Click for larger image Thames Television
1968 Launch Ident A
The logo designed for Thames in 1968 was retained by the company for all of its first twenty-one years, showing the company name in white block capital letters in a minimal Helvetica/Swiss font. At launch, there were two channel idents designed with this logo. One showed the lettering on a plain black background, while the other saw the logo incorporated into a photographic montage of London landmarks, seen below. Both idents used the fanfare 'Salute to Thames', composed by Johnny Hawkesworth.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1968 Launch Ident B
That skyline, rising from the horizon centre screen, revealed itself to be a vignette of London landmarks. It is generally believed that the skyline idents were used on programmes made at Teddington, the former ABC studios, while plain captions were to precede shows from Television House on Kingsway, once home to Rediffusion. No-one seems to know this for certain, or for how long this system was in practice, but one thing is certain: the first ident used on the launch night of Thames was the plain version.

Thames Television
1968 Demo Idents
Considering the outcome of the original Thames idents above, check out these fascinating clips which trace the evolution of the skyline and the choice of tune to accompany it, recovered from a Thames demo tape preserved on an antiquated video format. A test animation was dubbed with 22 separate tunes, of which we have five. A major influence on the developing ident tune appears to have been the chorus of Who Will Buy My Sweet Red Roses?, from Lionel Bart's musical Oliver! Other influences include the traditional songs Oranges and Lemons and London Bridge is Falling Down. The last two clips feature embryonic versions of Hawkesworth's tune.

Thames Demo
1968
Thames Demo
1968
Thames Demo
1968
Thames Demo
1968


British TV programmes switched to colour production during the autumn of 1969 and so Thames Television needed a new ident. Of the two idents with which the company had launched, the skyline appears to have been judged most worthy of revival. In the colour design, the various buildings on the Blackfriars Embankment were given a new graphic layout by architect Minale Tattersfield, who later re-designed Hammersmith Tube Station. In our modern age, when graphics are expensively refreshed and re-branded every two to three years, there is little wonder the Thames TV ident is one of the best remembered graphic designs in British television history: it was on air with only minor tweaks for twenty years.


Click for larger image Thames Television
1969
Click for larger image Notice how the lower half of the image is distorted, causing the reflections of the buildings and letters to ripple in a rather scary manner. During a 1971 technician's strike over colour use, many ITV shows were recorded in monochrome. So the new ident was occasionally transmitted in black and white, for example on the first five episodes of the Sid James sitcom Bless This House.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1971
This colour skyline remained the same from 1969 until around 1976, although in mid-1971 Johnny Hawkesworth seems to have refined the orchestration of his 'Salute to Thames' fanfare, making the final three notes less strident.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1976
A second version of the ident came into use from 1976, and lasted the best part of a decade. The only significant change made in this ident was to prevent the lower half of the skyline from rippling during the animation. The reflection is now a straight mirror image, with no distortion. The clips are taken from shows made in 1976 and 1983.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1986
The skylines above were created on film, which presents problems of film weave, scratches, specks and hairs. By 1986, the skyline prints used for transmission were looking dated, so Thames commissioned a digital re-make of the ident. Here the clouds are bigger, the Swiss font is brighter yet slightly smaller, and more of the skyline is on show. Notice the improbably short Tower Bridge bascule. It presents a considerable danger to traffic... This ident lasted until the summer of 1989.



Click for larger image Thames Television
1976 'Pauline's Quirkes' Ident
A rather amusing version of the Thames ident in which Pauline Quirke, dressed as King Kong, sets about the city of London and smashes it to bits. This children's programme was recorded in front of a studio audience at Teddington and her demolition job always won an excited response from the viewers!
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Click for larger image Thames Television
1978 'Armchair Thriller' Ident
Thames TV's suspense anthology series Armchair Thriller was the company's only production to be prefaced by this spooky night time ident. A full moon peeps from behind the clouds and throws the London skyline into a silhouette. Just a few lights twinkling in the old London school and on the clock face at Westminster save us from total outright nightmares...
 
This ident was later adapted into a series of night time promotional themes - outlined below.


Click for larger image Thames Television
1980 'Morecambe & Wise' Ident
The Morecambe & Wise Show was made by Thames from 1978 to 1984. After their first two years, Eric and Ernie were blessed with their very own version of the Thames ident. The words, "Here they are now, Morecambe and Wise..." were sung a capella to Hawkesworth's tune. The result, seen here on the duo's 1981 Christmas show, is extraordinarily cheesy. Could this have been the work of The Mike Samms Singers?!

