In the 1968 franchise round, ABC Television lost both of its weekend slots. However, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) was keen to retain ABC and proposed a merger with Rediffusion, in which ABC would hold a 51% stake. Despite industry insiders dubbing this as an “unhappy marriage” it gave birth to Thames Television, one of the network’s most enduring and popular franchises.
Thames Television made its debut on July 30, 1968, with live cricket as its inaugural broadcast. Over the years, Thames produced an array of high-quality shows spanning various genres. While the network had its share of controversies – ranging from interviews with the Sex Pistols to failed attempts to acquire the rights to ‘Dallas’ – it was the investigative programme ‘This Week’ and its episode ‘Death on the Rock’ that proved to be both a courageous stand against government pressure and a potential franchise-ending moment.
Ultimately, Thames lost its franchise and aired its final broadcast on December 31, 1992. In the aftermath, the network played a role in launching UK Gold and continued to produce content for both the BBC and ITV. Today, the Thames brand is owned by Fremantle, which continues to use both the Thames and Euston Films names in its productions.