise contracts for the right to broadcast on ITV (initially intended to run from 1968 to 1974) meant that ABC Weekend Television (ABC) lost both their area franchises, serving the Midlands and the North at weekends, as these areas were to become seven-day operations.

Consequently ABC applied for both the Midlands seven-day operation and the contract to serve London at the weekend, preferring the latter. It was widely expected that the company would be awarded the weekend franchise. After an impressive application, it was awarded to what became London Weekend Television in a consortium led by David Frost and others.

This led to a serious problem for the ITA as ABC was a popular station, whose productions earned vital foreign currency. Equally station management and presentation style were well-admired and it could have been controversial to dismiss that as a result of purely administrative changes. It was considered difficult for ABC to win the Midlands seven-day contract as the existing five-days contractor ATV had also applied and was a large earner of overseas revenue, having won the Queen's Award for Export in 1966.

Rediffusion had believed that their contract renewal was a 'formality' and their application reflected this complacency: the company had treated the ITA high-handedly in interviews.[2] In the early days of ITV, the company had worked hard to keep the network on-air during financial crises that threatened the collapse of other companies, particularly Granada Television.[3] It was reported that Rediffusion's chairman Sir John Spencer Wills felt the ITA owed his company a 'debt of gratitude' for this, a comment which particularly annoyed the Authority. During the interview process several members of Rediffusion management also appeared in interviews for applicants for other regions, principally the Consortium of which David Frost was a member, as well as the interview for Rediffusion, leading the ITA to question the loyalty at the company.[4]

In programming, Rediffusion was originally considered stuffy but in the previous contract round of 1964, it had re-invented itself, dropping the name 'Associated-Rediffusion' in favour of the more swinging 'Rediffusion London', to reflect the cultural changes of the time, and output altered accordingly.

The outcome proposed by the ITA was a "shotgun marriage" between ABC and Rediffusion, the resultant company being awarded the contract to serve London on weekdays. Control of the new company would be given to ABC, a move unpopular with Rediffusion.[2] Questioning the ITA's decision Rediffusion attempted to slow down the merger: Only the threat of giving the licence solely to ABC made it relent. To assist Rediffusion financially the ITA insisted that the new company have two sets of shares, voting shares which would allow ABC to have control (with 51%) and 'B' shares which were to be split equally between the two, thus sharing profits fairly. The structure of the new company was also a problem. A merger between the two existing contract holders Associated British Cinemas (Television) Limited and Rediffusion Television Limited was impossible due to internal politics as was a merger between their respective parent companies Associated British Picture Corporation and British Electric Traction. The answer was a new holding company, Thames Television (Holdings) Ltd.[5] (ABC's parent, the Associated British Picture Corporation was taken over by EMI in 1969, from 1979 becoming part of Thorn EMI.)

The ITA ordered ABC's Managing Director Howard Thomas to be appointed in a similar capacity at the new station. ABC had majority control of the new company and the make-up of its board predominantly (and eventually fully) came from ABC. The use of ABC's old studios at Teddington meant the workforce was predominantly ex-ABC (although those at Kingsway were ex-Rediffusion).

After some discussion as to the name of the new company – some directors favoured 'ABC London', while others suggested 'Tower Television' to reflect the Post Office Tower and the Tower of London – it was named Thames Television, after the River Thames. This name had been previously considered and rejected by London Weekend Television.[6]

On 30 July 1968, Thames began broadcasting to London, from the start of broadcasting on Monday until its handover to London Weekend Television at 19:00 GMT on Friday. (From 1982, the handover time was 17:15 GMT). The opening week was disrupted by sporadic strike action;[7] the following week, the action had spread to all of ITV[8] and resulted in the creation of a management-run ITV Emergency National Service for some two weeks.

