24 May 2004

ALBUM Granada

Granada TV Network
Northern England: weekdays 1956-1968 (Franchise change)
North West England: all week 1968-2002 (Lost identity)


Definitely from the North

The Bernsteins were obviously wrong. Everybody knew that contracts were not permanent, and while it was unlikely that a company would ever lose its contract, it wouldn’t do to identify too strongly with one region.

ATV had two regions, as did ABC (one of them Granada’s region on weekends). Associated-Rediffusion was London’s Television, but all had names that could easily be transplanted from the Midlands to the North, from London to Scotland, from weekends to weekdays. Indeed, the companies thought that, should the ITA ever choose to reward them, a plum London contract or a move to the South could be a possibility. Alternatively, should the ITA ever choose to punish them, a move to a smaller region could be that punishment.

So the Bernsteins had obviously made a mistake. What if the ITA wanted Granada to be the London weekday contractor? Not only had Granada built a brand new studio centre in Manchester, they had developed a strong Northern identity for themselves – Northern voices, Northern programmes, Northern idents.

And yet, this Northern identity immediately set Granada apart. It made them unmovable, and led to the ITA deciding that all companies, large and small, should identify with their regions this way (this was to dog ATV for the rest of its lifetime and be the direct cause of the company’s death).

Granada in the North, From the North – Granada, Granadaland. These terms entered a nations psyche – so much so that the term ‘Granada’ instantly means Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire to this day. Ask a child “where is Granada?” and they will point to the North, home of Coronation Street, and not to Spain. Northerners traveling south are surprised to see Granada service stops in the Midlands and London, so used are they to North and Granada being interchangeable.

The Bernsteins were obviously mad. And yet, Granada is the only one of the big four – ATV, ABC, Rediffusion, Granada – to still remain.

On Screen

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

from the north, Granada

Possibly the most evocative ident on ITV, not least because it reminds everyone over 40 of Coronation Street.

Granada caption

Granada Production slide

Granada’s presentation has always been marked by being different to every other station.

The pace of presentation was always slower, the company relying on still captions rather than animations and using in-vision announcing for longer than any other member of the Big Five.

Here we seen Granada at about the same time as Central was revolutionising presentation graphics. Granada clearly isn’t, though both frontcaps are computer generated, there isn’t a hint of 3 dimensions.

Granada programme menuGranada clock

The static menu and mechanical clock in 1985 are a surprise – but then Granada has always been a regional company that happened to be a network contributor – and not the other way around.

Granada endcap

Granada production slide

Granada production slide with 'on screen next'

Finally, two more modern Granada endcaps.

The basic design dates from about the time Granada lost all remaining interest in presentation – about 1993.

The second of the two stills reflects a horrible and patronising habit from ITV – dividing the end credit sequence in two in order to run a trailer in case the viewer was sinful enough to be considering turning over. In this case, ‘This Morning’ is squeezed down to make sure neither of its conscious viewers falter.

Granada authority announcement by Bill Croasdale

The standard announcement for much of the weekday contract.

Unusual for the time, it features the station’s slogan – From the North, but no channel numbers or transmitter names, settling for ‘northern stations’ as a catch-all phrase.

Granada authority announcement by Don Murray Henderson

Into the 7-day contract, and the slogan is dropped (though ‘From the North West’ wouldn’t have sounded odd – truncated, maybe, but not odd).

The decidedly booming ‘This is Granada’ replaces the slogan, whilst the transmitter, Winter Hill, now gets a mention – nice considering it became, for a time, Granada’s only transmitter.

No mention at all of the region or the area served now – perhaps it would have sounded slightly humiliating to Lord Bernstein’s ears, even though it represented him finally getting the contract he applied for back in the mid-1950s.

Granada authority announcement by Graham James

For the late 1970s and early 1980s, the announcement is turned in its head, with the ‘This is Granada’ slogan now coming at the end rather than at the start.

All possible regional identifiers have now been removed, with the mention of Granada the only clue to where the station is serving. But it’s a big clue, after all – Granada and Manchester (at the very least) being largely synonymous in many ways.

The launch of 24-hour television was too expensive for many stations.

Pride – not to mention fear that the IBA would take the midnight-6am slot and franchise it out to a new entrant as had been done with breakfast time – meant they had to push through to the following morning.

So larger companies took smaller ones under their wings, providing an unbranded (or, in the south, ITV branded) service for those who couldn’t afford the 24hour banquet themselves.

Granada’s Night Time – also taken by Tyne Tees and Border – used Granada in-vision announcers, but otherwise ‘anonymised’ the output the best it could.

However, the standards of Granada technology, their graphic design department and their overall approach to presentation – even when given free reign as here – still shone through for anyone who could spot it. That and the occasional ‘next on Granada…’ announcement made in error.

Granada never really got the habit of jingles or having a station theme to go behind its idents.

Instead, they seemed happy to let the quality of what followed shine through the ident – as here.

If you have the misfortune to have been an avid viewer of the now defunct Granada Plus, the symptons of this habbit was there to see – although the programmes had been defaced to remove most traces of original branding, if a programme’s theme music started under Plus’s ident, or under a period of black screen, you knew there was originally a Granada frontcap there.

You Say

3 responses to this article

Joanne Gray 7 October 2015 at 7:47 pm

A closedown from the ever smiling and twinkly eyed Colin Weston, also well known to North East viewers from his stints in the Tyne Tees continuity booth.

Alan Keeling 12 June 2016 at 9:03 pm

Living in a suberb of Birmingham (above sea-level), back in the 405 line days in the 1960s, our old 19″ telly could not only get ATV but (on a spare channel) also Granada from Winter Hill. It hate to say this, but their programmes were better than ATV’s.

Ed Burek 13 May 2017 at 9:57 pm

Granada. Even to this day, the name evokes so many memories, not least from myself. They may not have been the perfect ITV franchise, but this was a broadcaster who was not afraid to take risks, and never skimped on quality. Even throwaway guff produced by Granada (such as The Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters Club) had an air of quality about them.
I must admit a personal fondness for Granada on so many levels – and not all of them from a broadcasting angle. For example, my family’s first TV set was a Granada rental job, the first VCR we got was a discounted ex-display Granada model, and since I still have relations living in deepest Granadaland I was given first-hand experience of watching the local produce, including the work of the legendary Colin Weston. Their studio complex was (and remains) a local landmark in Central Manchester – a landmark that was useful enough for my father to use as a reference point for getting out of the maze that is the city centre. Once he knew where the Granada TV studios were, then it was a case of hooking a left towards Salford, then it was Altrincham, Knutsford, M6, then home. (Incidentally, I learned through attending the Transdiffusion soiree in March that the TV studio is still in use, it’s now known as the Tony Wilson Complex – I can find no better tribute for another great Granadalander that I greatly admire).
And, let’s not forget that their name was adorned proudly on Coventry City’s shirts during their FA Cup triumph in 1987. Okay, so it was the social club and bingo hall off-shoot rather than the makers of Coronation Street, but as a true as Coventry blue I’m claiming it.
In summary, I like Granada.

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