26 Facts About Thames Television


Thames Television, commonly simplified to just Thames, was a franchise holder for a region of the British ITV television network serving London and surrounding areas from 30 July 1968 until the night of 31 December 1992.

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From its formation in 1954, the Independent Thames Television Authority offered broadcasting licences to different companies for weekday and weekend service in its first three Independent Thames Television network locations, the London area, the Midlands, and the North.

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Granada Thames Television won daytime service in the North, and ABC the weekends.

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When Thames Television was formed, the new company acquired numerous other properties of the former franchise holders.

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Thames Television 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, a science fiction series.

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The programme used animation and graphics created by Cosgrove Hall, a Thames Television subsidiary founded in 1972, which made animated series for children.

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Meanwhile, Thames Television gained a reputation for drama with such series as Jenny, Lady Randolph Churchill, with Lee Remick as the mother of Winston Churchill.

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Over time, Thames Television replaced Today with a more conventional news offering as seen on other ITV stations.

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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 Television's offer to feature them as main leads in a film made by the company's Euston Films subsidiary.

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Thames Television proceeded to sack all the technicians for breach of contract.

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Bryan Cowgill, the managing director of Thames Television left the company, as he believed his position was untenable since the board was unwilling to support his plans to buy the series.

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Thames Television's retained popularity in the UK was confirmed following his death, when Thames gave in to public demand to rerun the shows.

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For Thames Television's management, this was a materialist operation with a clear dimension, and to weed out unscrupulous bargaining and working practices.

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Once TV-am concluded, when the rest of the UK received schools programmes, Thames Television viewers were left with a blue screen showing their upcoming emergency schedule which would normally start at around 1.

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Thames Television said: "We are delighted in the outcome of the dispute which we believe is in the best interests of everyone who works at Thames Television".

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Thames Television finally floated on the stock market in July 1986, after being blocked by the IBA in late 1982.

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On 16 October 1991, Thames Television lost its weekday London ITV franchise from the beginning of January 1993 as a result of losing the silent auction used to renegotiate the new franchises.

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In June 1992 Carlton and the ITV network centre had backed down over its demands for Thames Television to relinquish its right to broadcast repeats of its own programmings on rival channels for 10 years.

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Thames Television believed Carlton's demands were unreasonable and would have forced it to drop most networked programmes on ITV during the autumn of 1992.

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Loss of Thames Television's franchise was seen as controversial by many, and highly significant by most, given Thames Television's 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, and the fact that it was one of the major contributors of content to the ITV network.

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Some programmes recorded at Teddington, such as some episodes of the 1969 series of "Callan" did use the "from Thames Television" caption, indicating that they may have been edited at Adastral House rather than Teddington.

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Once Thames Television 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 4 November 1991 until 31 December 1992.

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Thames Television was involved in an attempt to win the new Channel 5 licence when it was first advertised in early 1992.

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Pearson Thames Television was itself sold by Pearson plc to CLT-UFA in 2000, thus merging to become the RTL Group, and rebranded as FremantleMedia in 2001.

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In 2003, Thames Television was merged with another FremantleMedia subsidiary, Talkback to form Talkback Thames.

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Thames Television 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.

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