Studios[edit]

Thames' main studio complex at Teddington

The former ABC studios at Teddington became Thames main production base. Thames' corporate base moved to their newly constructed studios and base at Thames Television House on Euston Road in 1970, when they relinquished Television House, Rediffusion's former London headquarters. The Teddington studios were highly desirable, as they had participated in colour experiments and were already partially converted by the time of the franchise change, and as such had been sought after by both Thames and LWT.[9]

When Thames was formed, the new company acquired numerous other properties of the former franchise holders, the rest were sold or disposed of. Rediffusion's main studio complex at Wembley[5] were sold to London Weekend Television by order of the ITA,[9] ABC's Midlands base in Aston, Birmingham (see Alpha Television), was co-owned with ATV, which now bought ABC's share. Their northern base in Didsbury, Manchester was used by Yorkshire Television prior to their Kirkstall Road studios in Leeds being completed, while a sales office in central Manchester was sold.

Early programmes[edit]

The station continued formats inherited from its predecessors. These included the variety show Opportunity Knocks, Armchair Theatre, the last series of The Avengers and the detective thrillers Callan and Public Eye, all inherited from ABC. The comedy Do Not Adjust Your Set though, originated with Rediffusion, and if nominally a children's show, was one of the forerunners of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

More conventional sitcoms, all of which began in Thames early years, included Father, Dear Father (1968-73), the Sid James vehicle Bless This House (1971-76), and Love Thy Neighbour (1972-76), with a controversial take on race relations. Another sitcom, Man About the House (1973-76), was successful enough for two spin-offs, George and Mildred (1976-80) and Robin's Nest (1977-81). The company took over the This Is Your Life format in 1969, several years after the BBC had dropped the show in 1964. Another BBC favourite was the star of The Benny Hill Show (1969-89), who was placed under contract. Hill spent the rest of his career with Thames.

The Sooty Show, cancelled in 1967 by the BBC, now aired on Thames and began on the first day of transmission. It continued after Harry Corbett's retirement in 1975 with his son, Matthew Corbett, and lasted on Thames until late 1992. The company also produced the children's show Magpie, which began in 1968 and was intended as a rival for Blue Peter on BBC 1, and The Tomorrow People (1973-79), a science fiction series. For pre-school children there was Rainbow, which started in 1972 and ran for 20 years. The programme used animation and graphics created by Cosgrove Hall, a Thames subsidiary founded in 1972, which made animated series for children. A few hours after Rainbow, Afternoon Plus was transmitted. It begun after the IBA allowed non-schools broadcasting in this period of the day, and featured interview editions undertaken by such broadcasters as Mavis Nicholson, and a weekly consumers' programme.

Of much greater prestige was The World at War (1973-74), a 26-part history of the Second World War using unseen footage and interviews, often of high-level participants. The series, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, was commissioned in 1969, took four years to produce, and cost a record £4m (approx £32m today).

Meanwhile, Thames gained a reputation for drama with such series as Jenny, Lady Randolph Churchill (1974), with Lee Remick as the mother of Winston Churchill. It won an Emmy as the best series in its category, as Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978), about the abdication crisis, did later. Other successful series in the genre from this period include Rock Follies (1976) and Armchair Thriller (1978-80). These programmes were made in the then standard 'hybrid' studio video/location film format, but the British industry was in the slow process of dropping the multi-camera studio format for drama, excepting soaps, to making the genre entirely on film. The Thames off-shoot Euston Films was founded in 1971 to specialise in drama output made entirely on film, then still a rare practice. Euston made the police series The Sweeney (1975–78), Danger UXB (1979), and Minder (1979–94), plus the last appearance of Nigel Kneale's best known creation in Quatermass (1979). In this era, Euston also made single one-off dramas such as The Naked Civil Servant (1975).

On 1 December 1976, the punk band the Sex Pistols were interviewed live on Thames' news magazine programme, Today. Members of the group uttered obscenities during their interview with Bill Grundy. Grundy, in his introduction, said they are "as drunk as I am", but later claimed his comment was a joke, and had allowed the bad language to illustrate the character of the individuals in the group. The interview filled two minutes at the end of the programme, but the production team feared trouble in the studio if they stopped the programme mid-air. Thames' telephone switchboard was jammed by complaining viewers. Responding to the incident, Thames said in a statement: "Because the programme was live, it was impossible to foresee the language that would be used."[10] The press continued to be interested in the incident for several days. Grundy was suspended and Today ended soon afterwards; his career never recovered. Over time, Thames replaced Today with a more conventional news offering as seen on other ITV stations. Thames at Six was launched, later Thames News.