Click for larger image Thames Television
1980 'Dick Emery' Ident
Click for larger image The opener to Dick Emery's 1980 Thames special, "The Dick Emery Hour". Johnny Hawkesworth's tune is played on a church organ. Once the skyline has opened out, the camera zooms in towards the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. Dick's buck-toothed vicar character steps out from behind the columns and welcomes viewers to "an hour of comedy and music". Oddly, the reflection on the Thames lettering does not fade away...

Click for larger image Thames Television
1979/80 'Kenny Everett' Idents
Click for larger image The manic Capital Radio DJ and Thames comedy genius Kenny Everett loved to fiddle about with the on-screen identity of "Lord Thames". Usually he subverted the Salute music by humming it in a camp manner, or playing it in slow motion with comedy jingles and laughter added. But on one occasion, he replaced the animation with a skyline of giant breasts...!

Click for larger image Thames Television
1981 'Kenny Everett' Idents
Click for larger image Two more spoofs, in which Kenny invites us to take pride in Thames Television, the only station with Queen Anne legs to have earned a place in our hearts, to say nothing of our livers and onions! Plus, world-famous pianist Mr Igor Blimey and his twenty-five fingers make a mess of the Salute to Thames.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1985 ' Des O'Connor Tonight'
For a short time in the mid-80s, Des O'Connor's weekly entertainment series featured a different version of the Thames ident music, performed by the studio orchestra which appeared in all his shows. The tune was intended to blend seamlessly into the signature tune of O'Connor's own titles. This Christmas example is from 1985; the full title sequence can be seen in our Thames Programmes section.

Thames Television
1980s Night Time Idents
As mentioned above, five variants on the Armchair Thriller ident from 1978. These versions were used during the 1980s after Thames stopped closing down, but continued transmission through until 6am and a hand-over to TV-AM. The movie strand Appointment with Fear revived horror greats like Dracula and The Abominable Dr Phibes.

Appointment with Fear
1980s
The Hollywood Movie
1980s
Murder, Mystery & Suspense
1980s
The Tough Guys
1980s




Click for larger image Thames Television
1989 'XXI' Ident
Having used the same colour skyline for 21 years, a graphics overhaul in 1989 lead to the broadcaster adopting four new designs in just three years. This ident was used during the station's 21st birthday celebrations. It is a curious pot pourri of past and future. The old Hawkesworth Salute tune has been retained, but totally re-recorded in more corporate tones. Visually, the skyline still animates with a reflecting lower half. But the skyline itself is a tapered, triangular affair, as used in the 1989 ITV corporate variant for Thames - see below...

Click for larger image Thames Television
1989 'ITV Corporate #1' Ident
Click for larger image The ITV Network Centre was set up in 1989, to establish a corporate identity for ITV. A new ITV logo was designed, as were these generic idents containing images of drama, news, sport and dance. The regional company logo was seen at the top of the animation, and was incorporated into the "V" of ITV at the climax. Thus Thames TV was represented by a minimal London skyline. English Markell Pockett designed these idents, while David Dundas composed the ITV theme - also an ITV song!

Click for larger image Thames Television
1990 'ITV Corporate #2' Ident
Click for larger image The Thames triangular ident was tweaked in 1990, losing the wavy textured triangle in favour of a plain blue one which also incorporated the company name. The re-design brought about an amendment to the ITV Generic ident for Thames.

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1991 Final Ident
Click for larger image The loss of the London weekday franchise to Carlton in 1991 was a major blow for a broadcasting company which had expected to win. Knowing the end was nigh, Thames abandoned the generic ITV look and unveiled one last ident during late 1991. So triumphant is the music and so stately are the models of Big Ben, St Paul's and Tower Bridge, whirling past each other to settle on a blue triangle, there is almost a hint of defiance, that the future holds only good things.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1991/92 Christmas Ident
The same animation but with a festive version of the new ident tune. The second clip is from 11pm on 31st December 1992, the last time that Thames broadcast its ident. Both clips include voice-overs by the Thames announcer Philip Elsmore.

Click for larger image Thames Television
1992 Final Week Promo
An evocative montage of Thames TV's greatest hits was transmitted frequently throughout the final week, and at the final closedown on 31/12/1992. Clips of Thames actors and personalities like Michael Aspel, Eamon Andrews, Peter Bowles, Leo McKern, Prunella Scales and Penelope Keith, alongside the legendary series Minder, The Sweeney, Rumpole of the Bailey, The Bill and The Naked Civil Servant were intercut with a film countdown. Annie Lennox and The Tourists provided the soundtrack, a cover version of I Only Wanna Be With You.