|Broadcast area||North of England (1956-1968)
North West England (1968-present)
Isle of Man (2009-present)
|Launched||3 May 1956|
The ident used by Granada in the 1970s and 1980s, featuring the 'G' logo with which the company was most identified. The logo continued in use until 2004, featuring in other idents including ITV generic idents in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
|Closed||Lost on-air identity 27 October 2002 (known as ITV1 at all times)|
|Replaced||ABC Weekend Television at weekends from 1968|
|Replaced by||Yorkshire Television in east of original region from 1968.|
|Owned by||ITV plc|
It is the only one of the original four ITA franchisees from 1954 that survived as a franchise holder into the twenty-first century. Broadcasting began on 3 May 1956, with the company originally holding the "North of England" weekday franchise, which also covered most of Yorkshire. In 1968, this broadcast area was divided into two franchises, with Granada holding the "North West England" franchise on all days. It continues to do so today, although on 16 July 2009 it also added coverage of the Isle of Man, taking over from ITV Tyne Tees & Border.
The station's owner, Granada Limited, merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004. The station's licence is now owned and operated by the ITV plc subsidiary ITV Broadcasting Limited, formerly Anglia Television Ltd.
Some twenty years later, with the dawn of commercial television, the Bernsteins decided to be involved in the new industry which was a competitor to the cinema chains, an approach similar in nature to that of the Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC).
The North of England was selected to create a strong regional identity. Other possible areas included the London franchise, which 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. A franchise in the north of England would also not have any detrimental effects on the business of the largely southern-based cinema chain.
In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded Granada the North of England contract for Monday to Friday (with the ABPC's own company, ABC, serving the same area at the weekend). To facilitate this, the company used the Winter Hill and Emley Moor transmitters of the ITA. The contract covered an area stretching from Liverpool and Blackpool on the west coast of England to Kingston-upon-Hull on the east coast, covering counties such as Lancashire and the West and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and taking in major areas of population including Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Doncaster. Transmissions could also be received in parts of northern Lincolnshire.
Granada commenced transmission in Lancashire on 3 May 1956, and in Yorkshire in November 1956. As with the other early independent television companies, Granada quickly encountered financial difficulties.
With 18 months between the award of the franchise and the start of transmission, Granada built a brand new studio complex on bomb clearance land close to the River Irwell in Manchester. The studios proved to be revolutionary. The three other new ITV companies tended to build production offices in London with regional offices in their franchise areas. This was the strategy used by both ABC and ATV (and similar to present day ITV). However, Granada wanted to be 'at the heart' of their area and so built a main base in the centre of Manchester.
Granada was also the first British television company to create facilities purpose-built for television production. Before this (and for some time after), companies converted former film studios, cinemas or other large buildings. The centre at Manchester pre-dates the BBC Television Centre by four years. To embellish the scale, studios were numbered with even numbers only. Of six original studios only four still exist.
Granada also opened a small production office and studio in Leeds. This was to serve the area eventually covered by the Emley Moor transmitter. In the early 1980s, in response to criticism that the company was neglecting Merseyside, Granada converted a former traffic office at the Albert Dock, Liverpool into studios and moved much of its regional news operation (Granada Reports) to the news centre. The studios have since been replaced with a smaller district newsroom 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 non-descript names such as ABC, ATV, and Rediffusion. These did not have regional connotations, so that they could easily move their franchises to other parts of the country — if they did well, the ITA might reward them with a plum London franchise in the future. 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 Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday station, who agreed to underwrite Granada's costs in exchange for a percentage of their profits over the next four years, without the knowledge or consent of the ITA, who would have blocked it. Granada accepted the deal, but the popularity of ITV soon increased and profitability followed. Analysts began to question how Associated-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, Associated-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) from Granada.
The culture of Granada was distinctly more 'Socialist' than the more conservative companies (and the BBC) further south. Granada produced hard-hitting documentary series, most famously the controversial, multi-award-winning weekly World in Action between 1963 and 1998, but also Seven Up! and gritty dramas such as A Family at War (1970-72). The classic 'Socialist' (in Northern working-class terms) soap opera Coronation Street, which started a 13-week, two-episodes-a-week regional run on 9 December 1960, was, almost 50 years later in 2008, still being produced at the rate of five peak-viewing episodes a week.
Jeremy Isaacs was involved with developing a significant portion of Granada's factual programming, but Granada produced a whole generation of major British TV 'players' from Lord John Birt, Director-General of the BBC, to Lord Gus Macdonald, his fellow World in Action producer, as well as Michael Parkinson and other alumni. In drama, Granada set up a unique experiment in 1968, employing actors to work in television and theatre on the same contract — the Stables Theatre Company directed by Gordon McDougall.
By the mid-1970s, Granada was producing programmes for an international audience, such as The Stars Look Down (1974), Laurence Olivier Presents (1976-78), Brideshead Revisited (1981), the multi-award-winning Disappearing World series (between 1969 and 1993) and, from 1984 on, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Also in that year came the dramatisation of The Jewel in the Crown. These shows (among many others) were sold overseas through a separate division known as Granada Television International. Granada did not produce light-entertainment extravaganzas of its own, but was quite happy to transmit those produced by other companies.
