May 27, 2024

ATV Productions 1955 – 1981


From the fifties to the eighties ATV made some of the best known programmes to air on ITV. Sister company ITC also distributed many of them to countries around the globe. Here is a look at some of the notable contributions to British Television.


Sunday Night at the London Palladium, 1955-1974

The series aired live from London’s most famous theatre with hosts such as Bruce Forsyth, Tommy Trinder, Jim Dale, Bob Monkhouse and Jimmy Tarbuck. The series had a few name changes along the way but concluded in the seventies with its original title. The variety show brought to screens the big entertainment names of the day from across the UK, Europe and America.

Frolic Wind. 1955

Television adaptation of the work by Richard Pryce concerning Lady Athaliah (Helen Haye) who lives with her three elderly sisters at Pagnell Bois, and the exposure of long-held family secrets at a gathering of guests.

Man of Destiny. 1955

TV play based on the story by George Bernard Shaw in which Napoleon Bonaparte and an unnamed woman battle verbally with each other for possession of an unopened letter to Napoleon she has hoodwinked by a dumb Lieutenant. Starring James Donald and Elizabeth Sellars.

The Week-End Show. 1955

Live morning magazine series with a mix of interesting topics from fashion, cooking and health. This was ATV’s first programme to air on ‘ATV London’ after the launch of ITV in September 1955.

The Concert. 1955

Drama set in Montreal. A novelist, Dr Richard Jennings (who is never seen, only heard), decides to leave his apartment at short notice. His acquaintances cannot understand why he would want to leave so suddenly; so his friend, Professor Standish, visits him to find out why. Jennings tells Standish the story of how he met Anne Rivers, a blind girl who lives in the same apartment block, a few days previously. He now finds himself in a situation which forces him to leave.

A Question of Fact. 1955

Television adaptation of the play by Wynyard Browne about young schoolmaster Paul Gardiner and his growing fears of inherited evil after discovering that his real father was hanged for murder.

Sailor of Fortune. 1956-1958

The adventures of Grant Mitchell, the American sea captain of the freighter `The Shipwreck’, as he travels the world helping people in need and getting involved in all kinds of intrigue. Starring Lorne Greene.

Joan and Leslie. 1956

Comic situations in the life of husband and wife duo Joan and Leslie Randall.

The Bob Hope Show. 1956

A series of programmes produced at the Wood Green Empire with American comedian Bob Hope and his star guests.

The Lady and the Theif. 1956

Outwardly the life of highly-respected Lady Orrin seems normal. But she has a secret that no one would suspect, and the truth will out. Soon she finds herself in serious trouble. Joyce Heron stars in this drama written by Ted Lloyd. Produced in association with Towers Of London Productions.

Val Parnell’s Spectacular, 1956-1960

Having conquered Sunday evenings with Sunday Night at the London Palladium, Val Parnell turned his attention to Saturday nights. Each show was largely devoted to one artist and his or her guests. The series launched with The Gracie Fields Show. Others to host series under the Spectacular title included Benny Hill, Eric Sykes, Harry Secombe, Arthur Haynes, Alma Cogan, Dave King, Cliff Richard, David Whitfield, the Beverley Sisters, Hylda Baker, Allan Jones, Vera Lynn, Spike Milligan, Anthony Newley, Hughie Green, Charlie Chester, Shirley Bassey, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Holliday, Bob Monkhouse, Vic Damone, Des O’Connor, Bob Crosby, Tony Bennett, Peter Sellers, Connie Francis, Johnnie Ray, Mindy Carson, Norman Wisdom, Sarah Vaughan, Dickie Valentine, Tommy Steele, Gordon Macrae and Sheila Macrae, Janette Scott and Arthur Askey.

Heaven and Earth. 1957

Drama of the reactions of passengers aboard a plane heading for the Riviera which develops engine trouble – an updated version of the Jonah and the Whale legend. Dr. Gary Lewis is a young evangelist with a huge following who leaves his followers to enjoy a holiday in the South of France. On the plane flying out, engine trouble develops, and all four propellers cut out simultaneously. The plane rapidly loses height then, without explanation, the engines swing into action again. But this is not the end of the story. Starring Paul Scofield, Michael Goodliffe and Dorothy Bromiley.

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