In 1978. Thames secured a contract with Morecambe & Wise.[11] The comedians had worked for the BBC since 1968 with major national success, but the decisive factor leading the duo to leave the Corporation was Thames' offer to feature them as main leads in a film made by the company's Euston Films subsidiary. The comedy duo's leading scriptwriter, Eddie Braben, did not initially move to ITV with them, and with Eric Morecambe's failing health, the new shows never gained the audiences or matched the esteem they had previously enjoyed.

Industrial relations up to the end of 1979[edit]

Like most of ITV, Thames was beset by conflicts with trade unions, notably the Association of Cinematograph Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT). A two-week technicians strike in the summer of 1975, shut down the whole of ITV with the technicians being bought off with a 35% pay rise. Two years later in May 1977, another strike occurred when production assistants at Thames refused to operate new video equipment. Thames proceeded to sack all the technicians for breach of contract. The following month, both sides backed down over the issues, with all technicians returning to work.

The worst strike to hit the network originated at Thames. Failure to reach agreement on pay increases and shift allowances in the 1979 pay round resulted in technicians switching off power to the transmission facilities at the Euston Road centre on 6 August. After management restored power, the technicians walked out. Within four days the whole of the ITV network was off-air after the ACTT asked members at other companies to walk out in claim for a 15% pay rise. The network was off the air for ten weeks.[12]

From 1980 to 1992[edit]

Later programming[edit]

Other Thames shows included This Week (known as TV Eye between 1979 and 1985), Rumpole of the Bailey, the game shows Strike It Lucky, Give Us a Clue and Name That Tune, and the drama Dodger, Bonzo and the Rest.

Thames sitcoms during the 1980s and early 1990s included Never the Twain, After Henry, and Mr. Bean. The Mr. Bean pilot episode was first broadcast on ITV on 1 January 1990, and the eventual run lasted beyond Thames holding of its franchise. Less well-known is its adaptation of Andy Capp (1988), starring James Bolam. Two of its post-franchise sitcoms found more success when they transferred away from ITVMen Behaving Badly, which moved to the BBC in 1994 and Is It Legal?, which moved to Channel 4 in 1997. Both were written by Simon Nye and co-produced by independent company Hartswood Films.

A few years after The World at War, Thames broadcast Hollywood (1980), a 13 part documentary series about the era of the America silent cinema. This series, produced by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, was followed by the company sponsoring Thames Silents, a project undertaken by Brownlow and Gill of the restoration and screenings (in a limited number of cinemas and on television) of major films from the silent era. The two men followed Hollywood with series dedicated to leading comics of the silent era, Unknown Chaplin (1983) and Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (1987). A programme on Harold Lloyd (The Third Genius) followed in 1989. Hollywood and the Chaplin series were narrated by the actor James Mason. Unusually for a commercial broadcaster, it also produced lavish versions of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Thames' subsidiary production company Euston Films continued to produce many of Thames' highest-profile drama contributions to ITV network programming to the end of its ITV franchies. These included Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983), Jack the Ripper (1988), Capital City (1989–1990), and Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (1992). The Bill (1984–2010) began as a one hour series of separate stories, but for much of its run was a soap opera broadcast three times a week.

