So I logged on to Facebook today and this is what I found…
34th anniversary! How can that be? What I think must be the case is that we incorporated Illuminations Television Ltd 34 years ago. My then-colleague Geoff Dunlop and I bought for a few pounds a company off the shelf – which as I recall was a bankrupt double glazing provider – and changed the name and the articles of association. And suddenly we owned an independent production company. We didn’t have an office, we didn’t have any commissions, and we didn’t have much sense of what being independent producers entailed. But then nobody did back then. This was before Channel 4 had gone on air, and like lots of others we recognised an opportunity and took a punt. 34 years ago today!
This isn’t the place – and I don’t have the time tonight – to reflect in any depth on those 34 years. But I think if anyone had told me on that day that exactly 34 years hence I could be overseeing as producer the first camera rehearsal of next week’s RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon cinema broadcast of Hamlet… I think I might well have taken that.
One other thought. Almost all of the production companies founded by our peers have either gone out of business or been bought up and incorporated into larger entities. For good or ill, neither fate has been the lot of Illuminations. We are still a small, privately-held company, which is now owned by Linda Zuck and myself, and we continue to create distinctive cultural productions for broadcasters and others. Which is exactly what we set out to do. We also like to think of ourselves as still genuinely independent, both commercially and creatively. Might therefore we be the oldest continually operating independent production company in the business?