Creating a trailer is an art form in itself, and broadcasters often employ whole departments whose sole responsibility is to plan, assemble and produce them. The best programme and film trailers usually consist of a well-judged selection of funny or startling clips, cut to dramatic or catchy music and linked with arresting or quirky voice-overs. But it was not always the case. During the 1970s and early 1980s, it was possible for trailers to comprise of just of one thirty-second clip, with a caption superimposed on the end, or perhaps a line of narration delivered live by the duty continuity announcer.
 
No matter what the era, it seems fair to observe that the sophistication of any trailer grows in proportion to the availability of time and budget, for editing and for graphics. With Thames TV broadcasting for twenty-four years, many different styles of trailer can be detected among their on-air promotions. Often they relied on the vocal talents of Bruce Hammal to deliver the puncy narration, always ending in a well-emphasised channel identification, "...ON THAMES!"



Armchair Thriller
1978 - Trailer
Flipping scary or what...?! This trailer for a spine-chilling Thames anthology series relates to the first episode of 'A Dog's Ransom,' starring Benjamin Whitrow, which aired on 9th March 1978. The blood-soaked armchair and screaming face is enough to put anyone off their bread and jam.

Click for larger image The Six Million Dollar Man
1978 - Trailer
Click for larger image At first glance, this appears to be a scene from an episode, topped and tailed with time and date information and a Philip Elsmore voice-over. On closer analysis, it turns out to be a hasty assembly of action scenes, with Steve Austin swimming, fighting on the beach, landing from a winch and rescuing a pretty lady - and it's a mess! The animation builds up in small multi-coloured blocks, but at the end of the sequence the 'Next Week' caption looks as though it has been embroidered, which gives it an air of quaintness.

Click for larger image Carry On Abroad
1978 - Trailer
Click for larger image For this movie trailer, a selection of memorable Carry On scenes, culminating in Kenneth Williams losing control of a hotel telephone exchange when it explodes. Solid stuff!

Do You Remember Vietnam?
1978 - Trailer
For the animating "Tomorrow" caption, the same style of film-generated graphics seen on that Carry On trailer above is used on this one for John Pilger's documentary, 'Do You Remember Vietnam?' Multiple exposures of the same basic lettering, using different colour gels. Looking at the distinguished Pilger himself, it seems that in 1978 he had the same hair style as my mother. In this film, shown on 3rd October 1978, he returned to Saigon three years after the war.

Sam
1978 - Trailer
As trailers go, this is utterly no frills. It's a short scene from a multi-camera studio drama, and we cut back and forth between mid-close ups of the two actors - one of whom is Taggart-to-be Mark McManus. This Granada-made drama dates from 1973-75.

Click for larger image Wednesday At Eight
1978 - Trailer
Click for larger image I wonder if this was meant to go out without music dubbed onto it? A little razzmatazz would have helped to make Tom O'Connor's new show feel like it would be worth a watch, the poor fellow. As he says, Wednesday at Eight was the Thames series that spawned quiz show Name That Tune.

Two long-form promotions listing all sorts of shows and films available to view in a given evening.


Click for larger image Thursday On Thames
1977 - Evening Menu
Click for larger image Two jolly nice announcers tell us about a late Thursday evening from 1977, the high points of which are 'This Sporting Land', a tennis documentary featuring the young Sue Barker, plus an episode of 'Quincy'.

Thursday
1979 - Evening Menu
There are plenty of interesting programmes included in this run down, of another Thursday evening, two years later. A 'Sapphire and Steel' adventure, an episode of 'Shelley', plus 'Jack on the Box', in which author Jack Trevor Story relives his past. The documentary 'This England' covers Millom in Cumbria. Interesting to see 'Quincy' turn up again; he was a mainstay of 70s and 80s Thames schedules.


Morecambe and Wise / Minder
1981 - Trailers
A short "after the break" trailer featuring Eric and Ernie in festive form, from Christmas 1981. Plus a trailer for a repeat of a series 1 'Minder' episode entitled 'Bury My Half at Waltham Green,' featuring Nicky Henson and Tony Selby alongside George Cole and Dennis Waterman. The episode was first shown on 5th November 1979.

Strike It Lucky
1986 - Trailer
Did you know that the 'Strike it Lucky' theme tune is actually called 'Born To Run' and that it was composed by Paul Westwood? What better piece of music could they have used to accompany "madcap" Michael Barrymore, as voice-over man Bruce Hammal excitedly informs us?! This trailer launches the series, and features Michael telling us all about his eye-catching studio set and top prize money of 2000! The series was first shown on 29/10/1986.

The Equalizer
1987 - Trailers
Our two clips from 1987 comprise (left) an intriguing appeal from Edward Woodward, as himself, inviting viewers to watch his new show after the break. Also (right) a trailer for the series two episode 'Re-Entry' which also features John Goodman, Joe Morton and Cameron Johann. The actual episode includes a brief appearance by Steve Buscemi, but he's not in this trailer...