Programming controversies[edit]

In January 1985, the company made a deal with international distributors for US production company Lorimar to purchase the UK broadcasting rights for US drama Dallas, at that time transmitted on BBC1. This broke a gentlemen's agreement between the two sides not to poach each other's imported shows. Thames paid £55,000 a show compared to the £29,000 of the BBC. The deal brought condemnation from the BBC and from other ITV stations, who feared the BBC would poach their imports, pushing up prices.[13] The BBC delayed transmission of the episodes of Dallas that they already had, planning to broadcast them at the same time Thames broadcast their new purchases. Ultimately, pressure from several ITV companies (notably Yorkshire Television) to the IBA, forced Thames to sell the series back to the BBC at a loss. Bryan Cowgill, the managing director of Thames left the company as he believed his position was untenable since the board were unwilling to support his plans to buy the series.[14] In October, Thames paid the BBC, via the IBA, £300,000 in compensation to make up the short fall in additional cost for new episodes of Dallas.[15]

The most controversial programme Thames broadcast was the documentary "Death on the Rock", part of the current affairs This Week series.[16] The programme questioned the authority of British troops who had shot dead suspected IRA members allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a British military ceremony on Gibraltar. The documentary was regarded almost as treason by many Conservative politicians, and The Sunday Times made claims about one of the witnesses interviewed which were later found to be libellous.

The following year, in 1989, Thames ended the contract of Benny Hill, a stalwart at the station since 1969. It was believed that the comedian was dismissed because his shows were considered offensive, but in fact, Thames' decision was taken because of falling ratings. The show at its peak had 21 million viewers, while the last episode had nine million. Hill made only 58 hour-long episodes in the 20 years he worked for Thames. In the UK these were generally marketed as specials, but re-edited as 30 minute episodes for overseas markets in which form Hill gained a following in the United States.

Industrial relations in the Thatcher era[edit]

Through the early 1980s, Thames' experienced a series of local disputes while management deliberately confronted contractual ‘rackets’, and pursued the introduction of new technologies based on operational requirements rather than precedent.[17] For Thames’ management, this was a materialist operation with a clear dimension, and to weed out unscrupulous bargaining and working practices.

In the summer of 1984 a major strike was called. This time, over Thames' management unilaterally issuing new rostering schedules (overtime payments for transmission staff), and the use of new cameras and editing equipment. There were no internal discussions of the potential savings that could be derived from new shift patterns, but there was a strong sense that union controls had to be removed before the company embarked on increasing its operations. The technicians walked out, but the station was off the air for just one day as management and administration staff took over their roles.[18] On Monday, 27th August, ATTC technicians walked out again over the new shift patterns;[19] the strike ended on the 3rd September 1984, at 1:00pm after the union agreed to rostering according to need, while the management dropped plans for ending six day working fortnights. Bryan Cowgill was quoted as saying: "The need for sensible change in the way we conduct our operations has been at the heart of this dispute. The outcome of a damaging and costly dispute has resulted in substantial progress towards a more realistic and effective way of working".[20] Over the following four weeks, further discussions took place about implementing the plans while introducing new technologies. On Wednesday, 17th October, another strike was instigated, as talks failed in agreement. The union warned against a management-run service, as it would be a recipe for total network disturbance and a massive loss of programmes, but Thames claimed that it would be justified due to the strike being unofficial.[21] On Tuesday, 23rd October, a management-run service started operating; the company claimed the revised schedule was popular with the viewers.[22][23] The strike finally ended on the 3rd November 1984, after 62 film editors agreed to the new conditions, while the ACTT agreed as well to start negotiations about the introductions of new technology. Additional episodes of network productions were screened to help clear the backlog, since no outside programmes were broadcast. Thames said: "We are delighted in the outcome of the dispute which we believe is in the best interests of everyone who works at Thames".[24]

For the Thames board, the dispute represented a huge, but necessary, cost if the company was to expand its production operations profitably.[17][25] Profits at Thames, dropped from £14.1M 1983/84 to £8.75M 84/85, during the strike period, but were able to recover back to £14.6M 85/86 just before flotation on the stock market.[26]

During April 1988, after successfully introducing new technologies and employing more freelance staff, Thames announced the loss of 200 jobs from its permanent workforce, which followed similar action from other ITV companies in a bid to slim down their workforce and alter working practices for economic reasons.[27] Thames made a further 297 employees redundant as part of their restructuring plan to reduce it's staff to 1,500 in preparation for the 1991 ITV franchise round.[28][29]

Area and ownership changes[edit]

