Granada TV chief on production problems 

7 October 2020


Heywood Advertiser masthead

From the Heywood Advertiser for 1 July 1966

MR PETER CUFF, production manager of Granada Television, outlined some of the problems of producing a television programme when he addressed last week’s meeting of Heywood Round Table.

He began by stressing the fact that in his job he saw none of the “glamour” of television but was concerned for the most part with paper work and preparation for programmes shown six months later. Programmes were usually made in groups of 13 and each television company agreed to change their programmes at approximately the same time. The second changeover of the year was taking place at about this time.

Mr Cuff explained that the independent television companies could not survive if they did not buy programmes from one another and the four major independent companies, Granada, ATV, Rediffusion and ABC, produced only about a quarter of their own material.

He passed round documents showing floor plans and rosters to give the members an idea of the second-by-second schedule to which a programme had to work. He said the programmes were planned six months in advance and producers had to be engaged and budgets drawn up before rehearsals took place.

Videotape was a great asset to television companies as whole programmes could be bought and stored without the complicated procedure that had to be completed when a company produced its own programmes. Granada Television alone had 19 tons of videotape in store.

TAM ratings

The speaker then turned his attention to TAM (Television Audience Measurement) ratings. Granada’s system was to place a small device in a certain number of television sets each week and at the end of any week they could study these devices to discover which programmes had been seen.

To illustrate the huge number of people watching television on any evening. Mr Cuff said that when the BBC and ITV had two popular programmes showing at the same time, power stations and waterworks authorities up and down the country had to be informed. The reason for this, he explained, was that when a programme finished millions of households turned on extra lights and made cups of tea!

The speaker was thanked at the close by Mr David Wilkinson.


TAM ratings tables

TAM ratings for week ending 3 July 1966, from The Stage on 14 July 1966. Note that films and imported shows are credited to the local region, and that Channel TV did not subscribe to TAM.



❛❛Russ J Graham writes: A charming article from a small newspaper, showing the PR job that television companies were willing to do even to the point of talking to a small group of local residents.

We’ve previously discussed how the Independent Television Authority and the ITV companies had a fear that ITV looked too complicated, with 15 companies dropping in and out of a network – a procedure that ITV viewers actually seemed to take in their stride.

Mr Cuff has gone into more detail on how this works, seemingly aware that the ITV viewers in his audience knew what networking was, but assuming, correctly, that they didn’t realise that money changed hands as part of the process. He’s also right to tell people that programmes are often made 6 months in advance of their debut, something that people even nowadays often don’t understand.

The TAM figures show us just how dominant ITV, in the midst of its golden age, was against BBC-1. Auntie scrapes in 2 entries in the national top 20, for Comedy Playhouse (The Mallard Imaginaire, which became the short-lived and now wiped sitcom The Whitehall Worrier) and This is Petula Clark, tying for 17th place with This Week from Rediffusion.

In the Westward, Granada/ABC, TWW, Southern, Tyne Tees, Grampian, Border, Ulster and ATV/ABC regions, the BBC doesn’t make the top 10 – Pet Clark squeezing in at joint 9th in the STV region and really hitting the mark with East Anglian viewers at 3rd place. The region also sees the BBC trouncing Anglia for 5th (Comedy Playhouse) and joint 7th (the cricket, Adam Adamant Lives! and Not Only… But Also).

You Say

1 response to this article

Geoff Nash 7 October 2020 at 2:40 pm

Regarding films and imports being credited to the individual regional companies in the TAM ratings, it’s interesting to note that across most of the regions ‘Peyton Place’ is credited to TWW. Could it be that these regions were taking a feed from TWW’s transmission?

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