|Broadcast area||Greater London|
|Established||30 July 1968 at 19:00 GMT|
|First airdate||30 July 1968 at 19:00 GMT|
|Launch date||30 July 1968 at 19:00 GMT|
|Closed||1 January 1993 at 00:00 GMT|
|Slogan||A Talent For Television
(30 July 1968 – 31 December 1992)
|Key people||Richard Dunn (CEO)
(30 July 1968 – 31 December 1992)
|Replaced by||Carlton Television)|
(30 July 1968 – 31 December 1992)
The classic Thames Television ident featuring London landmarks
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network covering London and surrounding area on weekdays from 30 July 1968 at 19:00 GMT until the night of 1 January 1993 at 00:00 GMT, Richard Dunn was named as the chief executive officer & president director by the station works on an appointment-based programming concept reflecting its philosophy of being A Talent For Television.
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 (trading as ABC Weekend Television) 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."
Thames covered a broad spectrum of commercial public-service television, with a strong mix of drama, current affairs and comedy. The company's logo remains widely recognizable and was accompanied by a fanfare called Salute to Thames, composed by Johnny Hawksworth.
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, it was announced on 22 November 2011, that from 1 January 2012, the Thames brand was to be 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Franchise loss
- 3 Programmes
- 4 Studios
- 5 Presentation
- 6 Culture
- 7 Slogan & Motto
- 8 CEO & President Director
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
From launch on 22 September 1955 at 7.15pm 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 contracts for the right to broadcast on ITV (running from 1968 to 1974 and sometimes referred to as a 'contract round') meant that ABC Weekend Television (ABC) lost both their contracts (sometimes known as 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 allocated to the London Television Consortium, led by presenter David Frost amongst 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.
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.
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. 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 stations, notably Granada. 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 London Television Consortium, as well as the interview for Rediffusion, leading the ITA to question the loyalty at the company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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; the following week, the action had spread to all of ITV and resulted in the creation of a management-run ITV Emergency National Service for some two weeks.
In 1982, The Independent Broadcasting Authority decided to change the franchise area, which resulted in Bluebell Hill transmitter, associated relays and the main relay at Tunbridge Wells being transferred between London and the new South and South-East of England franchise, in order to serve the new region better.
In April 1970, a 25-year old unemployed advertising model Patricia Drew entered the main foyer at Thames' new Euston Road offices and threw a petrol bomb at the reception desk, causing minor damage. Drew was suffering from a mental illness and believed David Frost was part of a government experiment to hypnotise people via television transmissions. Although Frost worked for the ITV London weekend contractor, London Weekend Television, she targeted the offices of Thames as she also believed Eamonn Andrews, the then-presenter of Today, the local news programme, was also part of the scheme. Little comment was made on this story at the time and it only fully emerged after a journalist made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act in 2005.
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.
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 For Thames’ management, this was a materialist operation with a clear dimension, 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 Monday 27 August ATTC technicians walked out again over new the shift patterns; the strike ended on 3 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". Over the following four weeks,s further discussion took place about implementing the plans while also introduction new technology. On Wednesday 17 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 massive loss of programmes, but Thames claimed that would be justified due to the strike being unofficial. On Tuesday 23 October, a management-run service started operating; the company claimed the revised scheduled was popular with the viewers. The strike finally ended on 3 November 1984 after 62 film editors agreed to the new conditions, while the ACTT agreed as well to start negotiations about the introductions of 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".
For the Thames board, the dispute represented a huge, but necessary, cost if the company was to expand its production operation profitably. 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.
During April 1988, after successfully introducing new technologies and employing more freelances 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. Thames made a further 297 employees redundant as part of restructing plan to reduce it staff to 1,500 in preparation for the 1991 ITV franchise round.
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. 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; 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%. 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".
During 1989 reports appeared talks where taken place with Carlton communications about an agreed merger, which resulted in no action taken 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.
However, by October talks had stalled, with EMI and BET still controlling Thames before heading into the 1991 franchise round.
On 16 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. Thames bid £32.5M while Carlton Television placed a bid of £43.2M, 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 London Studios.
Thames was bullish after losing, since the company had made confidential contingency plans, which involved 1000 redundancies and the closure of the Euston office. It claimed it would become "Europe's most powerful Independent producer and programme distributor"; "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."
The transition of ITV companies was never smooth, but Thames' bitterness stayed until the very end. In June 1992 Carlton and ITV network centre 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 during the autumn 1992. Richard Dunn publicly stated 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 selling of rights of hundreds of films in Thames' library. Carlton settled out of court for £13.1M.
