Thames programme at a weekend

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Brock
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Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Brock »

This is an anomaly that sticks in my memory for some reason - a Thames programme on a Sunday. It wasn't shown in all regions, but I distinctly remember that one of the series of George and Mildred was repeated in the 7.15pm slot. Can anyone confirm this? I remember seeing it in the HTV region and noticing how odd it was at the time. (Needless to say, LWT was one of the regions that didn't show it.) Who would have been responsible for putting the programme out to the network when Thames wasn't on air?

Were there any other Thames or LWT programmes that went out in the "wrong" part of the week outside London?

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by GarethR »

Brock wrote:Who would have been responsible for putting the programme out to the network when Thames wasn't on air?
FWIW, there's no reason why Thames couldn't have played it out.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Steve Williams »

Brock wrote:Were there any other Thames or LWT programmes that went out in the "wrong" part of the week outside London?
I've got some HTV TV Times from the summer of 1981 when The Jim Davidson Show was being repeated on Sundays at 7.15, while the other way round I know Granada moved a series of Child's Play to a Thursday night, and I've got a TV Times from 1983 when seemingly all regions (certainly all those in the variations panel, though presumably not Thames) were showing an LWT special celebrating Larry Grayson's sixtieth birthday on a Thursday night (which was introduced by Janet Street-Porter and I wonder if it might have been a Six O'Clock Show special made for local consumption other regions decided to transmit).

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Simon Coward »

A few regions showed George and Mildred at the weekend.

Border did so in 1976, giving it a Sunday evening airing while most of the country was watching Two's Company. For anyone wondering, they had Lucky Feller in the slot in which most of the network took G&M.

Granada, Anglia and Ulster all showed a number of episodes of the series on Sunday evenings in 1981.

Couldn't spot an HTV equivalent, but I'm not disputing it.
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Tim D
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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Tim D »

I suppose most of us here have at some point pondered the logistics of how programmes were networked around the country.

I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of a "weekend" television company. I often used to wonder what they did from Monday to Friday? It's quite obvious now as a 'grown-up' that they were very busy during the week making programmes just like everyone else.

It seems as though the 80s was a period where there was actually very little crossover between Thames and LWT shows in and out of the weekdays and weekends. Certainly that was my experience in the Midlands. I remember it being a very rare event to see an LWT show in the week, or a Thames show at the weekend unless it was being presented by Channel Four.

I was therefore quite surprised when I first started looking back at sixties and seventies television schedules and discovered that it was not rare at all to see ABC or LWT shows during the weekdays quite frequently. It seems that it was the 80s that was an odd decade where this practice seemed much less frequent. It might have been something to do with LWT's mission to establish a very dominant weekend position within the ITV network as a supplier of comedy and light-entertainment shows during the 80s. Love it or loathe it, LWT's populist output took over the whole country from 7pm on a Friday night. I vividly remember watching ATV on a Friday night and it was a continuous succession of LWT idents.

I used to love that big, compressed, echoey sound of LWT shows. Even the ident seemed to echo on occasion. I got chatting to a sound engineer at ITV (or LWT as it will always be to me and many of us here) and he gave the impression they were very proud of their distinctive sound and was pleased that it was appreciated.

I bow to Gareth R or Yellow Triumph's greater knowledge as the people who I'm sure could reveal some of the trade secrets of LWT. It's a company with a very interesting history that must be told at some point. There's an idea for another Kaleidoscope event!

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Brock »

Tim D wrote: I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of a "weekend" television company. I often used to wonder what they did from Monday to Friday? It's quite obvious now as a 'grown-up' that they were very busy during the week making programmes just like everyone else.
Indeed, but I'd always assumed that Thames simply operated as a Monday-Friday business and would normally have had no staff at weekends. That's why I was a little surprised by Gareth's comment that Thames could have played out a programme on a Sunday - who would have been there to do it?

