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ITV Granada
ITV Granada

ITV Granada (formerly Granada Television and commonly referred to as simply Granada) is a regional television company in North West England. It is the largest independent television-franchise producing company in the UK, accounting for 25% of the total broadcasting output of the ITV network.

Granada Television was founded by Sidney Bernstein at Granada Studios on Quay Street in Manchester and is the only surviving company of the original four Independent Television Authority franchisees from 1954. It covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, and parts of Derbyshire, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. In 2009, the Isle of Man was transferred to ITV Granada from ITV Border.

Broadcasting by Granada Television began on 3 May 1956 under the North of England weekday franchise, the fifth franchise to go to air.

The North West region is regarded as ITV's most successful franchise.[2][3][4] Nine Granada programmes were listed in the BFI TV 100 in 2000. Some of its most notable programmes include Sherlock Holmes, Coronation Street, Seven Up!, The Royle Family, The Jewel in the Crown, Brideshead Revisited, World in Action, University Challenge and The Krypton Factor. Notable employees have included Paul Greengrass, Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies, Leslie Woodhead, Tony Wilson and Dan Walker.


Granada Television, a subsidiary of Granada Ltd, originated in Granada Theatres Ltd, which owned cinemas in the south of England. It was founded in Dover in 1930 by Sidney Bernstein and his brother Cecil. The company was incorporated as Granada Ltd in 1934 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1935; Granada Theatres Ltd became a subsidiary of the new company.[5] It is named after the Spanish city of Granada.[6]

In the 1950s the Bernsteins became involved in commercial television, a competitor to the cinema chains, through the launch of ITV. Bernstein bid for the North of England franchise, which he believed would not affect the company's largely southern-based cinema chain. In 1954, the Independent Television Authority (ITA) awarded Granada the North of England contract for Monday to Friday, with ABC serving the same area on weekends. The companies used the ITA's Winter Hill and Emley Moor transmitters covering Lancashire and the West and East Ridings of Yorkshire, including the major conurbations around Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Doncaster.

Bernstein selected a base from Leeds and Manchester.

Transmissions began in Lancashire on 3 May 1956, and Yorkshire six months later.

Although referred to as Channel 3, Granada Television actually began broadcasting on Channel 9 V.H.F. in black and white (405 lines) from the Winter Hill transmitter on weekdays from 3 May 1956, with Associated British Corporation (ABC) Television broadcasting in the North & Midlands at weekends.

Most ITV franchisees viewed their territories as stopgaps before winning a coveted London franchise.

Bernstein decided to build new studios rather than hiring space or converting old buildings, an approach favoured by the other ITV companies and by the BBC at its original Manchester studios. The investment in new studios in 1954 contributed to Granada struggling financially, and the company was close to insolvency by late 1956. All four ITA franchisees were expected to make losses in the first few years of operation, but Granada's was a significant sum of £175,000[14] (nearly £3.5m in 2011).[15] When it first became profitable, it had the lowest profits of the quartet.[14][16]

Granada sought the help of Associated-Rediffusion, the London weekday station, which agreed to underwrite Granada's debts in exchange for a percentage of its profits, without the consent of the ITA, who would have blocked it. Granada accepted the deal, but the popularity of ITV increased and profitability followed.[17] Analysts questioned how Associated-Rediffusion, ABC and ATV were making annual profits of up to £2.7m by 1959 and yet Granada's profits were under £1m. With the increase in income, Granada tried to renegotiate the contract; Associated-Rediffusion refused, souring relations for many years. The deal was worth over £8m (2008: £129m[18]) to Rediffusion.[17]The%20mirror%20in%20the%20corner%3A%20Pe]]By the early 1960s Granada was established and its soap opera Coronation Street[14] e game shows such as Criss Cross Quiz and University Challenge.[19]

In the 1968 franchise round, Granada's contract was changed from weekdays across the northern England region to the whole week in the northwest from Winter Hill transmitting station.

