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The Muppet Show - 45 Years Later

David French

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Last Sunday was the 45th anniversary (sapphire) of the debut of TMS on British television. The series was produced by ATV (Associated Television) for the ITV (Independent Television) networks. In those days ITV was franchise based, with each different region of the UK having their own separate identity (similar to the concept of the local affiliated networks in the USA). There were 14 ITV regions in the UK; in alphabetical order they were as follows:
  1. Anglia Television (East of England)
  2. ATV - Associated Television (Midlands)
  3. Border Television (England/Scotland border)
  4. Channel Television (Channel Islands)
  5. Grampian Television (North of Scotland)
  6. Granada Television (North of England)
  7. HTV - Harlech Television (Wales and West of England)
  8. LWT - London Weekend Television (Greater London and the Home Counties)
  9. STV - Scottish Television (Central Scotland)
  10. Southern Television (South of England)
  11. Thames Television (London and surrounding areas)
  12. Tyne Tees Television (North-East of England)
  13. Ulster Television (Northern Ireland)
  14. Westward Television (South-West of England)
  15. Yorkshire Television (North-West of England)
The clever-clogs amongst you will have noticed that there's 15 in that list, and that's because London had two franchises. The weekday franchise (Monday morning until Friday 7:00pm) was Thames and the weekend franchise (Friday 7:00pm until Closedown on Sunday night/Monday morning) was LWT. There was no complete networking of ITV at the time and while the franchises screened the same programmes, they didn't always air them on the same day or time. The Muppet Show was no exception - in the first season the series aired on Sunday nights, although the timeslot varied from region to region. LWT and Anglia didn't even take the series until eight weeks in to the run.

I won't post what happened with the UK screenings unless you really want me to.
 

DMHFan

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Joined
May 14, 2017
Messages
227
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Last Sunday was the 45th anniversary (sapphire) of the debut of TMS on British television. The series was produced by ATV (Associated Television) for the ITV (Independent Television) networks. In those days ITV was franchise based, with each different region of the UK having their own separate identity (similar to the concept of the local affiliated networks in the USA). There were 14 ITV regions in the UK; in alphabetical order they were as follows:
  1. Anglia Television (East of England)
  2. ATV - Associated Television (Midlands)
  3. Border Television (England/Scotland border)
  4. Channel Television (Channel Islands)
  5. Grampian Television (North of Scotland)
  6. Granada Television (North of England)
  7. HTV - Harlech Television (Wales and West of England)
  8. LWT - London Weekend Television (Greater London and the Home Counties)
  9. STV - Scottish Television (Central Scotland)
  10. Southern Television (South of England)
  11. Thames Television (London and surrounding areas)
  12. Tyne Tees Television (North-East of England)
  13. Ulster Television (Northern Ireland)
  14. Westward Television (South-West of England)
  15. Yorkshire Television (North-West of England)
The clever-clogs amongst you will have noticed that there's 15 in that list, and that's because London had two franchises. The weekday franchise (Monday morning until Friday 7:00pm) was Thames and the weekend franchise (Friday 7:00pm until Closedown on Sunday night/Monday morning) was LWT. There was no complete networking of ITV at the time and while the franchises screened the same programmes, they didn't always air them on the same day or time. The Muppet Show was no exception - in the first season the series aired on Sunday nights, although the timeslot varied from region to region. LWT and Anglia didn't even take the series until eight weeks in to the run.

I won't post what happened with the UK screenings unless you really want me to.
Please post what happened, I'm willing to hear!
 

David French

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2004
Messages
574
Reaction score
56
Please post what happened, I'm willing to hear!
(Oh, please want to! :wink:)

The Muppet Show debuted on 5 September 1976 in the UK. The timeslots varied from region to region - most regions screened the series at 5:05pm, Ulster aired it at 4:45pm and Border at 4:15pm. LWT and Anglia didn't take it until eight weeks in to the run - the timeslot was 5:35pm. ITV screens 16 episodes, takes a break over Christmas, then resumes in the new year. Three weeks in to the new year, LWT and Anglia change the timeslot to Saturday at 5:15pm. Two weeks later and most of the franchises call it a day; they stop the series with three episodes unaired. The exception is LWT and Anglia, who screen the last three episodes and then go back and play some of the earlier episodes they missed. The two franchises air 23 episodes, and then on Easter Saturday 1977 ITV airs a compilation edition entitled The Best of the Muppets featuring guest stars Rita Moreno and Ethel Merman; this explains why some fan researchers believed this date was the correct one for Ethel Merman. The following weekend ITV began a repeat run of the first season which included the episodes the other regions missed out. I thought these had been networked by ITV, however in re-checking contemporary publications that wasn't the case as the timeslots were as inconsistent as before.

The episode run for the first season goes like this:
  1. Joel Grey
  2. Rita Moreno
  3. Sandy Ducan
  4. Jim Nabors
  5. Ruth Buzzi
  6. Paul Williams
  7. Florence Henderson
  8. Peter Ustinov (LWT and Anglia now begin screening the series)
  9. Lena Horne
  10. Harvey Korman
  11. Candice Bergen
  12. Ben Vereen
  13. Charles Aznavour
  14. Phyllis Diller
  15. Avery Schreiber
  16. Twiggy
  17. Valerie Harper
  18. Mummenschanz
  19. Juliet Prowse (LWT and Anglia change timeslot to Saturday)
  20. Kaye Ballard
  21. Bruce Forsyth (Last episode shown by all regions except LWT and Anglia)
LWT and Anglia continue the run and air Ethel Merman, Connie Stevens and Vincent Price in that order. The two franchises go back and screen some earlier episodes. After airing 23 out of 24 episodes, ITV screens a compilation entitled The Best of the Muppets. The following weekend ITV begins playing a repeat season; Connie Stevens and Vincent Price are "repeated" first and Ethel Merman is "repeated" in the last Saturday of May 1977.

Don't worry, it gets easier with the other seasons.
 
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