Sunshine and grit 

31 August 2015


Notional Date: November 1958
Announcer: Frank Whitby
Music: Granada March (Lowrie), used 1956-1967


Granada TV, then with a contract that covered the whole of the North from Monday to Friday, was the big company most concerned with its regional identity.

This was out of step with the other major network providers A-R, ATV and ABC, who were keen to present themselves as national broadcasters, operating out of one region but speaking to the nation as a whole through networking arrangements.

Granada by contrast actually ‘adopted’ their region with a devotion that no other company managed. The company itself had its own roots in London and the south east, where the Granada Theatres cinema chain was at its strongest. In going for a provincial television contract the Bernstein brothers became enthusiastic, adopted northerners.

Like A-R, Granada was keen to present an air of respectability. It was clear that many early TV moguls had been rattled by the parliamentary opponents of commercial television and their predictions that the result would be vulgar. Britain in the post war period was still had an antipathy to naked commercialism.

Respectability was the name of the game but in the case of Granada, it was to be based on a solid, gritty Northern model. The music chosen as station signature tune and used for the first twelve years of daily start-up routines was almost jolly, but retained a strong regional flavour. By the standards of today the piece sounds almost ‘end of the pier’ in tone. It would not have seemed so at the time.

This music, commissioned by Sidney Bernstein from the almost unknown Tony Lowrie, captured what Granada was about like no other piece could have done. Gritty, northern, yet jolly and light hearted – the spirit of the firm distilled into one phrase – ‘from the North, this is Granada’ – which appears throughout, as the closing notes of every line in the main theme. The first strain of the march uses ‘G-R-A-N-A-D-A, Granada …’

Our visual example comes from 1958, when the first black and white image of the Granada symbol had given way to a newer style using various shades of grey. This was to bring some variety to an originally dull monochrome image.

At five and a half minutes, this piece exceeded ITA guidelines on length of ‘registered start-up music’ and was used with special permission of the regulator. The original instructions that accompanied the commission to the composer may have been faulty, as the pause for announcement appears to have been placed too early for permitted switch to symbol, and so after a short period of use at that point, the opening remarks were moved to a later and musically less satisfactory position in the piece.

In visual terms the symbol ‘form up’ was not at a true climax point, the result of an unsatisfactory compromise over the timing of the daily ‘Authority announcement’.

At the notional date of this start-up, the company was using the wording ‘Granada Television’ on screen in daily start-ups, but not actually saying the word ‘television’ in sound. This was standardised soon after, with the dropping of the word ‘television’ from the caption.

Granada was the only company of the major network providers to identify the region it came from on their screen trademark. The phrase ‘from the North’ became famous, though occasionally seemed out of place on Granada productions from London.

Granada clouds clock 1965

The clock, seen over the final notes of the march, was one of the glories of Granada Television. An actual clock face with a cloud background was created, the image was not electronically overlaid. The original version had serif numbering, although the typeface was later changed to a sans-serif style.

One bad habit was for the welcoming announcer to talk over the final seconds of the music, as the clock ticked up to five, listing the first children’s programmes to be seen that evening.

ftn Granada presents underexposed

This article originally appeared on Transdiffusion before 2001. It has been republished with the addition of the animated Granada start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.

This article originally said the announcer here was Bill Croasdale. It’s Frank Whitby. We regret the error.

You Say

2 responses to this article

Alan Randall 22 January 2017 at 6:31 pm

Is this music Granada March (Lowrie), used 1956-1967 available to purchase on CD?

I remember coming home from school as a child and waiting in front of the TV for the programs to start, but this music has always haunted me in a happy, sentimental and nostalgic way.

Happy memories from my past in a more simple time with my family now sadly all departed.

Hugh Thompson 8 August 2020 at 1:21 pm

Suddenly I’m 7 years old again!

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