Tonight’s Granada TV… in 1963
22 Feb 2017 6 comments. tbs.pm/11131
The TVTimes tells us what was on Granada on Friday 22 February 1963. Things worth noting include:
- Schools programmes start at 11am with an early series of computer programming. In 1963 there were no microchips and thus no home computers at all. The machines used for this technology were each the size of a small room and some variants often ran on punched paper tape. The newer large machines were using reel-to-reel magnetic tape and needed complex mechanical maintenance. Computing was the coming thing and very much to the forefront of so-called modernity. It was the same era as the Labour opposition’s push into the politics of technology, skilfully deployed to make the Tory government seem out-of-date and stuffy. Programmes on television about computers were, as much as anything, hoping to encourage young people to feel at home with the idea of these machines entering corporate life; they were still the exclusive property of large firms and government departments. In this 1963 programme listing, the term “digital” does not mean what it indicates today but the nuts and bolts of a large calculating machine – dealing in numerical digits. Firms used these machines for finance, billing and stock control and many new careers were opening up in the field. This was recruiting material for young minds.
- The closed period from 11.25 to 2.35 was filled with test card and music, often classical in the case of the ITA, which had many followers at home as it was the only daytime entertainment alternative to the two BBC radio channels on air at that time of the day, which often would both have been carrying speech programming. Television was still in an era where its main rival and competitor was radio.
- The first two schools programmes listed came from Granada and, exclusively among ITV regions, the Northern TV Times showed the Granada name in their own house typeface. Whether Granada paid the TV Times to do this is unknown but it was a unique (weekday) habit that lasted in this region for many years.
- The Art of Music refers twice to “the pianoforte” rather than the piano, which seemed old fashioned even then. Nevertheless this was just the sort of programme to impress the ITA. Intended for schools, it could be enjoyed by an adults that happened to watching at home at this time, at a time when (occasional sport excepted) there was no weekday daytime programming for general viewers.
- Story Box at 3.00pm comes from Associated-Rediffusion in London and used Kenneth Kendall, the long-serving BBC newsreader and former Home Service announcer. He had originally been on the permanent BBC staff and thus unlikely to appear on Independent Television but this was a short period of non-Corporation before returning to BBC TV a few years later in a freelance capacity. It was unusual to see a notable BBC face on ITV at that time. This is a classic schools programme, written to entertain and educate at the same time, as the listing summary suggests.
- Test card and music reigned supreme again from 3.20 to 4.50, when five minutes of blank screen in silence would have preceded the famous daily “Granada March” at 4.55, leading to the next programming session at 5pm. Granada had the longest single daily opening theme in the network and liked to use their thrice daily self-promotion to plug their corporate identity. The blank screen in silence was a tension builder, in effect, before the march burst triumphantly onto the screen at exactly 4.54 and 20 seconds. Nothing was left to chance and the first programme was networked at 5pm on the dot. Granada tended to open at 5pm so that they could remain on the air until midnight – which was slightly later than some companies chose. ATV Midlands (weekdays) were often in bed by 11.15pm or 11.20pm – using their daily 7 hours allowance for a lunchtime entertainment programme which the Manchester contractor eschewed.
- Badger’s Bend at 5pm was one of the children’s ongoing weekly serials, for which Associated-Rediffusion were well known. Fresh drama for young viewers was an A-R speciality, in which many child actors had their first break.
- The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten was an Australian import and was a clever idea less well executed than it might have been. Within low budget constraints, it was nevertheless successful and oft repeated for years.
- The Beverly Hillbillies was a fairly new American import but would go on to be one of the most happy and long running situation comedies in world television history, making a millionaire of its creator Paul Henning. It was probably second only to I Love Lucy as among the most repeated comedy shows of all time.
- Scene at 6.30 (invariably actually starting at 6.35pm) was fairly new at this point and was beginning to plough its furrow as the most successful ITV non-networked topical news magazine of the sixties.
- Take Your Pick at 7pm and Emergency – Ward Ten at 7.30pm were long-running and staple income generators for A-R and ATV respectively. The ITA didn’t greatly like them – but the shareholders did.
- After US import Bonanza at 8pm, a quick cartoon is slipped in at 8.55pm before the premier newscast of the evening, from ITN at 9.00pm. A fifteen-minute slot was seen as a generous offer to ITN at the time and it would be another four and a half years before the demand for a full half-hour bulletin would gain traction with the TV bosses.
- Television Playhouse was a weekday attempt at matching the success long running ABC Weekend Armchair Theatre series and was a showcase for leading acting and writing talent. Though not as famous as the ABC version, it provided many opportunities to see television drama of a more heavyweight kind.
- The Verdict is Yours was a forerunner (by 9 years) of the successful later Crown Court format and allowed the viewers to guess the verdict in an imaginary court case before it was announced later, after the news headlines. ABC had tried something similar at weekends and it was a curious early form of schedule hammocking to keep the viewer from changing channels at the end.
- The late night Northern News (which at 10 minutes in length often included weather and sport items) led into the final programme, often announced by the local newsreader at that point, Close Up, which looked at new cinema releases and British showbiz gossip. This series was not an overwhelming success, being on at different times in different regions. Granada later took the format over from A-R and relaunched it a couple of years later as the renamed Cinema, initially with James Cameron but later with George Melly and Mike Scott. It was more successful than the A-R version here, and was (this time) fully networked. Always a bigger guarantee of success.
- Granada’s individualism in their then Pan-North franchise, continued with the use of the term “Goodnight” at midnight in the Northern TV Times – from Monday to Friday – whereas other regions and this region for ABC Weekend TV just listed “Closedown” at the end of the broadcast day.