Dear Mr Hargreaves… 

8 September 2016 tbs.pm/9628

6 October 1967

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your letter, I’m sorry I’ve not had time to reply earlier but things have been rather hectic lately, a threatened strike by Rediffusion staff and the anticipated death of Lord Attlee are just two of the things that have been keeping us on our toes.

You’ve asked a lot of questions and I’ll endeavour to answer them, so here goes. A book was published recently on TV announcing, I think it is called ‘Practical Television Announcing’ it is published by the Focal Press, but it costs 2 guineas, you could ask your local library to borrow it for you.

From the North Granada - local 1965

Owing to the limited demand for the book in this country the author has included a considerable number of things that are not applicable to English Television, but it is the most comprehensive study of the subject available.

A cheaper more general book is ‘Working in Television’, most libraries have a copy of this, it is usually shelved under ‘Careers’. The Annual ITV Handbook, price 7/6, if you have not already got a copy, is very interesting. The 1968 edition to be published early next year will give details of the new network set-up due to come into operation next Sept. Robin Day’s book ‘T.V. A Personal Report’ is very good, and Richard Baker’s ‘Here Is The News’ gives an interesting personal account of life in BBC-TV.

If you have received the impression that I play more opening music than my colleague (Don Murray-Henderson by name) then it is a false impression, because the same amount of music is always played. The opening procedure is detailed on the Daily Schedule. The music is called ‘The Granada March’ and was specially commissioned by Mr.Bernstein, no-one seems to know who the composer is, but your mother is quite right it does sound like Eric Coates. The music is taped, in fact it is on a Kassette, and comes directly from the studio central control room, Winter Hill as far as I know do not have a copy of the March, they do play some music from the transmitter but only when we are off the air, for instance in the afternoon between schools and ‘On Air’. During a break-down if they cannot get any sound from us they then play some music but I cannot remember when they last did so.

frankwhitby 2My title is ‘Station Announcer’ not ‘Transmission Announcer’, and the announcers do not control the music or the caption changes, this is done by the Transmission Controller and his assistant. We do sometimes take a caption change as a cue, but if music is being played we have to wait for his cue because we cannot judge whether the music has been toned down sufficiently. The announcer works from a small room called the announcers booth, it has a large double-glazed window that looks onto the Central Control Room where a bank of monitors is situated, but we do have a personal monitor that shows the picture domestic viewers are receiving. The booth is fully sound-proofed and as a further precaution we switch on a red light a minute before we go on the air, this is to warn people that they must not walk in. The announcers did work from a light cue once but it was a long time ago when Brian Trueman did some announcing. At the BBC they have a different system, the announcers do their own caption changes.

You have obviously done a good deal of research into television procedure and terminology, I must congratulate you. I think that you should now consolidate your knowledge by taking a trip around the studio. The best time to go into the studios is at lunch time (1.00 till 2.00) or at tea time (3.30 to 4.00), and if you wish to see the ’Coronation Street’ sets it will have to be on a Thursday or Friday. Drop me a line before your half-term and I’ll try to fit my arrangements in with yours.

Yours sincerely,

frankwhitby sig

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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12 responses to this article

Richard Jones 8 September 2016 at 5:18 pm

Absolutely fascinating!!

Pete Singleton 8 September 2016 at 5:47 pm

What a lovely letter. I doubt these days whether one would have had such a comprehensive reply!

Simon 9 September 2016 at 7:50 am

I got a brilliant letter from them in 1986 when I was a precocious brat demanding to go on Coronation Street.
Same letterhead, utterly beautiful penmanship and as polite as you like.
Still have it

Alan Keeling 9 September 2016 at 8:15 pm

Lovely politeness to an avid Granada viewer.

Paul Mason 11 September 2016 at 11:45 am

As a child I remember the voice of Don Murray Henderson on Granada, who sounded much older than he was. It fell to Brian Trueman to announce DMHs tragic death in a car crash aged just 31, which he did on Newsday, the regional news at 6pm.
The Granada March was composed by a Tony Lowry, but in 1967 it was replaced by a William Walton composition. There’s not much that got past this child. One wonders what today’s children soak up from TV
They’re more spoiled for choice than us 1960s children!

Paul Mason 11 September 2016 at 11:49 am

I forgot to add that Don’t Murray Henderson was the announcer on University Challenge, and his voice continued to be used till the end of the series after his death. Jim Pope took over from 1972-2001 when he died.

Paul Mason 11 September 2016 at 12:10 pm

Frank Whitby’s letter refers to the impending death of Clement Attlee, Prime.Minister 1945-51, which happened three days after the date on the letter..
I was fascinated as a child by TV procedures but only with the Internet did I become aware of sites like Transdiffusion.

Paul Mason 13 September 2016 at 4:15 am

Apologies for the Don’t instead of DON. As for Simon wasn’t the Granada Studios Tour up and running in 1986? I went with a group in 1989 on a wet (well it was Manchester!) March afternoon. Sadly this tour has long ceased and I’m not sure if the old Granada studios have been demolished, I know the old red GRANADA TV sign is in a museum.

garry robin simpson 14 September 2016 at 8:07 pm

Exactly the same thing happened to me.I phoned up Sky Television [As it was then in 1989,1990 and 1991 and in 1991 [Just to shut me up I think] went on a Saturday After noon to watch LIVE coverage to Sky of the Third Round of The U.S.P.G.A. Bob Hope Golf Classic.Sky paid for a fully paid Limo. Every body was very kind,even with my Cerebral Palsy,I was with John Davis [Then head of Golf at SKY,David Livingstone,The Colonel Bruce Critchley and a much younger former British Gymnast Suzanne Dando.I had a fully auto graphed book and a Sky Umbrella. A great day. At the time Sky were having an meeting about a possible second Sky Sports Channel. Sadly my Father became ill. Sadly my father died of Lung Cancer in 2002. RIP Thanks for the Memories.

John Moram 19 September 2016 at 10:38 am

I don’t think that Jim Pope immediately succeeded Don Murray-Henderson as the announcer on University Challenge. I believe that Bill Croasdale did a couple of series.

David Murray-Henderson 19 April 2017 at 12:26 am

As far as I am aware my father was succeeded by Jim Pope, I’m not sure if Bill Croasdale was ever an announcer on UC, I am investigating & willpost any news.

David Murray-Henderson 19 April 2017 at 12:39 am

As an addition to the caption under his photograph; Don was mostly an “Out -of-vision” announcer as that was the norm. Just prior to “in-vis” becoming accepted practice Don sustained severe facial injuries in a car crash and Granada considered him too facially scarred to appear in front of an audience. Don continued as Chief Announcer at Granada. Having undergone numerous facial repair operations, years later, Don was finally given the okay to appear when he was sadly fatally injured in a second car accident.

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