|Founded||10 September 1954|
|Defunct||11 October 1998|
|Fate||Folded into Universal Pictures. Assets sold to Carlton Communications in 1999.|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
The Incorporated Television Company (ITC), or ITC Entertainment as it was referred to in the United States, was a British company involved in production and distribution of television programmes.
Television mogul Lew Grade set up the Incorporated Television Programme Company (ITP) with Prince Littler and Val Parnell in 1954.Originally designed to be a contractor for the UK's new ITV network, the company failed to win a contract when the Independent Television Authority felt that doing so would give too much control in the entertainment business to the Grade family's companies (which included large talent agencies and theatre interests) although the ITA said that ITP were free to make their own programmes which they could sell to the new network companies. ITP put most of the production budget into producing one show, The Adventures of Robin Hood (ITV, 1955–59).
However, the winner of one of the contracts, the Associated Broadcasting Development Company, had insufficient funds to start broadcasting,so the ITP owners were brought into the consortium—now renamed the Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC)—and Lew Grade came to dominate it.
In 1957, now known as Incorporated Television Company (ITC), the company became a subsidiary of Associated Television (ATV)—the name ABC had adopted after threats of legal action from fellow ITV company Associated British Cinemas (Television) Ltd—and produced its own programmes for ATV and for syndication in the United States. It also distributed ATV material outside of the UK. From 1966 to 1982 it was a subsidiary of Associated Communications Corporation after the acquisition of ATV.
The initials 'ITC' stood for two different things: Independent Television Corporation for sales to the Americas, and Incorporated Television Company for sales to the rest of the world. The American Independent Television Corporation was formed in 1958 as a joint venture with Jack Wrather.In September 1958 it purchased Television Programs of America (TPA) for $11,350,000. Wrather sold his shares to Lew Grade at the end of the decade.
The large foreign sales achieved by ITC during the British government's export drives of the 1960s and 1970s led to ACC receiving the Queen's Award for Export on numerous occasions.
During 1988 The Bell Group, the owners of ITC were taken over by the Bond Corporation.Subsequently, the new owners started an asset-stripping programme. In November 1988 ITC Entertainment was bought by its management. In 1990, ITC abandoned television production and concentrated on low-budget feature films. TV production at ITC would not resume until the company forged a deal with producer David Gerber in 1993.
In 1989, ITC Home Video was formed in the United Kingdom, to make use of the many hours of programmes in the archive, then unseen for years. This short-lived home entertainment division would end in 1991. In the following period, ITC continued to distribute its past library.
In 1995, PolyGram purchased the company for $156 million. with Grade once again returning to ITC to act as a consultant until his death in December 1998.
On 10 December 1998, Universal Studios' parent, Seagram purchased PolyGram for $10.2 billion. In early January 1999, Carlton Communications bought the ITC television and film library from PolyGram/Seagram for £91 million, which reunited the programme library of ATV and Central Television and doubled the stock of its library division Carlton International, by giving it a total of 15,000 hours of programming. Carlton chairman Michael Green said: 'The ITC library is a jewel in the crown. We can now unite it with the other gems from Britain's film and television heritage in our excellent library.' In 2004, Carlton merged with Granada plc to form ITV plc. ITV Studios continues to release ITC's original output through television and internet streaming repeats, books and DVD and Blu-ray releases.
In 2005, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company, Network released a DVD box set entitled ITC 50 featuring episodes from eighteen different ITC productions.
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ITC is best known for being the company behind many successful British cult TV filmed series during the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Saint, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Danger Man, The Baron, Gideon's Way, The Champions, The Prisoner, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Stingray , Joe 90 , Man in a Suitcase, Strange Report, Department S, The Persuaders!, Jason King, The Adventurer, The Protectors , Space 1999 , and Return of the Saint. It was also the production company for The Muppet Show and Julie on Sesame Street which were both made at ATV's Elstree Studios and distributed in the UK by ATV and in the US by ITC.
ITC got its start as a production company when former American producer Hannah Weinstein approached Lew Grade. Weinstein wanted to make a programme called The Adventures of Robin Hood. Weinstein proposed making the series for ITV and simultaneously marketing it in the United States through an American TV distribution company, Official Films. The series was a big success in both countries, running from 1955 until 1959 on CBS and ATV London.
Grade realised the potential in overseas sales and colour television (the last 14 episodes of The Adventures of Sir Lancelot were filmed in colour a decade before colour television existed in the UK),and ITC combined high production values with exotic locations and uses of variations on the same successful formula for the majority of its television output.
