Thames Television

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Thames Television (commonly simplified to just Thames) was the second ITV franchise holder serving London and its surrounding areas on weekdays. It was formed from a "shotgun marriage" between ABC Television and Rediffusion London, and started broadcasting on July 30, 1968. Over the years, Thames became highly regarded inside the ITV network for its consistently high-quality programming, which included shows like The Benny Hill Show, The Kenny Everett Video Show and The Avengers, and (through its animation subsidiary Cosgrove Hall Productions) a variety of cartoons like Chorlton and the Wheelies, The Wind in the Willows, Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.

Amidst the passing of the Broadcasting Act 1990, Thames' broadcasting license was withdrawn, and the network was replaced on 1 January 1993 by Carlton Television after the auction-style 1991 franchise round (interestingly, Carlton had already made two unsuccessful attempts to outbid Thames beforehand). Afterwards, Thames continued on solely as a production company.

1st Logo (July 30, 1968-1969)

Visuals: In an oval-shaped frame, a group of buildings meant to represent London (from left to right: BT Tower, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower Bridge) quickly rise up from the middle of the screen. In the bottom half, another set of buildings rise upside-down, giving the effect of a reflection. The word "THAMES" in Helvetica appears in both images, then fades out from the reflection, leaving the right-side-up word. This logo was in black and white, as colour broadcasting was not introduced on ITV until 15 November 1969 at the earliest.


  • At first, only London got the standard logo. The rest of the United Kingdom simply got a plain black screen with the words "FROM THAMES", which revealed itself by "opening" vertically, and was the only one of the original Thames idents without a skyline until the name-only production logo was introduced in 2001.
  • A still version of the variant above exists.

Technique: Live-action effects.

Audio: A loud eight-note horn fanfare, known as the "Salute to Thames", composed in the key of F major by Johnny Hawksworth. The first four notes would be played on a tenor saxophone (the fourth one sounds like a duet with another instrument), and the last four notes would either be played on a trumpet or a French horn.

Audio Variant: A re-arranged version of the fanfare was also used.

Audio Demo Variants: According to the TVArk website, a test version of the animation was discovered on a Thames demo videotape from 1967 with twenty-two separate tunes dubbed onto the animation, including predecessor ABC Weekend's chime tune; several variants of what would eventually become the standard Thames logo music in 1968 were also used.

Availability: It is preserved on sites such as the aforementioned TVArk.

2nd Logo (November 15, 1969-July 1989)

Visuals: A colourised version of the previous logo, but it now has a sky background and the bottom half looks more like a reflection in the water. Slight changes in definition of the image and such were made over the years, but this is basically how the logo went.

Trivia: According to Thames Logo Parade, a page on "The animated ident was created just as you would imagine. The top half of the image was laid flat and filmed from above. A sheet of foil was used to provide the reflection and was at a slight angle from the perpendicular (hence the tall vertical structures bend in towards St. Paul's dome in the reflection for a more realistic effect). Using stop-frame animation produces the appearance of movement. The skyline image did not have the letters on it. The letters were filmed separately using the same process and then the negatives from both films were married together to produce the final effect. Treating the letters separately allowed for the reflected letters to be faded out."

Variants: There were quite a few variants of this logo:

