As ITV’s weekday representative in the London area, Thames is closely involved with the community it serves. Through bursary schemes, the company fosters young talent in areas connected with television, like writing and design.
Thames also contributes to the ILEA careers advisory service, by making expert advice available at the regular Open Days. Thames also has one of the few training centres in the industry situated at the Teddington Studios.
But Thames’ interest in the life of London goes beyond the television business. In Jubilee year, the company mounted a conference London Looks Forward, which brought together planners, politicians and people from all walks of life to consider the future of the nation’s capital. The conference was opened by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who subsequently asked Thames to look further into the question of London’s derelict land. The resulting research was published as Wasteland, and this was the title of a follow-up conference in 1980, again opened by Prince Philip, which considered the options open to planners, developers, people and politicians in dealing with derelict ground.
A close relationship with the British Film Institute following the success of Thames’ Hollywood series led to the rediscovery and first full-scale presentation of Abel Gance’s monumental silent masterpiece Napoleon. Complete with a musical score by Carl Davis and performed live by the Wren Orchestra, the 1927 film was a central feature of the 1980 London Film Festival. Indeed, so successful was the presentation that another silent classic, King Vidor’s The Crowd, was shown the following year, again with the Wren Orchestra playing a Carl Davis score. 1982 sees the presentation of Clarence Brown’s masterpiece Flesh And The Devil, the film that created the Garbo-Gilbert legend, together with another King Vidor classic from 1928, Showpeople. It is planned to continue these silent film performances every year as a regular part of the London Film Festival.
In 1980, Thames produced Britain’s first-ever Telethon, a marathon fund-raising programme broadcast over two days. It raised more than a million pounds for charities in the London area.
…and into the future
With so many advances being made in home entertainment, and information technology, Thames will continue to play its part, by taking an interest in life beyond the screen as well as striving for excellence in what appears on it.