Salute to ABC 

19 Oct 2015 10 Article text released under the Creative Commons Attribution license Media copyrighted Report an error in this article


Notional Date: May 1970
Announcer: Phillip Elsmore
Perpetuum Mobile (Michael Roberts)
Salute To Thames (Johnny Hawksworth)
Baroque Beat (Jonny Teupen)
Flute Plus Flue (Raymond Guiot/Luis Pena)


The Thames daily start-up routine was unusual in that it was put together as a political gesture within the industry. When Thames had been formed in 1968 as a joint subsidiary of ABC and Rediffusion (and not a merger as often wrongly stated) the ITA had defined that the ABC parent company would have a controlling share in the new setup. This was pitched at 51% – while Rediffusion would be in the minority with a 49% share.

Rediffusion had high hopes of exercising influence on the new company but ABC were ruthless at board level and with their slim majority took most of the significant decisions.

Geoffrey Lugg, Presentation Manager at ABC and then Thames, in 1971

Geoffrey Lugg, Presentation Manager at ABC and then Thames, in 1971

To emphasise their control of the new company and to publicly imply that the new station was really ABC by another name, the presentation department, imported wholesale from ABC, chose to use the former ABC start-up music Perpetuum Mobile by Michael Roberts as the first of two pieces to be used daily. This made Perpetuum the only ITV start-up theme to have been used at one time or another in all three of the major regions, and used in total for over 23 years, taking ABC and Thames together. There was a short break in usage in 1969-70 for a tune to accompany the launch of colour, but Perpetuum was soon restored by public demand.

Transmission Control at Thames Television, 1971

Transmission Control at Thames Television, 1971

The start-up graphics followed the traditional ABC pattern. Regular theme over tuning signal and elongated version of station ident over company symbol. Two pieces with Authority announcement between, the classic ABC formula. Rediffusion practice was sidelined again.

Inside the Presentation Manager's Office, Thames, 1971

Inside the Presentation Manager’s Office, Thames, 1971

The second regular piece, Salute to Thames by Johnny Hawksworth, was commissioned by ABC in advance of the Thames launch. It was an extended version of the Thames ident and had a strong showbiz flavour. This piece was used for almost the whole life of Thames having a start-up, even surviving the end of Perpetuum as start-up sequences got shorter before disappearing entirely in the 1980s.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different form before 2000. It has been republished with the addition of the animated Thames start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.


Kif Bowden-Smith


More by me

10 responses to Salute to ABC

Joseph Holloway 19 Oct 2015 at 6:37 pm

Cool! nice recreation of a startup, I didn’t know that the Thames clock had been different (though it still had the clock and the date) until the more familiar one was introduced in the mid-70’s. though as with Thames’s original startup sequence from 1968/69 it would’ve used the ITA Picasso card reading “Thames Television” along with their startup theme (originally used by ABC Weekend Television) “Perpetuum Mobile” followed by the authority annoucement “This is Thames Television, operating on the London transmitters of the Independent Television Authority” (their colour startup would’ve done like “This is Thames Television operating a full-colour service on Channel 9, broadcasting on the London transmitters of the Independent Television/Broadcasting Authority) along with their original ident (more like a postcard picture of London) though it’s nice to know that Thames used a short theme to accompany the launch of colour in 1969-70 for 6 months and that short-lived theme was “Pizzicato Rockalong” and this was in which “Perpetuum” returned by public demand. and I’d like to see about those in-vision continuity announcements and what Thames would be like for the entire evening until closedown including station ident, news from ITN (followed by “Today” with Eamonn Andrews) and in-vision links with Philip Elsmore, David Hamilton, Christopher Robbie, John Benson and Sheila Kennedy.

Jerry Ralph 20 Oct 2015 at 11:32 am

Another brilliant recreation by Dave Jeffrey – and a piece of music (Baroque Beat) that I haven’t heard for years (ie not since I left school!). Really brings back memories of sitting in the school library waiting for something to come on. BTW, does anyone know where I can get a full copy of Baroque Beat? I cannot seem to find it anywhere…

Jerry Ralph 20 Oct 2015 at 11:41 am

OOOOPPPPPSSSS! Silly me – forgot to look on YT!

