TV Hell - "G is for Grundy"
As documented in this excerpt from BBC2's Official History of TV Hell (31/08/1992), The Sex Pistols replaced another act that fell through at short notice and arrived drunk, just minutes before going on air. Grundy intended this to be a probing investigation of Punk, but the episode quickly became an hilarious farce when he prompted Johnny Rotten, Glenn Matlock, Paul Cook and Steve Jones to say something outrageous. The air turned blue and the Thames switchboard was jammed with calls of protest. Meanwhile the following day's tabloids reported on "some of the dirtiest language ever heard on television" and there were stories of honest working men kicking in their TV sets in disgust, and old ladies having strokes and keeling over!
Man About the House
Hammer Film Productions, 1974 © Canal+ Image UK Ltd
A final point of interest: the 1974 Hammer Film adaptation of the popular Thames sit-com Man About The House features an amusing and lengthy sequence at the Thames studios, including a recreation of Today in which Bill Grundy gamely plays himself. He interviews a developer (Peter Cellier) and politician (Patrick Newell) who want to pull down the Ropers' house and build a tower block. The studio scenes were, in fact, filmed at the premises of Television International, as per the insignia on the side of the cameras filming Grundy and the actors. Studio cameras at both the Teddington and Euston Road studios usually all featured a Thames logo.
Thames at Six
As mentioned by Robin Houston above, Andrew Gardner hosts an edition of Thames at Six from 1978, alongside co-anchor Bob Southgate. Magazine items include the ongoing "battle" over Bethnal Green Hospital, while Bob introduces a report on the murder of a Guyanese nurse at Claybury Mental Hospital in Woodford. The treatment of the Thames ident is worthy of interest; a jazzy rendition of the ident music leaps straight into the Thames at Six signature tune, while the skyline becomes a wipe pattern and a layer mask over still photographs.
1981 - 10.30pm Bulletin
From 28/07/1981, Robin Houston has the late headlines, on the eve of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. He delivers a warning from police that members of the public should stick to public transport, because traffic will be "almost totally impossible". After the news and weather, Houston links into a Diana Ross special. The clip includes a presentation slide for Thames News and an announcement by Philip Elsmore.
1982 - 10.30pm Bulletin
It's 23/03/1982 and Robin Houston has the late headlines, prior to a screening of David Niven's comedy horror film Vampira. The lead story is the GLC's announcement of a plan to surcharge private motorists in London roughly one pound to travel into or through the city. It was first conceived in 1979 and sounds similar to London's present day Congestion Charge! Also, The Queen unveils a new £65million wing at the London Hospital in Mile End Road. One mile away demolition work continues on the old Homerton Hospital.
1982 - 10.30pm Bulletin
Another complete bulletin, close on the heels of News at Ten and preceding an episode of the Thames sitcom Shelley. The headlines from Robin Houston include: an unsupervised child with learning difficulties falling to his death in St. John's Wood, striking print workers continuing to defy a High Court judge, and Arsenal player Pat Jenning's eye injury preventing him from playing in an Easter match against Tottenham.
Andrew Gardner signs off on a main evening bulletin from 1983. His co-hosts are Tina Jenkins, Graham Miller and weatherman Jack Scott.
1983 - 6pm Bulletin
Stories: Power surge blamed for London bus crash; detectives acquitted in corruption case; Eastenders say 'No Way' to new through way.
Newscaster: Rita Carter
1983 - 10.30pm Bulletin
A complete late bulletin from around 1983. Headlines read by Robin Houston include: the recapture of two escaped convicts, a protest march in London by railway workers and the birth at London Zoo of a baby pudu. With news and weather wrapped up, his role switches to continuity announcer, to introduce a Thames screening of the 1977 film, The Domino Principle.
The Nation Decides / Thames News Breakfast Special
1983 - 6.15am Bulletin
It's 6am on 10/06/1983, and Peter Marshall introduces the ITN-TVAM joint venture The Nation Decides. Robert Kee & Martyn Lewis hosted, and for fifteen minutes each hour there were opt-outs to the various ITV regional newsrooms. That gave Thames News the opportunity to stage a Breakfast Special, hosted by Andrew Gardner, Tina Jenkins and Michael Barratt. Studio guests included MPs Stanley Clinton Davis (Lab) and Nicholas Scott (Con), while VT reports caught up with Jeremy Hanley (Con) and Joan Lestor (Lab). In our final clip, Tina Jenkins goes through the full list of general election results for the London boroughs.
