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ITV Granada (originally Granada Television or Granada TV) is the Channel 3 regional service for North West England, the licence for the region being held by ITV Broadcasting Limited since November 2008. It is the largest independent television franchise producing company in the UK accounting for 25% of the total broadcasting output of the ITV network. Previously it was held by Granada Television which was founded by Sidney Bernstein and based at Granada Studios on Quay Street in Manchester since its inception, and which was the only surviving company out of the original four Independent Television Authority franchisees from 1954 before it merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004. It covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, northwestern Derbyshire, part of Cumbria and North Yorkshire, and on 15 July 2009, the Isle of Man was transferred to ITV Granada from ITV Border (even though the Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency that is not part of the United Kingdom).

Broadcasting by Granada Television began on 3 May 1956 under the North of England weekday franchise and was marked by a distinctive northern identity including their famous stylised letter "G" logo forming an arrow pointing north, often with the tagline "Granada: from the north".

Granada plc merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc in 2004 after a duopoly had developed over the previous decade. The Granada name, as with those of the other former Channel 3 regional licence holders, has completely disappeared except for the regional news bulletins and weeknightly regional news magazine as ITV Broadcasting Limited operates the service with national ITV branding and continuity. Granada Television Ltd still legally exists and is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed on as a "Dormant company". Other companies listed are Granada Television International and Granada Television Overseas Ltd, but these are either dormant or non-trading.

The North West region is regarded as ITV's most successful franchise, and The Financial Times and The Independent once described Granada Television, the former franchise holder, as 'the best commercial television company in the world'. Nine Granada programmes were listed in the BFI TV 100 in 2000 and some of its most notable programmes include Coronation Street, Seven Up!, The Royle Family, The Jewel in the Crown, Brideshead Revisited, World in Action, University Challenge and The Krypton Factor. Past employees include Paul Greengrass, Michael Apted, Mike Newell, Jeremy Isaacs, Andy Harries, Russell T Davies and Leslie Woodhead.


Granada Television, a subsidiary of Granada Ltd, originated in Granada Theatres Ltd, which owned cinemas in the south of England, 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.[1] It is named after the Spanish city, Granada.

The Bernsteins became involved in commercial television, a competitor to the cinema chains. 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, Yorkshire, Varfield, Liverpool, Cashington, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster, and Taylorshire.


Bernstein selected a base from Leeds and Manchester. Granada executive Victor Peers believed Manchester was the preferred choice even before executives toured the region to find a suitable base. Granada Studios, designed by architect Ralph Tubbs, was built on a site on Quay Street in Manchester city centre belonging to Manchester City Council bought for £82,000.

Transmissions began in Lancashire on 3 May 1956, and Yorkshire six months later. The opening night featured Meet The People hosted by Quentin Reynolds and comedian Arthur Askey.

Early years[]

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Sidney Bernstein created Granada Television and shaped its growth and direction.

Most ITV franchisees viewed their territories as mere stopgaps before winning a coveted London franchise. In contrast, Granada determined to develop a strong northern identity – northern voices, northern programmes, northern idents with phrases such as Granada from the north, From the north—Granada and Granadaland.


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.

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. 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 attempted to renegotiate the contract; Associated-Rediffusion refused, souring relations for many years. The deal was worth over £8m to Rediffusion. By the early 1960s Granada was established and its soap opera Coronation Street quickly became popular, alongside inexpensive game shows Criss Cross Quiz and University Challenge.

Franchise changes[]

In the 1968 franchise round, Granada's contract was changed from weekdays across the northern England region to the whole week in the north west from Winter Hill transmitting station. Yorkshire became a separate region and the contract awarded to Yorkshire Television, broadcasting from Emley Moor transmitting station whose transmissions could be received in parts of North Lincolnshire. Bernstein was angered by the decision to split "Granadaland", and claimed he would appeal to the United Nations. Granada Television was now received in what is now Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire, the south of what is now Cumbria (then Lancashire) around Barrow-in-Furness, the High Peak district of Derbyshire (Glossop, Buxton) and parts of the Isle of Man. Parts of North Wales can receive only the Winter Hill transmissions (i.e. Granada) rather than HTV.

Granada retained its franchise in the 1980 franchise review, and invested in multi-million pound productions such as The Jewel in the Crown and Brideshead Revisited. 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.

The Broadcasting Act of 1990 instigated the 1991 franchise auction round, in which companies had to bid for the regions. Mersey Television, a company producing the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside, bid £35m compared to Granada's £9m, but Granada won as Mersey's package did not meet the 'quality threshold' applied by the Independent Television Commission, a premise which disadvantaged companies with no previous franchise experience. Granada owned popular television series such as Coronation Street which it threatened to sell to satellite TV if the franchise was lost. The government responded by relaxing the regulatory regime, so that ITV contractors could take over other companies, and Granada bought several companies. Some at the company considered ITV could only survive as a single merged entity to have sufficient resources to produce big-budget programmes, a concern that increased when BSkyB began to take ITV's viewing share, leading to less advertising revenue, the source of ITV's income.