Although most of the ITC series were produced in Britain, ITC often worked with Television Programs of America (TPA) and several series were filmed in America. Possibly the earliest ITC series produced in the US was Fury, a Saturday morning live-action series, about a beloved ranch horse, which starred Peter Graves and ran on NBC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1963 Gerry Anderson's Anderson-Provis (AP) Films became part of ACC and produced Fireball XL-5, the hugely successful children's series Thunderbirds and, under its successor company Century 21 Television/Cinema Productions, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. ITC also funded Anderson-created programmes aimed at the adult market, including UFO and Space: 1999. It was at ITC's request that Fanderson, "the Gerry Anderson Appreciation Society," was founded. Another ITC children's series was The Adventures of Rupert Bear, the first television outing for the Daily Express cartoon character. ITC (in partnership with the Italian company RAI) was also behind Franco Zeffirelli's Biblical mini-series Jesus of Nazareth , Moses the Lawgiver , and the Gregory Peck television film The Scarlet and the Black.
In addition to television programming, ITC also produced several films. In 1976, the company teamed up with General Cinema Corporation to form Associated General Films, and produced films including Voyage of the Damned ,Capricorn One , and The Eagle Has Landed but the partnership ended the following year.
Other films produced by ITC include The Boys from Brazil, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Last Unicorn, and a number of Jim Henson Company productions: The Dark Crystal and the first two Muppet films, The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. Initially, ITC productions were licensed out to other US studios for release until 1979, when ITC partnered with another UK-based production company, Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, to create Associated Film Distribution, which would release films produced by each company, as well as pick-ups from other production companies. In 1979, the subsidiary Black Lion Films was founded in the manner of Thames Euston Films, but its best remembered production, The Long Good Friday, was sold on to HandMade Films.
In the summer of 1980, two films released by AFD within six weeks of each other helped lead to the distribution company's dissolution. Can't Stop the Music , designed to be a showcase for Village People at the height of disco music, was released 20 June 1980, by which time disco's popularity had diminished and the form was experiencing a backlash from music listeners. The poorly reviewed film ultimately grossed $2 million on a $20 million budget. On 1 August 1980, the release of the poorly received Raise the Titanic! met with pre-release criticism from the novel's author, Clive Cussler, and recouped only a fraction of its costs; Grade himself retired from active film production, commenting that it would have been cheaper to "lower the Atlantic." Cussler himself told People Weekly Magazine, "The film was so poor, it boggles the mind."
After the films' failures, ITC and EMI agreed to sell AFD and the distribution rights to its library to Universal Pictures, though the AFD films which were then in post production at the time were still ultimately released by AFD, to handle the release of the remaining pictures still in production at the time of the sale, beginning with The Legend of the Lone Ranger, and including On Golden Pond , Sophie's Choice , The Dark Crystal , and The Great Muppet Caper . As January 2016 was beginning, while the various copyrights had reverted to their respective owners, Universal still maintained theatrical rights to most of the ITC and EMI films initially released by AFD.
In 1983, ITC produced and released the animated series Thunderbirds 2086 , which was not an original British series based on the Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds. It was actually an English dubbed version of Scientific Rescue Team Technoboyager, a Japanese anime that has an identical premise to Anderson's Thuderbirds. ITC licensed the series for an English dub and re-imagined the series as set twenty years after the original, thus being an evolution of that same International Rescue Organization. However, the Tracy family and associated characters from the Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds are never mentioned.
In 1990, ITC briefly attempted to enter the lucrative American game show market, with a syndicated revival of Tic-Tac-Dough, which had previously run from 1978 to 1986 in syndication, alongside Barry & Enright Productions. However, the show was off the air by March 1991, mainly due to a glut of syndicated game show offerings during the 1990-91 season, as well as several changes in gameplay which were criticised, as was host Patrick Wayne.
Grade himself died in 1998.
As a distribution company, ITC was also the worldwide distributor for ATV's 1967 one-off The Benny Hill Show special, but not the Thames Television series that followed.
Today, the underlying rights are generally owned by ITV Studios Global Entertainment via ITV plc and its respective predecessors, although in most cases Shout! Factory now holds full worldwide distribution rights (with US theatrical distribution handled by Shout!’s Westchester Films division, passed on from former distributors Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Park Circus). In turn, Shout!’s video distribution rights in North America to a majority of the ITC Entertainment library were assumed from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.The company's first overall video deal was via Magnetic Video in 1980 (with The Muppet Movie as Magnetic's first release of ITC material); this continued after the company became 20th Century Fox Video and then CBS-Fox Video (ITC output was also released by CBS-Fox's sublabels Key Video and Playhouse Video). Upon that deal's expiration, ITC briefly distributed titles under the ITC Home Video name, handled by J2 Communications. LIVE Entertainment, which had been licensing some of ITC's television series and made-for-television films since the early 1980s, took over distribution of ITC theatrical material in the early 1990s, and retained these rights into the 2000s, when the company had become Artisan Entertainment. Lionsgate purchased Artisan in 2004 and retained the rights until Shout! Factory signed a deal with ITV.
