Thames TV

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Mark
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Thames TV

Post by Mark »

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Thames TV, 50 years old today.

The perfect chance to repeat the fact ( which still never gets mentioned in Mags and Books) that the Galactic Federation theme played in "The Tomorrow People", whenever Timus appeared was the Tribute To Thames ident music slowed down.

Many favourites include "Ace Of Wands", "The Tomorrow People", "Bless This House", "Father Dear Father" and "Shelley".

What was yours?
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fatcat
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Re: Thames TV

Post by fatcat »

Oh Thames! I could wax lyrical all day about it.

Not so keen on Bless this House but totally agree with your list otherwise - Ace of Wands (it's hard to believe this was made for kids,superb and imaginative even today) - Father dear Father, once serious actor Patrick Cargill lets rip here and gives his all in a jolly old farce that remains funny today....hugely popular abroad (apparently a middle east oil sheik use to have prints sent to him) and the bonus of Natasha Pine - Shelley.. you can watch this all the time Hywell is brilliant in his own style and laps up the great scripts - The Tomorrow People, wonderfully ambitious beyond it's kids tv budget,forget the kid's acting the plots are gripping and great.
So total fan of Thames TV, too many good,well made shows to mention so I will mention perhaps some of the less well known ones that I liked at the time.
Shades of Greene - Bordering on the eccentric, recreations of the yarns Graham Greene might tell around a campfire in the night.
Rooms - Plots around studio bound urban domesticity, but that made no difference - it entertained.
Marked Personal - A soap but you felt Stephanie Beacham's character's angst and concerns.
Shadows of Fear- the brilliant eerie title sequence set this one up.
Gems- rag trade soap, likeable characters and enjoyable trashy drama.
Mind of Mr JG Reeder- Yet another Edgar Wallace creation and Hugh Burden and Willoby Goddard have great fun with it.
For Schools- Thames' dramas for schools were also of a high standard.

In non fiction a mention for the late,great Tony Bastable now showing up on the Thames TV site in various programmes as the consummate,well researched 'did his homework', well spoken professional he was.


.

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Billy Smart
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Re: Thames TV

Post by Billy Smart »

A different drama series or serial for each year of Thames -

1968 Mystery and Imagination
1969 Public Eye
1970 Callan
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes
1972 Man at the Top
1973 Six Days of Justice
1974 Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill
1975 Couples
1976 Bill Brand
1977 Rock Follies of '77
1978 Edward and Mrs Simpson
1979 Danger UXB
1980 Fox
1981 The Flame Trees of Thika
1982 Nobody's Hero
1983 The Nation's Health
1984 Minder
1985 Mr Palfrey of Westminster
1986 Paradise Postponed
1987 Lost Belongings
1988 Rumpole of the Bailey
1989 Bellman and True
1990 The Bill
1991 Selling Hitler
1992 Anglo-Saxon Attitudes

The quality was so high during the Verity Lambert years that The Sweeney doesn't get a look in!

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Re: Thames TV

Post by Simon36 »

Thames was so wonderfully Londony, which it could easily not have been. It had a great run of in-vision announcers, a superb drama output, excellent news coverage and a tragic demise.

The Sweeney, Couples, Rumpole, Rumour... a brilliant and varied output. In their twilight years, I remember turning my nose up at Capital City, but watched it on DVD recently and really enjoyed it. I can find no words for the appalling Jack the Ripper though.

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Re: Thames TV

Post by Mark »

Yes, I'm a convert to "Capital City" as well.

Lots of great shows mentioned in those posts, and a great list there Billy.

I should have mentioned "Public Eye" myself as it's my favourite drama, they were excellent producers of Children's TV, so many brilliant shows, aside from those mentioned, "Shadows" and The "Chocky" trilogy, as well as "Pardon My Genie" and "Roberts Robots".

They really excelled in every department, it was sad day when it went.
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Re: Thames TV

Post by fatcat »

Simon36 wrote:Thames was so wonderfully Londony, which it could easily not have been. It had a great run of in-vision announcers, a superb drama output, excellent news coverage and a tragic demise.

The Sweeney, Couples, Rumpole, Rumour... a brilliant and varied output. In their twilight years, I remember turning my nose up at Capital City, but watched it on DVD recently and really enjoyed it. I can find no words for the appalling Jack the Ripper though.
I remember being touched by a 'diddy' David Hamilton link he did .." we understand that the actor Mike Pratt has been taken into hospital..Mike if your watching,hope you get well soon and this is just for you..Randall and Hopkirk"

Ian Fryer
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Re: Thames TV

Post by Ian Fryer »

Mark wrote:Yes, I'm a convert to "Capital City" as well.

Lots of great shows mentioned in those posts, and a great list there Billy.