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Tim D
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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Tim D »

Brock wrote: That's why I was a little surprised by Gareth's comment that Thames could have played out a programme on a Sunday - who would have been there to do it?
I'd imagine Thames had duty engineers working, even at weekends. Broadcasting is and always was one of those businesses that has very long hours and shifts well beyond normal business hours. There's also the possibility that one of the 'Big 5' contractors that was also taking the show at a weekend could have played the programme out for the other contractors. Thames could have sent it up the line during the week. The flexibility of the ITV network was so broad, that it's almost impossible to guess where the programme feed originated unless someone who was involved in network operations at the time can shed light on the most probable way it was done based on common practice.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Roll ACR »

Brock wrote:
Tim D wrote: I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of a "weekend" television company. I often used to wonder what they did from Monday to Friday? It's quite obvious now as a 'grown-up' that they were very busy during the week making programmes just like everyone else.
Indeed, but I'd always assumed that Thames simply operated as a Monday-Friday business and would normally have had no staff at weekends. That's why I was a little surprised by Gareth's comment that Thames could have played out a programme on a Sunday - who would have been there to do it?
But television stations aren't like lending libraries or offices! It's not Mon-Fri or whatever. It's a 24hr 7 day operation. Thames TV wasn't "dark" at weekends, just as LWT wasn't "dark" Mon-Fri. Thames would have been recording some shows at weekends, the newsroom at Euston Road would still be operational etc. If it was required that a programme be played out from Thames at a weekend then the appropriate lines, facilities and staff would be scheduled to do it. Nothing unusual....

In fact.....sit down because this might shock you......there were actually people working at TV-am in the afternoon!!!!

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Brock »

Roll ACR wrote:[Thames would have been recording some shows at weekends, the newsroom at Euston Road would still be operational etc.
Why would the newsroom have been operational when there were no bulletins?
If it was required that a programme be played out from Thames at a weekend then the appropriate lines, facilities and staff would be scheduled to do it.
But if there were normally no playout staff at weekends, wouldn't they have had to make overtime payments?

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Roll ACR »

Things don't stop happening at weekends. Thames News would still require cover in case any stories broke that would need to be featured in the following week's programmes. They might want to send a crew out to shoot a feature for Monday's "Thames News". It's all happening, even at weekends.

Yes scheduling a VTR playout to the network would possibly mean some overtime for someone. Indeed, if it was a Sunday that's double time before you even start....Ah the good old days.

If it was just one or a few ITV contractors time shifting or rescheduling a show then if it was after the original TX they may well have recorded it locally as it was played to the network or arranged for it to be fed to them at a convenient and economical time during the week and there would be no involvement from Thames in the weekend playout of it's programme by another contractor locally.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

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Tim D wrote:I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of a "weekend" television company. I often used to wonder what they did from Monday to Friday? It's quite obvious now as a 'grown-up' that they were very busy during the week making programmes just like everyone else.
But what about the areas of the operation that couldn't be done during the week like actually putting the channel on air. I assume that either the staff were shared between other areas, were part time/freelance and worked elsewhere, or they managed to cram full time hours into 3 days?

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by deltavega »

The majority of the country had first run Thames comedies during Thames own broadcast hours during the week specially the most popular ones. However there were sometimes exceptions .
Needless to say Thames shows never aired over the weekend from London ITV.
In the Anglia region we followed Thames religiously so when the repeats started and Thames shows did sometimes appear at the weekend it still seemed odd.
Earlier in the 70's it was also quite common for popular LWT shows to be seen on any day of the week outside London.
On the Buses was given a weekday 1030 slot by ATV in its earlier series and Please Sir could turn up at anytime depending where you were and even if it was shown on the weekend it rarely appeared on other regions at the same time as LWT showed it .

The biggest disappointment was after Morecambe and Wise defected to Thames and for 1981 Xmas day fell on a saturday but LWT steadfastly refused to allow the M&W Xmas show to be aired on Xmas day so it was the end of an era as the programme went out on the 23rd which was a shame as less than a decade earlier Thames and LWT comedies were mixed together for the ITV Comedy Carnivals .

