In 1977 Thames Television International, already established among the world’s top ten sellers of TV programmes, achieved two major landmarks. For the first time, more than one hundred countries now see Thames programmes. And with gross sales of over £3 million, the resulting profit from overseas sales has now topped £1 million.

In other innovatory areas too, 1977 was a year of firsts for Thames International:

AMERICA. The most successful new series on the American Networks during 1977 was Three’s Company, derived from Thames’ Man About the House. ABC purchased the programme format, which was adapted for American viewers by the top writing team of Nicholl, Ross and West. The first series in March was quickly established in the Nielson Top Ten, playing opposite ‘Hawaii Five-O’, and with the second autumn series regularly placed in the nation’s top three programmes, Three’s Company promises to repeat the success of its Thames predecessor. International distribution for the American series was retained by Thames, and with sales from Canada to Australia (and Britain) already achieved, Three’s Company will be one of Thames’ biggest international properties during 1978. And in South America Thames comedy made its debut when Man About The House was sold to Brazil.

EUROPE. Thames programmes are now familiar to European televiewers (16 countries in Europe have seen The Naked Civil Servant). During 1977 sales more than doubled, to top £¾ million. Most important sale was The World at War to France, the highest-earning single sale of Thames’ most successful overseas seller. Comedy, formerly considered ‘unexportable’ made large inroads: Father Dear Father made its debut in Spain, Italy where it topped the ratings, and Germany, where with Man About The House it was dubbed into German. And Jamie and the Magic Torch proved popular in Hungary, home of the world’s experts in animation.

AUSTRALIA. 1977 saw Thames become the biggest British programme exporter (including the BBC) to the crucial Australian market. All kinds of programmes are purchased by Australia from Thames: George & Mildred (ABC), Love Thy Neighbour (7 Network), The World at War (9 Network) and Benny Hill (0/10 Network) have all been the highest-rated programmes on the respective networks, and Benny Hill achieved the year’s single highest audience with a one-hour special which he travelled to Australia to make. Other countries where Thames is the largest UK exporter range from Greece to the newly-inaugurated Swaziland television service.

BRITAIN. Since Thames acquired distribution rights of New Zealand-made programmes, Thames International has entered the business of selling programmes to British companies. Most successful is Hunter’s Gold, now sold to sixteen countries – including the BBC.

IRAN. The National Iranian Radio and Television (NIRT) studios played host to Rainbow creator Pamela Lonsdale in June.

She was in Tehran to advise on a unique project, adapting the content of over a hundred Rainbow programmes for the young Iranian audience and their culture. Original actuality film sequences, drawings and music were combined with NIRT-originated material, Farsi-language voice-overs were dubbed on, and the end product was a series of Iranian Rainbows, which still retained the aims and techniques of the Thames programmes made for the British child. This served as forerunner to a similar operation in Jordan, where producer Charles Warren is helping in the making of an Arabic version to be screened throughout the Arab world.


During 1977 Thames Television International executives travelled nearly 150,000 air miles, visiting 37 countries and selling a record total of 5,327 hours of programming.

About the author

'Thames 1977: Company on the Move' was designed by Trickett and Webb Ltd for distribution to shareholders and advertisers.

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