Thames Television was also involved in an attempt to win the Channel 5 licence  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. However, the ITC rejected the bid as a result of concerns about their business plan and investor backing. The deadline was therefore extended twice before finally handing the licence to Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited.
The loss of 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; the fact that it was one of the major contributors of content to the network; and due to the auction method used to conduct the new 'franchise round' – a significant change from previous rounds, 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 vary on the matter of political motivations; some cite the documentary "Death On The Rock", which may have caused displeasure to the then government, whilst others link it to a more general ideological dislike of the way ITV had been run at the time, with 'excessive 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
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 it was sports anchor by the 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 to television presenter by Kenny Everett & broadcast across most of the ITV network.
Time Programmes Thames Television it was officially schedule for closing midnight on Friday, 1 January 1993 at 00:00 GMT. 06:00-09:21 TV-am: "Good Morning Britain with Mike Morris & Lorraine Kelly" (Last Edition) 09:25-09:49 Cartoon: "Tom & Jerry" (including: Mouse Trouble, Tee for Two & Tennis Chumps) 09:49 Clock 09:50-09:55 Thames News 09:55-10:15 Cartoon: "Doraemon (UK Version)" (with English dubbed & British predominantly) 10:15-12:29 Movie: "The Sons of Katie Elder" 12:49 Clock 12:30-12:50 ITN News 12:50-13:00 Thames News 13:00-13:30 Australian Drama: "Home & Away" (Pre-Final Episode/Pre-Last Episode) 13:30-15:00 Movie: "Cheetah" 15:00-15:05 Headline News: "ITN News" 15:05-15:10 Headline News: "Thames News" 15:10-15:35 Drama: "Take The High Road" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 15:35-15:44 Cartoon: "Tom & Jerry" (including: Hollywood Bowl, Mouse in Manhattan & The Bodyguard) 15:45-17:39 Drama: "B&B" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 17:39 Clock 17:40-17:55 Early Evening News with John Suchet 17:55-18:00 Thames News with Graham Miller (Last Edition) 18:00-18:30 Australian Drama: "Home & Away" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 18:30-19:00 Drama: "Emmerdale" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 19:00-20:00 Drama Documentary: "Murder at the Farm: Who Killed Carl Bridgewater?" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 20:00-20:30 Drama: "The Bill" 20:30-22:29 Drama: "John le Carré A Murder of Quality" (Final Episode/Last Episode) 22:29 Clock 22:30-20:45 ITN News with Fiona Armstrong 20:45 Final Broadcasts on Thames Television (Opening): "I Only Want to Be with You (sung by The Tourists)" 20:45-23:52 Final Stations: "The End of the Year: The Best From Thames with Kenny Everett" 23:52-23:53 Closing Ceremony of Thames Television: "CEO & President Director's Richard Dunn" 23:53-23:54 Final Broadcasts on Thames Television (Closing): "I Only Want to Be with You (sung by The Tourists)" 23:54-23:59 Final Programmes: "ITN News: Special New Year 1993 with Dermot Murnaghan" 23:59 Clock & Countdown New Year 1993: "Goodbye 1992" (Live at Big Ben) 00:00 Greetings New Year 1993: "Welcome 1993" (Live at Big Ben) Carlton Television it was officially schedule for opening midnight on Friday, 1 January 1993 at 00:00 GMT. 00:00-01:30 Special Launching of Carlton Television: "A Carlton New Year with Chris Tarrant" (Live at Trafalgar Square) 01:30-03:15 Movie: "Best Defense" 03:15-04:55 Movie: "Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All" 04:55-05:54 Music Event: "Back Track 1992" 05:54 Clock 05:55-06:00 ITV Morning News
|“||Having saluted our talented artists, I would like, if I may on your behalf, to thank all of those thousands of men and women who have worked so creatively behind the cameras to bring you the best television we could and we would like to thank you, our viewers. It has been a privilege to serve you. And, for now, from all of us at Thames, past and present, we wish all of you, a Happy New Year.||”|
Following the announcement, a long montage of Thames' very best programmes was broadcast through an edited-for-time version of The Tourists' cover of "I Only Want to Be with You" with a montage, variants of which were also aired in the last days of the station's broadcasts, composed of clips of notable Thames programmes with final and last episode "Mr. Bean Rides Again" (Mr. Bean Episode 6). 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 and an announcer reading the tagline shown mostly on Thames' final week:
|“||THAMES, A Talent For Television.||”|
Thames Television was closing ceremony & final transmission by the final programmes of the Independent Television News (ITN) broadcast a special report with news anchor's Dermot Murnaghan entitled Into The New Year at 00:00 GMT when the midnight chimes of Big Ben struck with ceased transmissions switched from Thames' headquarters in Euston Road in London to the London News Network playout centre on the South Bank at the end of the bulletin until transmission was switched to Carlton Television.
