Granada Television

Granada Television

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = Granada Television

based = Manchester
area = North (1956-1968)
North West England (1968-present)
owner = ITV plc
airdate = May 3, 1956
former Granada Television logos
closeddate = Lost on-air identity October 27,2002. "(known verbally as ITV1 Granada before regional programming only)"
replaced = ABC Weekend Television on weekends from 1968
replacedby = Yorkshire Television in east of original region from 1968
website = []

Granada Television is the United Kingdom ITV contractor for North West England. It previously held the "North of England" weekday franchise (which also covered large parts of Yorkshire) from 1954 (broadcasting began on May 3, 1956) until 1968 when its broadcast area was split into two franchises.

Granada is the only one of the original four ITA franchisees from 1954 that survived as a franchise holder into the twenty-first century.

Granada's parent company, Granada Ltd., merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004. The North West franchise continues to be held by Granada Television Ltd, part of ITV plc. []


In the 1930s, Cecil and Sidney Bernstein created a cinema chain in the south of England which they called "Granada Theatres Limited", after a visit to the area of Granada in Spain by Cecil in 1926.

Some twenty years later with the dawn of commercial television, similarly to Associated British Picture Corporation, the Bernsteins decided to be involved in the new industry which was a competitor to the cinema chains.

The North of England was selected to create a strong regional identity. Other possibilities were the London franchise, was not selected since Granada feared the quantity and quality of other candidates, and The Midlands franchise, which was considered too bland for a strong regional identity. Also, a franchise in the north of England would not have any detrimental effects on the business of the (largely) southern-based cinemas,

The Early Years

With some eighteen months between the awarding of their franchise and the start of transmission, Granada built a brand new studio complex, on bomb clearance land close to the River Irwell in Manchester. This was revolutionary on two counts; Firstly the new ITV companies tended to build production centres in London and just have regional offices in their constituencies (strategies used by both ABC and ATV and eerily similar to the prevailing direction of the present day ITV). Granada wanted to be 'at the heart' of their area and so built a main base in the centre of Manchester.

Secondly they were the first British television company to create facilities purpose-built for television production. Prior to this (and for some time after) companies converted former film studios, cinemas or other large buildings. The centre at Manchester pre-dated the BBC's Television Centre by four years. To embellish the scale of the company, the studios were numbered with even numbers only (2, 4, 6 etc.). Of the six original studios only four still exist: Studio 4, a continuity studio, was eventually mothballed and converted to office space. Studio 10 wasn't part of the Manchester complex at all, but was actually the [ Chelsea Palace Theatre] in London, owned by the Bernsteins and used by Granada for recording comedies and variety shows with acts who couldn't or wouldn't travel to Manchester. It was eventually disposed of in the mid 1960s. Studio 2 is currently a CSO studio, used for programmes such as "What The Papers Say" and "Tonight with Trevor McDonald". All the existing studios are now operated by ITV's joint venture company with BBC Resources, 3sixtymedia. Granada also opened a small production office in Leeds to serve the area that would be eventually covered by the Emley Moor transmitter. In the early 1980s and in response to criticism the station was neglecting Merseyside it opened a news centre at the Albert Dock, Liverpool, since replaced with a smaller district office based in the Liver Building.

Granada was determined to develop a strong Northern identity for themselves — Northern voices, Northern programmes, Northern idents ("Granada in the North", "From The North - Granada" and "Granadaland").

This was counter to the practice of the other franchisees, who adopted fairly nondescript names such as ABC, ATV, and Rediffusion, which did not have regional associations so that they could easily move their franchises to other parts of the country — if they did well, in the future the ITA might reward them with a plum London franchise. The Northern identity immediately set Granada apart, making them immovable and embedding the company into the psyche of its viewers — so much so that the term "Granada" to this day instantly means Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire to many viewers, although it also covers the south of Cumbria (around Barrow-in-Furness), parts of North Wales (Wrexham and the coastal resorts of Rhyl and Prestatyn) and the High Peak district of Derbyshire (Glossop, Buxton).

All this put great pressure on the early finances of Granada. The predicted audiences for ITV were slow in coming and Sidney Bernstein had to personally visit large companies to persuade them to advertise on Granada. Granada was having trouble paying salaries and was very close to collapse by late 1956.

