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A quick guide to ITC, mainstay of ITV programming for 30 years
(compiled from ITC promotional material and articles in 405 Alive magazine)

When they come to write the history of television in the UK, a special place is assured for ITC (Incorporated Television Company), the entertainment group founded by Lord Grade in 1954. At this time Lew Grade, together with his brother Leslie, ran one of the foremost artistes' agencies in Europe. He was not initially interested in getting into commercial television but was persuaded to by business associates who also provided the necessary finances. The company they formed was called the Independent Television Programme Corporation. ITC, as it soon became known (the ‘P’ was dropped from the acronym fairly early on even though it remained in the name for slightly longer), was one of twenty-five applications for a programme franchise on ITV. Their application was rejected initially but ITC then merged with a company called ABDC and became (after a name-change or two) ATV.

The ITC name was retained for the division which made programmes for use by ATV and other television companies. It supplied many of the adventure series we watched in the early days of independent television. In those days it was a subsidiary of ATV, but the programmes were seen across the whole ITV network at one time or another. The company is still very much in business, until recently as the ITC Entertainment Group and now part of PolyGram International.

Many of these programmes were made by independent production companies and then acquired by ITC. There was also an American company called ITC, the Independent Television Corporation, who made filmed television programmes in the USA and in Canada from the mid-1950s onwards. The American ITC was originally a joint venture between Jack Wrather Television (Lone Ranger etc) and ITC/ATV, run by someone who had previously been with Ziv. ATV apparently bought out Jack Wrather after a couple of years or so because they felt it was favouring his programmes over theirs.

Their last programme appears to have been the children’s series Mr Piper. The American ITC had a distribution deal with ATV and it appears that eventually it was absorbed by ATV. Incidentally, the letters ITC were always shown horizontally on the USA company’s programmes and vertically on the UK products. Now back to the UK.

This is a list of ITC’s own top twenty choice which they call their Heritage Collection; they are shown here in alphabetical order: it's up to you to place them in chronological order or decide which ITC favourites you would substitute in your own personal top twenty.

The Baron. 30 x 60-minute series.

The Buccaneers. 39 x 30-minute series.

The Champions (shown on NBC in the USA). 30 x 60-minute series.

Danger Man (Secret Agent in the USA, shown on CBS). 39 x 30-minute series, 	47 x 60-minute series.

The Forest Rangers (made in Canada). 104 x 30-minute series.

Fury (made in the USA and shown on NBC there). 114 x 30-minute series.

Hammer House of Horror. 13 x 60-minute series.

Man in a Suitcase. 30 x 60-minute series.

The Persuaders (shown on ABC in the USA). 24 x 60-minute series.

The Prisoner (shown on CBS in the USA). 17 x 60-minute series.

The Protectors. 52 x 30-minute series.

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased). 26 x 60-minute series.

Return of The Saint (shown on CBS in the USA). 24 x 60-minute series.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (shown on CBS in the USA). 	143 x 30-minute series.

The Saint (shown on NBC in the USA). 114 x 60-minute series.

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (shown on NBC in the USA). 30 x 30-minute series.

Space 1999. 48 x 60-minute series.

Thriller. 43 x 75-minute films.

William Tell. 39 x 30-minute series.

Thunderbirds. 32 x 30-minute series.

Most of the shows mentioned not noted as shown on U.S. networks were in fact sold in syndication to the many local stations in the States; Space:1999 and Thunderbirds were particularly popular, as was The Protectors (to a lesser extent).

ITC handled distribution of much of Gerry Anderson's material, and also some less well-remembered children’s programmes, such as Mr Piper, produced in colour by ITC in Canada during 1963. Other vintage shows featured innovative television techniques in The Muppet Show as well as the audacious scale and quality of Jesus of Nazareth. The ITC back-catalogue is bursting with classic British screen entertainment, and as ITC flourished in the sixties and seventies, Lord Grade rightly won himself a reputation as Britain's greatest show business mogul.


Published at around £20 by SJC Communications Services Ltd, P.O. Box 44, Shrewsbury, SY2 5WB. ISBN 0-9528441-2-5.

This book is by the TV oracle Dave Rogers and Steve Gillis. It is a large A4-size paperback. Although there are no photos, it is a very detailed book on the programmes that the ITC produced over the years, listing information such as directors, writers, and where possible full cast lists, dates of programmes and if in colour or B/W, and at 469 pages it is a very full book.

© 1998 Andrew Emmerson

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