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by sxbarnes »

Denis Norden makes a quip about M&W on ITLL BE ALRIGHT ON THE NIGHT 3 shown on 25/12/1981 when they do appear on one of the clips.

"See you couldn't have Christmas without Morecambe & Wise could you?"

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by GarethR »

Scary wrote: But what about the areas of the operation that couldn't be done during the week like actually putting the channel on air. I assume that either the staff were shared between other areas, were part time/freelance and worked elsewhere, or they managed to cram full time hours into 3 days?
From the horse's mouth - an ex-LWT transmission controller who eventually moved into promos and became my boss:

"LWT TX staff lived the life of Riley, we also had every 3rd weekend off. Promos used to package up their trails through the sound and vision desk in transmission on Wednesdays, and we were the operational staff for that. Adding all the music, captions & voice. Rolling in the animation live from telecine, it was like a proper studio control room day - I loved it! It's how I eventually got in to promos in the first place. If I'd been working at Thames or other, there would have been no way to make the switch. Also, the control room would be used as a remote source for Channel 4 racing on occasional weekdays. We'd have to come in to virtually just put a fader up. That would mean getting paid overtime... unions eh!!"

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by fatcat »

Brock wrote:Indeed, but I'd always assumed that Thames simply operated as a Monday-Friday business and would normally have had no staff at weekends. That's why I was a little surprised by Gareth's comment that Thames could have played out a programme on a Sunday - who would have been there to do it?
Border or HTV or whoever could have made their own recordings from the Network transmissions? Improvements in technology obviously made it possible in those days from the time when viewers use to complain about the poor quality recordings when their region use to replay 'Sunday Night at the Palladium' at their own convenience.

Thames was indeed busy at the weekends, programmes like 'Looks Familiar' were often doubled up on a Sunday at Euston. While LWT was indeed busy throught the week with staples like 'Blind Date' usually on a Tuesday or Thursday, but Hale and Pace was usually recorded on the weekend days and in the very hot summer months.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Roll ACR »

Scary wrote:But what about the areas of the operation that couldn't be done during the week like actually putting the channel on air. I assume that either the staff were shared between other areas, were part time/freelance and worked elsewhere, or they managed to cram full time hours into 3 days?
I'm just a whipper snapper, only been in the business for 22 years. However, a point worth noting and one which even I actually remember operationally, is that we "life of Riley" telly staffers only used to work 3 or 4 days a week as a matter of routine. Anything over that was overtime and entirely voluntary. We worked under hours conditions and were required to work 37.5hrs a week average and couldn't go over without consenting to overtime. Thus 3 long days 12hrs+ would take us up to hours and maybe slightly into overtime, four shorter days of 8hrs+ would get us up to hours too. So a basic weekly schedule for us was only really 3 or 4 days anyway. The old days when you earned bloody good money and had a splendid work/life balance. You only get that now by being freelance :-/

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Scary »

Roll ACR wrote: Thus 3 long days 12hrs+ would take us up to hours and maybe slightly into overtime, four shorter days of 8hrs+ would get us up to hours too. So a basic weekly schedule for us was only really 3 or 4 days anyway.
You'll be glad to know that those days aren't gone... I'm currently in the middle of a 3 day, 36 hour week

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Roll ACR »

Glad to hear the balance hasn't entirely gone from an hours point of view for some lucky people, although increasingly I'm seeing staff cameramen in some places brought in for nasty little 6 or 7 hour calls 5 or 6 days a week or expected to work 50hrs a week! 5 days at 10hrs a day! And all for piss poor pay given what we would've been on for a 50 hour week if the remuneration of 20 years ago had kept pace with inflation to the present day. It's a creeping tide of more and more for less and less.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Mark Wright »