To prevent this Granada sought the help of London station Rediffusion who, without the knowledge or consent of the Independent Television Authority (ITA) who would have blocked it, agreed to underwrite Granada's costs in exchange for a percentage of their profits over the next four years. Granada accepted the deal but the popularity of ITV soon increased and profitability followed [ Black, P. The Mirror in The Corner: People's Television, Hutchinson, London, 1972] .

Analysts began to question how Rediffusion, ABC and ATV were making annual profits of up to £2.7m by 1959 and yet Granada's profits were well under £1m. With the increase in income the deal upset Granada who asked if they could change the contract; equally understandably Rediffusion kept them to their word and this soured relations between the two for many years to come. By the time the deal had finished Rediffusion had taken over £8m (2008:£129m [data taken from] ) from Granada [ Black, P. The Mirror in The Corner: People's Television, Hutchinson, London, 1972] .


The culture of Granada was distinctly more Socialist than the more conservative (in all senses of the word) companies further south. Granada produced gritty dramas A Family at War(1970-1972) and hard-hitting documentaries such as the multi-award winning "World in Action" and "Seven Up!". Jeremy Isaacs worked as a producer at Granada from 1958 and was involved with developing a significant portion of Granada's factual programming. The classic soap opera "Coronation Street" which started a 13-week, two episodes a week run on 9 December 1960, is still producing five episodes a week in 2008.

In 1968 it set up a unique experiment employing actors to work in television and theatre on the same contract - the Stables Theatre Company directed by Gordon McDougall.

Granada did not produce light entertainment extravaganzas of its own, but was quite happy to transmit those produced by its co-franchisees, but by the mid-1970s it was producing programmes for an international audience, such as "The Stars Look Down" (1974), "Laurence Olivier Presents" (1976-78), "Brideshead Revisited" (1981), and from 1984 "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". Also in that year came the dramatisation of "The Jewel in the Crown". These shows (amongst many others) were sold overseas through a separate division known as "Granada Television International".

The productions of "Brideshead" and "Jewel" were well received at the time, but coincided with the BBC's disastrous "The Borgias" and the screening of the American adaptation of "The Thorn Birds" in each instance, giving Granada a certain glow in the Thatcher era over its public funded rival.

Another of Granada's flagship programmes was the long-running quiz show, "University Challenge" — which was revived by the BBC in the 1990s, although still produced by Granada. One of Granada's longest running programmes, "What The Papers Say", is unique in having had three different broadcast "homes". The programme, which began in the same year Granada did, 1956, was also picked up by the BBC in the early 90s, after having been previously shown by Channel Four as well as Granada. Granada also produced the long running quiz programme "The Krypton Factor".

In the 1970s Granada produced a number of successful situation-comedies, often based around its constituency of North West England. These included "Nearest and Dearest", "The Lovers" and "The Cuckoo Waltz". This theme ran into the following decade with shows such as the "Brothers McGregor" and "Watching".

For children, Granada drew on the success of 1970s pop music with shows such as "Lift Off with Ayshea" and giving The Bay City Rollers their own show, Shang-a-lang. The station also produced "Marc", presented by glam rock star Marc Bolan. The show was still in-production when Bolan was killed in a car accident in 1977.

Franchise renewals

In 1968, Granada's contract was changed from weekdays across the whole "North of England" region (Lancashire and Yorkshire) to one covering the whole week in the North West (served by the Winter Hill transmitter). This led Sidney Bernstein to declare that 'if the ITA (Independent Television Authority) interfered in the territory of "Granadaland" he would go to the United Nations'.

The "Yorkshire" contract (now to be served by the Emley Moor transmitter) was awarded to Yorkshire Television.

Granada had little difficulty in retaining its franchise in the 1980 round and despite bidding significantly less than its rivals survived the 1991 round by virtue of the "quality threshold" applied by the regulator. (Granada had been out-bid for their franchise by rivals Mersey Television, but the other company was not granted the licence as their package was not deemed to meet the required quality threshold)

By the late 1980s, it was thought that the UK commercial broadcasters were too small to be able to compete in the world television market - a problem which was exacerbated by the 1990 Broadcasting Act which instigated quotas on independent programming, removed the ITV advertising monopoly and instigated the expensive auction process of the 1991 franchise round. Granada won the 1991 franchise round on quality grounds.