In 1982, The Independent Broadcasting Authority decided to change the franchise area, which resulted in the Bluebell Hill transmitter, it's associated relays and the main relay at Tunbridge Wells being transferred between London and the new South and South-East of England, Television South franchise, in order to serve the new region better.[30]

In 1985, Carlton had executed a failed take-over bid for Thames after Thorn EMI and British Electric Traction decided to sell its share of Thames. The deal was blocked by both Richard Dunn, Chief Executive of Thames, and by the IBA, who concluded 'the proposal would lead to a major change in the nature and characteristic of a viable ITV programme company'. Michael Green was left 'bewildered', saying: 'We are surprised at the IBA's decision. I'm absolutely certain it would not have been a major change to Thames. We have always suggested that we would make absolutely sure the company would continue to be what it is at this moment in time.' IBA stated they had nothing against Carlton owning part of an ITV company, but believed 'any' single ownership of an ITV company was undesirable.[31] It has been said that Carlton Chief Executive Michael Green talked to the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the matter, which in turn may have helped to shape the 1990 Parliamentary Act which replaced the IBA with the Independent Television Commission and the change in franchise allocation procedures.

Thames finally floated on the stock market in July 1986, after being denied by the IBA in late 1982;[32] the shares on offer were being sold by BET and Thorn EMI, who planned to reduce their share holding from 100% down to 28.8%.[26] A few days afterwards speculation appeared that Carlton had attempted to buy a sizable amount of shares; Michael Green, chairman of Carlton, was quoted saying "I can't possibly comment" but a Thames spokesperson pointed out "It does seem quite likely, however, no one share holder can own more than 10% of our equity so it's difficult to see what they might have in mind".[33]

During 1989 reports appeared that talks were taking place with Carlton Communications about an agreed merger,[34] which resulted in no action taking place. The flotation was not a great success, EMI and BET only managing to reduce their shares to 56.6%, with management acquiring much of the new stock. In March 1990, EMI and BET tried once again to sell off their shares in Thames, with Cartlon and CLT (Luxembourg based media company) both in the running.[35][36]

However, by October talks had stalled, with EMI and BET still controlling Thames before heading into the 1991 franchise round.[37]

Franchise loss[edit]

On the 16th October 1991, Thames lost its 'Channel 3' franchise to broadcast to London during weekdays from January 1993 as a result of losing the silent auction used to renegotiate the new ITV franchises.[38] Thames bid £32.5M while Carlton Television placed a bid of £43.2M,[39] and since both Thames and Carlton were deemed to have passed the quality threshold, the franchise was awarded to Carlton for having submitted the higher cash bid. Some commentators consequently speculated that Thames had fallen victim to a 'government vendetta', whilst others felt that the auction had been won fairly. Carlton chose to commission the vast majority of its production content from third parties, and rent studio and broadcasting space at LWT's London Studios.

Thames was bullish after losing, since the company had made confidential contingency plans, which involved 1,000 redundancies and the closure of the Euston Road facility. The company believed it would become "Europe's most powerful Independent producer and programme distributor."[40] The Times quoted a spokesman the day after the announcement: "We can be more profitable this way, being forced out of broadcasting will save us £32.5milion a year in bid payments, £30million a year in advertising revenue taxes and about £10million in transmitter cost."[40]

The transition of ITV companies was never smooth, but Thames' bitterness stayed until the very end. In June 1992 Carlton and the ITV network centre had backed down over their demands for Thames to relinquish its right to broadcast repeats of its own programmings on rival channels for ten years. Thames believed Carlton's demands were unreasonable and would have forced it to drop most networked programmes on ITV during the autumn of 1992.[41] Thames Chairman Richard Dunn publicly stated that Michael Green (Carlton Chairman), had done everything in his power to obtain the London weekday franchise since being blocked by the IBA in 1985. Carlton was forced to advertise on LWT to promote its new programme line up, until Christmas 1992, following an acrimonious High Court dispute between Thames and Carlton over the selling of rights of hundreds of films in Thames' library. Carlton settled out of court for £13.1M.[42]

