Tuning-in to… Grampian 

14 May 2021 tbs.pm/72857




From the (Aberdeen) Evening Express for 22 August 1961

G-DAY is September 30 – when Grampian Television brings I.T.V. to viewers in eleven Scottish counties in the East, North, North-east and parts of the Highlands.

In the Grampian area two great cultures meet – Gaelic and Nordic. So the ground is richly fertile for the production of a variety of programmes concerning culture, history, customs, folk lore, myth and legend, religion, singing, dancing, mime, music and sport.

Grampian is a Scottish company with the St Andrews Cross emblem. Its directors are all Scots and the majority of its 750 shareholders reside within the transmission area. The Scottish leaven is also evident in its staff.




At the outset, say Grampian, they intend to provide a daily news service drawn from the four major centres – Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Perth. The farming and fishing industries and communities are to receive special attention.

Due to the comparatively small proportion of local programming that can be produced at the beginning, a magazine format has been devised which will be a review of interesting people and personalities, events and feature stories in the area.

An official said the policy was “Programmes with balance” – a bit of everything and something for everybody without being dull, serious, frivolous or stereotyped.

Because of the deep religious traditions of the area, Grampian would present programmes to interest members of all denominations. There will be a nightly epilogue particularly suitable for the area.

Grampian has secured a second north-going link from Manchester to Glasgow so that it can provide an alternative choice of programmes to those provided by Scottish Television. Locally-produced programmes can also be “exported” to other networks.

The company are about to open a £200,000 [£4.75m in today’s money, allowing for inflation] studio centre at Queen’s Cross, Aberdeen, which, on completion, will be a showpiece building and the first to be specially-built for TV in Scotland. From the new centre a film unit will go out to cover the territory and bring back to viewers programmes about themselves and their neighbours.



The transmitters provided by the I.T.A. at Durris, between Stonehaven and Banchory, and at Mounteagle, on the Black Isle, near Inverness, have been designed to give the best possible receptions in their respective areas. Test signals go out from Durris on September 1 and from Mounteagle some three weeks later.

Durris will serve Aberdeen and county, Angus, Kincardine, and parts of the counties of Fife, Banff, and Perth. Mounteagle caters for the needs of Nairn, Moray, north-west Inverness-shire and the eastern parts of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty.

So, in order to have your TV set “Grampianised” contact a radio dealer NOW. Otherwise there will be a queue-up and disappointment for yourself and the dealer.

Durris transmits on Channel 9 and Mounteagle on Channel 12. This means your aerial will be erected to face Durris or Mounteagle, according to your location. This will be an approximate bearing, however, and after transmitting begins the aerial will be accurately aligned and beamed on to the signals.

If your set is not a new one it may require modifications to introduce the alternative programme, and even a new set may need tuner adjustment. If your set has a thirteen-channel control it may or may not have Channel 9 – or 12 – coils, and these are necessary for the reception of Grampian programmes.



Too white

When a channel selector on sets previously used only for Channel 4 (B.B.C.) is moved round there could be some trouble with contrasts in the tuner. They may be dusty from disuse, so a clean-up is recommended. If the aerial proves over-sensitive, giving too white a picture when the transmitter comes on full power, an attenuator can be plugged in – and your problem is solved. Cost – a few shillings!



A transmitter mast


THE ITA transmitter at Durris, with an aerial of 2000ft. [610m] poking into the rolling moor mists, is one of the most powerful in the country. Located mid-way between Stonehaven and Banchory and over 1000ft. [300m] above sea-level, it is reached by a private road – constructed over a cart-track – from the Slug Road.

The new transmitter station is one-storeyed and flat-roofed, built of brick, with synthetic granite surrounds to windows and cope [the top of walls]. The building contains the transmitting hall, control room, test room, plant room, high tension power room, G.P.O. room, workshops, riggers’ store, garage, kitchen and dining-room. Total floor area is about 3000 square feet. [280m²]

Next month

Construction began at the end of September last year with completion expected towards the close of next month. The work programme went according to plan, except for a few weeks at the outset due to adverse weather. The average number employed on the site was forty – all Aberdeen men.