Des O'Connor Tonight & The Great Waldo Pepper
1987 - Trailers
If you transmit a trailer in which Freddie Starr takes the mickey out of Des O'Connor, you're onto a winner! The second trailer promotes a screening of the 1975 Robert Redford movie 'The Great Waldo Pepper'. Both examples feature a snazzy graphic opening, in which the Thames TV skyline is beamed onto a television screen.

The Benny Hill Show / Kojak
1987 - Trailer
Benny Hill is an afterthought on this trailer, which is all about Kojak. The series ran from 1973 to 1978 in the USA, but there were two specials made in the 1980s. This trailer relates to the first, 'The Belarus File', in which Kojak discovers a clique of Nazi war criminals living in the USA with the knowledge and approval of the authorities. Shock horror! Shown in the USA on 16/02/1985, it made it to ITV a couple of years later.

Click for larger image The London Embassy
1987 - Trailer
Click for larger image This six-part series was shown between 21st October and 25th November 1987. Starring Kristoffer Tabori and Carol Royle, and blessed with a theme tune by Nigel Hess, it was based on a book of short stories by Paul Theroux about the experiences of an American diplomat based at the US Embassy in London's Golden Square. Keen not to give too much away, the trailer tries hard to make the experiences of Spencer Savage appear unusual, intriguing and entertaining.... but fails.

Paul Nicholas & Friends / Wednesday At Eight
1987/1988 - Trailers
Voice artist Bruce Hammal does his utmost to persuade us that we should tune in for a musical special featuring Paul Nicholas with friends Dora Bryan, Grace Kennedy, Barbara Dickson, bubbly Bonnie Langford and the delectable Fiona Hendley. I guess there were a few million people who did tune in, the sick *******s! Bruce also lends his talents to a brief VO on a Jim Davidson trailer: "Another top Wednesday at 8.00 show!" The audience probably wished that Tom O'Connor would come back...

Codename Kyril / King & Castle
1988 - Trailers
'Codename: Kyril' was a Cold War espionage drama starring Ian Charleson, Edward Woodward, Denholm Elliott and Joss Ackland. It aired over two consecutive nights on 29th/30th March 1988 and the trailer, voiced by Bruce Hammal, makes it look pretty good! Meanwhile 'King and Castle' was a Thames drama about an East End debt collecting company, starring Derek Martin and Nigel Planer. Two six-part series, shown in 1986 and 1988, sprang from a pilot shown within the Storyboard anthology on 20/08/1985. This trailer premiered the second series, and would have aired around 05/05/1988.

A Problem Aired / America's Top Ten
1988 - Trailers
'A Problem Aired' was the first TV counselling show, launched in 1987 and presented by Hetty Einzig and Kay Avila, who hosts this trailer. It relates to a reunion episode in which past contributors reflect on how the on-screen confessionals affected their lives. Meanwhile, Casey Kasem appears in a specially-recorded promo for Thames explaining how his show 'America's Top Ten' will soon be appearing on the station - it was scheduled in the overnight slot during 1987/1988. Casey would have been 56 when he recorded this... but the with-it clothes and dark hair suggest a man who was years younger!!

The City Programme
1988 - Trailers
Thames production 'The City Programme' began in 1987, co-hosted by Michael Wilson. By 1988, the presenting line up had changed to Danielle Donougher and Steve Clarke, who by that time was one of the anchors on Thames News. These trailers feature both Donougher and Clarke, and relate to an edition featuring Treasury Secretary Norman Lamont on the value of sterling, and a discussion about whether commercial radio is running out of steam. The titles of this edition can be seen in our programme pages.

Click for larger image The Hound Of The Baskervilles
1988 - Trailer
Granada's production of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' was first seen on ITV on 31st August 1988. The Thames trailer makes use of the famous theme-music adopted by the series, which gradually gives way to the spookier incidental music from the film. The graphics have appear on a silvery backing, no doubt as an homage to the well-polished silver-plated coffee pot in one of the opening scenes, when Sherlock Holmes asks Dr. Watson what he makes of Dr. Mortimer's walking stick! It's a good trailer, this one.

Click for larger image L.A. Law
1988 - Trailer
Click for larger image Full of wise-cracking people being glamorous or having nervous breakdowns, 'L.A.Law' seemed to be on ITV all the time. In that respect, it was to 1980s Thames what Quincy and Kojak had been, ten years earlier. I hated L.A.Law....

Reporting London / This Week
1988 - Trailers
Two current affairs trailers from Thames. In 'Reporting London' the story of the British Airways stewardess who helped to catch a gang of drug smugglers, only to lose her job as a reward. In 'This Week', an investigation into late 1980s changes in the British power industries, in particular the story of John Major and Nottinghamshire miners whom he "shafted".

Clint Eastwood Movie Season
1988 - Trailer
Yippee, it's voice artist Bruce Hammal getting us all worked up about a Clint Eastwood movie season, featuring City Heat, Two Mules for Sister Sarah, Pale Rider (with the theme music from Channel Four News playing in the background) Coogan's Bluff and The Outlaw Josey Wales.


Click for larger image Week On Thames
22/10/1982
Click for larger image What a week it's going to be on Thames, in the week commencing 25th October! There's the brand new Yorkshire TV sitcom 'Foxy Lady' on Monday, starring Diane Keen, followed by drama 'Harry's Game' with Benjamin Whitrow. Wednesday's delights include 'Carry On Laughing' and a new series of 'Morecambe and Wise', while Thursday boasts a 'Falcon Crest Special'. Great drama and top comedy, yes sir, thankyou sir!