The loss of Thames' franchise was seen as controversial by many, and highly significant by most given Thames' history within ITV, as a long-standing franchisee in its own right. Its heritage from the start of the network, through its founding parents ABC and Rediffusion London, plus the fact that it was one of the major contributors of content to the ITV network. Due to the auction method used to conduct the new 'franchise round' – a significant change from previous rounds, was brought about by the 1990 Broadcasting Act. Consequently, the franchise loss became a subject of political debate, with changes brought about by the 1990 act being cited as 'The primary reason for an operation such as Thames being able to lose its licence to broadcast'. That the then Conservative government had passed such an act caused accusations of direct responsibility to be levelled at former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in particular, who had presided over its creation. Opinions varied on the matter of political motivations; some cite the documentary "Death On The Rock", which may have caused displeasure to the then government,[43] whilst others link it to a more general ideological dislike of the way ITV had been run at the time, with over-manning, and the fact that programme production was generally limited to franchise holders (sometimes critically referred to as barriers to entry), being seen as examples of why more commercial freedom and competition was needed within the network.

End of broadcasting[edit]

Thames ceased broadcasting to the London area shortly before midnight on Thursday, 31 December 1992. Its final day of transmission included the station's last regional news bulletins, presented by Graham Miller, and a repeat of its television adaptation of John le Carré's novel A Murder of Quality. Its last programme as a producer-broadcaster was The End of the Year Show - a 75-minute compilation of highlights from Thames' networked programmes, presented by Kenny Everett and broadcast across most of the ITV network.

The programme was followed in the Thames region with a farewell message from CEO Richard Dunn:

Following the announcement, a farewell montage of Thames' most notable programmes was broadcast, set to The Tourists' cover of "I Only Want to Be with You", variants of which were also aired in the last days of the station's broadcasts. It included short segments of some of the station's previous idents and ended with a modified version of the ident used at the time. An announcer read the tagline that had been used during Thames' final week: "THAMES, A Talent For Television."

Thames Television's final transmission was an ITN special report presented by Dermot Murnaghan, entitled Into The New Year. At midnight, transmission switched during the news bulletin from Thames' headquarters on Euston Road in London to the London News Network playout centre on the South Bank for the launch of Carlton Television.

Branding and presentation[edit]

The first idents to be used comprised a plain screen with the words 'FROM THAMES' written in white in the Helvetica font, and a vignette that resembled the famous ident, containing famous London landmarks. Both were accompanied by the tune 'Salute to Thames' written by Johnny Hawksworth. The first ident was used to signify programmes made at Rediffusion's old studios at Adastral House, the latter shows that came from ABC's former Teddington studios.[44][45] Some programmes recorded at Teddington, such as some episodes of the 1969 series of "Callan" did, however, use the "From Thames" caption, indicating that they may have been edited at Adrastal House rather than Teddington. The company's logo was accompanied by a fanfare called Salute to Thames, composed by Johnny Hawksworth.

With the introduction of colour, the ident was remodelled on the vignette, this time using photographs rather than drawings. This ident was designed by agency Minale Tattersfield. It was originally shot by stop-frame animation on 16 mm film, then shot again on 35 mm film in 1976 and finally digitized on computer in 1984.[46] All of these animations featured the same design, which consisted of the skyline slowly rolling up from the River Thames along with the logo, which was reflected briefly on the water and then quickly faded to its static position at the centre of the ident.

The ident was finally withdrawn in the summer of 1989, when Thames celebrated its 21st anniversary. The revised ident retained the London landmarks but contained them in a blue and orange triangle, pointing downwards, with three wavy blue lines to represent the river and the words 'THAMES XXI' in the orange part of the triangle. it was this logo which was used on the first ITV branding idents in 1989.[47]

A new ident was launched in 1990, featuring a redesigned triangle logo containing Big Ben, the British Telecom Tower, the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge. Initially, this ident was used only before local programmes; a modified ITV generic ident featuring this new logo was used for networked shows. Once Thames learned it was to lose its franchise to Carlton, the ITV branded ident was dropped in favour of the local ident which was used at all times from early November 1991.

