TV Cream

Independent Producers


First there was W Butcher and Sons, nineteenth-century chemists and magic lantern manufacturers. Then they moved into camera production, before getting into film distribution in the Edwardian era. In association with many other companies, they produced and distributed a bizarrely wide range of stuff – from early silent comedies to literary adaptations, crime dramas with John Bentley as Paul Temple and “The Toff”, variety shows like International Circus Review (featuring The Skating Typhoons, The Three Austins and Pongo), music hall vehicles for Frank Randle, Elsie and Doris Waters, George Formby, Norman Evans, Billy Cotton, Wilson, Kepple and Betty, Mrs Jack Hylton and Her Boys, and the brilliantly named The Radio Three. Most famously, there were the no-nonsense, no-frills, no-money filler thrillers of the ’50s and ’60s that can still be found lurking in the small hours on terrestrial to this day. Often derided – usually quite rightly – for their shoddiness, they nevertheless helped a good many nascent talents get a foothold both in front of and behind the camera, in particular straight acting roles for the unlikely likes of Frank Muir, Peter Glaze and Jackie Collins. Production companies distributed by Butcher’s included Stoll, Nettlefold, Mancunian, British and Dominions (all qv), Progress, Empire Film Manufacturing and rogue American outfit The Masquers Club of Hollywood.

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