I should have mentioned "Public Eye" myself as it's my favourite drama, they were excellent producers of Children's TV, so many brilliant shows, aside from those mentioned, "Shadows" and The "Chocky" trilogy, as well as "Pardon My Genie" and "Roberts Robots".

They really excelled in every department, it was sad day when it went.
Funnily enough I'm part way through a rewatch of Capital City myself and I agree it stands up surprisingly well. Thanks to Network's 24 hour Thames TV sale I finally filled in two other items from my Thames wants list - Public Eye and Rock Follies.

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Capital City is probably a rather cosy picture of the post-Big Bang era but it’s fascinating as a time capsule. I was disappointing the intriguing and surprising louise Lombard storyline petered out though.

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Re: Thames TV

Post by Ian Fryer »

Simon36 wrote:Capital City is probably a rather cosy picture of the post-Big Bang era but it’s fascinating as a time capsule. I was disappointing the intriguing and surprising louise Lombard storyline petered out though.
I was very surprised about that too. I have a couple of friends who worked in banking around that time and I'm going to lend it to them to see how accurate they think it is.

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paul.austin
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Re: Thames TV

Post by paul.austin »

Thames angering Thatcher.... you only have to look at the GLC or the miners to see what she did to those that challenged her. A lot of people paid the price for Thames' mistake with Death on the Rock.

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Re: Thames TV

Post by RobinCarmody »

When Peter Hitchens writes, as he very frequently does, about how he felt a much greater sense of loss when Churchill died and the Empire was clearly, finally over than you would have expected for someone who was only 13 at the time - most of his contemporaries were lost in the emerging pop culture generally and offshore radio in particular, and the following year he himself was captivated by radical-Left politics and atheism - I am reminded very much of how I felt at the time of the Thames franchise loss. For someone who was only 12 at the time, I had developed an acute awareness of the history of UK broadcasting and what was changing, and on that last night (and also on the night the last edition of Jeeves and Wooster was transmitted, the following June) I can clearly remember sensing instinctively that something important had gone out of my life forever, as PH did when Churchill died - but, as in that case, it was something I hadn't really been around for.

But at the same time I'm wholly aware of how much bilge is spouted in certain circles on this matter, bilge that can be demolished in one word: Granada. The idea - still believed in certain circles - that Thames surviving would have prevented what happened from happening is errant nonsense: if Granada, the only company with a comparable or greater "commercial public service" heritage and legacy, could transform itself for gain so completely and so comprehensively, the argument that Thames would have been above doing such a thing is completely brown out of the water. For a different ITV post-1990, you would have needed an entirely different political, social and cultural environment long before that (arguably as far back as the 1960s, if you believe Ian MacDonald's central theorem). Now, of all times, we might reasonably consider that, unless everything else had been completely different, someone else would have blown the commercial public service model out of the water even if the person who did do it hadn't. So let us admire what was achieved, but let us also not be blind to its failings and not pretend that names alone would have kept it alive - or, arguably, that it even could have been once the boomers had reached critical mass and were running every institution.

(Interesting, in this context, to compare Mavis Nicholson's famous Bowie interview with late-career ones carried out by people who'd grown up on his work - there's arguably a greater awareness of the wider world in the 1979 interview, but that "outsider" element wouldn't have been sustainable forever.)

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Re: Thames TV

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paul.austin wrote:Thames angering Thatcher.... you only have to look at the GLC or the miners to see what she did to those that challenged her. A lot of people paid the price for Thames' mistake with Death on the Rock.
Oh no!
You mentioned Thatcher!

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Focus II
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Re: Thames TV

Post by Focus II »

Without referring to programmes that originally started out as ABC ones, "Public Eye" for example, my all time favourite Thames series has to be the first, "Special Branch" from 1969.

Actually, my avatar was a screenshot taken from one of the few colour episodes.

Really is fantastic stuff and one I could watch time and time again.

The second series was a complete let down however.

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Re: Thames TV

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Focus II wrote:Without referring to programmes that originally started out as ABC ones, "Public Eye" for example, my all time favourite Thames series has to be the first, "Special Branch" from 1969.

Actually, my avatar was a screenshot taken from one of the few colour episodes.

Really is fantastic stuff and one I could watch time and time again.

The second series was a complete let down however.
Another big fan of "Special Branch" here, Derren Nesbitt was brilliant in it.

When you mention the second series, you mean the Euston one, right, it was okay, but not a patch on the VT ones, and as much as I liked George Sewell in all he did, in this one, his rock hard character was a little wearing.
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Re: Thames TV

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Hi Mark, No. I was referring to the second (1970) series. After the brilliance of series 1 I thought it was a real let down with a lousy new theme and titles to boot.

I personally regard the Euston Films version as an entirely different programme.