Tim D wrote:
I used to love that big, compressed, echoey sound of LWT shows. Even the ident seemed to echo on occasion.
This echoes (pun intended) my own particular love of LWT's crafty production techniques which, at the time, presumably left the competition scratching their heads as to why LWT's shows sounded (and looked) so different. Whether it was by accident or design, it seemed to me that there was a check-list in place for every LWT networked studio-based LE show of the late 70s to mid 90s:

(1) Crank up the FM-radio style processor/compressor in the audio chain (unique to LWT?) to catch every cough and creak of the audience's seats to create atmosphere

(2) Crank up the ambience mics to assist (1) whilst ensuring even the slightest mass chuckle made it sound like the roof was coming off (consquence of (1) above)

(3) Once the studio lighting is perfectly set, increase it by around 10% (Game For A Laugh/It'll Be Alright) to 20% (Blind Date/Audience With)

(4) When all of the on-camera performers are done in make-up, stand them in a line and spray fake tan at their faces for approximately three seconds each

(5) Ensure Robin Houston (or Graham Skidmore) is available for transatlantic V/O duties over the C2DE-baiting "THIS IS LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT!"-banner-waving sig

(6) Pass the maniacally toothy-grin promo photo sets through the soft focus filter before issuing the best of the negatives to TV Times

Et voila! As an LWT producer of the era, the above secret formula would magically guarantee a hugely distinctive and memorable hit, no matter how naff it was. In this country at least, LWT virtually invented the now-common manufacture of excitement through the production process. Not even the obsequious and noisy 90s audience for the likes of Noel's House Party could burst ear drums like the 80s wall of sound that accompanied every utterance on Blind Date. A generation (pun intended) earlier, Brucie's Saturday night efforts on the beeb were immediately made to look like they were out of the ark by the brash artificial gloss afforded to the likes of Game For a Laugh.

Hmm... I didn't mean to write so much, but I'd love to read more about the production process behind those classic LWT LE shows. Even if I'm wide of the mark with my observations above, LWT were surely innovative in this country - perhaps "inspired by" the USA? Or is it just Tim and I who notice these things? ;-)

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Tim D »

I couldn't have put it better myself Mark. I think that list is spot on. They say you can't polish a turd, but LWT frequently proved that you can. I have a sneaking respect for their weekend brand of panache.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by fatcat »

Mark Wright wrote:
Tim D wrote:
I used to love that big, compressed, echoey sound of LWT shows. Even the ident seemed to echo on occasion.
This echoes (pun intended) my own particular love of LWT's crafty production techniques which, at the time, presumably left the competition scratching their heads as to why LWT's shows sounded (and looked) so different. Whether it was by accident or design, it seemed to me that there was a check-list in place for every LWT networked studio-based LE show of the late 70s to mid 90s:

(1) Crank up the FM-radio style processor/compressor in the audio chain (unique to LWT?) to catch every cough and creak of the audience's seats to create atmosphere

(2) Crank up the ambience mics to assist (1) whilst ensuring even the slightest mass chuckle made it sound like the roof was coming off (consquence of (1) above)

(3) Once the studio lighting is perfectly set, increase it by around 10% (Game For A Laugh/It'll Be Alright) to 20% (Blind Date/Audience With)

(4) When all of the on-camera performers are done in make-up, stand them in a line and spray fake tan at their faces for approximately three seconds each

(5) Ensure Robin Houston (or Graham Skidmore) is available for transatlantic V/O duties over the C2DE-baiting "THIS IS LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT!"-banner-waving sig

(6) Pass the maniacally toothy-grin promo photo sets through the soft focus filter before issuing the best of the negatives to TV Times

Et voila! As an LWT producer of the era, the above secret formula would magically guarantee a hugely distinctive and memorable hit, no matter how naff it was. In this country at least, LWT virtually invented the now-common manufacture of excitement through the production process. Not even the obsequious and noisy 90s audience for the likes of Noel's House Party could burst ear drums like the 80s wall of sound that accompanied every utterance on Blind Date. A generation (pun intended) earlier, Brucie's Saturday night efforts on the beeb were immediately made to look like they were out of the ark by the brash artificial gloss afforded to the likes of Game For a Laugh.