David Plowright, who had worked at Granada since 1957, resigned in 1992 citing the arrival of Gerry Robinson who tightened the departmental budget with an uncompromising business approach. Plowright was the company's driving force producing programmes such as World in Action, Coronation Street and promoted the Granada Studios Tour. 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. John Birt, Harold Pinter and Alan Bennett all supported Plowright.

Takeover bids[]

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', 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; Granada, however, completed the take-over in 1994. Granada continued to expand by acquiring Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television for £652m in 1997 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 – the remaining divisions passing to rival company Carlton due to competition laws. 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 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, though the real reason was the decision for Coronation Street to increase to five episodes per week. Without access to the set, which was the highlight of the tour, the whole Granada Studios Tour venture became unviable. They also closed Granada Film. The emergence of digital television cut ITV's viewing share, decreasing advertising revenue which was suffering from competition with the internet. The failure of ITV Digital affected Granada and Carlton with losses estimated at over £1 billion.

ITV Granada and the unification of ITV[]

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A 2001–2002 ident with the website for and the region's familiar logo.

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ITV Granada logo used from 2006 to 2013.

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 and it has vanished from screens as have all other ITV regional identities. 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 on 2 February 2004 to form ITV plc. The move was a takeover by Granada whose market capitalisation was double that of Carlton at nearly £2 billion. Granada owned 68% of the shares and Carlton 32%; chairman designate Michael Green was ousted by shareholders and the majority of new board members originated from Granada. Carlton employees were subsumed in Granada operations or made redundant with three out of four new departments led by Granada staff.

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 and the in-house production arm was renamed 'ITV Productions'. The change on 16 January 2006 coincided with a relaunch of ITV's on-screen graphics. Granada's name and logo were used at the end of programmes made for other networks, such as University Challenge for BBC Two and old programmes shown on BSkyB channels 1, 2 and the former 3 (now Pick), until 2009.

In November 2006, Granada lost its on-air identity when regional programming voiced ITV1 or ITV1 Granada over a generic ident. Local news coverage was branded Granada News except for the main 18.00 Granada Reports bulletin. Granada Reports main rival is BBC North West Tonight, broadcast to roughly the same region. In 2009, ITV removed the Granada brand from all departments including its international production arm, Granada America which became ITV Studios America. End credits on programmes made at The Manchester Studios were credited to ITV Studios.


ITV made cutbacks with the loss of 600 jobs in 2009 which effectively closed the Yorkshire Television Leeds Studios and more redundancies made in London left Granada relatively unscathed. In the 2009 ITV regional news cutbacks, Granada was one of three regions unaffected by changes except for the addition of the Isle of Man.

ITV is obliged by UK communications regulator Ofcom to produce 50% of programmes outside London, something it failed to achieve in 2007 and 2008. With this obligation, Manchester as the northern hub and an £80m move to MediaCityUK on 25 March 2013, it would appear that ITV is 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. It has been claimed that the site was previously a cemetery containing a pauper's grave, where 22,000 people were buried. However an article in The Sun newspaper and an episode of the TV series Most Haunted seem to be the only sources for this so far. Twelve maps from between 1772 and 1960 show no evidence of a cemetery and buildings are shown on the bull china site from 1807. Part of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, which linked the River Irwell to the Rochdale Canal from 1839 to 1922, did however run in 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.

Bernstein wanted to make Granada Television appear a close rival to the BBC and exaggerated the scale of the studios giving the floors only even numbers so that it appeared there were 12 floors in the building despite there only being six. The studios are operated by 3SixtyMedia, ITV Studios' joint-venture company with BBC Resources Ltd (now at BBC Manchester). The studios produce shows displaced by the closure of the Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds in 2009, including Channel 4's Countdown.

In September 2010, the 1950s famous red landmark "Granada TV" signs on the roof and entrance of Granada Studios on Quay Street were removed for safety reasons after maintenance found it was badly corroded. Some have claimed the sign will return to its 'rightful place'. The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has registered an interest in inheriting the sign, deeming it important to Manchester's cultural heritage.


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. ITV anticipated the BBC would buy the land but the BBC opted to move to the Peel Group's MediaCityUK development in Salford Quays. ITV considered relocating to Trafford Wharf across the Manchester Ship Canal from the BBC at MediaCityUK and discussions continued for several years and an agreement in principle was reached in 2008. In March 2009, in the recession, Granada announced it would remain at Quay Street, but after a change of management, talks resumed in January 2010. On 16 December 2010, Granada announced it would move to the Orange Building in MediaCityUK alongside the University of Salford and a studio to produce the ITV flagship soap opera Coronation Street would be built on the opposite bank of the ship canal on Trafford Wharf. Planning permission was granted and building work started on 6 September 2011. ITV Granada moved to MediaCityUK on 25 March 2013.