Granada retained its franchise in the 1980 franchise review, and invested in multimillion-pound dramatic serial productions such as The Jewel in the Crown and Brideshead Revisited.[22] By the late 1980s the UK commercial broadcasters were considered too small to compete in the world market, and the ITV franchises began to consolidate with the aim of creating a single company with a larger budget.[23]

The Broadcasting Act of 1990 instigated the 1991 franchise auction round, in which companies had to bid for the regions.

David Plowright, who had worked at Granada since 1957, resigned in 1992 citing the arrival of Gerry Robinson. He tightened the departmental budget with an uncompromising business approach.[25] Plowright had been the company's driving force, producing programmes such as World in Action, and Coronation Street, and promoting the Granada Studios Tour.[26] His departure angered well-known media-industry figures; John Cleese faxed Robinson using 'vitriolic language' and called him an 'upstart caterer', a reference to his past employment.[27] John Birt, Harold Pinter and Alan Bennett all supported Plowright for his quality programming.[3]

The so-called 'Big 5' ITV franchisees, Thames, LWT, Central, Granada, and Yorkshire Television were expected to take over the ten smaller franchises. Granada wanted to consolidate with Yorkshire and Tyne Tees Television to 'counter the potential dominance of the south east',[29] and the prospect of being taken over by Thames Television. Granada made a hostile bid for LWT in December 1993, but LWT believed Granada had little to offer despite having three times the market capitalisation;[30] Granada, however, completed the take-over in 1994.[31] Granada continued to expand by acquiring Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television for £652m in 1997[32] and bought UNM's television assets for £1.75 billion in 2000 – by which it acquired Anglia Television and Meridian Broadcasting and some divisions of HTV[33] – the remaining divisions passing to rival company Carlton due to competition laws.[34] A year later, it acquired Border from Capital Radio Group.

By 2002, Granada had established an effective duopoly of ITV with Carlton Television, owning all the ITV companies in England and Wales. The remaining franchises in Scotland, (Scottish Television and Grampian Television), UTV in Northern Ireland, and Channel Television in the Channel Islands, remained independent.

Granada was in a poor financial state and closed the Granada Studios Tour in 2001, citing decreasing visitor figures.[35] The real reason was the decision to increase production of episodes for Coronation Street to five per week. Without access to that set, the highlight of the tour, the Granada Studios Tour venture was no longer viable. The company also closed Granada Film.[36] The emergence of digital television cut ITV's viewing share, decreasing advertising revenue, which was already suffering from competition with the internet.[37] The failure of ITV Digital cost Granada and Carlton losses estimated at over £1 billion[38] reducing the company's value from 2001 to 2003.[39]

On 28 October 2002, in a network-wide relaunch, Granada was rebranded as ITV1 Granada. The Granada name was shown before regional programmes, but this has ceased; its name has vanished from screens as have all other ITV regional identities.[40] Since rebranding, all continuity announcements are made from London. The Granada logo appeared at the end of its own programmes until 31 October 2004.

Granada was permitted by the government to merge with Carlton[41] on 2 February 2004 to form ITV plc.[42] The move was a takeover by Granada, whose market capitalisation was double that of Carlton at nearly £2 billion.[43] Granada owned 68% of the shares and Carlton 32%; chairman designate Michael Green was ousted by shareholders[44] and the majority of new board members originated from Granada.[45] Carlton employees were subsumed in Granada operations or made redundant,[46] with three out of four new departments led by Granada staff.[47]

From 1 November 2004, Granada productions were credited "Granada Manchester", the brand of the unified in-house production arm but on 21 September 2005, it was announced that Granada's name would no longer appear at the end of programmes.

In November 2006, Granada lost its on-air identity when regional programming voiced ITV1 or ITV1 Granada over a generic ident.