  • In its later years of the late 1980s, it would have "ORACLE subtitles page 888" fade in below the logo for programmes with subtitles.
  • The bottom reflection was distorted for a brief period of time.
  • One variant had the right-side-up "THAMES" text fade out at the same time as the reflection text, resulting in the logo being textless.
  • A still variant was seen on Man About the House.
  • At the start of the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode 39, "Grandstand", it cuts to Thames presenter David Hamilton.
  • In 1980, there was a "night-time" version of the logo, with the buildings being silhouettes barring lights on some of them (Big Ben's clock face is a notable example) and a night sky. Sometimes, the text might even have a gradient. It was primarily seen preceding Armchair Thriller. It was also used for mid-1980s overnight links, with the silver text "Into the Night" sliding in below; other versions were seen before different overnight "strands".
  • Another variant was a Christmas version from Teddington in Middlesex, where Thames' studios were in use. It read "Merry Christmas - THAMES - Teddington".
  • A variant was made for a special Russian-themed week in 1989, with the reflection of the landmarks replaced with a reflection of Russian landmarks (including the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral), and Thames in the reflection written out in Russian (as "ТЭMС", which is pronounced "Téms"). A version of this that inverted the sides (the Russian side on top and the Thames logo on the bottom, albeit with the reflection inverted) exists on a promo to promote the week.
  • During the Colour Strike (industrial action taken by all ITV companies between 13 November 1970 and 8 February 1971), all shows were broadcast in black-and-white instead of colour, resulting in this logo following suit.
  • On pre-1989 Thames Television airings of The Pink Panther Show (1969), the logo fades into the mountain side scenery with trees, dried mud, grass, and the road with a car called Panthermobile, segueing into the show's opening titles.
  • The Kenny Everett Video Show had many comedic variations of this logo:
    • The standard version had Everett bursting through a large-scale version of the logo, which ripped like paper. At the end of the show, the video was played in reverse, giving the appearance that Everett was "fixing" the torn logo. This variation had an extended version of the "Salute to Thames" jingle, with a comedy sting at the end.
    • A variation of this played the video with no jingle, and after Everett had "fixed" the logo, his voice was heard saying "Is that what you wanted?" to which the audience shouted "YES!", which was followed by him saying "Good!".
    • Another Everett variant has him performing an "Action Replay" of the Thames logo in slo-mo, with added comedy sound effects.
    • Everett was also responsible for an "adult" version of the logo, which replaced the buildings with a multitude of women's breasts. This was only seen on a fake promo at the beginning of an episode.
  • A variation similar to Everett's was used at the end of Thames' 1984 Christmas tape, with another person bursting through the logo, uttering "Shoulda made this at Tyne Tees, man. Goin' down the bus club, get some proper tunes".
  • In 1980, a special version of this ident was used to introduce The Dick Emery Hour: the logo played as normal, then the camera zoomed in on the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. Emery's buck-toothed vicar character then stepped out from behind the columns and welcomed viewers to "an hour of comedy and music". Oddly enough, on this version, the reflection of the "THAMES" lettering at the bottom of the screen does not fade away.

Technique: Live-action effects. The picture of the Thames skyline was designed by Minale Tattersfield.

Audio: Same as the last logo.

Audio Variants:

  • By 1971, the re-arranged version was used more often.
  • At the start of the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode 39, "Grandstand", David Hamilton says, "Good evening. We've got an action-packed evening for you tonight on Thames, but right now here's a rotten old BBC programme.".
  • On The Kenny Everett Video Show, the tune was extended slightly; there are at least two different endings that were used on the show. Everett would also occasionally subvert the tune by humming it in a campy way, or playing it in slow-motion with the addition of comedy jingles and canned laughter.
  • On The Dick Emery Hour, the jingle was played on a church organ. The opening theme of the special is even a bombastic extended rendition of the Thames jingle.
  • A version with an acapella rearrangement of the jingle was also used on the 1980 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special; the animation remained the same, but a male voice choir (rumoured to be The Mike Sammes Singers), sang "Here they are now, Morecambe and Wise!" to the Thames tune.
  • In the mid-1980s, Des O'Connor Tonight featured a different version of the jingle (performed by the studio orchestra which appeared in all his shows).
  • A low tone version of the fanfare also exists, which appears on the 4:3 print of the 2017 UK Network Blu-ray release of Jack the Ripper (1988).

Audio Trivia: The theme to this logo appears in the first episode of the Netflix series Neo Yokio.

Availability: It has been preserved on websites like TV-ARK. It is also usually preserved on reruns of some Thames shows.

Legacy: This is a fondly remembered logo to a generation of British TV fans who grew up with television during this time.

