CTVC is part of the Rank Foundation Ltd., a charitable organisation which was established by Lord and Lady Rank in 1953. The Rank Foundation focuses on encouraging and developing leadership amongst young people and supporting disadvantaged young people and those frail or lonely through old age or disability. CTVC officially began life in 1978, but it was formed from the merger of two charities which Rank had set up much earlier; the Lord Rank Foundation for Christian Communications Ltd and Religious Films Ltd.
Religious Films Ltd was launched in the early 1930s, sparked by Rank’s role as a Sunday School teacher. Frustrated by the limited materials teaching materials for children, he decided to take matters into his own hands. While working in his father’s milling business, he established the ‘Religious Film Society’. At a small studio in Norwood, South London, the new company began to produce films to show at schools, Sunday schools and churches. Eventually, the Society became known as Religious Films Ltd, and began making productions for the main cinema circuits, as Rank was determined that the films should be seen in the ‘market place’ as well as in churches. After World War II, there was a surge of activity. The enterprise moved to the Gate Studio, Elstree, and from there, a large and varied output was produced – Biblical films, documentaries on a wide range of subjects, contemporary dramas – all with a broad Christian purpose.
By the late 1950s, cinema attendances were declining and television was reaching a huge audience. ITV stations had joined the BBC on air, and a regular ITV production last thing at night was ‘The Epilogue’. Local clergymen were used as presenters, and naturally enough, since they were more accustomed to pulpits than to TV studios, their skills at adapting to the new medium varied considerably. J Arthur Rank (by now, Lord Rank) thought there ought to be somewhere that clergy (and others) could be trained to deliver the Epilogues properly. So in 1959, in a separate venture to the Religious Film Society project, a dedicated media training centre was established – the Churches Television Training Centre.
1965 saw the thriving operation move to newly built studios in a converted country house named ‘Hillside’. It was based in Bushey on the Northern outskirts of London. In 1978, the name changed again, this time to The Centre for Radio & Television Communication, using the logo CTVC. An early production, Will the Real Jesus Christ Please Stand Up? featured a fresh faced young Hugh Grant.
As a new century dawned, the broadcasting environment was changing. In 2005 we finally changed our name to CTVC Ltd and became a fully fledged independent production company, committed to exploring current ethical and moral issues across a variety of different platforms. The CTVC of today has moved a long way from its unique history but we would like to think that Lord Rank would be proud of what we are achieving today.