From 1992[edit]

Thames Television was involved in an attempt to win the Channel 5 licence [48][49][50] when it was first advertised in the Spring of 1992. Thames was the main shareholder in a consortium (alongside Warner Bros. Television and others) called "Channel Five Holdings"; the consortium become the only bidder for the licence in December 1992 after two other groups dropped out.[51] However, the ITC rejected the bid as a result of concerns about their business plan and investor backing.[52] The deadline was therefore extended twice before finally handing the licence to Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited.[53]

This Is Your Life ran on ITV for 26 years until around 1995 when ITV cancelled it and the series was re-commissioned by the BBC, with Thames continuing to produce it. The Corporation ended the series in 2003.[54] The Bill continued on ITV until 2010.

Following the loss of Thames' franchise, the Euston Road base of Thames was sold off and demolished. The site of the studios is currently occupied by Triton Square and the registered headquarters of the British operation of Spanish bank Santander. The studios at Teddington were sold to a management buy-out team and are now part of the Pinewood Group, owners of both Pinewood and Shepperton Studios.

Thames and Talkback Productions, originally founded by comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones in 1981, were merged into talkbackTHAMES in 2003. This enterprise is now part of FremantleMedia.

Culture[edit]

Thames is often quoted as a prime example of a good commercial public-service broadcaster with shows covering all aspects of the spectrum and the largest producer in the network. Its shows achieved massive audiences and are still remembered many years later. This is sometimes attributed to the culture of the company, which could be claimed to be a continuation of that at ABC. This station was more highly regarded by the ITA (amongst others) than Rediffusion whose programming was seen as downmarket and whose management-style was viewed as high-handed. The two companies allowed Thames independence (although in later years there were accusations that they both treated the company as a cash cow).

The children's department also spawned the independent production company Tetra Films, which would later revive some classic Thames children's programmes for ITV – The Tomorrow People (1992-5, in association with Thames-owned Reeves Entertainment for ITV and Nickelodeon) and Rainbow (1994/96, for HTV) - along with a range of original film and television productions.

CEO & President Director[edit]