Hmm... I didn't mean to write so much, but I'd love to read more about the production process behind those classic LWT LE shows. Even if I'm wide of the mark with my observations above, LWT were surely innovative in this country - perhaps "inspired by" the USA? Or is it just Tim and I who notice these things? ;-)
A rather cynical but typical 21 century view on things.

I was present at several recordings of Blind Date and cannot recall the replay sounding anything significantly different to what had happened in the studio. Studio One at LWT was/is a lovely studio and audiences of those days were very happy to be there,add a warm up man and a dollop of Cilla taking the audience into her confidence during breaks and that is what creates an atmosphere, not twiddling knobs.

The audience sound was picked up on about four hanging AKG C451 mics. These mics are meant for single direction lecturn use. If the sound men had been that concerned about picking up the max noise from the audience they would have used multi direction (omni) mics I would have thought?

I can recall a programme where sound 'enforcement' may have been needed and that was 'The New Statesman' there just so many technical hitches and line fluffs during the recordings that the audience actually wanted to escape having heard the same joke several times and must have felt like they were doing time?

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Steve Williams »

fatcat wrote:I can recall a programme where sound 'enforcement' may have been needed and that was 'The New Statesman' there just so many technical hitches and line fluffs during the recordings that the audience actually wanted to escape having heard the same joke several times and must have felt like they were doing time?
Well in Mark Lewisohn's book he says from the second series of The New Statesmen they wrote twenty minute episode because in the first series they had to chop loads out because the audience were laughing too much.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Marker »

fatcat wrote: I can recall a programme where sound 'enforcement' may have been needed and that was 'The New Statesman' there just so many technical hitches and line fluffs during the recordings that the audience actually wanted to escape having heard the same joke several times and must have felt like they were doing time?
I was an extra in the first series ep "The Friends of St James" of TNS, and recall a very smooth recording with minimal re-takes.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by TonyCurrie »

Returning vaguely to the topic, the final week of Rediffusion was very interesting, because most unusually, there were no less than three ABC Productions shown during the week, including the 400th and final transmission of ARMCHAIR THEATRE, "The Ballad of the Artificial Mash", which presumably ATV had refused to schedule on their last London weekend. All the signs of the impending shotgun marriage are there, including a teatime transmission of 'Just Jimmy' and a late night 'Avengers' repeat.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Simon Winters »

In the eighties I was fascinated by the idea of Thames programmes at the weekend and always looked out for it. It happened occasionally.

LWT did repeat the major Thames documentary about Torvill & Dean at peak-time on a saturday night, complete with Thames front ident, which was pretty much the only time I ever saw this front ident on LWT in the eighties. I still have the off-air of this.

Thames often provided epilogues for LWT, especially at seasons like Easter where there were themed epilogues over several nights. These would sometimes end with the Thames ident, but not always.

During closedowns on a thursday night, Thames would put up a 'Friday Night' caption with music, removing the Thames logo from the corner of their rundown graphic, but leaving in the Thames blue colours.

Thames Weekend News was a service provided with the LWT Six O'Clock Show.

When the Six O'Clock Show was not on, Thames Weekend News was a 15-minute stand-alone bulletin on LWT. It did not have a front ident, but did have a title sequence and sometimes had the end Thames ident. I also recorded several of these, and still have the tapes.

I never saw an LWT programme on Thames.

There were frequently Thames trailers on LWT, and LWT trailers on Thames.

The other anomaly was the handover from Thames to LWT where occasionally there would be a bit of banter between the two invision announcers. Then, the LWT announcer would hand back to Thames for the news headlines. So, it was Thames to LWT, then LWT back to Thames News, then Thames News back to LWT all in the space of 2 minutes! This was the case for many years.

