- ITC Entertainment
The Incorporated Television Company (ITC) is a British television company largely involved in production and distribution. It was founded by television mogul
Lew Gradein 1954.
Originally designed to be a contractor for the UK's new
ITVunder the self-explanatory name Incorporated Television Programme Companycite web |title =ITC |publisher =BFI |url=http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/563524/index.html |accessdate=2008-04-15] , the company failed to win a contract when the Independent Television Authorityfelt 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)cite web |title =ATV |publisher = BFI|url=http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/459509/ |accessdate=2008-04-15 |quote=the ITA felt that the enormous amount of talent ITC controlled could easily lead it to monopolise the fledgling network] although the ITA said that ITPC were free to make their own programmes which they could sell to the new network companies.
However, the winner of one of the contracts, the Associated Broadcasting Development Company (also referred to as the "Kelmsley/Winnick" consortium) had insufficient funds to start broadcasting, so ITC was brought into the consortium and Lew Grade came to dominate it.cite web |title =ATV |publisher =BFI |url=http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/459509/ |accessdate=2008-04-15]
ITC continued as a subsidiary of the new company - originally entitled "Associated Broadcasting Company" but soon renamed
Associated TeleVision(ATV) after threats of legal action from fellow ITV company ABC cite web |title =ATV |publisher =BFI |url=http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/459509/ |accessdate=2008-04-15 |quote=The battle for the initials 'ABC' had to be settled in court, where the cinema owner succeeded on the basis of prior use.] - and produced its own programmes for ATV and syndication in the United States. It also distributed ATV material outside of the UK.
The initials 'ITC' stood for two different things - Independent Television Corporation for sales to North and Latin America, and Incorporated Television Company for sales to the rest of the world. The American Independent Television Corporation was formed as a joint venture with
Jack Wrathercite web |title =A Quick Guide to ITC |publisher =405 Alive |url=http://www.bvws.org.uk/405alive/info/itc.html |accessdate=2008-04-15] in 1958. In September 1958, the Independent Television Corporation purchased Television Programs of America(TPA) for $11,350,000. Wrather sold his shares of Independent Television Corporation to Lew Grade at the end of the decade.
The large foreign sales achieved by ITC during the British government's exports drives of the 1960s and 1970s led to ATV (and its parent company from 1966, Associated Communications Corporation) receiving the
Queen's Award for Exporton numerous occasions.
ITC is best known for being the company behind many successful British cult TV programmes during the 1960s and 1970s, such as "The Saint", "
Danger Man", " The Baron", " The Champions", " The Prisoner", "Thunderbirds", " Man in a Suitcase", " Strange Report", " Department S", " The Persuaders!", "Jason King", "The Adventurer", " The Protectors" and " Return of the Saint". It was also the production company for " The Muppet Show" which was made at ATV's Elstree Studiosand 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 Weinsteinapproached 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 1960.
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 starring Peter Graves about a beloved ranch horse which ran on NBCin the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Gerry Anderson's AP Filmsbecame part of ACC and produced the hugely successful children's series "Thunderbirds" and, under its successor company Century 21 Productions, " Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons". ITC also funded Anderson-created programs aimed at the adult market, including "UFO" and "". 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.
As well as television programming ITC also produced several films - including "On Golden Pond", "
Capricorn One", "The Eagle Has Landed", "The Boys from Brazil", " The Return of the Pink Panther", "Sophie's Choice" 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". It was also behind Franco Zeffirelli's Biblical mini-series "Jesus of Nazareth" and the Gregory Peck TV movie " The Scarlet and the Black".
The company's most notorious production was the 1980 film "Raise the Titanic" which almost sunk the production company as costs escalated, principally around the extensive "Titanic" scale model. The film recouped only a fraction of its costs, and ITC's profile never recovered. Grade himself retired from active film production, commenting with the Jewish
chutzpahhe was renowned for, that it would have been cheaper to "lower the Atlantic".
As a distribution company, ITC was also the world-wide distributor for
Thames Television's " The Benny Hill Show"cite web |title = IMDB |url=http://www.imdb.com/company/co0103220/#distributor |accessdate=2008-04-13] .
Logo and animated idents
production logofeatured three diamonds, with the letters of the company placed in each one. For international markets, an animated opening logo was added - featuring the logo followed by the word "PRESENTS", and accompanied by a fanfare. This music was composed by Jack Parnell, initially appointed ATV's musical director in 1956. There were several variations on this animation. One included a compass which gave way to a large diamond with a world map, which - in turn - gave way to the three diamonds of the logo. Another logo featured three spinning diamonds (nicknamed the "Space Diamonds" or the "Rainbow Spinning Top") in red, green and blue. The ITC logo appeared in white on top of the coloured diamonds, and the lettering "FROM (ITC logo) ENTERTAINMENT" appeared. In the US, this logo preceded showings of the 2nd season of "" whereas it followed showings of "The Muppet Show". In Britain, "The Muppet Show" had an animated ATV logo at the start. The final ITC animation featured a variation on the logo, actually spinning within itself, in gold. See the 'External Links' section for a video of the various ITC animated logos.
When the Associated Communications Corporation was broken up after losing control of the ATV franchise (it became
Central Independent Televisionwhen ACC was forced to divest itself of 49% of the company), the rights to the ITC archive were acquired by Polygram, and subsequently by Carlton Television.
Today, the underlying rights are owned by Granada International, although
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayernow owns theatrical distribution rights--ironically, MGM owns " Without a Clue" outright due to the studio's acquisition of original distributor Orion Pictures. Home video distribution in North America to a majority of the ITC library is handled by Lionsgate under license from Granada.
However, there are few exceptions to the theatrical library. One ITC production, "
The Dark Crystal", is now owned by The Jim Henson Company, with theatrical distribution rights handled by Universal Pictures(the film's original distributor). Two other films, " The Muppet Movie" and " The Great Muppet Caper", have full rights owned by the Henson company (including theatrical, television, and home video distribution, the latter component shared with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). Some ancillary rights to " The Return of the Pink Panther" are now held by Universal's Focus Featuresdivision, although original distributor United Artistsstill owns the copyright, as well as theatrical distribution through MGM due to the latter studio's distribution rights to the ITC film output.
As for ITC's television output, Carlton (and later Granada) 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 Video, as was "Strange Report".
Many of the cult drama shows from the 1960s and 1970s have since been released by Network as limited edition box sets, the most recent being "Danger Man" (as of August 2007). The only ITC show yet to be released by Network is "
The Protectors". The rights to "The Muppet Show", however, are held by The Muppets Studio LLC (formerly The Muppets Holding Company), a wholly owned part of The Walt Disney Company, with North American and UK home video rights controlled by Disney.
List of ITC Entertainment productions and distribution
ITC produced a 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-fiand action, and later into both children's and adult science-fiction - as well as films covering many different subjects.
The page offers a complete list of ITC produced and distributed programs.
ITC had no studios of its own. Programmes were made in several facilities but most notably at ATV's own studio in Elstree. However, the
MGM-British Studioscomplex at Borehamwoodcite video | people = Wanda Ventham| title =Introduction to The Mirror’s New, Danger Man: Special Edition | medium =DVD | publisher =Network DVD | year2 =2007 ] , the Rank Organisation's Pinewood and Shepperton Studioswere also used.
Associated Communications Corporation companies
Century 21 Productions
* [http://www.fanderson.org.uk/fanderson.html Fanderson]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w7kGdUt7dA ITC Animated logos 1959 to 1997 Logo and animated idents]
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