ITV made cutbacks, dropping 600 jobs in 2009, which effectively closed the Yorkshire Television Leeds Studios; more redundancies were made in London, leaving Granada relatively unscathed.[49] In the 2009 ITV regional news cutbacks, Granada was one of three regions unaffected by changes except for picking up the Isle of Man which had previously been served by ITV Border's Lookaround programme.[50]

ITV is obliged by UK communications regulator Ofcom to produce 50% of its programmes outside London, something it failed to achieve in 2007 and 2008.[51] With this obligation, retaining Manchester as the northern hub, and an £80m move to MediaCityUK on 25 March 2013, ITV appears to be committed to the Granada region for the foreseeable future.


In the 18 months between the award of the franchise and the start of transmission, Granada built a brand new studio complex on Quay Street. The site was reportedly previously a cemetery for pauper's graves, where 22,000 people were buried. An article in The Sun newspaper and an episode of the TV series Most Haunted seem to be the only sources for this claim in 2009.[52] Twelve maps from between 1772 and 1960 show no evidence of a cemetery and buildings are shown on the bull china site from 1807.[53] Part of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, which linked the River Irwell to the Rochdale Canal from 1839 to 1922, ran in a tunnel underneath the site. The studios pre-date BBC Television Centre by four years and were the first purpose-built television studios in the United Kingdom.[14]

Bernstein exaggerated the scale of the studios, to make Granada appear a rival to the BBC, and gave the studios only even numbers so that it appeared there were 12 despite there being six.

In September 2010, the noted 1950s red landmark "Granada TV" sign on the roof and entrance of Granada Studios on Quay Street was removed[56] for safety reasons after maintenance found it was badly corroded.[57] Some have claimed the signs will be returned.[58] The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has registered an interest in inheriting the sign, deeming it important to Manchester's cultural heritage.[59]

After the ITV merger in 2004, the possibility of selling the Quay Street site was considered, with staff, studios and offices moved into the adjacent bonded warehouse building.


Throughout its history, Granada Television used the logo of an arrow pointing northwards in idents, often accompanied by a tagline 'from the North'.[66] Sidney Bernstein wanted to present a northern identity.[67] Granada Television was considered bolder than other franchisees and the BBC,[68] and placed great emphasis displaying the northern style which distinguished it from them.

Granada was one of the few regions that did not play "God Save the Queen" at closedown.

In 1958, two years after its launch, Granada Television's northern style was apparent.

From its launch in 1956 until 1968, when an ident featuring the word "GRANADA" between two horizontal lines was introduced, the channel used captions and animations featuring a thin arrow pointing upwards and Granada, in a stylised font, in boxes.

After the use of the word "GRANADA" between two horizontal lines was phased out in the first half of 1969, the famous pointed 'G' logo, incorporating the upward/Northward facing arrow used previously into a letter "G" was introduced.

A colour emblem was used from the 1970s until it was replaced by a series of idents to celebrate Granada Television's 30th anniversary on 3 May 1986, when it was a computer animated pointed "G" against a graded background and a cake covered in candles in the pointed G shape.

On 5 June 1989, Granada Television launched a look featuring a translucent pointed G, which rotated into place in time to the music against a natural scene.

On 4 June 1990, Granada Television, in the run-up to the 1990 franchise round, relaunched its on-screen branding to a blue stripe descending from the top of the screen, containing the pointed 'G', against a plain white background accompanied by the same music as previously.

On 3 January 1994, Granada Television introduced a series of films featuring flags with its logo against various scenes in the region, accompanied by the slogan 'Setting the Standard'.