In the 1990s the programme started at 5:10pm, so the handover era was gone. The programme (often an Aussie soap) started with a Carlton logo, and ended as 'An LWT Presentation'.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Brock »

Simon Winters wrote:The other anomaly was the handover from Thames to LWT where occasionally there would be a bit of banter between the two invision announcers. Then, the LWT announcer would hand back to Thames for the news headlines. So, it was Thames to LWT, then LWT back to Thames News, then Thames News back to LWT all in the space of 2 minutes! This was the case for many years.
That's certainly what happened after the handover time changed to 5.15pm in 1982. But I remember that during the early part of the 70s there was no actual handover at all - Thames simply closed down at 7pm, and then a moment later LWT started up with no acknowledgement by either company that the other one existed. I think this changed during the later part of the 70s though.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by sxbarnes »

Found a surprising one in an old TVTimes from May 1976. Thames original schedule for Thursdays was...
1900 THE WORLD AT WAR, 2000 THIS WEEK, 2030 CLAYHANGER.
Whilst worthy I can't see this being too popular. The rest of ITV was showing THE WORLD AT WAR on Sunday afternoons.

IN May LWT picked up THE WORLD AT WAR on Sundays 1705, whilst Thames' Thursday became more exciting...
1900 SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, 2000 MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, 2030 CLAYHANGER, 2130 THIS WEEK.

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by Simon Coward »

sxbarnes wrote:Found a surprising one in an old TVTimes from May 1976. Thames original schedule for Thursdays was...
1900 THE WORLD AT WAR, 2000 THIS WEEK, 2030 CLAYHANGER.
Whilst worthy I can't see this being too popular. The rest of ITV was showing THE WORLD AT WAR on Sunday afternoons.

IN May LWT picked up THE WORLD AT WAR on Sundays 1705, whilst Thames' Thursday became more exciting...
1900 SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, 2000 MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, 2030 CLAYHANGER, 2130 THIS WEEK.
It's interesting that it switched mid-run from Thames to LWT, but I don't really get your first point. On its original run The World at War was networked at 21:00 - as prime a weekday slot as you could get - so I don't really see why anyone would object to a broadcast at 19:00. It's not as though it was on a day that scuppered Corrie in the capital.

Out of interest, which week is that original schedule supposed to be from?

From 8th January 1976 for three weeks, the schedule runs 19:00 TWaW, 20:00 This Week, 20:30 Love Thy Neighbour, 21:00 Clayhanger.
From 29th January for five weeks, the schedule runs 19:00 TWaW, 20:00 This Week, 20:30 Bless This House, 21:00 Clayhanger.
From 4th March for five weeks, the schedule runs 19:00 TWaW, 20:00 Bless This House, 20:30 Clayhanger, 21:30 This Week.
From 8th April, Six Million Dollar Man replaces TWaW then on 29th April Man About the House replaces Bless This House.

I can't see a single instance where a 20:30 Clayhanger was immediately preceded by This Week while TWaW was being shown.

TWaW must be Thames' most repeated show, mustn't it? On terrestrial telly (in its traditional sense) anyway - with at least seven complete airings: ITV in 1973/74 then again in 1976; Channel 4/S4C in 1983/84 and again in 1986/87; BBC 2 in 1994/95, 2001 and 2002. Any more?
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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by sxbarnes »

I'll try to get the listings but I suspect that your correct. 2030 bless this house, 2100 clayhanger.
It also may be one of those regional listings that aren't 100%.
My point was that 90 mins of documentary isn't going to play well against top of the pops etc.
Also when this week was brought back it also played at 2000, fresh fields afterwards bombed at 2030. Much better the other way around

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Re: Thames programme at a weekend

Post by sxbarnes »

Btw have been rattling through loads of tvtimes will mention any if anyone is interested

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