The productions of Brideshead and Jewel were well received at the time and coincided with the BBC's disastrous The Borgias and the screening of the American adaptation of The Thorn Birds, and in each instance gave Granada a certain glow in the Thatcher era over its publicly funded rival.
Another of Granada's flagship programmes was the long-running quiz show, University Challenge. This originally aired between 1962 and 1987 before being revived by the BBC in 1994, although still produced by Granada. The company also produced another long-running quiz show, The Krypton Factor, between 1977 and 1995. 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.
In the 1970s, Granada produced a number of successful situation-comedies, often based around its North West England transmission area. 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. Granada also produced Allsorts from 1989 to 1995 for CITV, featuring Wayne Jackman, Andrew Wightman (who later produced Granada's talent show Stars In Their Eyes), Virginia Radcliffe, Jane Cox and Julie Westwood. Other hits such as You've Been Framed, Celebrity Stars in their Eyes, Junior Stars in their Eyes followed produced by BAFTA award winner and 9 times National Television Award Winner Nigel Hall who went on to set up SYCO Tv with Simon Cowell.
In the 1968 franchise round, Granada's contract was changed from weekdays across the whole "North of England" region 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 interfered in the territory of Granadaland" he would "go to the United Nations". The Ridings of Yorkshire (now to be served by the Emley Moor transmitter) subsequently passed to the new Yorkshire Television.
Granada retained the North West franchise in the 1980 round.
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 Broadcasting Act 1990, which removed the ITV advertising monopoly and instigated quotas on independent programming, as well as instigating the expensive auction process of the 1991 franchise round. In this, Granada were outbid for their franchise by Mersey Television, the production company famous for the Channel Four soap opera Brookside, but still won the license as Mersey's package was deemed not to have met the required "quality threshold" applied by the Independent Television Commission.
The Conservative government of the time responded by relaxing the regulatory regime, so that ITV contractors could take each other over, and Granada responded by going on an acquisition spree. This meant that, by 2002, Granada had established an effective duopoly of ITV with Carlton Television, between them owning all the ITV companies in England and Wales. The two franchises in Scotland (Scottish Television and Grampian Television, now STV Central and STV North respectively), UTV in Northern Ireland, and Channel Television in the Channel Islands remained independent of these two companies and still do today.
One charge that has been levelled 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 its failed bid to win the North West 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 1980s, 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 1996, 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.
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 Granada themselves termed "high-quality content", by giving away sign-up CD-ROMs in high street stores. 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, at the time, largely still modem-based, and take-up was low. Less than a year after it opened, Granada closed G-Wizz in March 2001, after it had cost the company £9 million. It combined the remainder of its online presence with fellow ITV company Carlton to launch itv.com.
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.
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.
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 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.
The last of the original GSB channels, Granada Talk TV focused primarily on chat shows. It closed after less than a year on air.
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 ITV Digital ceased broadcasting on 1 May 2002. This chapter in Granada's story was single-handedly responsible for sweeping cuts within the organisation, including the cutting-back of budgets for its 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.
On 28 October 2002, in accordance with a network-wide relaunch, Granada Television was rebranded on air to ITV1 Granada. The Granada name was initially only shown before regional programmes. This has since ceased and the name 'Granada' has now vanished from screens, along with all other ITV regional identities. 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 2 February 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 plans to sell off most of the Quay Street complex in Manchester for redevelopment, 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 across the water to the forthcoming MediaCity:uk in Salford was one of the options under consideration by ITV, although there was reportedly some resistance 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. These plans were delivered a blow on 11 March 2009, when talks over the site broke down, leaving the projected move in limbo, despite the fact that most of the original Granada building is now unused and therefore a waste of space and resources. The Salford Quays relocation remains an idea but is being re-evaluated.
A precedent for a move to a new modern headquarters 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 ITV Studios/BBC Resources joint venture company, established in 2000 and based at The Manchester Studios.
In 2002, a decision was made to relocate Granada's reception area to the rear of the building. The original large reception area is now unused and still remains, but due to the downsizing of the organisation, a smaller non-public reception area was created. It also introduced a further level of security—visitors now have to be authorised to pass within the secure compound before reaching the reception. Notably, the Granada studio complex at Quay Street still, as of 2010, 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 21 September 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 16 January 2006, coinciding with a relaunch of ITV's on-screen graphics. Granada's name and logo continued to be used at the end of programmes made for other networks, such as University Challenge on BBC Two and old programmes shown on Sky1, 2 and 3 until 2009. The credits for Granada Manchester productions (such as Stars In Their Eyes) still carried the copyright line: Copyright Granada Television Limited (year) in their end credits until these were dropped in 2007 and replaced by Copyright ITV Productions Limited (year) and since 2009, Copyright ITV Studios Limited (year).
Since November 2006, Granada has lost its visual on-air identity. Ahead of regional programming on Granada, announcers verbally refer to the channel as ITV1 or ITV1 Granada over a generic ident. Local news coverage is branded as Granada News except for the 1800 Granada Reports bulletin on weeknights, all local news programmes (except for bulletins during GMTV) carry the ITV logo in the credits and in the bottom left hand corner. Granada Reports's main rival, BBC North West Tonight is broadcast to a similar region as that of Granada. Channel M Today is also broadcast from 1600-1900, covering the Greater Manchester area.