Thames was the ITV company that served London on weekdays from July 1968, replacing Rediffusion, and they went on the become one of the all-time biggest successes in British television. Being a Londoner I do remember watching Thames myself throughout the years and although I have already written a few pieces about my memories here’s a quick look at the history of their presentation.
When Thames launched they had a symbol which featured a montage of various landmarks in London, but when colour came along at the end of 1969 it was remade and would become one of ITV’s most successful idents. It featured such places as St Paul’s Cathedral, the British Telecom Tower and Tower Bridge, and although it was modified a few times throughout the years it would remain essentially the same idea for almost the next 20 years.
Thames had lots of local news coverage. In 1978 Thames News was launched which had various presenters including Andrew Gardner who had previously worked for ITN, and Robin Houston who also did a lot of voiceover work. Thames was one of the biggest ITV companies, producing lots of shows of the network, but they were also committed to local programming.
Thames also had in-vision continuity and I have enjoyed watching lots of clips online of their announcers who were among some of the best on ITV. First there was Philip Elsmore, who was always great and he made the first announcement on Thames in 1968, and the final one in 1992. At Christmas it seems that he liked to announce at home live from his armchair. He has also done a lot of voiceover work and appeared in some TV shows as an actor including EastEnders and The Bill.
Peter Marshall was another announcer who was at Thames for many years and stayed until the end. He was always very witty and another personality who was always welcome on the screen, and it was enjoyable watching him slowly go grey over the years. Peter announced for many other regions and also hosted a few TV programmes.
Tom Edwards worked in radio before joining Thames, including being a presenter in the early days of Radio 1. He worked at Thames and a few other regions until the late-80s. Again I have very much enjoyed watching old clips of him, especially when he refers to TV-am as “Good Morning Great Britain, kick-orf time 6:15″. After leaving Thames Tom’s career took something of a downward spiral but in more recent years Tom has done some more radio and voiceover work.
Thames gradually phased out in-vision continuity, it was dropped from primetime and daytime around 1988, but it continued overnight after Thames was one of the first regions to go 24 hours. Various announcers who introduced the old films through the night included Evadne Fisher, Victoria Crawford and Sally Harrison, but in 1991 a generic night time service was introduced and they all left the screen.
In 1989 Thames celebrated their 21st anniversary, and they took the chance to proudly take a look back at the wide variety of successful programmes that they had produced, many of them had won awards and gone on to make Thames a name that became known around the world. They also introduced a new symbol, modernising their skyline look ready for the 90s.
Thames did take the ITV corporate look which was surprising as it diluted the Thames onscreen image somewhat, but it was either that or still using their outdated “Colour Production” caption in 1990. I have already written about the day when it was announced that Thames lost their franchise in October 1991, it was remarkable really.
Thames decided to introduce their final ident, another variation on the skyline that looked great. When the time came for Thames to close in December 1992, they did so with dignity, taking the chance to remind viewers of some of their classic programming. The Thames name didn’t go entirely as they became an independent production company, and they remain one of the companies to have had the biggest impact on ITV over its 60-year history.