Name Start Chairman End Chairman
Richard Dunn 30 June 1968 31 December 1992

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Elen, Richard G. "Thames Television". Screenonline. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Cherry, S. ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds & Heran, 2005, pp.172-173
  3. ^ Black, P. The Mirror In The Corner – People's Television, Hutchinson, London, 1972, pp102-103
  4. ^ Writer Russ J Graham EMAIL MORE ARTICLES WEBSITE. "The players | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Writer Russ J Graham EMAIL MORE ARTICLES WEBSITE. "Taking Shape | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Docherty D, Running The Show: 21 years of London Weekend Television, Boxtree, 1990
  7. ^ Graham, Russ J Lights Camera Inaction, Talk of Thames from Telemusications, 2005; accessed 26 April 2006
  8. ^ Graham, Russ J Everybody Out!, Talk of Thames from Telemusications, 2005; accessed 26 April 2006
  9. ^ a b Cherry S ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds and Hearn, 2005, p.173
  10. ^ "Apology over pop group's TV remarks", The Times, 2 December 1976;
  11. ^ John Andrews "Eric and Ernie take their sunshine to ITV", The Guardian, 28 January 1978
  12. ^ Writer Glenn Aylett EMAIL MORE ARTICLES. "Strike Out | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  13. ^ David Hewson "Thames deal angers ITV network", The Times, 17 January 1985
  14. ^ David Hewson "Thames TV head leaves in dispute over Dallas", The Times, 12 July 1985
  15. ^ David Hewson "BBC ready to reclaim 'Dallas'", The Times, 2 October 1985
  16. ^ Richard Evans and Richard Ford and Dominique Searle "Trial by TV' row over IRA killings film", The Times, 29 April 1988
  17. ^ a b Dunn to Thames Board, July 1983 (uncatalogued deposit), ITVA Archive from http://web.archive.org/web/20110302074626/http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/management/media/mckinlay1.pdf P12
  18. ^ Cherry, S. ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds and Hearn, 2005, p196
  19. ^ Thames TV blackout goes on as unions meet. By Kenneth Gosling. The Times, Wednesday, 29 August 1984;
  20. ^ Thames strike is called off. Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 4 September 1984;
  21. ^ TV strike threatens network. Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 20 October 1984;
  22. ^ Thames stand-in TV 'very popular' Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 24 October 1984;
  23. ^ TV companies brace against union. The Guardian; 24 October 1984;
  24. ^ TV film editors end strike. Barker, Dennis The Guardian (1959–2003); 3 November 1984
  25. ^ Thames profits from strike. By David Hewson. The Times (London, England), Thursday, 25 October 1984;
  26. ^ a b Thames TV to join market with value of £91.2m. Clare Dobie. The Times , Wednesday, 18 June 1986
  27. ^ 200 jobs go at Thames: THAMES Brooks, Richard The Observer (1901–2003); 24 April 1988;
  28. ^ Central TV to shed 467 more jobs in new year. Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent. The Times, Tuesday, 27 November 1990
  29. ^ Thames TV cuts. The Times, Wednesday, 31 October 1990
  30. ^ "Names of companies awarded new ITV franchises will be announced tomorrow" By David Hewson. The Times, Saturday, 27 December 1980 pg. 3
  31. ^ Guardian Friday, 11 October 1985 P20, Dennis Barker "Carlton Communications proposal ruled unaccepted"- IBA blocks sale of Thames
  32. ^ IBA puts off flotation talks with Thames TV. By Barrie Clement. The Times, Tuesday, 30 November 1982
  33. ^ Carlton chases Thames shares to 40p premium. Michael Clark. The Times, Thursday, 3 July 1986
  34. ^ MAI shares peak on bid speculation.Michael Clark. The Times, Friday, 7 July 1989; pg. 30
  35. ^ "Thames Television up for sale". The Times, Friday, 30 March 1990
  36. ^ Thames TV soars on talk of takeover bid by Carlton. Michael Clark. The Times, Friday, 30 March 1990
  37. ^ Itv billing may fail to attract bidders. Melinda Wittstock Media Correspondent. The Times, 11 October 1990;
  38. ^ Legal threats follow biggest ITV shake-up.Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent. The Times, Thursday, 17 October 1991
  39. ^ Winners and Losers. The Times, Thursday, 17 October 1991
  40. ^ a b Melinda Wittstock "Thames, a wounded Phoenix, takes flight into production", The Times, 17 October 1991
  41. ^ Thames wins ITV dispute. By our Media Correspondent. The Times, Wednesday, 15 July 1992
  42. ^ Bitter Thames signs off but rejects talk of closedown. The Times, Thursday, 31 December 1992
  43. ^ "Thatcher 'took her revenge'", The Times, 21 September 1991
  44. ^ Graham, Russ J; Clarke, Rory (25 April 2006). "Thames". Ident by Electromusications from Transdiffusion. Retrieved 4 November 2007. 
  45. ^ "Thames - Television". Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  46. ^ Wiseman, Andrew; Buxton, Roddy (10 October 1997). "The Thames Logo Parade". 625.uk.com. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  47. ^ "Thames Television". TV Live. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  48. ^ Melinda Wittstock "ITV franchise losers consider a joint bid for Channel 5", The Times, 22 October 1991
  49. ^ Melinda Wittstock "And now for Channel 5", The Times, 23 October 1991
  50. ^ Melinda Wittstock "Contest for Channel 5 is clouded by doubts", The Times, 15 April 1992
  51. ^ "Channel 5 takes off", The Times, 5 December 1992
  52. ^ Melinda Wittstock "Channel 5 bid fails on audience and income", The Times, 19 December 1992
  53. ^ Whittaker, Joseph An Almanack, p.192
  54. ^ It was revived once again, this time by ITV Productions and SMG Productions for ITV in 2007, hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald, but failed after one series.

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