Arthur Nibble 22 Oct 2015 at 11:00 pm

Even though tuning wasn’t as much of an issue by this time, funny how the ITV Schools testcard was way more useful as a tuning signal than the humdrum ITA card.

garry robin 23 Oct 2015 at 11:36 pm

Would it be fair or even correct to say that THAMES was a shoot gun marrige between ABC NORTH and ABC LONDON?

garry robin simpson 23 Oct 2015 at 11:41 pm

Didn”t ITV Programmes for Schools and Colleges begin at 9.30am?

Russ J Graham 25 Oct 2015 at 2:50 pm

It would neither be fair nor correct, due to there being no such thing as ABC London. Thames Television was a shotgun marriage of ABC Weekend in the North and Midlands and Rediffusion Television who had held weekdays in London. LWT’s predecessor at weekends in London was ATV, who also held the Midlands weekday contract (and became 7 days in the Midlands when the contracts changed).

Russ J Graham 25 Oct 2015 at 2:53 pm

For the first decade and a half, schools programmes were shown in two batches – one starting at 11am and one starting at 2pm. The opening up of daytime broadcasting in the 1970s pushed the start time for schools programming earlier and earlier, eventually ending up at 9.30am.

n hewit 30 Oct 2015 at 2:04 pm

I did not knowwhat I was missing, the Thames start up is very professional, I particularly liked the music accompanying the pictorial ident seemed to embody all the many facets of the London Region, formal almost imperial mixed with a more razamataz beat for Theatre Land and of course Euston Road and Teddington Lock and Hammersmith. The ident was the most frequent one that appeared in both Granda Land and HTV Wales areas and even in ATV Midands home patch. I suspect this was the norm. At my progressive primary school where the currculum was focused on the schools TV programmes, over half of the ones that we watched in a week were hearelded by the Thames Ident, Writers Workshop, Science All around you with Peter Fairley of ITN’s Apollo coverage and a very enjoyable combined History and Music programme called Song and Story, which covered the Great Plague among others contrasting the seriousness of the narrative with a cheerfull dity, those were the days.
Later it would become synonymous with two favourites the Crez and of course Euston Films iconic Sweeny!

N HEWIT 5 Nov 2015 at 2:18 pm

Television was strictly rationed at my first Junior school, just two programmes a week, providing the teacher was able to adjust the set aeriel correctly! One of the programmes we watched was also from Thames, Finding Out. One edition covered a journey on the Victoria Line from Brixton to Blackhorse Road, this was probably my favourite, although I also enjoyed the dramatic re-enactment of the Gun Powder Plot on the Wednesday afternoon closest to November 5th! As I recall the first three editions in January 1968 were produced by another ITA franchise. Instead of the usual Thames ident, drum rolls provided a prelude for the Rampart Lion of Scottish Television, the three programmes produced at Glasgow covered all aspects of Scotland. Does anyone know if Finding Out was unique as an ITV schools programme, produced by two companies during the same franchise period? Charles Warren remained the producer for both the usual Teddington Lock programmes and also the ones originated north of the Border.
As a sickly child with a succession of childhood ailments in 1967 and 1968, I also got to view other programmes not designated for my age group during my recouperation at home. I enjoyed Yorkshire TV’s My World 1,(stories) with Maureen Sutclife in her large wicker chair. I remember also my poor Grandma being obliged to sit, (or rather crochet ) her way through a Wednesday afternoon edition of Conflict from Thames, covering Mac Beth, which I later learned my Cousin viewed at her Grammar School to prepare for O Level English, poor Grandma; still it would have impressed the vicar, if he had called with the parish magazine whilst if was on, he never did. The vicar usually appearing when Granada transmitted Peyton Place, in the slot reserved by other franchises for Crossroads!

Have Your Say