Durris will transmit on Channel 9 horizontally polarised. Effective radiated power is 400 kw. North and South-west, 15 kw. East and West on 194.75675 Mc/s. [MHz] for vision and 191.27 Mc/s. for sound. Two 4 kw. transmitters operate in parallel, and, in the event of a failure of the mains power, a stand-by diesel generator will maintain the transmitter.

The first test signals from Durris will be transmitted on September 1.

The other ITA transmitter, located at Mounteagle, on the Black Isle, some eight miles [13km] from Inverness, is very similar to that at Durris except that its output is beamed in the opposite direction because of the area it covers. The aerial has a mean height of 1403ft. [428m] on a site 730ft. [223m] above sea level.

Mounteagle will transmit on Channel 12 horizontally polarised. Effective radiated power is 50 kw. North-east and South-east; 35 kw. East and 10 kw. West on 209.75 Mc/s. for vision and 206.25 Mc/s. for sound. Test signals can be expected from Mounteagle towards the end of September.


The master control at Grampian’s Queen’s Cross studio centre, Aberdeen, will relay ITV network programmes from the south to the transmitter at Durris in addition to sending out to the transmitter locally-produced programmes from the studios. The programmes will be relayed from Durris to the transmitter at Mounteagle. Both transmitters have been designed to give first-class reception.

ITA regional map

ITA regional map from 1963

Some network favourites

Our Radio and TV Correspondent

Emergency - Ward 10 (ATV)

Emergency – Ward 10 (ATV)

The Pilkington Committee, now considering the next twenty-five years of broadcasting, could recommend that ITV companies compete with each other. This they have been unable to do in their present channels.

Under this system the companies would lose advertising revenue. Judging by BBC accomplishments on less than half of the contractors’ income, programme budgets need not suffer. The public would have a choice of ITV shows; and it is the selective viewer who raises standards.

Until true ITV competition becomes possible, regional stations are involved in the network system with four major companies, Associated-Rediffusion, Associated TeleVision, Granada, and ABC, supply most of the programmes. The system is not ideal socially or aesthetically but it has been a financial success.

Associated-Rediffusion, starting the service alone, lost £3,000,000 [1955 to now = £83m] in a few months. With companies sharing each other’s burdens the profits have mounted rapidly.

So many of the North east’s shows will be aired from London, Manchester and Birmingham, where production facilities are vast and top stars, including American and Continental, are willing to take part.

Watch for these worthwhile programmes. Several at least will become regular features of your Channel 12 viewing.

“Emergency Ward 10.” Easily the greatest of all British TV serials, it is transmitted twice weekly and revolves round the work and free time of the doctors and nurses in a medium-sized hospital. It turned doctor’s daughter Tessa Diamond from a £10 [£250] a week caption writer into a scriptwriter reputed to earn £100 [£2500] per week. Her prescription is entertainment, information and warm human interest.

Even medicos watch and hospitals co-operate. A medical authority says of the serial “I think it helps to make people more aware of hospitals, more confident in them if ever the need should arise for hospital treatment.”


Coronation Street

Coronation Street (Granada)

The fictional story in a documentary setting [is] ITV’s most obvious contribution to drama. It is networked with varying degrees of value in series such as “No Hiding Place” (Scotland Yard), “Boyd Q.C.” (law courts), “Family Solicitor,” “Probation Officer,” “Harpers West One” (big store) and “Deadline Midnight” (Fleet Street).

Family serials are represented by “Coronation Street” (comedy of low life in the North) and “Three Live Wires” (farce of the low life in the South).

“This Week.” Launched as a 30-minute rival to the BBC’s “Panorama” this magazine quickly won acclaim for its informality and speed. Nowadays, under-budgeted, it is less slick and attempts to make it authoritative sometimes results only in dullness. Thousands ask for the title of its closing music – Sibelius’ Karelia Suite. Its interviewees have included the Prime Minister, Jayne Mansfield and Archbishop Makarios.

“Gun Law.” This U.S. film series is the best TV impression of the West as it was. Its locale in Dodge City, queen of cow towns, in the 1880s when the city marshall earned 100 dollars a month and two dollars for every arrest – a drop on the 1876 offer to Wyatt Earp, a mere deputy, of 175 per month and 2 dollars 50 cents for every badman.