Throughout its history, Granada used the logo of an arrow pointing northwards in idents often accompanied by a tagline 'from the North'.

Granada Television was considered bolder than other franchisees and the BBC, and placed great emphasis displaying the northern style which distinguished it from them. Bernstein believed the north had untapped creative energy that needed cultivation.

In 1958, two years after its launch, Granada's northern style was apparent. Kenneth Clark, of the Independent Television Authority (ITA) which let the franchise, remarked: "We did not quite foresee how much Granada would develop a character which distinguishes it most markedly from the other programmes companies and from the BBC. Peter Salmon, of the BBC said: "Granada made TV programmes in the north; for northerners, reflecting northern culture and attitudes."


A Granada TV ident with the pointed G symbol from 1992

From the its launch in 1956 until 1968, when the pointed 'G' logo was introduced, the channel used captions and animations featuring a thin arrow pointing upwards and Granada, in a stylised font, in boxes. The arrow pointed at the "n" in Granada, pointing north and sometimes animated revealing the slogan 'From the North', before the Granada name. The pointed 'G' was originally white on a grey background but after the introduction of colour, grey was replaced with blue, with the name in yellow.

A colour emblem was used from the 1970s until it was replaced by a series of idents to celebrate Granada's 30th anniversary in 1986, when it was a computer animated pointed "G" against a graded background and a cake covered in candles in the pointed G shape. In 1987 Granada reverted to using a caption featuring a gold or chrome 3D pointed 'G' on a graded blue background.

Granada used in-vision continuity featuring northern personalities giving messages. It was common for the logo to be seen for a few seconds after the continuity before the programme, and continuity was rarely given over the symbol.

In 1989, Granada launched a look featuring a translucent pointed G which rotated into place in time to the music against a natural scene. When the first ITV generic look was launched, Granada refused to adopt it, because the Granada logo was incorrectly inserted into the 'V' segment of the logo. The company used a version where its translucent logo was used at the beginning, before continuing with the generic ident and ending with the generic ITV logo.

In 1990, Granada 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. Variations were seen from which the stripe formed from a falling feather or was backlit. In April 1992 the stripe descended, revealing a rainbow of colours before becoming the usual blue.

In 1994 Granada introduced a series of films featuring flags with its logo against various scenes in the region, accompanied by the slogan 'Setting the Standard'. These introduced local programming, Granada Reports, or promotions.

In 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 November 1999, when 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.

All the idents were replaced in 1999 when Granada took the generic hearts idents. Granada kept the pointed G logo, made slightly thinner and placed in a box at the top of the screen. The dual branding of Granada 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 placed under the ITV1 logo for regional programmes. This practice continued until 2006, when no name was used, and Granada Productions was replaced with ITV Productions on programme end boards. The Granada 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.

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. Firstly came the 'Red Arrow Television Rental' chain. During the days when many families preferred to rent their TV sets to offset poor reliability and changing fashions, this company fared well alongside the established heavy hitters such as Radio Rentals. The company's opening promotion was to give every new customer a small, Hiawatha style figurine to stand on top of their new TV set. Upon its success, the name was later changed to 'Granada TV Rental'. Based on the results of this company, Granada dipped its toes into the office furniture rental business, with 'Black Arrow'. This business was less successful.

On Bridge Street in Manchester, the adjacent street to the Granada TV studios, stands a dry cleaning business called Granada. Despite the company's logo and shop facia signs aping (until early in 2014 when their signage was revamped) exactly the Granada Television logo typeface, Granada Dry Cleaners is a wholly independent, family-run business – established in 1957 by Gerald and Ronnie Singer – and has no connection whatsoever with Granada TV or it subsidiaries.


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

Granada's boldness was seen in ambitious documentaries such as Seven Up! which premièred 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, premièred 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' and Paul Greengrass stated that David Plowright told him, "don't forget, your job's to make trouble." World in Action demonstrated hard-hitting investigative journalism and explored issues such as police corruption at the Metropolitan Police in 1985 and revealed the Royal Family's tax loophole in 1991. The programme led a campaign to prove the innocence of the Birmingham Six in 1985 when researcher Chris Mullin questioned the convictions and by 1991 the men had been released.

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 five peak-viewing episodes a week after 50 years, and is the longest-running soap opera in the world. The company produced gritty dramas such as A Family at War (1970–72).

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 and 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 Four. The programme introduced the idea of discussing what the newspapers were reporting, continued by Sunday Supplement and The Wright Stuff. 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 in the 1980s.

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 showcased the punk phenomenon, bringing the Sex Pistols and the Clash to our 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.