The final screening, Back to the Future, has been shown in the last remaining ABC cinema in the UK.
“The closure of the last ABC cinema is the end of an era, perhaps a reminder of the golden era of British Film production. However we celebrate the success of our new Film and TV era for this millennium, with amazing talent, award winning production and new technology reaching a worldwide audience. Elstree Studios has a great past and a great future.” – Roger Morris MD of Elstree Studios
The ABC cinema in Bournemouth is due to be redeveloped into flats. Associated British Cinemas began in 1928, the company was formed by Elstree Studios then owner John Maxwell to show films made at Elstree Studios under the banner Associated British Pictures Corporation. ABC cinemas became a familiar site on all British highstreets . Elstree Studios was called The British Hollywood at that time and was the UK’s biggest producer of feature films.
In the 1960s, Elstree Studios became one of the production centres for ITV’s ABC Television, a broadcasting spin-off from ABPC. The studios continued to produce feature films; however also became home to ABC action series’ such as The Avengers. While ATV had television studios nearby, now BBC Elstree, they also produced ITV programming at Elstree Studios which was made on film rather than video tape such as The Saint.
While ABC Television never broadcast to London – operating weekend services in the Midlands and the North – they had two studio centres in the south with Elstree and also the Teddington Studios in Middlesex part of their organisation. It is interesting to note that the current Managing Director of Elstree Studios Roger Morris was a former owner of Teddington Studios till 2006. At one time there was an ABC Cinema in most towns and cities in the UK. The name has slowly disappeared as current owners ODEON have re-branded or closed the remaining operations.
In 1968 it was farewell to the television ABC when ITV restructuring saw weekend ATV London replaced by LWT and the weekday Rediffusion was united with ABC to become Thames Television, who still operate today as a production company part of Fremantle Media, producing legendary TV shows from Benny Hill, Morecombe and Wise, Armchair Theatre, World At War, Rumpole, Minder, Men Behaving Badly, Rainbow and its downfall programme This Week.
The ABC northern television services, which operated across the weekends, were replaced by seven day broadcasting by ATV in the Midlands and Granada Television and Yorkshire Television in the North.