Friday, November 11, 2011
The dates tend to cluster, and if we add a few other stunning shows, they extend back to the 1970s and forward somewhat to the early 1990s. Well, it turns out that both Euston Films and Granada Television were agents of ITV, Britain’s commercial television; the I stands for Independent. Euston Films was a subsidiary of Thames Television, a licensee of ITV, and created by ITV executives to produce programming; Granada Television was an ITV contractor for North West England but lost its identity in 2002.
ITV itself was created by the Television Act of 1954 as a competitor to the BBC. And some of the shows that we admire are evidently the flowering of this competition. It took about twenty-thirty years for the products to ripen—but they rapidly faded within another decade. Alongside these classics in British television grew programming consciously aimed at different classes with barely disguised propaganda slant (okay, it’s just an opinion). But for a while there both BBC and ITV produced some rare flowers.
Those of you who watched Reilly probably still remember the haunting musical theme that introduces and ends each episode, composed by the Russian Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975). He lived through the weird period that this very strange story covers and the music reflects it. If you want to hear it and watch the opening images, here is the YouTube link.