Alumni gather to mourn death of 'This Week': Michael Leapman reports on last night's wake for Thames Television's long-running current affairs programme, which bows out on Thursday

IT WAS BILLED as a wake, the invitations edged in black. About 250 people packed the Museum of the Moving Image on London's South Bank last night to mourn what was viewed as a sombre landmark in the history of commercial television.

Nearly all had worked on Thames Television's current affairs programme This Week, which will fade from the screen on Thursday with a compilation of highlights since its birth in 1956.

This Week is a casualty of last year's ITV franchise auction. Thames was outbid for the London weekday franchise by Carlton, which takes over on New Year's Day. This Week therefore lost its 8.30pm slot on Thursdays, although it will be replaced by short runs of current affairs programmes from other suppliers, going out an hour earlier.

The new programmes are not, however, expected to continue the trail-blazing style of This Week, which dealt with serious political issues at home and abroad. This is probably a too costly and insufficiently popular agenda for an ITV system saddled with high payments for its franchises.

The new programmes are likely to be more people-oriented and deal mainly with consumer and domestic issues, 'tabloid TV' aimed at higher ratings.

'We considered holding the party in the dinosaur room of the Natural History Museum,' Paul Woolwich, This Week's editor, said. 'We've been told that our kind of prime-time current affairs is as extinct as the dinosaur . . . But the Museum of the Moving Image was cheaper.'

David Elstein, director of programmes for Thames, said: 'What will replace This Week may or may not be current affairs. Life has moved on.' He described the programme's demise as 'the neutering of journalism on TV'.

The guest list included former This Week luminaries: Desmond Wilcox and Jonathan Dimbleby. Labour's Bryan Gould once worked on it, as did the former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, who sent his regrets. Other absent alumni included Jeremy Isaacs, Sir Robin Day, Ludovic Kennedy and Sir Alastair Burnet.

The programme originated with Associated Rediffusion, the first holder of the London weekday franchise. Thames took the programme on in 1970, though it suffered an eight-year hiatus after being replace by TV Eye in 1978.

Guests were shown a selection of historical highlights to be included in Thursday's programme. Among them are Jonathan Dimbleby's moving 1973 report on the Ethiopian famine; an interview with Stephen Ward, who committed suicide in the wake of the 1963 Profumo scandal; and several reports on Northern Ireland.

One of the most recent of these was Death on the Rock, the 1988 investigation into the shooting of three IRA terrorists by the SAS on Gibraltar, which so angered the Government that some believe it was a prime motive behind the 1990 Broadcasting Act and its destabilisation of the ITV franchise-holders.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London