The station originally continued formats inherited from its predecessors. These included the variety show Opportunity Knocks, the last series of The Avengers and the detective thrillers Callan and Public Eye, all inherited from ABC. One of these shows was the comedy Do Not Adjust Your Set, formerly Rediffusion, – nominally a children's show, but forerunner of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
The Sooty Show, cancelled in 1967 by the BBC, aired on Thames' first day and after Harry Corbett's retirement in 1975 continued with his son, Matthew Corbett, until November 1992, a month before Thames closed down (the programme was replaced by Sooty & Co, produced by Granada). The company took over This Is Your Life after the BBC dropped it. It ran for 26 years on ITV. When the show moved back to the BBC, Thames continued to produce it until it was axed again in 2003.
Other Thames shows included This Week (known as TV Eye between 1979 and 1985), the drama The Naked Civil Servant, Rumpole of the Bailey, the game shows Strike It Lucky, Give Us a Clue and Name That Tune, the dramas Dodger, Bonzo and the Rest, Rock Follies, Reilly, Ace of Spies and Danger UXB, and the Benny Hill Show and Mr. Bean it was launched by the Mr. Bean pilot episode was first broadcast on ITV on 1 January 1990 until final & last television episode, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean" was ceased transmission on Thursday, 31 December 1992 at 09:25 GMT.
The World at War was a history of the Second World War using unseen footage and interviews at high level. The show, narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier, was commissioned in 1969, took four years to produce, and cost a record £4m (approx £32m at today's prices).
Thames produced a number of sitcoms including Father, Dear Father, Bless This House starring Sid James, George and Mildred, After Henry, Never the Twain, and Love Thy Neighbour, with its controversial take on racial issues. Less well-known is its adaptation of Andy Capp, starring James Bolam. Two of its more recent sitcoms found more success when they transferred away from ITV – Men 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. It also produced the children's show Magpie, intended as a rival for Blue Peter, and Rainbow, which started in 1972 and ran all the way up until the loss of the Thames broadcasting franchise in 1992. Thames became a significant contributor to the ITV network and its shows (most notably The World at War and The Benny Hill Show) became worldwide award-winning successes. 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.
In addition to its evening and peak time programming, Thames changed the face of daytime television in Britain. Afternoon Plus brought the art of intelligent interviewing to a wide and growing audience. Thames' subsidiary production company Euston Films produced many of Thames' highest-profile contributions to ITV network programming. These included The Sweeney (1975–78), Jack the Ripper, Capital City (1989-1990), Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, Minder (1979–94) and Quatermass (1979).
Bill Grundy and the Sex Pistols
In December 1976, the punk band The Sex Pistols uttered obscenities live on the news magazine programme Today. They were being interviewed by Bill Grundy. Grundy made it clear he did not like their lifestyle. When singer Johnny Rotten uttered shit, Grundy asked him to repeat it. One band member, Steve Jones, called Grundy a dirty old man and a fucking rotter. Grundy claimed he had allowed bad language to show the Sex Pistols as they were. There had, however, been claims that he had been drinking; he introduced the group as ...being drunk as I am. The transmission was not stopped. There were 30 seconds to the end of the show and producers feared trouble in the studio if the show were halted. Thames apologised the next day, after their switchboard was jammed by viewers complaining. Thames said " Because the programmes was live it was impossible to foresee the language that would be used" Grundy was suspended and Today ended soon afterwards; his career never recovered.
Over time, Thames opted to replace Today with a more conventional regional news offering as seen on other ITV stations. Thames at Six, later Thames News, provided the London region with its first comprehensive local television news service.
Morecambe and Wise
In 1978. Thames secured British entertainers Morecambe & Wise, they had worked with the BBC since 1968, after leaving ATV because it would not make their shows in colour. Thames offered them a film through the Euston Films subsidiary and clinched the deal. Their leading scriptwriter, Eddie Braben, did not initially move to ITV with them, and with Eric Morecambe's failing health, the shows never repeated the audiences they once had. Productions were delayed while Morecambe recovered from heart surgery. The film he and Wise wanted to make – Night Train to Murder – was eventually screened on New Year's Day 1985.