As for ITC's television output, Carlton (and later Granada and now ITV) released some of these shows on DVD both in Europe and North America. There were however a few exceptions: The Adventures of Robin Hood and the other swashbuckling adventure series of the late 1950s and early 1960s were released on DVD by Network, as was Strange Report. As mentioned, Artisan Entertainment and that company's predecessors had been releasing ITC's television library since the early 1980s.
Many of the drama shows from the 1960s and 1970s have since been released by Network as limited edition box sets.
The Walt Disney Company has owned the Muppets franchise since 2004, including ITC productions The Muppet Show , The Muppet Movie , and The Great Muppet Caper . The Jim Henson Company owns the ITC production The Dark Crystal as it had bought the film from the company after production had completed; the film is distributed on home video under license by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
ITC produced and distributed a wide range of content across both film and television, over several decades. ITC productions and distributions crossed many different genres – from historical adventure, to spy-fi and action, and later into both children's and adult science-fiction – as well as films covering many different subjects.
The ITC Distributions page offers a complete list of ITC produced and distributed programmes.
ITC had no studios of its own. Programmes were made in several facilities but most notably at ABPC's Elstree film studios (not to be confused with ATV's nearby Clarendon Road Studios, Borehamwood studios which was a live/videotape facility, and now known as BBC Elstree). However, the MGM-British Studios complex at Borehamwood,the Rank Organisation's Pinewood and Shepperton Studios were also used. 'Ghost Squad' was made at the Independent Artists Studio in Beaconsfield.
The Muppet Show is a comedy television series created by Jim Henson and featuring the Muppets. The series originated as two pilot episodes produced by Henson for ABC in 1974 and 1975, respectively. While neither episode was moved forward as a series and other networks in the United States rejected Henson's proposals, British producer Lew Grade expressed interest in the project and agreed to co-produce The Muppet Show for ATV. Five seasons, totalling 120 episodes, were broadcast on ATV and other ITV franchises in the United Kingdom and in first-run syndication through CBS in the US from 1976 to 1981. The programme was taped at Elstree Studios, England.
Gerry Anderson was an English television and film producer, director, writer and occasional voice artist. He remains famous for his futuristic television programmes, especially his 1960s productions filmed with "Supermarionation".
Associated Television was a British television broadcaster within the Independent Television (ITV) network. It provided a service to London at weekends from 1955 to 1968, to the Midlands on weekdays from 1956 to 1968, and to the Midlands all week from 1968 to 1982. It was one of the "Big Four" until 1968, and the "Big Five" after 1968, that between them produced the majority of ITV networked programmes. In 1982, ATV was restructured and rebranded as Central Independent Television, under which name it continued to provide the service for the Midlands.
The Protectors is a British television series, an action thriller created by Gerry Anderson. It was Anderson's second TV series to exclusively use live actors as opposed to marionettes, and his second to be firmly set in contemporary times. It was also the only Gerry Anderson-produced television series that was not of the fantasy or science fiction genres. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company. Despite not featuring marionettes or any real science fiction elements, The Protectors became one of Anderson's most popular productions, easily winning a renewal for a second series. A third series was in the planning stages when the show's major sponsor, Brut, ended its funding and thus forced the series' cancellation.
PolyGram N.V. was an entertainment company and major music record label formerly based in the Netherlands. It was founded in 1962 as the Grammophon-Philips Group by Dutch corporation Philips and German corporation Siemens, to be a holding for their record companies, and was renamed "PolyGram" in 1972. The name was chosen to reflect the Siemens interest Polydor Records and the Philips interest Phonogram Records. The company traced its origins through Deutsche Grammophon back to the inventor of the flat disc gramophone, Emil Berliner.
