Projection of a TV legend

24th May 2021

Film and TV buffs are being offered the chance to buy a unique film projector cabinet commissioned by the man behind The Muppet Show, Crossroads and The Saint.

The 2 metre high cabinet was made in 1992 for Lord Lew Grade and featured alongside him on the front cover of his autobiography, ‘Still Dancing’. It is being sold in Salisbury as part of the Design sale at Woolley and Wallis salerooms, where it is expected to make up to £1,000.

Lord Lew Grade was born Lev Winogradsky in 1906, but came to London with his family in 1912 to escape the Jewish pogroms. In his early life, Grade was a dancer and talent agent working alongside Joe Collins (father of Jackie and Joan Collins). In the 1950s, Grade formed the Independent Television Corporation (ITC), hoping to acquire one of the new ITV franchises. Failing in this venture, ITC continued as a successful production company and joined forces with Associated Television (ATV), to supply them with programming. In his role as managing director, Grade commissioned Crossroads, the soap set in a motel, which was to rival Coronation Street for 25 years. Always with an eye across the Atlantic, Grade made programmes that were sold worldwide, including The Saint, The Prisoner and Man in a Suitcase.

For his younger viewers, Grade approached Jim Henson who was having no success in America, trying to create a variety show for his Muppet characters. In 1976 Grade and Henson brought The Muppet (filmed in Borehamwood studio) to the small screen. Grade was also responsible for the unusual decision to create hour long episodes of Thunderbirds – a series for which he budgeted an astonishing £22,000 per episode.

Grade was knighted in 1969, then created a life peer in 1976 as Baron Grade of Elstree – the territorial designation chosen by him because of the location of ATV’s studios.

Furniture designer, Michael Reed, who numbers several high profile personalities and companies among his clients, was commissioned to make the cabinet for Grade. Constructed of bird’s eye maple, it includes a small window engraved with a full length portrait of his client dancing.

“The cabinet is a true statement piece,” said Michael Jeffery, Design specialist at Woolley and Wallis. “It’s a talking point in itself, but its links to this extraordinary man, who has been named by many as one of the most influential figures in television history, give it that extra appeal.”

The cabinet comes under the hammer on Wednesday 26th May with a starting price of £500.

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