Tonight’s Thames Television… in 1976 

23 November 2015 tbs.pm/8004

The TVTimes gives us a run down of the programmes on Thames for Wednesday 23 November 1976. Things worth noting include:

  • The limits on broadcasting hours had been increased and then lifted entirely a couple of years earlier, so rather than closing down or having an interval between the two schools sessions, Thames slips in Hammy Hamster’s Adventures in the Riverbank for younger viewers at 10.40am.
  • Younger viewers get another 30 minutes of programming after the second schools session, with Issi Noho, the magical panda, at 12, followed by Yorkshire Television’s creepy Mister Trimble at 12.10pm

  • When hours were restricted, educational, sport and outside broadcasting programmes were a good way of getting round the restrictions – they didn’t count towards the overall hours on air. Even with the restrictions gone, adult education programmes like Home Nursing at 12.30pm are still useful – the slot doesn’t count towards overall daily advertising limits, allowing Thames to parley it into an extra 30 seconds or so of sales in peak time.
  • The success of Emmerdale Farm at lunchtimes had two consequences. The first was that show’s slow climb into peaktime – already Thames has it at 3.50pm. The second was a taste developing in the ITV companies for more, but cheaper, lunchtime soap operas. At 1.30pm, ATV’s The Cedar Tree is a wartime soap starring Joyce Carey. This slot would eventually fall to the even cheaper Australian soaps like The Young Doctors and Sons and Daughters.
  • Granada’s Sam was originally a prized peaktime drama serial in 1973. It now gets a repeat somewhat tucked away at 2.25pm. The serial would be one of the sources mercilessly ripped apart by Granada’s comedy Brass a few years later, as you know.
  • After the unending Crossroads saga at 6.35pm we’re into peaktime, topped and tailed by hour-long American drama – The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978) at 7pm and Marcus Welby MD (1969-1976) an 11.30pm. Both originally aired on ABC in the United States – British ABC and American ABC had a close relationship, so it’s not a surprise to see American ABC’s shows appearing on Thames.
  • The New Avengers at 8pm was a prestigious series and, like its predecessor, very popular. But it suffered from being syndicated on ITV rather than being networked as it wasn’t made by an ITV company, with each company playing out different episodes at different times on different days, making promotion and aggregated ratings hard to do. A similar fate befell the last season of The Avengers: with ABC Weekend gone, the series was syndicated rather than networked and tended to be abused by individual companies seeking to use it to plug odd scheduling gaps.
  • The life story of Dickens is presented as a Dickensian drama at 9pm, which belies its title, Dickens of London, by being made in Leeds.
  • YTV is back again at 10.30pm with a look at life in East Germany. Such documentaries had to tread a careful line of neutrality about communism and the communist system as many of the people who would be willing to watch such shows were themselves communists (or at least what we would now call “far left” – at the time this was just “left” and a perfectly respectable position to hold). Bashing the system would see those viewers turn off, but glorifying the obvious crushing awfulness of the GDR wouldn’t work either. Check out the TVTimes description of the programme to see a line being very carefully walked.

You Say

4 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 23 November 2015 at 3:24 pm

That poor kid!!

The Arrows were one of a number of bands (some with less than sparkling chart careers) whom Granada decided deserved their own series. Headscratching in this instance, as The Arrows’ second and final UK hit had peaked at number 25 eighteen months before this edition.

“Out Of Town” in what would have been a children’s spot on BBC1. I’m pretty sure I remember this Jack Hargreaves epic being one of a number of programmes London Weekend / LWT showed immediately before “The Big Match” on Sunday lunchtimes.

Victor Field 24 November 2015 at 12:44 pm

“Marcus Welby, M.D.” seems an odd choice for the late slot; I can understand it being occupied by Dan August, Mannix, Baretta, the Master and other fictional men of derring-do, but wouldn’t a mid-afternoon slot have suited it better? Then again, good old Hank Simms* is less likely to send viewers to sleep than an aged man of medicine.

*A regular presence on UK TV in the ’70s, as it was his voice at the start of assorted Quinn Martin shows.

Arthur Nibble 25 November 2015 at 2:08 pm

Granada’s comedy “Yanks Go Home”, about US Air Forcemen stationed in Lancashire, lasted two series and 13 episodes but suffered from having a number of authors penning individual episodes, leading to lack of continuity and some sequential errors in the scripts.

I meant to say previously that “Out Of Town” was the inspiration for the “Fast Show” character Bob Fleming.

Darryl 15 March 2016 at 8:21 pm

The ‘Peter Powell Stunter Kite’?? Not THE Peter Powell, surely??

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