Dodge of “Gun Law” has become almost respectable, but still has the world’s most famous cemetery, Boot Hill. You can almost smell the stench of gunpowder, raw hides, and buffalo hunters.




Family Solicitor (Granada)

Family Solicitor (Granada)

The secrets of the programme are understatement and the endearing personalities of the 6ft. 6in. [2m] 10-stone [65kg] Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arnass), Doc (Milburn Stone), Constable Chester Good (Dennis Weaver) and Kitty, co-owner of the Long Branch Saloon (Amanda Blake). Together they are part of American history.

“All Our Yesterdays.” A film documentary series about the 20th Century. Everything from politicians to nightclubs, record flights to hunger marchers, Marconi to TV, is covered with crisp informee [sic], occasional ironical, narration from distinguished journalist James Cameron.

“About Religion.” First regular TV religious series, introduced in 1956. In its present form it is a magazine, dealing with a wide range of Christian events, ideas and opinions. Lasting twenty-five minutes on Sundays it paved the way for between 2½ and 3 hours of religious programmes aired every week by most ITV stations.

Cinema art

“Close-up.” Refreshingly free from cinema plugs, it has a different theme for every edition. It deals with histories of companies, Western stars, a director’s ideas, the use of fantasy, and other sides of cinema art, illustrated with clips from famous films. Usually there are interviews, by Neville Barker, with people well known in the industry.

“The Warning Voice.” Although only twenty minutes long, this weekly investigation, produced by James Bredin, with Fleet Street’s fabulous editor Arthur Christianson as editorial adviser, is concerned with a topical national problem. Minutely researched, it takes viewers into Ministries, streets, clubs, and factories for its human evidence.

“This Wonderful World.” One of the very few regular programmes accepted from a regional company (Scottish Television) by the network, this series has won critical acclaim for the rarity and beauty of its international film material. Dr John Grierson assembles the films and comments with the authority and the nice turn of phrase which one would expect from the father of British documentary films.

“Independent Television News.” Although financially supported – many say too weakly – ITV’s national news source remains independent under the wise editorship of Geoffrey Cox. Its newscasters have become personalities, and although they are impartial, inject humour into their script. Reporters’ interviews are short, sharp and usually very much to the point.

500,000 miles

Harpers West One (ATV)

Harpers West One (ATV)

They are also responsible for “Roving Report,” a weekly programme concerned with developments overseas. ITN teams have travelled more than 500,000 miles [800,000km] in seventy countries. Arthur Clifford is chief news executive and perhaps he can have no better tribute than his reporters’ eagerness to tell you so.

ITN, [sic – ITV] of course, runs star studded variety shows, parlour games, many U.S. and Anglo-American film series, and other things which fill up airtime. A few – shows from the London Palladium and “Wagon Train” are notable – hold huge audiences.

There is no reason to dispute or scorn the ratings. Just don’t be mesmerised by them. Quality, not ITV publicity, should be your criterion when you make your choice.


Scots Board of Directors


Headshots of two men

LEFT – Sir Alexander King, chairman of the new company. RIGHT – Capt. Iain Tennant, Innes House, Elgin, deputy chairman.

THE St Andrew’s cross emblem of Grampian Television, Ltd. symbolises a Scottish venture and an all-Scots board of directors. The majority of the staff also come from this side of the Tweed. Chairman is SIR ALEXANDER KING, a noted figure in commerce and entertainment. Deputy-chairman is CAPTAIN IAIN TENNANT, Innes House, Deputy Lieutenant of Morayshire, a member of the County Council of Morayshire and member of the joint county councils of Moray and Nairn.

Others include Lord Forbes, a former Minister of State, Scottish Office, and Representative Peer for Scotland, and Deputy-Lieutenant and JP for the County of Aberdeenshire, who farms at Alford; and Lady Colville – the Dowager Viscountess Colville – of Culross, Inverbervie, who is chief Commissioner for Scotland of the Girl Guides Association, and chairman of Kincardine Branch, British Red Cross, and keenly interested in youth activities.

The Rt. Hon. Thomas Johnston, Milngavie, Chancellor of Aberdeen University since 1951, and Secretary of State for Scotland, 1941-5; and the Hon. Angus Ogilvie, Cortachy Castle, Kirriemuir, a director of several industrial, finance and investment enterprises, and a well-known Angus landowner, also take their place on the board.