The Conservative government responded by relaxing the regulatory regime, so that ITV contractors could take each other over, and Granada responded by going on an acquisition spree, which resulted, by 2002, in Granada establishing an effective duopoly of ITV with Carlton, excepting only the franchises in Central and Northern Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands.

Accusations of bias

One charge that has been leveled against Granada over the years is that it neglects certain areas of its franchise - particularly Liverpool and Merseyside - and has shown a slant in the setting of its programmes, levels of investment and local news coverage that show a favouritism towards the Manchester area.

This was one of the main reasons cited by Mersey Television in their failed bid to win the northwest franchise in the 1990s.Whatever the truth of the accusations, it must be noted that Granada increased its levels of investment in the city in the late eighties, moving the regional news service to prominent buildings in the city's Albert Dock complex and basing its daytime networked show "This Morning" there for several years. The programme moved to The London Studios in the late 90s, and the reason cited for this was that it was difficult to get top name guests to travel from London to Liverpool that early in the morning. Since then, the Albert Dock studios have been vacated and sold.

With changes in the broadcasting environment making loss of its franchise highly unlikely though, Granada has again returned to earlier ways, with investment in the Liverpool area comparatively tiny when compared with the facilities that exist in Manchester.


In the late 90s, Granada went through a significant period of expansion and subsequent contraction, as several of the company's side ventures were sold or closed. This included the ill-fated 'G-Wizz' service in 2000, offering Internet access and what they themselves termed "high-quality content". Several of Granada's programmes (and ITV franchisees owned by the company) also administrated their websites through G-Wizz, including "This Morning", "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale". Unfortunately, the Flash-heavy pages were mostly unusable by their subscribers, who were largely modem-based, and take-up was low. Less than a year after it opened, Granada closed G-Wizz in March 2001, after costing the company £9 million. It combined the remainder of its online presence with fellow ITV company Carlton [ [ Carlton to axe 30 in ITV interactive restructure | Internet Marketing News and Blog | ] ] to launch

Granada Sky Broadcasting

In 1996 Granada teamed up with BSkyB to form a joint venture Granada Sky Broadcasting to provide content and new channels to the satellite platform. Granada Breeze, the lifestyle channel (an amalgamation of several earlier channels, including Granada Talk Television, Granada Food and Wine, Granada Health and Beauty, Granada Television High Street and Granada Home and Garden), was broadcast from a custom-built conservatory studio in the grounds of the existing studios, but closed in 2002. Granada Plus (a channel devoted to showing Granada's back catalogue of TV programmes, including classic episodes of their most popular show, "Coronation Street") was first retitled 'Plus', and then eventually turned into ITV3 with just minutes' notice to staff in November 2004. Only the male-oriented channel, Men & Motors, which is now fully owned by ITV plc, remains from the now ceased relationship.


Granada Plus

Owned by Granada Sky Broadcasting, a 50-50 joint venture between Granada Television and British Sky Broadcasting, Granada Plus was a general entertainment channel aimed at older audiences and ran from archived material. The channel, initially launched as "Granada Plus", was later known as "G Plus" and finally simply "Plus". It continued to broadcast up until 1 November 2004, when ITV sealed a last-minute deal to buy out BSkyB's stake in GSB, in order to close down the channel and replace it with ITV's new channel, ITV3, taking Plus' low EPG position on Sky Digital.

Granada Breeze

Originally "Granada Good Life", and formed out of a series of earlier themed efforts, Granada Breeze was another GSB owned venture. The channel was a lifestyle channel, aimed at female viewers and showed programmes on lifestyle, cookery, health and US daytime television such as Judge Joe Brown. Most of these shows were hosted or presented from a large custom-built conservatory studio right outside the main "Coronation Street" studio (later used for daytime ITV Play programming). The link was also reinforced by the short-lived appointment of Julie Goodyear, presenting an ill-fated talk show. It closed in March 2002 due to poor viewing figures, and in the face of the many other better-resourced lifestyle channels on Sky, and the coming-of-age of UK daytime television schedules.

Another channel, Wellbeing (a joint venture with Boots), was modelled on parts of Granada Breeze. It was predominantly broadcast from The Leeds Studios, although Granada made programmes in Manchester for the channel as well. It closed in 2003.

