Dr David Bellamy has written nearly 400 television programmes on botany and ecology and this 1978 series was his first. Bellamy became popular with viewers and impressionists alike, thanks to his endearing speech patterns and easy presentation of fascinating facts. He also demonstrated a welcome "hands on" attitude, by wading through swamps and swimming with water lillies. The title music of this series is haunting, while the graphics are eye-catching for the time.
Buster Keaton - A Hard Act To Follow
An Emmy Award-winning series of three documentaries by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, narrated by Lindsay Anderson. It followed their Hollywood and Chaplin documentaries, and came before the Harold Lloyd series, seen below. The series follows the life of the comedy legend from childhood on stage to his film career, and tells of his roller-coaster ride from success to ruin and then an eventual, ultimate acclaim.
The City Programme
The City Programme looked at events in... the City. It was hosted by Danielle Donougher and Steve Clarke. They had an interview with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury Norman Lamont in this edition, because of post-budget pressure on the pound, plus sterling was apparently still hostage to the speculators on that particular day.
Having started his career in children's TV at ATV, by the mid-1970s Tony Bastable had progressed from presenting to producing the Thames youth magazine Magpie. Later, he worked in genres as diverse as current affairs, consumer protection, history and science, for instance. He was also the host of Drive-in, Mind Over Matter (a paranormal investigation he devised with Kit Pedler) and Database, which looks at home computing.
The Evening News British Film Awards
The Evening News was published in London from 1881 to 1980, when it was merged with its long-time rival the Evening Standard. The paper's Film Awards from 1977 were covered by Thames TV and presented by Michael Aspel. The ceremony is notable for John Thaw's astonished reaction at being presented with the Best Actor Award for The Sweeney movie, ahead of esteemed competitors whom he deemed more worthy of the accolade.
Harold Lloyd - The Third Genius
If Charlie Chaplin was number one and Buster Keaton number two, the third genius of Hollywood's silent movies was Harold Lloyd. Hooray for Harold Lloyd, he was always my favourite! Lindsay Anderson narrated this two-parter from Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, which combined excellent archive footage with first-rate access to the original participants and associates of the star. The second clip features the ITV Network trailer from January 1990.
The first major documentary series to emanate from Brownlow and Gill's production team. ITV viewers saw it first (08/01/80 - 01/04/80) before a Channel Four repeat in 1983. Narrated by James Mason, it is highly regarded on both sides of the Atlantic as a definitive portrayal of Hollywood's silent era. "Autocrats" was first shown on 19/02/80, contrasting the directing methods of Cecil B. De Mille and Erich von Stroheim, one working within the studio factory system and the other against it. De Mille's protégé, Gloria Swanson is among the interviewees.
Midweek Sport Special
Now the main anchor of BBC Midlands Today, journalist Nick Owen's career included time with ATV's Sports Department in the 1970s, and as TV-AM's sports presenter, until he became main anchor alongside Anne Diamond. In 1986 he became the main presenter of Midweek Sport Special, produced by Thames. This clip dates from 18th August 1989, the day on which Michael Knighton assumed ownership of Manchester United. The show also includes coverage of the Portsmouth vs Manchester United match in the Littlewoods Cup.
Sit Up and Listen
An occasional series shown between 1980 and 1983, during the Thames closedown. On each night of the week, a personality would share personal thoughts or read their own selection of poetry and prose. In this edition, the guest is Edward Heath.
Thames Help was a very short regional action programme, of around two minutes in duration, occupying a slot at around 5.58pm. In this example, host Jackie Spreckley looks at debt, explaining that viewers in the south-east are more heavily committed in terms of credit than in anywhere else in the country.
05/09/1974 The National Front
The weekly current affairs series launched by Associated Rediffusion in 1956 and continued by Thames until 1978, although it came back again from 1986 to 1992. Throughout the run, the theme tune was an extract from the Karelia Suite by Jean Sibelius. If you're wondering what happened between 1978 and 1986, see TV Eye below... This edition famously examined The National Front and was repeated on Channel Four in 1992, as part of the TV Heaven season.
22/02/1990 The Truth About Aids
A latter-day edition, recorded in the Granada TV region with a local continuity announcement. Reporter Mavis Nicholson looks at the truth behind AIDS, as arguments continue as to whether we're all potential victims of the disease. The producer was Ken Craig and the researcher, Lucy Hillman.
02/04/1992 Day with Kinnock
The third of three specials in the run-up to the 1992 General Election, Sir Robin Day interviews the Labour leader Neil Kinnock. With a week to go until polling day, the 'Grand Inquisitor' is keen to find out on our behalf whether the Labour Party now deserves to govern the nation. The opening includes footage of Kinnock arriving at the Euston Road studios of Thames TV for his face-off with Day. The producer was Christoper Capron. Our clip was recorded in the Tyne Tees region, with a local in-vision announcement.
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was assassinated on 10th June 1981. This edition of TV Eye, the topical current affairs programme that replaced This Week for eight years, would have been aired in the days following the event. Dennis Tuohy introduces several films outlining the negative effect of Sadat's death on stability and peace in the Middle East. Peter Marshall makes a continuity announcement about next week's edition of TV Eye, at the end of the closing titles over the Thames end board.
An edition from 1983 covering the withdrawal of US troops from Grenada, once their invasion mission had been accomplished. With life returning to normal in the capital, there remained a problem of reconciliation between different factions of the population. The second clip is a live promotional spot; after the break Alastair Burnet would be talking to senior nuclear scientists who believed their criticism of British Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Policy had cost them their jobs.
Alastair Burnet conducts a live interview with the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, as she face some of the greatest difficulties of her second term in office. Topics up for discussion included what she would do about the falling pound, reducing unemployment and handling the miners' strike. A transcript of the complete interview can be read on the webiste of The Margaret Thatcher Foundation:
Narrated by James Mason, an in-depth review of Charlie Chaplin's movie career. Producers Kevin Brownlow and David Gill persuaded many of his co-stars and colleagues to discuss his life and work for the first time.
Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here...? ran on ITV for almost thirty years. It was first broadcast on 7th January 1974, hosted by Judith Chalmers who was to become most closely associated with it. Each half-hour show would report on tourist destinations and Chalmers was joined over the years by various reporters and co-hosts including John Carter, Anneka Rice, Anna Walker, Martin Roberts and Mary Nightingale. The series was axed in 2003 although five years later, Chalmers' son Mark Durden Smith joined forces with Sarah Heaney for Wish You Were Here... Now and Then, in which they revisited resorts first seen in the 1970s to see how much they have changed.
The World at War
This award-winning documentary series took four years and £1million to make. Amidst hours of rare archive film clips from the Imperial War Museum and official German sources, are interviews with such figures as Traudl Junge, Hitler's personal secretary, U-boat commander Admiral Doenitz, and Hollywood star Jimmy Stewart, a wartime brigadier-general in the US Air Force. Laurence Olivier narrated, Jeremy Isaacs produced.