On 2 January 1995, the stripe theme was modified; the pointed 'G' was larger on the blue stripe against a computer generated multicoloured background and the 'G' was created by filming a large perspex 'G' with motion control photography. This ident was used, from a variety of angles, until 7 November 1999, by which point additional idents based on surreal surroundings, such as a fish blowing a bubble with a G inside, which floated to the surface, or a camera zoom into the eye of a housewife to reveal the G in her eye, were introduced.[70]

All the idents were replaced on 8 November 1999 when Granada Television took the generic hearts idents. Granada Television kept the pointed G logo, made slightly thinner and placed in a box at the top of the screen. The dual branding of Granada Television and ITV lasted until 28 October 2002, when regional identities were dropped in favour of the new ITV1 channel brand. The celebrities ident package featured plain ITV1 idents for all national programmes, and Granada Television placed under the ITV1 logo for regional programmes. This practice continued until 16 January 2006, when no name was used, and Granada Productions was replaced with ITV Productions on programme end boards. The Granada Television logo continued on end boards until this date. The Granada name was used on announcements before local programming over a generic ITV1 ident until all non-news regional programming was scrapped.[70][73][75]

On 14 January 2013, the station's on-air identity was changed to ITV, along with all other ITV plc-owned franchises.

During the early days, the pointed G logo was used on two other subsidiary businesses.

On Bridge Street in Manchester, the adjacent street to the Granada TV studios, stands a dry cleaning business called Granada Dry Cleaners [120].

As of March 2016, the 'G' arrow trademark is owned by Matgo Ltd.[76]


In 1958, Granada Television broadcast coverage of the 1958 Rochdale by-election, the first election to be covered on television in Britain.[77] Granada's coverage was broad in scope, and it also broadcast two candidate debates.[78] Over 50 years later, Granada Studios hosted the first General Election debate among the leaders of the three main political parties.[79]

Granada's boldness was seen in ambitious documentaries such as Seven Up!, which premiered in 1964. The programme was a social experiment which followed the lives of 14 British children aged seven. It tracked their lives at seven-year intervals to discover whether their hopes and aspirations had been achieved. The documentary was voted the greatest ever by esteemed film-makers and its latest instalment, 56 Up, premiered in 2012. Seven Up was part of the World in Action documentary series between 1963 and 1998, which won awards but was controversial. It garnered a reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism and its producer Gus Macdonald commented that the programme was 'born brash.'[80] Paul Greengrass said that David Plowright told him, "don't forget, your job's to make trouble."[81] World in Action demonstrated hard-hitting investigative journalism and explored issues such as police corruption at the Metropolitan Police in 1985 and the Royal Family's tax loophole in 1991.[80] The programme led a campaign to prove the innocence of the Birmingham Six in 1985 when researcher Chris Mullin questioned the convictions; by 1991 the men had been released from prison.[82]

The classic northern working-class soap opera, Coronation Street, started a 13-week, two-episodes-a-week regional run on 9 December 1960. It is still produced at the rate of six peak-viewing episodes a week after nearly 60 years, and is the longest-running soap opera in the world.[83] Such set-pieces as Siege Week and the 2010 Tram Crash were filmed at the studio. The company also produced gritty drama series such as A Family at War

Granada produced The Stars Look Down (1975), Laurence Olivier Presents (1976–78), Brideshead Revisited (1981), the multi-award-winning Disappearing World series (between 1969 and 1993) and, from 1984, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Jewel in the Crown for an international audience. These shows were sold overseas by Granada Television International.

Another flagship programme, the long-running quiz show, University Challenge was originally aired between 1962 and 1987. It was revived by the BBC in 1994 (produced by Granada). The company produced The Krypton Factor, between 1977 and 1995 (revived by ITV in 2009). One of Granada's longest-running programmes, What The Papers Say, was broadcast by Granada in 1956, was taken over by the BBC in the early 1990s, and was shown by Channel 4. The programme introduced the idea of discussing what the newspapers were reporting, continued by Sunday Supplement and The Wright Stuff.[84] In the 1970s, Granada produced situation comedies, often based around life in the north west including Nearest and Dearest, The Lovers and The Cuckoo Waltz, followed by Brothers McGregor and Watching

Granada drew on 1970s pop music with shows such as Lift Off with Ayshea and the Bay City Rollers show, Shang-a-lang. Granada's So It Goes was presented by Tony Wilson and showcased the punk phenomenon, bringing the Sex Pistols and the Clash to TV screens. The station also produced Marc, presented by glam rock star Marc Bolan. The show was in production when Bolan was killed in a car accident in 1977. Granada 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.

