Weird old title sequences: ITC shows (1970s)

And so we round off our look at the majestic rise and fall of ITC, a company that dominated TV for three decades. Last time, we looked at the shows of the 60s, a decade when ITC was at the height of its powers; this week, we’ll look at its slow descent.

Things started well at first with the marvellously cast – if not marvellously scripted – The Persuaders!, starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, which is a candidate for the show with the best theme tune and title sequence in TV history.

With high production values, actual location filming and an all-star cast, it looked like ITC was on to something good.

Unfortunately, The Persuaders! didn’t rate very well in the US, so didn’t get a second series. So instead, ITC concentrated on two half-hour formats to replace, that followed similar lines: The Protectors, with Robert Vaughn from The Man from UNCLE and Nyree Dawn Porter, and The Adventurer.

The Protectors had a fabulous theme tune and song by Tony Hatch, but its half-hour format really killed the scripts.

The Adventurer, however, was saddled with the somewhat ego-centric Gene Barry from Burke’s Law and The Name of the Game, a sub-Persuaders theme tune by John Barry and some truly dreadful scripts.

After that, it was left to ITC mainstay Gerry Anderson to maintain the ITC tradition. But having done so well with puppets in the 60s with shows like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, after the interim show The Secret Service

…he was ready to move on to full live-action with first UFO then Space: 1999, both of which I’ve already covered, neither of which lasted more than two seasons.

After that, Lew Grade was ready to move on to mini-series such as Jesus of Nazareth and movies like Raise The Titanic and The Medusa Touch. Which meant the death nell for ITC was sounded in 1980 with the very un-ITC, very low-key story of village life, Shillingbury Tales, starring the likes of Robin Nedwell and Diane Keen.

And that, unfortunately, was that for ITC after three decades at the top. But along the way, it did give us some very fabulous – and sometimes very weird – title sequences.