So do Major Michael Crichton Stuart, Falkland Palace, Fife, chairman of the Red Deer Commission and Deputy Lieutenant and J.P. for the County of Fife, who has an intimate knowledge of agriculture and is vice-president of the National Trust for Scotland; Dr John N. Milne, Aberdeen, who is managing director of the Central Press (Aberdeen) Ltd., member of the university court, and a governor of Robert Gordon’s Colleges; and Mr Neil Paterson, Crieff, the noted author, who won the Atlantic Award for Literature in 1945. He is governor of the British Film Institute.

Mr D. L. Urquhart, a former provost of Forfar and JP for the County of Augus [sic – Angus], is a leading personality in the commercial and public life of Forfar and South Angus, while Mr Robert Wotherspoon, ex-Provost of Inverness, is managing director of Caledonian Associated Cinemas, Ltd., and a member of several commissions set up by the Secretary of State for Scotland.



Films and TV

Mr Edward O’Donnell, in addition to being a director, is also chief executive of Grampian Television, Ltd., and has had considerable experience of filming at Elstree. He is a director of a number of companies dealing in firms and TV, and has a wide knowledge of world markets.

The Grampian TV staff also have a leaven of talent and accomplishment. Sales Controller Mr Ward Thomas has been with the Granada Network since 1956, latterly as a group sales manager in London. He is now operating at the H.Q. if Grampian TV Sales Dept. at Nuffield House, Piccadilly.

Aberdonian Alexander Mair, a native of Skene, is company secretary. Mr Mair worked in Aberdeen as an accountant for many years, and is President of the Aberdeen Junior Chamber of Commerce and its representative on the Federation of Scottish Junior Chambers of Commerce. He is an associate of the Institute of Cost and Work Accountants.

The Production Controller, Mr James Buchan, is an Aberdonian who became one of the BBC’s leading documentary producers. He is probably best remembered for his “Nessie” TV broadcast from the shores of Loch Ness in 1958. His “Yesterday’s Pet” and “It Happened To Me” series brought him further renown. Mr Buchan is a member of the Society of Film and Television Arts.

Mr Charles C. Smith recently joined the Grampian staff as head of news and current affairs. A Glasgow journalist, Mr Smith took up and appointment on the editorial staff of “The Daily Record” in 1957 and in 1959 became news editor of “The Sunday Mail.”

Chief Engineer at Grampian’s Aberdeen studios is Mr Brian Davis, [sic – Davies] and associate member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Mr Davies has had considerable experience as a design engineer with Central Rediffusion Services Ltd. and with Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd., at Chelmsford.



From London

He has also worked as a senior planning engineer on TV studio installations. Since 1955 he has been with Associated Rediffusion Ltd., first as senior maintenance engineer at Television House, London, and latterly as senior links engineer, responsible for all communication and microwave link facilities.

Edinburgh-born Mr Robert Edie is Scottish Sales Manager. For over two years he has been a sales executive with Granada TV Network Ltd. in London. Previously Mr Edie was a sales executive for STV.

Mr Kenneth Ballini joined Grampian TV as their London office as traffic presentation manager in the sales department after extensive experience in a similar role with Granada TV.

Public Relations Officer Dennis Dick, a Gordonstoun “boy,” hails from Dundee, where he began his journalistic career. He was formerly a features writer with the “Weekly Scotsman” in Edinburgh, and, for the past eighteen months Mr Dick has been assistant to the BBC’s information officer, based on the Capital.

Office manager-accountant is Aberdeen is 26-year-old David McCall, secretary of the North-east of Scotland Lawn Tennis Championships. Mr McCall represents the North-east in inter-district matches and is vice-captain of the Aberdeen Four Courts Lawn Tennis Club. A member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Mr McCall was born in the city and educated at Robert Gordon’s College.


You Say

1 response to this article

Eddie Hutchinson 14 May 2021 at 11:26 am

Brilliant critiques there of sitcom “Coronation Street” and especially “This Week” – trying to entice people to tune in to the new station then making the current affairs programme sound like ‘audience poison’.

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