In January 1985, the company made a deal with international distributors for US production company Lorimar to purchase the US drama Dallas, at that time transmitted on BBC1. This broke a gentlemen's agreement 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. 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 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. 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.
This Week: Death on the Rock
The most controversial act was the documentary "Death on the Rock", part of the current affairs This Week series. The programme questioned the authority of British troops who had gunned down suspected Provisional 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 by newspapers such as The Sunday Times.
In 1989, Thames sacked Benny Hill, a stalwart at the station since 1969. It was widely believed that he was dismissed because his shows were considered offensive. Thames' decision was taken on ratings grounds: Hill made only 58 hour-long episodes in the 20 years. He stayed in the public eye by repeats and by re-edits of hour-long productions into a half-hour format. The show at its peak had 21 million but the last episode had nine million viewers.
When Thames was formed, the new company acquired the numerous properties of both the former Rediffusion and ABC. This meant that Thames now acquired Rediffusion's London headquarters at Television House and their main studio complex at Wembley on top of ABC's headquarters and London base at Teddington, their Midlands base in Aston, co-owned with ATV, their northern base in Didsbury, Manchester and a sales office in central Manchester. For the company to survive, it couldn't own all of these studios and so many were sold off.
The former Rediffusion studios at Wembley were sold off to London Weekend Television by order of the ITA. These studios were used by LWT until 1970, when they moved into the London Television Centre, and have since been in independent ownership under the name of Fountain Studios. ABC's Aston studios were sold to ATV, who already owned half of the studio complex and who now took full control, and who sold the site a few years later to an independent local radio station. The Didsbury site was for a time used by Yorkshire Television prior to the Kirkstall Road studios construction, but was later sold to Manchester Polytechnic. The offices in Manchester were also sold.
This left Thames with a main production base at the former ABC studios at Teddington, and with their headquarters in the former Rediffusion property Television House until 1970, when Thames' corporate base moved to their newly constructed studios and base at Thames Television House on Euston Road. The Teddington studios were highly desirable, as they had participated in colour experiments and were already partially converted, and as such were sought after by both Thames and LWT.
Following the loss of Thames' franchise and the amalgamation of the company into talkbackTHAMES, 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.
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.
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. 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.
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 loss its franchise to Carlton, ITV branded ident was dropped in favour of the local ident which was used at all time from early November 1991.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
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 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 studios at Teddington meant the workforce was predominantly ex-ABC (although those at Kingsway were ex-Rediffusion). However, with the inherited creative talent and facilities the opportunity bequeathed to the new station was enormous.
Thames also benefited from benign shareholders. There were just two shareholders at the company, these being the former owners of Rediffusion, British Electric Traction, and the owners of ABC, the ABPC, later to become (via mergers) Thorn EMI.
The two companies allowed Thames independence (although in later years there were accusations that they both treated the company as a cash cow). This allowed the station to establish separate divisions to focus on particular genres. Euston Films was established in 1971 by independent producers financed by Thames and specialised in drama output while Cosgrove Hall was employed to produce children's animation. 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.
Slogan & Motto
|Slogan & Motto||Start usage||End usage|
|A Talent For Television||30 June 1968||31 December 1992|
CEO & President Director
|Name||Start Chairman||End Chairman|
|Richard Dunn||30 June 1968||31 December 1992|
- Euston Films
- Talkback Thames
- Thames Silents
- Associated British Corporation
- Carlton Television
- London Weekend Television
- ITV (TV network)
- History of ITV
- Elen, Richard G. "Thames Television". Screenonline. Retrieved 20 May 2007.