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Re: Thames TV

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It has at the moment only about 500 views so here is a heads up for the full surviving pilot episode of Sexton Blake which has appeared at the usual site under Sexton Blake TV show episode 1.
Sexton Blake I believe started off in newspaper columns and cheap novels(known as the Penny Dreadfuls) as a rip off of the then popular Sherlock Holmes where readers could get a daily or weekly fix of exciting,detective pulp fiction.

Thames and previously Rediffusion made tons of these and the fact that it was made for kid's hour.. I was not expecting too much after the ravages of time...however I was pleasantly surprised it was how I remembered it and was already warming to Lawrence Payne, Roger Foss and Dorothia Phillips ( who use to be in the Peggy Mount school of battleaxes) and looking forward to the following episode...but alas as we know the rest of it has all gone.
Obviously a pilot ep is rather unrefined and actors maybe not at their best, to what a long running series becomes, but I am glad that even the pilot ep is up to the usual standards that we would take for granted, even from the small budgets allocated to kid's TV.
According to IMDB Lawrence Payne damaged or lost eye during a sword fight in later episode which must show a helleva commitment and an absolute travesty that it was all erased.

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Re: Thames TV

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Focus II wrote:Hi Mark, No. I was referring to the second (1970) series. After the brilliance of series 1 I thought it was a real let down with a lousy new theme and titles to boot.

I personally regard the Euston Films version as an entirely different programme.
I really liked the two VT series, although there have been some disappointing theme changes ( see "General Hospital" and "Softly Softly").

The Euston show was a different one, I agree, but I suppose it's considered part of the same thing.
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Re: Thames TV

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fatcat wrote:It has at the moment only about 500 views so here is a heads up for the full surviving pilot episode of Sexton Blake which has appeared at the usual site under Sexton Blake TV show episode 1.
Sexton Blake I believe started off in newspaper columns and cheap novels(known as the Penny Dreadfuls) as a rip off of the then popular Sherlock Holmes where readers could get a daily or weekly fix of exciting,detective pulp fiction.

Thames and previously Rediffusion made tons of these and the fact that it was made for kid's hour.. I was not expecting too much after the ravages of time...however I was pleasantly surprised it was how I remembered it and was already warming to Lawrence Payne, Roger Foss and Dorothia Phillips ( who use to be in the Peggy Mount school of battleaxes) and looking forward to the following episode...but alas as we know the rest of it has all gone.
Obviously a pilot ep is rather unrefined and actors maybe not at their best, to what a long running series becomes, but I am glad that even the pilot ep is up to the usual standards that we would take for granted, even from the small budgets allocated to kid's TV.
According to IMDB Lawrence Payne damaged or lost eye during a sword fight in later episode which must show a helleva commitment and an absolute travesty that it was all erased.

.
Yes I remember "Sexton Blake" as well, it was excellent, as you say, considering the budget they did a superb job with it.

Reading the script of the Christmas special, "The Vanishing Snowman", a couple of years ago, really brought the episode back to me, it seems that episode may not have been offered for overseas sales ( a similar fate for the "Who" Xmas special, "The Feast Of Steven" in 65), the other Rediffusion ones were, I doubt the Thames ones were though.

The swordfight accident, happened during rehearsals in a disused morgue in Maida Vale, apparently, according to the "SB" book.
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Re: Thames TV

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Mark wrote:

Yes I remember "Sexton Blake" as well, it was excellent, as you say, considering the budget they did a superb job with it.

Reading the script of the Christmas special, "The Vanishing Snowman", a couple of years ago, really brought the episode back to me, it seems that episode may not have been offered for overseas sales ( a similar fate for the "Who" Xmas special, "The Feast Of Steven" in 65), the other Rediffusion ones were, I doubt the Thames ones were though.

The swordfight accident, happened during rehearsals in a disused morgue in Maida Vale, apparently, according to the "SB" book.
I use to love it when familiar shows did Christmas Specials they were usually light hearted, didn't take themselves too seriously and added to the mood of Christmas.
My vague memory of an SB ep is.. it opening on an open front door,a grandfather clock ticking and somebody terrified running out of a small country house into the wilderness.
If anybody deserved a comfortable retirement from repeat royalties it certainly was Lawrence Payne.


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Hard to believe that all the rest is missing.
Did it not sell overseas?

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Re: Thames TV

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fatcat wrote:
Mark wrote:

Yes I remember "Sexton Blake" as well, it was excellent, as you say, considering the budget they did a superb job with it.

Reading the script of the Christmas special, "The Vanishing Snowman", a couple of years ago, really brought the episode back to me, it seems that episode may not have been offered for overseas sales ( a similar fate for the "Who" Xmas special, "The Feast Of Steven" in 65), the other Rediffusion ones were, I doubt the Thames ones were though.

