Associated-Rediffusion: Wikis

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Associated-Rediffusion
Rediffusion, London
Associated rediffusion london.jpg
Based in London
Broadcast area London and surrounding counties
Launched 22 September 1955 as Associated-Rediffusion
most likely to be 6 April 1964 as Rediffusion, London
Closed 29 July 1968
Replaced by Thames Television (Monday morning to Friday afternoon) and London Weekend Television (Friday evenings)
Owned by BET, Broadcast Relay Services

Associated-Rediffusion, later Rediffusion, London, was the British ITV contractor for London and parts of the surrounding counties, on weekdays between 1954 and 29 July 1968. Transmissions started on 22 September 1955.

Contents

Development

The company was originally a partnership between British Electric Traction (BET) and its subsidiary Broadcast Relay Services Ltd. (trading as Rediffusion) and Associated Newspapers, owners of the Daily Mail. In the aftermath of the fearful financial losses that the new ITV system made in its initial years, Associated Newspapers sold the majority of their share to BET and Rediffusion, although the company did not drop the word "Associated" from their name until 1964. Associated Newspapers, later realising the potential of ITV, were significant investors in the ITV franchise contractor for south-east England, Southern Television.

Captain Thomas Brownrigg RN (Retired), the general manager of Associated-Rediffusion from 1955, had a very clear idea of what his new commercial television station was to be like - the BBC Television Service, with advertisements. To this end, the station had a heraldic-style on-air clock, referred to as "Mitch" by staff (after chief station announcer Leslie Mitchell, who had not only made the first announcement when A-R went on the air in 1955, but had done the same when the BBC TV service started in 1936).

The strategy allayed any fears that the new commercial TV service would be aimed at the bottom of the market. Associated-Rediffusion made ITV respectable. A-R certainly introduced popular game shows, but also provided quality programming across all genres and for gaining a massive audience both in its own London area and, as the ITV network grew, for programmes shown across the country.

Studios and administration

The company's administrative headquarters and transmission facilities were based at Television House in Kingsway, London. Most programme production utilised Wembley Studios, Wembley, north-west London. However, it should be noted that a small basement studio at Television House, Studio 9, was occasionally used for current affairs programmes and was home to Ready, Steady, Go! during its first few years of production.

Television House, Kingsway, London, had previously been known as Adastral House when it was the headquarters of the Air Ministry - this gave its name to A-R's logo, the 16-point Adastral Star, which appeared not only at the start and end of each commercial break but also between each advertisement. (The motto of the Royal Air Force is "per ardua, ad astra" - "through adversity to the stars".) There was also an electrical rentals chain related to Associated Rediffusion called Rediffusion that was once common on high streets which was bought by Granada Rentals in 1984 and had featured the Adastral Star on shop signs and marketing.

The writer James Thurber once claimed that "Associated-Rediffusion" sounded more like a rare neurological disorder than a television company.

Rediffusion, London

In 1964 the directors had a change of heart, pensioning off Captain Brownrigg to the south coast and a directorship of the TV Times, and rebranding the station as "Rediffusion, London", with a very hip 1960s style, the face of swinging London in the shiny prosperous new Britain. However, the new Rediffusion did not survive for long - in 1967 the Independent Television Authority announced that there was no place for Rediffusion in the redrawn franchise pattern. The parent company, BET, took a 49% stake in the successor company, Thames Television, which was formed by Rediffusion and ABC Television. Employees based at Wembley went to work for London Weekend Television whilst those at Television House were employed by Thames. Some managerial and presentation staff re-located to the new Yorkshire Television in Leeds.

Programmes produced by Associated-Rediffusion and Rediffusion, London included Double Your Money, Take Your Pick, Ready, Steady, Go!, The Rat Catchers, Do Not Adjust Your Set, This Week, Crane, Riviera Police, No Hiding Place, Top Secret, Five O'Clock Club, and At Last the 1948 Show. Redvers Kyle was among the company's announcers throughout its 13 years on the air, and Muriel Young was among its original announcing team.

Rediffusion, low bandwidth TV and radio distribution system

Redifusion also offered a low-bandwidth cable TV and radio distribution system. This was based on connecting homes with multiple twisted-pair cables. Each twisted-pair carried a single TV or radio channel. Selection of TV or radio station was by means of a rotary switch, usually mounted on a wall or window frame close to the point of entry of the cable into the home. From this a two-wire cable led to the TV or radio. The TVs used on this system were stripped-down TV sets with no tuner or RF front-end and the radios were modified speakers with no RF section. Rediffusion abandoned this system of TV and radio distribution some time in the 1970s or early 1980s.

Archives

The original programme library was situated on the roof of Television House with some storage in the film vaults at Wembley Studios.

The vast majority of Rediffusion's programme library was either lost or destroyed following the merger of the company with ABC Television in 1968. Surviving titles from the Rediffusion archive are held by the BFI National Archive at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Most titles are the intellectual property of Archbuild Limited, with the exception of some of Rediffusion's musical output such as Ready, Steady, Go! which is the property of Dave Clark International.

Some Rediffusion shows have been re-discovered in recent years. In the late 1980s, a series of five At Last the 1948 Show compilations was found in the archives of Swedish broadcaster, SVT.

Revival

In the 1990s, the name "Associated-Rediffusion Television" and the adastral trademark were acquired by the British journalist Victor Lewis-Smith, and are now used by his own production company. Productions have included:

Overseas Rediffusion

BET and Rediffusion Limited had strong links with the former British colonies. These included holding the concessions for wired and over-the-air radio and television stations. A subsidiary company, Overseas Rediffusion, operated these stations and also sold advertising time and programming for them. Stations included the radio station Rediffusion Barbados,[1] Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the wired television service Rediffusion Television in Hong Kong, the latter now known as Asia Television.

Names used

Company names:

  • Associated-Rediffusion Television Limited (1954-1964)
  • Rediffusion Television Limited (1964-1968)

On-air names:

  • Associated-Rediffusion (1955-1964)
  • Rediffusion London (1964-1968)

Initials used:

  • AR-TV (1955-1964)
  • A-R (1955-1964)

External links

References

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