Thames Television

By Kif Bowden-Smith

Thames Television ident

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, with a slim majority of directors and took most of the significant decisions.

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 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, but Perpetuum was soon restored ‘by public demand'.

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 could only gasp as they were sidelined, again.

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, some 24 years – another record.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System in general.

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Article ©2002 Kif Bowden-Smith

Compilation ©2002 Transdiffusion Broadcasting System

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