Lew Grade, Baron Grade, OStJ, KC*SS, born Louis Winogradsky, was a British media proprietor and impresario. Originally a dancer, and later a talent agent, Grade's interest in television production began in 1954 when, in partnership, he successfully bid for franchises in the newly created ITV network, which led to the creation of Associated Television (ATV). Having worked for a time in the United States, he was aware of the potential for the sale of television programming to American networks. The Incorporated Television Company was formed with this specific objective in mind. Grade had some success in this field with such series as Gerry Anderson's various Supermarionation series such as Thunderbirds, Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner, and Jim Henson's The Muppet Show. Later, Grade invested in film production, but several expensive box office failures caused him to lose control of ITC, and ultimately resulted in the disestablishment of ATV after it lost its ITV franchise.
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was a British film studio founded in 1980 which became a European competitor to Hollywood, but was eventually sold to Seagram Company Ltd. in 1998 and was folded in 1999. Among its most successful and well known films were An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Game (1997) and Notting Hill (1999).
The Jim Henson Company is an American entertainment company located in Los Angeles, California. The company is known for its innovations in the field of puppetry, particularly through the creation of Kermit the Frog and the Muppets characters. Brian Henson serves as chairman, while Lisa Henson serves as CEO. Since 2000, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered at the Jim Henson Company Lot, the historic former Charlie Chaplin Studios, in Hollywood.
Universal Television LLC is an American television production company that is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, a division of Comcast's NBCUniversal. A substantial portion of the company's shows air on NBC, making the company its de facto television production division. It was formerly known as Revue Studios, Universal Pictures Television Department, Universal-International Television, MCA/Universal, MTE Inc., NBC Productions, NBC Studios, Studios USA Television LLC, Universal Network Television, Universal Domestic Television, USA Cable Entertainment, NBC Universal Television Studio, and Universal Media Studios. Re-established in 2004, both NBC Studios and the original Universal Network Television are predecessors of Universal Media Studios, formerly known as NBC Universal Television Studio.
AP Films or APF, later becoming Century 21 Productions, was a British independent film production company of the 1950s until the early 1970s. The company became internationally known for its imaginative children's action-adventure marionette television series – most significantly Thunderbirds – produced for British independent broadcasting companies Associated-Rediffusion, Granada, ABC Weekend Television and Associated Television. At its height, the company employed more than 200 staff.
Dennis Spooner was an English television writer and script editor, known primarily for his programmes about fictional spies and his work in children's television in the 1960s. He had long-lasting professional working relationships with a number of other British screenwriters and producers, notably Brian Clemens, Terry Nation, Monty Berman and Richard Harris, with whom he developed several programmes. Though he was a contributor to BBC programmes, his work made him one of the most prolific writers of televised output from ITC Entertainment.
The Baron is a British television series made in 1965 and 1966, based on the book series by John Creasey and produced by ITC Entertainment. Thirty episodes were produced, and the show was exported to the American ABC network.
Whiplash was a British/Australian television series in the Australian Western genre produced by the Seven Network, ATV, and ITC Entertainment, starring Peter Graves. Filmed in 1959-60, the series was first broadcast in September 1960 in the United Kingdom and in Australia in February 1961.
The Buccaneers was a 1956 Sapphire Films television drama series for ITC Entertainment, broadcast by CBS in the US and shown on ATV and regional ITV companies as they came on air during the infancy of ITV in the UK.
ITV Studios is a British multinational television production and distribution company owned by the British television broadcaster ITV plc. It handles production and distribution of programmes broadcast on the ITV network and third-party broadcasters, and is based in 12 countries across 60 production labels, with local production offices in the UK, US, Belgium, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Israel, France, and Scandinavia.
Martin Starger is an American entertainment entrepreneur. He led ABC Entertainment during its boom period in the 1970s, pioneering the creation of television shows such as ABC Movie of the Week, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Happy Days. He also pushed the limits of television broadcast presiding over pioneering miniseries and specials such as Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man.
BBC Elstree Centre, sometimes referred to as BBC Elstree Studios, is a television production facility, currently owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The complex is located on Eldon Avenue in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
Thunderbirds is a British science fiction television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, filmed by their production company AP Films (APF) and distributed by ITC Entertainment. It was made between 1964 and 1966 using a form of electronic marionette puppetry combined with scale-model special effects sequences. Two series, totalling thirty-two 50-minute episodes, were filmed; production ended with the completion of the sixth episode of the second series after Lew Grade, the Andersons' financial backer, failed in his bid to sell the programme to American network television.
This article primarily discusses screen and audio works of fiction based on Thunderbirds, a British Supermarionation television series created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. It also covers imitations and references in other media.
the ITA felt that the enormous amount of talent ITC controlled could easily lead it to monopolise the fledgling network
The battle for the initials 'ABC' had to be settled in court, where the cinema owner succeeded on the basis of prior use.