The swordfight accident, happened during rehearsals in a disused morgue in Maida Vale, apparently, according to the "SB" book.
I use to love it when familiar shows did Christmas Specials they were usually light hearted, didn't take themselves too seriously and added to the mood of Christmas.
My vague memory of an SB ep is.. it opening on an open front door,a grandfather clock ticking and somebody terrified running out of a small country house into the wilderness.
If anybody deserved a comfortable retirement from repeat royalties it certainly was Lawrence Payne.


.
Yes, the days when Christmas entertainment was mostly of the light variety ( unlike now with soaps saving up their grimmest storylines for the big day).

"The Vanishing Snowman", had some creepy moments though, such as the girls picture of the phantom snowman.

Lawrence Payne did a couple of "Who's of course, the second one, "The Two Doctors" made in 84 was directed by Peter Moffat, who had directed Payne in the "Blake" serial with the swordfight accident.
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Re: Thames TV

Post by Mark »

brigham wrote:Hard to believe that all the rest is missing.
Did it not sell overseas?
Yes the Rediffusion ones did ( bar the Xmas special) but I'm not sure about the Thames ones.

Hopefully something more will turn up, there's the occasional Rediffusion find, such as the episode of "Our Man At St Marks", several years ago.
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Re: Thames TV

Post by Mark »

It's the Kal event this weekend, which reminded me, I think they are showing some overseas censor clips from various programmes, including "Sexton Blake", so that's good news.
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Re: Thames TV

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I could only get to some of today's event, but the personal highlight was seeing a one minute clip from the long-lost Frontier, Thames' very first drama series. I never expected any of that to turn up!

The scene (of Ann Bell as a 19th century British officer's wife in India, having mild hysterics in the foreground) was greeted with slight derision by the audience, but if you used applied knowledge of 1960s studio drama and squinted your imagination you could just about see how it might have been pretty good.

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That's the trouble when clips are shown out of context, I suppose it's human nature to laugh when you don't know what's going on, always annoyed me though, on "Telly Addicts" when that happened.
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Mark wrote:That's the trouble when clips are shown out of context, I suppose it's human nature to laugh when you don't know what's going on, always annoyed me though, on "Telly Addicts" when that happened.
It annoyed me to the extent that I stopped watching it.

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Re: Thames TV

Post by Mark »

brigham wrote:
Mark wrote:That's the trouble when clips are shown out of context, I suppose it's human nature to laugh when you don't know what's going on, always annoyed me though, on "Telly Addicts" when that happened.
It annoyed me to the extent that I stopped watching it.
I stuck with it to the bitter end...but I know what you mean!
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Re: Thames TV

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Billy Smart wrote:The quality was so high during the Verity Lambert years that The Sweeney doesn't get a look in!
I've been re-watching a few things from this specific period lately and, Cor, I wasn't wrong about this! I think that Thames' productions for Autumn 1975-Summer 1976 might be the single best 12 month stretch of drama from any ITV company in its history. According to my notes it goes:

01 Sep 1975 The Sweeney: Series 2 (13 X 50m)
03 Sep 1975 Shadows: Series 1 (7 X 25m) (childrens)
09 Sep 1975 Shades of Greene: Series 1 (9 X 50m)
14 Oct 1975 Couples (series, 85 X 25m)
26 Nov 1975 Armchair Cinema: Tully (75m)
17 Dec 1975 The Wednesday Special: The Naked Civil Servant (75m)
06 Jan 1976 Shades of Greene: Series 2 (7 X 50m)
07 Jan 1976 Life and Death of Penelope (series, 6 X 50m)
28 Jan 1976 The Tomorrow People: Series 4 (7 X 25m) (childrens)
24 Feb 1976 Rock Follies (series, 6 X 50m)
17 Mar 1976 The Molly Wopsies (series, 6 X 25m) (childrens)
06 Apr 1976 Plays for Britain (6 X 50m)
07 Jun 1976 Bill Brand (series, 11 X 50m)
21 Jun 1976 The Feathered Serpent: Series 1 (6 X 25m) (childrens)
30 Jun 1976 The Killers (series, 6 X 50m)
01 Jul 1976 The Shadow Line (play, 100m)
28 Jul 1976 Shadows: Series 2 (6 X 25m) (childrens)

I wouldn't make any great claims for Tully, and there are a few things that I haven't seen, but what strikes me across so many of these programmes is a tremendous sense of visual style and surprising, difficult, themes and ideas. The form complimented the content in a really exciting way in so much of Thames dramas at this time.

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Re: Thames TV

Post by Mark »

It is an impressive list, there's very little on there I didn't like ( one episode of "Shades Of Greene" I hated) but they were generally the best at Drama on ITV, Granada in second place, I would say.

There were one or two 'Misses' ( after that period), "The Crezz" for instance, which I liked but it didn't take off for some reason.

It was always a high standard though, despite being one of the most prolific companies when it came to disputes.
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Re: Thames TV

Post by paul.austin »

Too bad they were foolish enough to upset Thatcher.

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