The Companies

From the souvenir programme given to attendees at the Guildhall on 22 September 1955

ASSOCIATED-REDIFFUSION LTD. is the result of the conjunction of two major enterprises in different fields of our national life: Broadcast Relay Service Ltd., with a long and valuable experience in sound broadcasting at home, in the Dominions and in the Colonies, whose Chairman and Managing Director, Mr. John Spencer Wills, M.Inst.T., is Chairman of the new company; and Associated Newspapers Ltd., who have built and maintained an unrivalled pioneering tradition in newspapers, whose Managing Director, Mr. Stuart McClean, is Deputy Chairman.

Our General Manager is Captain T. M. Brownrigg, C.B.E., D.S.O., R.N. (retd.), who after a gallant and distinguished career as a naval officer, was the first general manager of the New Town of Bracknell in Berkshire, where he achieved a notable success in creating good relations between the local community and the newcomers.

Our controller of programmes and production is Mr. Roland Gillett, an Englishman who, after sixteen years in films both in Britain and in Hollywood and wartime service in the Fleet Air Arm, became one of the leading television producers in the United States.

On foundations which we know to be sure we are launching what we believe to be a pioneering enterprise. Ours is a venture which all concerned enter with zest, with pride in having so magnificent a chance, and with faith in our own capacity to create and sustain—in an entirely new field—a public service which will be second to none.

We are neither timorous nor apologetic about what we are undertaking from to-night onwards. We believe — with all the vigour and seriousness we possess — in the new policy which Parliament has approved, which we to-night have the honour to initiate.

We believe that television can and will prove to be one of the most significant and exciting developments in human communication — in education, in entertainment and in the visual arts — since the invention of printing.

Believing as we do in the principles of competition and free enterprise, it is by the methods of competition and free enterprise that we intend to develop Britain’s new television service. We have neither the need nor the desire to imitate television in other countries; and, in that spirit of rivalry which has been the breath and stimulus of life in Britain for centuries, we welcome competition and we shall strive, in everything we undertake, to give a far better service than our competitors.

That, in simple terms, is our task and our aim. “You can never plan the future by the past,” said Edmund Burke. We know that we are facing the challenge of a new age. We know that we must adventure and explore. Television means the act of far-seeing. We shall try to create our contribution to to-morrow, we shall try to build to-day’s bright window into the future, with to-morrow’s methods and technique, and with to-morrow’s aspirations, dreams, hopes and ideals. In the homes and by the hearths of to-day, with new vision founded on our traditional national values and faith, we shall strive to serve the Britain of to-morrow.

The Companies

From the souvenir programme given to attendees at the Guildhall on 22 September 1955

The Associated Broadcasting Company brings to the field of independent television a Board of Directors whose combined experience in public service and entertainment is unrivalled.

A.B.C.’s Chairman, Prince Littler, has occupied a prominent place in the field of entertainment for many years and, among his other directorships, includes that of Moss Empires Ltd., Stoll Theatres Ltd., Associated Theatre Properties and many other theatre-owning and theatre-managing organisations.

A.B.C.’s Vice-Chairman, Norman Collins, a former director of the B.B.C.’s Television Service, has been in the forefront of the battle to bring independent television to Britain and has been closely associated with every stage of its development.

The Members of the Board of Directors and the Management Committee of A.B.C. include: the outstanding figure of the Variety world — Val Parnell; Richard L. Meyer, a pioneer in independent television; Harry Alan Towers, one of the foremost independent producers and distributors of radio and television programmes and Lew Grade — one of Britain’s leading agents and an important figure in the entertainment field.

A.B.C. has been entrusted, initially, with the responsibility of providing the programmes for the London Station on week-ends and for the Birmingham Station, Monday to Friday. It is, therefore, the only independent television programme contractor with a programme responsibility which extends over the whole seven days of the week.

A.B.C. has predominantly turned to the field of experienced technicians and producers and numbers among its staff some of the many whose knowledge of television extends back to its earliest days in Britain.

Heading its Light Entertainment Department is Bill Ward, associated with many of television’s best-known shows. Keith Rogers — another pioneer of television — heads the O.B. side; and, in the initial stages, his responsibility extends considerably beyond the Outside Broadcast field.

Individual directors whose services are available to A.B.C. include Bill Lyon Shaw, Denis Vance, Desmond Davis, Henry Caldwell, Dicky Leeman, Leonard Brett, Stephen Wade, Cecil Petty and many more.

A.B.C. has converted Wood Green Empire — one of the largest suburban Variety Theatres — into one of the most modern and best equipped Television Theatres in the world. It is from here that many of the top Variety Productions of A.B.C. will originate.

In addition, through the interests of its Directors, A.B.C. will have available many of the best known theatres in London and the Provinces, including the London Palladium, whence will originate, each Sunday night a Variety highspot — SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM. A.B.C. has recently acquired the British National Studios at Elstree — a fully equipped modern motion picture production centre where many of the television films which A.B.C. is presenting are being made. Through other Directors of A.B.C., the Company has a link with Highbury Studios and Nettlefold Studios — two other centres for the production of television films.

Many of A.B.C.’s major programmes will be produced for it by the Incorporated Television Programme Company Limited, with which Prince Littler, Val Parnell, Lew Grade and Harry Alan Towers are also associated. This Company, founded by public relations expert Suzanne Warner, adds further show-business strength through members of its Board, who include Hugh Beaumont, of H. M. Tennent Limited, Stuart Cruikshank of Howard & Wyndham Theatres, Phillip and Syd Hyams of Eros Films, John Schlesinger of the Schlesinger Organisation and Anthony Gishford of Boosey and Hawkes Limited.

The nerve centre of A.B.C.’s week-end operation is the modern control centre at Foley Street, London, within 200 yards of Museum Exchange — the nerve centre of the micro-wave and coaxial cable linking system of the G.P.O.

A.B.C. will also be developing a studio centre in Birmingham.

These are some of the personalities and facilities which together, will be ensuring that A.B.C. T.V. fills an important role in the pioneering and development of independent television in Britain.

Note: after less than a month on air and following a court battle with the Associated British Picture Corporation who owned the ABC cinema chain, Associated Broadcasting Company Ltd was renamed Associated TeleVision Ltd (ATV). It is not related to ABC Weekend Television, who provided the programmes at weekends in the Midlands and the North from 1956-1968, who were a subsidiary of the Associated British Picture Corporation.