3rd Logo (July 31-September 1, 1989)

Visuals: Against a black background, a triangular shape rises into view from the centre of the screen. As it reveals itself, it looks somewhat like an upside-down Christmas tree shape (two triangles joined together), and the upper triangle has an abstract version of the Thames waterfront scenery against a blue skyline. The lower one is gold in colour, and contains the words "THAMES XXI" ("XXI" is the Roman numeral for 21). As the logo rises, it too has a reflection, though it does not last when it is completely formed.

Technique: Computer-generated animation, which is a modernisation of Thames' "Rising Buildings" design.

Audio: An orchestral version of the Thames fanfare, with a newly-composed six-note ending. A continuity announcement would follow.

Availability: It was only seen in the United Kingdom as a special ident for Thames' twenty-first anniversary, but it's preserved on sites like TV-ARK.

4th ID (September 4, 1989-November 1, 1991)

Visuals: On a black background, a gray "river" is seen. On top of the river is the symbol from the previous logo and below it is "THAMES TELEVISION" in the Palatino font. The logo then wavers and disperses into the river, and in its place, various images of ITV shows fly by from the right to the left, such as the Elizabeth Tower, a white bird, a basketball player, etc. As these images fly by, the letters "I" and "T", followed by half of the letter "V", fade in one by one. Finally, a vertical triangle appears in place of the other half of the "V", containing the London landmarks against a blue background, with three wavy blue lines below representing the river Thames, and the bottom section of the triangle in dark orange. The river fades out.


  • Thames unveiled a new triangle logo on September 3, 1990 and consequently incorporated it into a second version of its ITV logo, which was used only before networked shows until October of 1991.
  • Sometimes, ORACLE 888 would appear underneath the logo for programmes featuring subtitles.
  • A still version also exists, which was used in some junctions.

Technique: A mix of live-action and computer animation effects, designed by English Markell Pockett.

Audio: A rather airy synthesised flute theme that culminates in a 5-note trumpet fanfare, sometimes with the flute echoing at the end. Composed by David Dundas as an ITV jingle. A continuity announcement may be used, as well. The jingle was adopted from the full theme.

Legacy: This logo is a favourite of many UK logo enthusiasts.

5th ID (September 3, 1990-December 31, 1992)

Visuals: The camera goes through a three-dimensional image of London. As it pans away, one of the buildings "fades" into the ident, which is now on top of a blue triangle. On the triangle are the words "THAMES TELEVISION" in a Friz Quadrata font. The background is again a skyline.

Trivia: This ident was originally seen before local programmes, but was eventually used before all programmes from 4 November 1991 to 31 December 1992, following the announcement of Thames' franchise loss to Carlton on 16 October 1991.


  • A still version of this ident also exists, which was used in some Thames junctions.
  • Sometimes, "888" would also appear on the triangle underneath the words for programmes featuring subtitles.

Technique: Live-action and CGI.

Audio: An updated orchestral score.

Audio Variant: In December 1992, a more festive version of the fanfare was used, which was heard the last time this logo was seen.

Availability: This was also a London-only station identity, but it is preserved on sites like TV-ARK.

6th ID (December 31, 1992)

Visuals: A background consisting of various programme scenes configuring themselves into a video wall appear on the screen. As the wall goes out of focus, the Thames triangle fades onto the centre of the screen. Below, the byline "Thames. A Talent for Television." fades in.

Trivia: This was part of a promotional music video, which Thames aired in the run up to its closure.


  • A version without the byline, and separate from the music video, was also made. However, while it does exist, it's unknown if it was ever used by Thames. It's likely that this version was intended for the production company that Thames became following its closure.
  • A "Final Week" promo has the text below reading "Rediffusion Television, ABC Television, Thames Television. For 37 years, we have been proud to serve the London ITV region."

Technique: Computer effects.

Audio: The end of a cover of "I Only Want to Be with You" by The Tourists that was featured in the music video (the video wall/logo appears during the last line of the song), followed by the announcer Bruce Hammal reading the byline.

Audio Variant: The version without the byline uses a synthesised moderate-tempo brass and string fanfare.

Availability: Its only official appearance on the channel was at the end of the aforementioned music video.

External Links

Rediffusion London
ABC Television
Thames Television
Carlton Television
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