Also, Granada Studios produced The Weekenders (TV pilot), which can be found on All 4. The Weekenders, is a surreal comedy episode featuring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.


Granada Television has introduced many broadcasters and figures to British television; it has had a number of directors, producers and writers who have formed their own production companies.

  • Sir Michael Parkinson began his television career at Granada Television.[91]
  • Tony Wilson presented Granada Reports and music programmes that promoted Manchester music, which gave him the nickname Mr Manchester.[92]
  • Gordon Burns joined in 1972 and presented Granada Reports, World in Action and The Krypton Factor. He later joined BBC North West in 1999 to present North West Tonight, where he became the programme's main anchor from then until 2011.
  • Richard Madeley joined Granada in 1982 where he met Judy Finnigan, who joined as a researcher in 1972.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen had a chatshow, F2F on Granada Talk TV in 1996.
  • Lucy Meacock is Granada news presenter since 1988 and occasional presenter for the ITV national news.
  • Paul Crone.

Other ventures

The Granada Studios Tour opened in 1988 as an entertainment park on the Granada Studios Quay Street back lot, themed around television productions. The park featured a replica set of No. 10 Downing Street, and visitors were shown how television is produced. The main feature was the set of Coronation Street

Several of Granada's programmes administered their websites using G-Wizz, including This Morning, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Its Flash-heavy pages were mostly unusable by subscribers, who were then still largely 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[93]

In 1996 Granada joined BSkyB to form a joint venture, Granada Sky Broadcasting (GSB) providing content and new channels to the satellite platform. Granada launched a range of television channels broadcasting the Granada archive on the Sky satellite television platform and other digital platforms such as ITV Digital which closed in 2002 due to administration, NTL and Telewest (which merged to form Virgin Media). GSB operated as a joint venture until 2004 when ITV was formed. Consequently, ITV purchased BSkyB's 10% stake in the venture and launched ITV3 which replaced Granada Plus. GSB was renamed the ITV digital channels Ltd to reflect ITV plc control.

From 1997 until 2002 Granada and Carlton invested, and lost, over £1 billion with a joint venture into ONdigital, a pay-TV, digital terrestrial broadcaster. ONdigital was rebranded ITV Digital in summer 2001, but opposed by SMG plc, UTV, and Channel Television, who felt it would damage the ITV brand. ONdigital was expected to create a new revenue stream and be floated as a separate company but by March 1999 the service only had 110,000 subscribers, well below the 2 million Granada aimed for.[94] Granada and Carlton persevered by rebranding the service ITV Digital but this too was not successful. Competition from Sky Digital launched in 1998 was too great and ITV Digital ceased broadcasting on 1 May 2002. This led to sweeping cuts in the organisation, including cutting budgets for flagship drama serials and productions[95] and loss of jobs at the Manchester headquarters.[95]

Granada Plus was a general entertainment channel, a 50–50 joint venture between Granada Television and British Sky Broadcasting, aimed at older audiences using archive material. The channel, launched on 1 October 1996 as Granada Plus, was later known as G Plus and finally Plus. It broadcast until 1 November 2004, when ITV bought BSkyB's stake in GSB, and closed the channel, replacing it with ITV3, and taking Plus' low EPG position on Sky Digital.

Men & Motors was a male orientated channel which launched on the same day as Granada Plus, sharing transponder space with Plus and broadcasting for three hours a day in the late evening. In 2004 it became a full-time channel, broadcasting motors programming during the day and adult programming in the late evening although the adult programming was dropped when the channel went free-to-air in 2005. It lasted longest of all the channels, and ran until 2010, when it was closed to make way for ITV HD. Most of its programmes were transferred to ITV4.

