National and international successes
Exported hit shows have won two Queen's
by MICHAEL HENFIELD
From the noble deeds of
Robin Hood in the 1950s to the frenetic
gyrations of Tom Jones in the 1970s, the story
of ATV programmes has been one of success.
Programmes made by ATV and
its subsidiary companies are seen not only in
the Midlands and on the national network but by
scores of countries throughout the world.
On the home scene the
company's presentations feature regularly in
the audience ratings Top 20.
The daily serial
Crossroads is still going strong after
more than five years. It has now run to more
than 1,200 episodes, with Noele Gordon starring
in more than 1,000 of them.
So far more than 559 miles
of videotape have recorded the daily doings in
the fictitious Midlands motel - enough to
stretch from Birmingham to Penzance and
One of the more recent
success stories has been that of The Golden
Shot, compered by the comedian Bob
Monkhouse, whose quick-fire ad-lib work has
made him a firm favourite with audiences
First introduced on the
Continent, the programme idea soon caught on
here. The test of skill with the crossbow
linked to a TV camera marked a departure in
television big-prize contests.
Providing news and views
from the Midlands five days a week is The
Team at Six. This is a new format for the
ATV Today news and magazine programme
and has quickly become popular with Midland
It was launched last
November with the idea of presenting more hard
up-to-minute news of the Midlands.
In the field of drama the
new series The Misfit, starring Ronald
Fraser, has quickly proved a hit.
The spectaculars from the
London Palladium brought big-name light
entertainment to TV screens every weekend; and
stars like Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck
have had their own ATV shows.
Programme exports have twice
won ATV's Sir Lew Grade the Queen's Award to
The latest deal was
announced only last month. In this Sir Lew has
sold at least £14m. worth of adventure
and light entertainment series to the TV
networks in the United States.
This big coup has been in
signing up the film actor Tony Curtis to
co-star with Roger Moore in a high adventure
series The Frendly Persuaders.
The most costly series ever
produced in Britain, it has been sold to the
American Broadcasting Company for an initial
8m. dollars. If options are taken up the series
could net up to 40m. dollars over the next four
In the same deal the
American Broadcasting Company also bought a
series starring Petula Clark; and the National
Broadcasting Company has bought a projected
Marty Feldman comedy series.
Exports are handled by the
ATV subsidiary the Incorporated Television
Company of which Sir Lew is managing
Apart from drama,
documentary and adventure programmes, the
company also exports the weekly Star
Soccer programme. Within a few days of the
match it is seen in such countries as
Austrailia, Cyprus, Kenya, Malta, Egypt, Jordan
and Zambia. Scandinavian television services
take the match the same day as the game is
Shows to America are sold
either for national networking or through
individual deals to particular TV stations.
One of the first series to
be sold to this market was The Adventures of
Robin Hood and this has been followed by
such series Danger Man, The
Saint, The Invisible Man, This is
Tom Jones and the costly puppet shows made
by Gerry Anderson, Supercar,
Thunderbirds and Firebird
Gerry Anderson's productions
are made by another ATV subsidiary. The latest
development of this company is to develop a
series starring humans instead of puppets, but
with a similar futuristic setting.
The first programme exports
were made in 1958, when ITC was set up. From
the beginning Sir Lew himself has spearheaded
the export drive.
To date, ITC has made more
than 1,500 separate episodes of drama series
and uses some 80,000 feet of film stock each
week. This is more than the entire British
feature film industry.
A departure has been the
production of feature films for showing in
cinemas in Britain and on television in the
United States. Production of the latest of
these, Cause for Alarm, started recently
at Pinewood Studios.
The thinking behind this is
based on TV chiefs' fears that there will soon
be a shortage of feature films for showing on
the small screen.