Salute to ABC
19 Oct 2015 11 comments. tbs.pm/1712
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.
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.
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.
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.