New Year 1985
1984
A trailer shown on Thames during the final days of December 1984, teasing viewers with the treats to come in the New Year. These include Knight Rider, Duty Free, Hotel and Kojak. So... three American imports and a sitcom from Yorkshire TV.

Thames Next Week
May 1985
This trailer would have aired in the final week of May 1985, looking ahead to new dramas kicking off in the first week of June. A brand new series starring Don Henderson, 'Bulman'; also Dyan Cannon in Jenny's War and "the visitors" come back in V.

Wednesday On Thames
06/10/1986
Looking at the clips in this trailer, it would seem that the 'King and Castle' episode featured is the final one in the first series, 'Rivals' (08/10/1986) in which a collection agency employs strong-arm tactics. Interestingly, both 'Slinger's Day' and 'King and Castle' had two series, and each episode in their first series was shown on the same dates, between 03/09 and 08/10/86. This trailer would therefore have aired on 6th or 7th October 1986.

Click for larger image Through The Night Thames
1987
The James Coburn movie 'In Like Flint' and Robert Vaughan suspense thriller 'The Woman Hunter' feature in these overnight trailers from 1987/1988, both voiced in brisk fashion by Bruce Hammal.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image

Thames Through The Night - Thursday
1988
Click for larger image The movies 'Night of the Juggler' starring James Brolin, and 'The Triple Echo' with Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson and Brian Deacon are the featured movie clips in these "Through the Night" trailers from 1988.

Thursday Promotion
1988
Sporting Triangles, Just for Laughs and Busman's Holiday. A great Thursday evening, I'm sure you'll agree!


The City Programme
1991
A trailer for a 1991 edition of 'The City Programme', in which Rupert Murdoch was due to discuss the battle for satellite supremacy. 'The City Programme' was, apparently, the city's favourite financial programme. If you believe what the lady says here.

Thames Sports Special
1991
Voiced by the presenter of 'Thames Sport Special', Nick Owen, this edition from 1991 includes coverage of Manchester United vs Aston Villa, Herbie Hyde in the World Boxing Championships, and Nicky Piper - who raises his gloved hand in a celebratory fashion at the prospect.

The Bill
1991 - "You Watch Us" promotion
A little something to remind us how good Thames TV is and how hard-working its cast and production team is on The Bill. There must have been a franchise renewal coming up, but unfortunately this trailer made absolutely no difference at all, because they still lost the franchise. A very sad day.

Beverley Hills Cop II / Extreme Prejudice
1991
Movie trailers.. They make these films look unmissable!

Click for larger image City Heat / El C.I.D.
1991
The Clint Eastwood / Burt Reynolds movie 'City Heat' receives the Thames trailer treatment, along with the 1991 comedy drama El C.I.D starring John Bird and Amanda Redman.

Taggart / The Match
1991
Hey, it's Taggart and The Match. You can tell I've run out of things to write about these trailers, can't you?

Click for larger image All The Right Moves / Firm Friends
1991
Click for larger image Tom Cruise, always very popular, in the Thames screening of 'All the Right Moves'. Plus Maddhur Jaffrey and Billie Whitelaw as 'Firm Friends'.

Cocktail
1991
Two different trailers for 'Cocktail'. Nice work Thames!

Click for larger image The Omen / New Year Movie Season
1992
Nice trailers. Really good.

Click for larger image Wednesday Comedy / Survival Special
1992
Click for larger image These trailers just get better and better don't they?

Taggart
1992
This episode of 'Taggart,' guest starring Ian Hogg and Clare Grogan, is entitled 'The Hit Man' and was first shown on 17/09/1992. The trailer was shown on the day before, 16/09/1992.

Click for larger image Des O'Connor Tonight
1992
Click for larger image An episode of Des O'Connor's popular series, what you might call a sparkling hour of fun, laughter and entertainment for all the family.... This one has Julia McKenzie, Jim Tavarre, Chris Rea, Jim Davidson and Diana Ross as guests. The promo voice artist Bruce Hammal can barely contain his excitement!

This Is Your life
1992
With it being a big secret and all, they couldn't exactly trail who would be the guest of This is Your Life on any given night. So in 1992 they trailed using a montage of illustrious former subjects. Among Michael Aspel's previous victims are William Shatner - surprised on the bridge of the USS Enterprise; Thelma Barlow, Hannah Hauxwell and Gary Glitter. He looks so proud.


Thames A Standard To Salute
1987
Thames TV is honoured by the National Academy of Television Arts in New York. The promotional trailer is voiced, we think, by actor Dinsdale Landen and features lots of clips from American movies of famous stars giving a salute.

Thames Silents
1990
A promotion celebrating the famous Thames Silents season of restored silent movies, including Napoleon, The Thief of Baghdad and The General. In this particular year, on December 7th and 8th 1990 at The Dominion Theatre, the 1926 movie The Chess Player was given honorary treatment, including a live orchestral accompaniment.