A day out to Quay Street 

7 November 2017 tbs.pm/14100

Shot of Granada’s studios in Manchester used for promotional purposes on air

Tom Hargreaves writes…

 

An exciting day for me: 3 November 1967. My Mother was unable to accompany me (she was very pregnant with my sister at the time) so an Aunt was substituted to be my companion as I took Frank Whitby up on his invitation to visit Granada TV at Quay Street in Manchester.

On arrival at TV Centre reception and stating our business to a uniformed commissionaire, we were met by Frank Whitby, Granada continuity announcer, and after introductions, our tour began. First stop was the Central Control Room (CCR), hub of TV Centre. My recollections estimate this was situated somewhere in the older/original part of the building. On entering the CCR area, a door to the right led to the announcers’ booth. This was a sound-proofed room, approximately 8′ by 8′ (2.5m × 2.5m). The room contained a desk and chair in front of a glass screen with a view on to the central control room itself. A microphone was strung between two side walls of the booth and on the desk was a TV monitor (showing, I think, the transmission programme) and a clock.

Central (or Continuity) Control Room

The central control room, I remember less. It contained the usual bank of monitors, desks for transmission controllers, logging clerk and facilities to play music.

I visited other areas of the TV Centre. A recording of Coronation Street was taking a break. As well as seeing some of the sets – which I thought looked quite shabby and ‘small’ (amazing how television can make things seem so real!). Peter Adamson, aka Len Fairclough, was just leaving the studio after filming.

The start of colour on ITV was, at that time, just under two years away and engineers were engaged in fine-tuning and developing techniques to enable satisfactory production. I saw myself, on TV and ‘in colour’, in a testing lab. Colour TV was not in most people’s minds at that time, though BBC-2 had started colour transmissions earlier that year.

Granada’s cloudy clock

I also remember seeing the Granada ‘clock’ (the one with a cloudy background). It was situated in a corner of what may have been the telecine room. It had a bench-mounted static camera permanently focussed on it, I guess so it could be viewed ‘off air’ by monitors in the CCR. Placed next to the clock were the Granada weather captions. Magnetic boards on which the latest forecast could be attached: ‘windy’, ‘rain’, etc. I assume these were placed in front of the static camera when required (just before nightly closedown).

The telecine room

My visit to Granada, was a long time ago (nearly 50 years) and my recollections now are rather hazy. That day was also the last on which the ‘Granada March’ (Tony Lowry Orchestra) was played. From the Monday following, the ‘New March for Granada’ (by William Walton, re-orchestrated by Gilbert Vinter as “March for Concert Band”) was substituted.

Letters to ITV companies were generally answered on typed postcards (as here) or small letterhead

Frank Whitby left Granada during the year after my visit. ITV/Granada had entered (another) period of industrial action, affecting programmes and performers. Mr Whitby seemingly felt he needed to pursue other career options.

As a footnote, my Mother, who had been honest about my absence from school to visit Granada, received a visit from the education attendance officer. She was told that “other pupils could have benefited from the visit to Granada”. “Next time, you’ll have a cold”, was my Mother’s comment to me! As for me, having what I thought an obscure and (fairly) solitary hobby, I did not imagine my school, teachers, ‘pupils’, would have much interest. How wrong I was and how I wish I’d known about the ‘Transdiffusion children’ during my years growing up in rural Lancashire.

Frank Whitby writes…

 

Frank Whitby writes…

GRANADA TELEVISION
M A N C H E S T E R

15 AUGUST 1968

DEAR TOM

AT LAST I GET AROUND TO REPLYING TO YOUR LETTERS, I’LL START OFF BY ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS.

THE ONLY RECORDED ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE BY THE STATION ANNOUNCER ARE PROMOTION TAPES, THESE ARE MADE IN THE STUDIO AT THE WEEKLY PROMOTION SESSION, IT USUALLY TAKES TWO HOURS AND IS RATHER COMPLEX BECAUSE FILMED 16MM ÀND 35 MM FlLM INSERTS ARE INTER-MARRIED WITH CAPTIONS AND ANNOUNCER VOICE OVERS. SOME COMPANIES ALSO RECORD SLIDE COMMERCIAL VOICE OVERS BUT THIS IS NEVER DONE AT GRANADA.

YOU ARE RIGHT, THE CLOCKS IN CENTRAL ARE VERY EXPENSIVE, ESPECIALLY THE ONE IN THE ANNOUNCERS BOOTH BECAUSE IT IS A SILENT MECHANISM. CHECKING THE CLOCK AGAINST THE GPO ‘TIM’ IS ONE OF THE JOBS ALLOTTED TO THE ASSISTANT TRANSMISSION CONTROLLER, HE USUALLY DOES THIS SEVERAL TlMES A DAY.

THE NEW ANNOUNCER IS NOT JOHN KELLY BUT I AGREE THAT HE SOUNDS LIKE HIM.

I WOULDN’T SAY THAT DAPHNE HAS PUT ON WEIGHT, THE CAMERA ANGLE AND THE POOR LIGHTING GAVE A FALSE IMPRESSION.

EVERYONE |N CENTRAL IS NOT FEELING WELL, IN FACT THEY ARE ALL FEELING QUITE S|CK BECAUSE OF THE STRIKE. IT IS NOT THAT THEY DISAGREE WITH THE ACTION TAKEN, IT’S THE SUDDEN STOP IN THEIR EARNING POWER. THIS IS UNDERSTANDABLE ESPECIALLY JUST BEFORE MANY OF THEM WERE DUE TO TAKE THEIR SUMMER HOLIDAYS. AND MY IMPRESSION IS THAT IT WILL CONTINUE FOR SOME TIME. BUT THE VIEWERS DON’T SEEM TO MIND VERY MUCH, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO THOUGHT THAT THEY WOULDN’T SEE DAVID HAMILTON ANYMORE.

I LEFT GRANADA LAST FRIDAY, AND I WASN’T SORRY, IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST BORING WEEKS I HAVE EVER SPENT. FROM 20 TO FIVE ON MONOAY I DIDN’T DO A STROKE OF WORK, THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO IT IS ALL COMING FROM LONDON.

I DID NOT RENEW MY CONTRACT BECAUSE I HAVE TO RETURN FOR A WHILE TO THE FAMILY BUSINESS, BUT I’LL BE RETURNING TO THE SHOW-BIZ SCENE NEXT YEAR.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST, AND FOR YOUR LETTERS, AND GOOD LUCK.

YOURS FAITHFULLY,

Frank Whitby at Granada

 

A Granada in-house schedule from Tuesday 1 December 1970

 

Elsewhere on Transdiffusion: Dear Mr Hargreaves… – a lovely letter in 1967 explains how Granada TV presentation works

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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1 response to this article

Dave Rhodes 14 November 2017 at 1:10 pm

Fascinating Granada running order there – puzzled by the 7pm hour though. There are two breaks labelled ‘max 3.40’, which would add up to 7 minutes 20, taking them over the seven minutes then allowed in a clock hour. And the breaks don’t appear to be filled either – was this a provisional schedule awaiting further ad sales to be added perhaps?

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