Originally Granada Good Life, Granada Breeze was another GSB venture which also launched on 1 October 1996. It was a lifestyle channel aimed at women viewers and showed programmes on, cookery, health and US daytime television such as Judge Joe Brown. It provided programmes split into themed sections called Granada Talk Television, Granada Food and Wine, Granada Health and Beauty, Granada Television High Street and Granada Home and Garden. Most shows were presented from a large conservatory studio outside the Coronation Street studio which was later used for daytime ITV Play programming. Granada Breeze was scaled down in July 2001[96] before ceasing operation in March 2002 due to poor viewing figures.[97]

Another channel, Wellbeing, a joint venture with Boots, modelled on Granada Breeze was broadcast from The Leeds Studios, although Granada made some programmes, closed in 2003.

Granada Talk TV focused on chat shows and closed after less than a year on air.


Granada Television had a reputation for strong production values.[98][99] In 1999, Granada Television made eight of ITV's top-rated programmes and 30% of the UK's top-rated programmes came from its studios[2] and in 2005 supplied 63% of ITV original production.[100] It was the only ITA broadcaster created in 1954 that survived into the 21st century, and flourished it emerged the dominant player in the ITV network by 2000.[101]

In the 19 BAFTA Awards for the Best Drama series awarded since 1992, Granada Television has won five in total, Cracker twice in 1994 and 1995, Cold Feet in 2002 and The Street

Coronation Street became the longest running serial soap in 2010 when it celebrated its 50th anniversary and the ongoing Seven Up documentary series was voted the greatest documentary in a Channel 4 programme by film makers.

In three franchise rounds (1967, 1980, and 1991) three groups (Palatine Television, Merseyvision, and Mersey Television, wherein the latter two were unconnected) each made audacious bids to rid Granada (and in 1967, ABC) of its franchise, but were unsuccessful, given that Granada was well respected (second only to the BBC).[102] The opponents claimed to the regulatory bodies that existed at the time (the ITA in 1967, the IBA in 1981, and the ITC in 1991) in these successive franchise rounds that Granada was too Manchester-centred at the expense of the Liverpool area and need to cater for the whole of North West England. They were supported by the fact that Granada Television was frequently referred to as "Granada Manchester" (not "Granada North West"),[103] as most productions were made in Manchester and in 2005 Granada and the Manchester City Council held a celebration recognising Granada's 50th anniversary cementing this perception further.[104] In 1993, Brian Sedgemore MP, complained that promises Granada made during the 1991 franchise round to open offices in Chester, Lancaster and Blackburn were not fulfilled,[105] but David Liddiment at Granada did not believe this assertion to be true.[106]

Granada had increased investment in Liverpool moving its regional news service to the Albert Dock complex in 1986,[107] before moving back to Quay Street sometime in the early 2000s.

The ITV network based its daytime show This Morning at Liverpool's Albert Dock for many years before it moved to the London Studios in 1996, as it was difficult to get celebrity guests to travel from London to Liverpool.[108]

Granada's bold, hard-hitting television and documentaries resulted in a number of legal cases.

In 1998 Granada paid £2 million in two cases, to three Metropolitan Police officers who were wrongly accused of covering up a murder[109] and Marks and Spencer for alleging M&S knew one of its suppliers was using child labour.[110][111] World in Action was axed in 1998 and replaced by the Tonight programme in 1999 but it too was criticised, but this time, for dumbing down as the Tonight programme is markedly less hard-hitting.

Nevertheless, Tonight had occasionally stirred controversy like its predecessor. An example is the 2003 documentary Living with Michael Jackson (a Tonight* special). Its airing resulted in the threat of legal action by Michael Jackson.[112] The documentary gained a large audience, 15 million in the United Kingdom, and newspapers depicted Jackson in a negative light following the documentary.[113] Jackson did not, ultimately, bring any case to court.

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