Click for larger image Afternoon Plus
1979
Click for larger image An edition of the discussion programme hosted by Bernard Braden. Thames innovated with daytime TV in Britain, with shows like Afternoon Plus (1979-89) and its direct forbears Tea Break (1971) and Good Afternoon (1972-79). Mavis Nicholson was the main host, aided by the likes of Judith Chalmers, Mary Parkinson, Simon Reed and Betty Foster. Seen as a smart alternative to the BBC's lightweight Pebble Mill at One, on it you would find guests as diverse as chefs Mary Berry and Ken Lo, movie legends Deborah Kerr and Dirk Bogarde, and Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher.

Click for larger image Afternoon Plus
1980
Click for larger image An edition from 1980 hosted by Mavis Nicholson and Simon Reed, the younger brother of Oliver Reed. The studio guests are Kenny Everett and Frankie Howerd and it looks like a lively discussion turned into an even livelier water fight! In 1984, the series shifted to Channel Four, by which time it had been renamed A Plus 4, still hosted by Nicholson alongside Gill Neville and Paul Jones, still containing "discussion, music and interviews, with an original view on all thatís new in politics, entertainment and health."

Click for larger image Daytime
1986
Click for larger image The gap left by Afternoon Plus was swiftly filled by Daytime, hosted by Sarah Kennedy. By the mid-80s, the emphasis was shifting away from panel discussions in front of passive studio audiences, towards live debate formats in which the host would solicit the views of plain folk as well as experts. This was most likely influenced by fashionable shows in the USA such as Donahue and Jerry Springer. In these examples, Kennedy and her crowd chatter on about witchcraft and the soon-to-be-approved Channel Tunnel... "It may be good for the economy, but what about the likely explosion of rabies?"

Click for larger image Daytime
1986 Christmas Special
Click for larger image The Christmas 1986 edition focussed on brave and talented children, including David Beckham, winner of the Bobby Charlton Soccer School Skills Finals. Sarah Kennedy makes him demonstrate his keepy-uppy skills, but he accidentally kicks a toddler in the head! I don't remember Daytime, I was studying for my GCSEs at the time. But one can see from the titles that Kennedy's audience included the likes of Mary Whitehouse, Pat Phoenix, Bonnie Langford, Olive & Dora Booth (the grand-daughters of the founder of the Salvation Army, General William Booth) and various transvestites. A rum collection of talking heads if ever there was one...

Click for larger image Looks Familiar
1970s
Click for larger image Denis Norden's time was hardly stretched by LWT's It'll Be Alright On The Night, so Thames created this chat show to occupy his weekday afternoons, looking back to the entertainment of the 1930s and 40s with a panel and a mystery guest. Veteran variety stars would answer his trivia questions, prompted by nostalgic clips, while a studio audience of comatose pensioners would clap whenever the "applause" sign lit up. Following an initial one-off broadcast in 1970, there were fifteen series running from 1972 to 1986; on Channel 4 from 1984.

Click for larger image Looks Familiar
20/03/1980
Click for larger image To a child of the 1970s, like me, this show was marginally less stultifying than Border TV's Look Who's Talking. But in his opening link, Denis puts his finger right on the button because this show was obviously never intended for young viewers, even if it was shown just before Children's ITV came on. "They won't know what the hell we're talking about!" Norden's guests here are Arthur English, Derek Roy and Frankie Howerd; his guests routinely included comedy greats like Bob Monkhouse, Eric Morecambe, Arthur Askey and Charlie Chester. If the show was on now, I'd probably love it!

Click for larger image Mavis Catches Up With...
20/12/1989 Quentin Crisp
Click for larger image A series in which Mavis Nicholson talked to some of the celebrities and public figures whom she first interviewed a decade earlier, during the Afternoon Plus days. This was made independently for Thames by Pineapple Productions and ran from 25/10/1989 to 20/10/1992, a total of 26 episodes. The Quentin Crisp edition was recorded in New York, at his favourite restaurant. Sir Kingsley Amis, Dr Robert Runcie, Sir John Mills, Glenda Jackson, Stewart Grainger, Edward Heath, Tom Jones and Kenny Everett also took part in these revisitation shows.

And now... a collection of Thames TV Game Shows!


Click for larger image Give Us A Clue
1984
Click for larger image This celebrity charades show was a popular fixture on both ITV and the BBC. It started at Thames, hosted by Michael Aspel from 1979 to 1984, after which it resumed with Michael Parkinson as host from 1985 to 1992. Later it transferred to the BBC, running until 1997. The transmission date of this episode is unclear, but from Aspel's pose and the anguished cries of his team captains Lionel Blair and Una Stubbs, it could perhaps be his last episode... Though popular with everyone he worked with, it seems it was difficult politically for him to host a Thames show while also presenting LWT series such as The Six O'Clock Show and Aspel and Company.

Click for larger image Give Us A Clue
1986
Click for larger image A 1986 edition hosted by Michael Parkinson, with guests including Roy Kinnear, Gorden Kaye, Barbara Windsor and Janet Brown. By this time, the title music had been changed from both 'Chicken Man' by Alan Hawkshaw (also used on Grange Hill!) and Denis King's replacement, used on Aspel's shows, to a rather unpleasant song. Itg continued into the opening scenes, introducing not only Parkinson but also the team captains Liza Goddard and Lionel Blair. Revolting!!

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Click for larger image Name That Tune
1983
Click for larger image Name That Tune started in 1983, and emerged as the most successful Thames light entertainment show next to This is your Life. An earlier ABC series, Spot the Tune (1956) was its forerunner. However, the actual Name That Tune game had appeared as a segment hosted by O'Connor within the London Night Out variety series in the late 1970s. This title sequence is possibly the longest and most hysterical opening sequence of any game show, with an announcer who may explode with excitement when the curtains draw back to reveal the star prize, a Vauxhall Astra!

Click for larger image Strike It Lucky
1986 / 1988
Click for larger image Two editions of the game show hosted by Michael Barrymore - based on a US format of the same name, it is one of few ITV shows to have been made by both Thames and LWT. Thames ran it until the franchise loss in 1992, when it continued as a co-production with Central TV until 1994. In 1996 it was co-produced by Fremantle with LWT and given a name change to Strike It Rich. It seems Thames were unwilling to allow LWT the use of the original name. The theme music is a track by Paul Westwood called Born to Run. The opening voice-overs are given by John Benson and, in the 1988 clip, Robin Houston.

What's My Line?
1988
A panel game in which contestants perform mimes of their jobs to a celebrity panel, who then quiz the contestant to work out what the job is. The format was invented in the USA in the 1950s by Messrs Bach Goodson and Todman and it became Britain's first successful game show. It ran on the BBC twice, between 1953 and 1974, before transferring to Thames on 26/03/1984. It's one-time BBC host Eamonn Andrews oversaw proceedings until his death in 1987, after which Angela Rippon assumed the chair. The final Thames show aired on 28/08/1990, after which HTV, Meridian and Anglia tried it out.

Click for larger image Whodunnit?
01/07/1974
Click for larger image A British format invented by Jeremy Lloyd and Lance Percival, in which celebrities deduce the identity of the murderer in a short play. The panellists interview all witnesses before announcing their chief suspect and the clue which game them away. It's rather like an early version of Cluedo. Shaw Taylor hosted a pilot, and the first series in 1972 was fronted by Edward Woodward - not altogether successfully. But Jon Pertwee became most associated with the show in 1974 after he finished Doctor Who, hosting the next five series up until 1978... after which he starred in Worzel Gummidge.

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