1983 - Late bulletin
Newscaster: Tricia Ingrams
Lead stories: a murder enquiry gets underway after two men were found murdered in a flat in Warwick Avenue. Meanwhile in Chingford, an 80 year-old woman was also found murdered. Many Londoners do not agree with the Government's plans to scrap the GLC.
Lifted from the 2002 LWT production, "It Shouldn't Happen to a TV News Presenter", an amusing out-take from Thames News circa 1983/3 featuring reporter Colin Baker losing his cool after an arduous morning of standing in the rain.
1984 - Trail 5.45pm
From December 1984, Andrew Gardner and Tina Jenkins preview the plethora of stories on tonight's edition. A clip of the opening titles appears below..
1984 - 6pm Bulletin
Stories: Gas blast wrecks three flats in Mitcham; the Big Freeze bites deeper, now the blood banks are hit; plus a Royal send-off for the craftsmen of Britain's mini-Hollywood.
Newscaster: Andrew Gardner
Thames Weekend News
Thames Weekend News was a bulletin produced by Thames for London Weekend Television on Friday evenings. This became necessary from January 1982 when the 7pm Thames to LWT hand-over was moved forward to 5.15pm, but it seemed bizarre for LWT to effectively hand back to Thames even for a short while. Tricia Ingrams is the host, with the lead story of a rape in Putney. The other clip is a second example from a regular 1984 bulletin with Tina Jenkins.
1985 - Late Bulletin
Newscaster: Robin Houston
Lead stories: Police hunting the killers of Hampstead millionaire Aristos Constantino have appealed to two motorists to come forward. Meanwhile motorists who park on pavements in London face prosecution from today, in a crackdown to make walkways safer and cheaper to look after. Offenders face a fine of £25. The GLC says bad parking causes dozens of accidents.
1985 - 1.30pm & 3.25pm
Two bulletins from the same day in 1985: Robin Houston finishes the lunchtime bulletin, while Lindsay Charlton reads the start of the mid-afternoon bulletin. The second clip includes in-vision continuity by announcer Sally McLaren.
1985 - 10.30pm Bulletin
A complete bulletin from 21/12/1985. The stories include the results of a coroner's report into the death of Auf Wiedersehn Pet actor Gary Holton, plus GLC leader Ken Livingstone comes face to face with his new waxwork at Madame Tussauds. Due to industrial action, Robin Houston is obliged to read the headlines under basic strip lights, instead of standard studio spots. Once the news and weather summary are complete, he links into a Burt Reynolds movie, Gator.
1986 - 10.30pm Bulletin
The final story of a late bulletin from around December 1986, read by Robin Houston, contains footage of Marlow children recording their peace-promoting song, Let's Be Friends at Christmas. As usual, once news and weather are over, Robin becomes a continuity announcer, introducing a Thames screening of the 1970 film, Borsalino.
1987 - 6pm Bulletin
Various segments from a 6pm bulletin shown on 14/04/1987, hosted by John Andrew and Paul Green, with Graham Miller anchoring the sports and Jack Scott the weather. One report by Marcus Powell commemorates the 75th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, marked the following day with an auction of memorabilia in London. Another looks at the £70,000 sale of the smallest Des Res in Chiswick, a garage with a room above it. Note how all the presenters bar Green are wearing tweedy sports jackets!
John Andrew - Titanic Auction
Graham Miller - Sport
Jack Scott - Weather
John Andrew - Outro
1988 - Trail 5.45pm
A teatime trail from 25/08/1988 in which Penny Smith and John Andrew preview the stories on the 6pm bulletin, clips of which appear just below. Just as they're about to switch to ITN's 5.40pm bulletin, the floor manager seems to suffer a massive coughing fit just a few seconds too soon!
1988 - 6pm Bulletin
Stories: Fire Brigade chiefs call for Docklands Jean Michel Jarre concert to be banned, over crowd safety fears; plus adios Cha-Cha, as a panda leaves London Zoo for Mexico.
Newscasters: Penny Smith/John Andrew; Weather: Richard Edgar
1988 - 10.30pm Bulletin
The late edition, following News at Ten, sees Robin Houston delivering almost the same script as Penny Smith in the 6.30pm edition. Never waste a good script line or a VT of action-packed underlay.
1988 - 9.25am Bulletin
Lead Story: Romanian chess Grand Master seeks asylum in UK
Newscaster: Mark Longhurst
Continuity announcement by Philip Elsmore.
17/02/1989 - Trail & Main Bulletin
Newscaster: Andrew Gardner
In the trail, he invites viewers to join him and Penny Smith to "look through their window" at the region, each day at 6pm. In the bulletin, the lead story concerns TV-AM, who will lay on special protection for staff and Wapping-style buses in their fight against the unions.