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The ITC Entertainment logo
The Incorporated Television Company (or ITC Entertainment as it was more commonly referred to on-screen) was a Britishmarker television company largely involved in production and distribution. It was founded by television mogul Lew Grade in 1954 (as the Incorporated Television Production Company) before initially becoming a subsidiary of the newly formed Associated TeleVision (ATV) and later, in 1966, a subsidiary of the Associated Communications Corporation (ACC). Grade realised the potential in overseas sales and foresaw the advent of colour television (The Adventures of Sir Lancelot was filmed in colour a decade before colour television existed in the UK), and ITC combined high production values with exotic locations — using variations on the same successful formula for the majority of its television output. For almost thirty years ITC was active in producing television and film content, mostly for ATV, before ITC's association with the broadcaster and success actually led to the demise of both ATV as a broadcaster and ITC as a production company in the early 1980s. In the following period, during which the company changed hands many times, ITC continued to distribute its past library, before ceasing operations in 1998 with the death of its founder. The large library of ITC productions continued to change hands several times, before coming under ownership of ITV plc, and continues to be popular around the world with new audiences discovering ITCs original output through television repeats, books and DVD releases.

History

Originally designed to be a contractor for the UK's new ITV under the self-explanatory name Incorporated Television Programme Company, 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 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.

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 - 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 Wrather 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 Export on numerous occasions.

In 1991 ITC Home Video was formed in the UK, to make use of the hours of programmes in the archive, then unseen for years and unleash them to the public.

In 2005, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the company, Network DVD released a DVD box set entitled ITC 50 featuring episodes from eighteen different ITC productions.

Productions

ITC is best known for being the company behind many successful Britishmarker 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 Studiosmarker 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 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 NBC in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1964 Gerry Anderson's 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 Productions, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. ITC also funded Anderson-created programs 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.

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, The Last Unicorn, 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 Titanicmarker 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 chutzpah he 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.

Logo and animated idents

A still from the 1974 ITC Entertainment logo ident.
The production logo featured 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 Space:1999 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.

An early version of the ITC logo depicted horizontally rather than vertically was seen on FURY, THE GALE STORM SHOW (on a silent title card at shows' end) and JEFF'S COLLIE (with the logo superimposed against a tree in a sunny field).

During the 1970s, there was also an ITC ident used for a very short time, featuring three spinning flowers with diamond petals, each moving about the screen, with the flowers then curling up, to make one diamond of each flower fall into place to form the ITC logo.

In the late 1980s, a new logo was bought in featuring three interlocking spinning gold diamonds with the letters ITC sliding out from the left. This logo can sometimes still be seen at the end of ITC programmes shown on British TV channel, ITV4. This logo was used throughout the 1990s until PolyGram sold the archive to Carlton in 1999.

Ownership

When the Associated Communications Corporation was broken up after losing control of the ATV franchise (it became Central Independent Television when 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 and Granada International.

Today, the underlying rights are owned by ITV Global Entertainment Ltd., although Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer now 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 ITV.

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 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment). Some rights to The Return of the Pink Panther are now held by Universal's Focus Features division in partnership with ITV, although original distributor United Artists still owns the copyright, and as of 2008, domestic theatrical, television, and internet distribution through MGM—most of these rights are the result of the latter studio's distribution rights to the ITC film output. The Evil That Men Do is now fully owned by Tri-Star Pictures via Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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 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-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 programs.

Studios

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 Studios complex at Borehamwoodmarker, the Rank Organisation's Pinewoodmarker and Shepperton Studiosmarker were also used.

Associated Communications Corporation companies



See also



References



External links




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