Granada Talk TV

The last of the original GSB channels, Granada Talk TV focused primarily on chat shows. It closed after less than a year on air.

ITV Digital

From 1997 until 2002 Granada and Carlton invested and lost over £1,000,000,000 over their joint venture into pay-TV digital terrestrial broadcasting, ONdigital, which was rebranded as ITV Digital in the summer of 2001, to the fury of SMG plc, UTV, and Channel Television which attempted to block the renaming on the grounds that it would damage the ITV brand. The competition offered by the new Sky Digital service, launched in 1998, was too great an obstacle for the service to overcome and, inevitably, ITV Digital ceased broadcasting on May 1, 2002. This chapter in Granada's story was single-handedly responsible for sweeping cuts within the organisation, including the cutting back of budgets for their flagship drama serials and productions, the sale of numerous assets and the loss of many staff from the Manchester headquarters.

Later in 2002, talks on a proposed merger between Granada and Carlton were broken off after a failure to agree terms.

ITV1 Granada

On October 28, 2002, and in accordance with a network-wide relaunch, Granada Television was rebranded on air to ITV1 Granada. The Granada name is now only seen before regional programmes, the rest of the time the only brand shown is ITV1. Since this rebrand, all continuity announcements have been made from London including regional announcements, as is now the case for all English ITV stations. The Granada logo still appeared at the end of its own programmes until 31 October 2004.

Towards the end of 2003, Granada was given the green light by the UK government to merge with its main ITV partner, Carlton. On February 2, 2004, this merger took place, with the new company being called ITV plc. Subsequently, from 1 November, 2004, Granada Television productions were credited as "Granada Manchester" productions (reflecting the brand of the new unified in-house production arm). This new company owns all the ITV franchises in England and Wales.

Following this merger, there are now plans to sell off most of the Quay Street complex in Manchester for re-development, with the remaining staff, studios and offices moving into the large Bonded Warehouse on one side of the site, which, from 1988 to 1999, housed part of the Granada Studios Tour. A full and permanent move to the forthcoming MediaCity:uk in Salford is one of the options still under consideration by ITV, although there is reportedly some reluctance to the idea, as it would mean the (costly) re-location of the permanent outdoor "Coronation Street" set and Granada apparently originally hoped to develop a media cluster on the Quay Street site. A precedent for a move to a new modern headquarters, however, was set in 2004, when ITV plc moved Meridian out of its studio complex in Northam, Southampton to a new office location near Whiteley, Hampshire, and in 2005, Tyne Tees Television's studios on City Road in Newcastle upon Tyne were sold, as it moved to a new site in Gateshead. Any move away from Quay Street would also spell the end for 3sixtymedia, the Granada Productions/BBC Resources joint venture company, established in 2000 and based at The Manchester Studios.

Notably, the Granada studio complex at Quay Street still, as of 2008, has the original signage that was fitted when it was opened in the mid-1950s, despite the logo change and rebrands that have taken place.

On September 21, 2005, it was announced by ITV that Granada's name would no longer appear at the end of programmes made for the network, the in-house production arm being renamed 'ITV Productions'. This change came about on January 16, 2006, coinciding with a relaunch of ITV's on-screen graphics. Granada's name and logo continue to be used at the end of programmes made for other networks, such as "University Challenge" on BBC Two and old programmes shown on Sky One, Two and Three. The credits for Granada Manchester productions (such as "Stars In Their Eyes") still carry the copyright line: "Copyright (year) Granada Television" in their end credits.

As of November 2006, ITV1 Granada lost its visual on-air identity, although announcers still verbally refer to the channel as ITV1 Granada before regional programming over a generic ITV1 ident.

See also

*Granada Productions
*Granada Ltd.


External links

* [ ITV Granada] at
* [ ITV plc] at
* [ 3sixtymedia]
* [ ScreenOnline: Granada Television] History of the company, by the British Film Institute.
* [ Examination of Granada's branding] from Ident by Transdiffusion
* [ Original Granada animated logo] , 1956, from (requires Macromedia Flash).
* [ Animated Granada logo] , early 1960s, from
* [| Ray Fitzwalter on the 'Rise & Fall of Granada'] London Frontline Club, May 2008.

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