- Cherry, S, ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds & Heran, 2005, pp172-173
- Black, P. The Mirror In The Corner – People's Television, Hutchinson, London, 1972, pp102-103
- Writer Russ J Graham EMAIL MORE ARTICLES WEBSITE. "The players | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- Docherty D, Running The Show: 21 years of London Weekend Television, Boxtree, 1990
- Writer Russ J Graham EMAIL MORE ARTICLES WEBSITE. "Taking Shape | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- Graham, Russ J Lights Camera Inaction, Talk of Thames from Telemusications, 2005; accessed 26 April 2006
- Graham, Russ J Everybody Out!, Talk of Thames from Telemusications, 2005; accessed 26 April 2006
- "Names of companies awarded new ITV franchises will be announced tomorrow" By David Hewson. The Times, Saturday, 27 December 1980 pg. 3
- Rik Henderson, Made by Michael (8 April 2005). "Camden New Journal". Camden New Journal. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- Writer Glenn Aylett EMAIL MORE ARTICLES. "Strike Out | Talk of Thames". Transdiffusion.org. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- 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
- Cherry, S. ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds and Hearn, 2005, p196
- Thames TV blackout goes on as unions meet. By Kenneth Gosling. The Times, Wednesday, 29 August 1984;
- Thames strike is called off. Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 4 September 1984;
- TV strike threatens network. Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 20 October 1984;
- Thames stand-in TV 'very popular' Barker, Dennis The Guardian; 24 October 1984;
- TV companies brace against union. The Guardian; 24 October 1984;
- TV film editors end strike. Barker, Dennis The Guardian (1959-2003); 3 November 1984
- Thames profits from strike. By David Hewson. The Times (London, England), Thursday, 25 October 1984;
- Thames TV to join market with value of £91.2m. Clare Dobie. The Times , Wednesday, 18 June 1986
- 200 jobs go at Thames: THAMES Brooks, Richard The Observer (1901- 2003); 24 April 1988;
- Central TV to shed 467 more jobs in new year. Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent. The Times, Tuesday, 27 November 1990
- Thames TV cuts. The Times, Wednesday, 31 October 1990
- Guardian Friday, 11 October 1985 P20, Dennis Barker "Carlton Communications proposal ruled unaccepted"- IBA blocks sale of Thames
- IBA puts off flotation talks with Thames TV. By Barrie Clement. The Times, Tuesday, 30 November 1982
- Carlton chases Thames shares to 40p premium. Michael Clark. The Times, Thursday, 3 July 1986
- MAI shares peak on bid speculation.Michael Clark. The Times, Friday, 7 July 1989; pg. 30
- "Thames Television up for sale". The Times, Friday, 30 March 1990
- Thames TV soars on talk of takeover bid by Carlton. Michael Clark. The Times, Friday, 30 March 1990
- Itv billing may fail to attract bidders. Melinda Wittstock Media Correspondent. The Times, 11 October 1990;
- Legal threats follow biggest ITV shake-up.Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent. The Times, Thursday, 17 October 1991
- Winners and Losers. The Times, Thursday, 17 October 1991
- Thames, a wounded Phoenix, takes flight into production. Melinda Wittstock, Medial Correspondent. The Times, Thursday, 17 October 1991
- Thames wins ITV dispute. By our Media Correspondent. The Times, Wednesday, 15 July 1992
- Bitter Thames signs off but rejects talk of closedown. The Times, Thursday, 31 December 1992
- ITV franchise losers consider a joint bid for Channel 5. Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent. The Times, Tuesday, 22 October 1991
- And now for Channel 5.Melinda Wittstock. The Times, Wednesday, 23 October 1991
- Contest for Channel 5 is clouded by doubts.Melinda Wittstock, Media Correspondent.The Times, Wednesday, 15 April 1992
- Channel 5 takes off. By our Media Correspondent. The Times, Saturday, 5 December 1992
- Channel 5 bid fails on audience and income. Melinda Wittstock Media Correspondent. The Times, Saturday, 19 December 1992
- Whittaker, Joseph. An Almanack. Page 192.
- Thatcher 'took her revenge'. The Times, Saturday, 21 September 1991
- 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.
- Apology over pop group's TV remarks. By our Arts Reporter. The Times, Thursday, 2 December 1976;
- Eric and Ernie take their sunshine to ITV. Andrews, John The Guardian; 28 January 1978;
- Thames deal angers ITV network. By David Hewson. The Times, Thursday, 17 January 1985
- Thames TV head leaves in dispute over Dallas. By David Hewson Arts Correspondent. The Times, Friday, 12 July 1985
- BBC ready to reclaim 'Dallas'. By David Hewson Arts Correspondent. The Times, Wednesday, 2 October 1985;
- 'Trial by TV' row over IRA killings film. Richard Evans and Richard Ford and Dominique Searle. The Times, Friday, 29 April 1988;
- Cherry s. ITV: The People's Channel, Reynolds and Hearn, 2005, p173
- Graham, Russ J; Clarke, Rory (25 April 2006). "Thames". Ident by Electromusications from Transdiffusion. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- "Thames - Television". Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- Wiseman, Andrew; Buxton, Roddy (10 October 1997). "The Thames Logo Parade". 625.uk.com. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- "Thames Television". TV Live. Retrieved 25 June 2013.