Tonight’s Granada TV… in 1963 

14 February 2018

Let’s start with a look at TVTimes itself – (heralded as the ‘Northern Edition’, number 380) – this edition has a publication date of 8 February. This was a Friday and the television week started on Sunday, unlike today when TV listing magazines always begin with Saturday’s programming reflecting the bumper night for grabbing viewers as Day One. At 5d a copy, (~2p in decimal), it’s a reasonable subscription that equates to around 42p today (but you had to buy the Radio Times as well if you wanted to know what was on BBC television and radio).

Often, TVTimes (and Radio Times) is a window on how times have changed and it’s always with a smile that some of the printed advertisements reflect this. The Sew Maid ‘Brand New Electric Portable’ (sewing machine) is ‘every woman’s dream’ (‘Fill in this coupon and post today’) and if the cost of £13.19.6 (£13.97½ in decimal, £285 allowing for inflation) is a bit too much all in one go, there’s ‘easy terms’ to be had.

If you’re ‘highly strung’, tired, worried about yourself, your job or your family then reach for the Sanatogen tablets. It promises to ‘build cells and nerve tissue’ and ‘ennourishes you with life giving protein – claims that couldn’t be made today!

This week’s cover fanfares a programme featuring American jazz artist Duke Ellington to be aired on Wednesday at 9.45pm and the promo directs us to pages 14–15 to read a piece by Johnny Dankworth. A bit of delving leads me to believe this was an Associated-Rediffusion (A-R) ‘spectacular’.

We go straight to page 35 and the listing for Thursday, February 14 – St Valentine’s Day. The header at the top of the page reminds us that we’re with Granada ‘on Channels 9 & 10’ and ‘presented by Granada TV Network’ – repeated on each day’s pages.

The day starts with For Schools at 11.40 and this will have been preceded by the test card followed by the daily start up routine that would have featured The Granada March (by the Tony Lowry Orchestra). Lowry was a ‘Granada Man’, having been Musical Director of the Bernsteins’ Granada Theatres, so it was a fitting start to the day.

By 1963, schools programmes had become a regular feature on Independent Television, with A-R paving much of the way from 1957. Granada however, held back until 1959 before taking the educational plunge, perhaps a little hesitant for a company that in many other ways was proud of its pioneering status. We see from today’s pages that A-R provides two schools programmes today, with Associated TeleVision (ATV) submitting one and Granada itself offering two.

We start with the science programme Discovery – No. 5 in the series – with Dr A Herzenberg. This was Granada’s first schools’ series shown in 1959 and today’s show is a repeat from Tuesday that was shown at 2.55. Note that the graphics were designed by future BAFTA award winner Brian Cosgrove who later teamed up with Mark Hall to form Cosgrove Hall Productions. An interesting aside is that at this time, the words ‘Granada TV Network Production’ appear in bold in the Granada ‘house’ font – all other credited programme company names are shown in the usual plain italics.

Closedown follows at 12.5 – it’s coming up to lunchtime in schools – and resumes at 1.0 with Granada’s Word and Image with Professor W M Merchant (d. 1997). Again Word and Image, like Discovery, is a repeat ‘of Wednesday’s programme at 2.55.’ We’re not given a synopsis of the content of this show – presumably it was felt that the title was enough of a clue. Merchant was a professor of English (amongst other things) at Exeter and had been ordained into the priesthood in 1941, later Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and Vicar of Llanddewi Brefi, Ceredigion. In one of his sermons he condemned, à la Whitehouse, all pop music as being “more dangerous pornography than anything on television” (so what he would have made of Little Britain, which put his old parish on the map, one can only surmise).

We’ve now got 80 minutes of closedown (which means another lovely start up routine at around 2.30) and For Schools continues with Notre Ville (‘Our Town’) – No. 5 Le Grande Chasseur (‘The Great Hunter’). Another A-R TV programme, this is listed completely in the French Language. All the actors’ names appear to indicate that they too are all French with the exception of Keith Pyott, an English actor who plays Le Général. It’s interesting to note that the production crew’s titles are also in French – ‘Redacteur’, ‘Realisation’, ‘Scenario’.

The World Around Us follows immediately at 2.50 (again, it’s No. 5 and another A-R TV offering). This programme, ‘introduced’ by Mike Hall, looks at inventor James Watt. It’s followed by an Interval rather than a complete closedown – time enough to get out of the TV room and bring the next class in…

Back to France at 3.15 with ATV – Ici la France and No. 15 in the series – L’Héritage de Napoléon. Again, all listed in the French language. There’s an interesting little montage inserted above the title of the programme showing a typical French scene: the Metro sign, the Eiffel Tower (well, the bottom half), buildings and what appears to be a Gendarme waving or possibly directing traffic.

The school day out of the way, we go to a closedown until 4.25 and another start up. Start ups were always an exciting affair for those of us who relished the mounting tension as the station’s signature music reached its crescendo and signalled the evening’s ‘proper’ broadcasting. It was akin to waiting for the curtain to rise before the film started at the local cinema and has been likened to me by Kif Bowden-Smith as almost ‘theatrical’. I miss start-ups in these days of mainstream 24 hour television and even channels such as BBC Four that start in the evening make little of each day’s opening.

However, if you were watching Granada on Channel 10, closedown continued until 5.0 as viewers on Channel 9 got a five-minute Welsh news bulletin at 4.25 (Newyddion y Dydd) followed by Television Wales and West (TWW) Welsh Language Network Production, Amser Te, (Tea Time), a magazine programme introduced by Myfanwy Howell. This show was aimed at women and featured regular cookery items and general interest. The show ran for 10 years on TWW from 1958–68 and Granada took it as part of its commitment to its Welsh audience in Flint, Prestatyn and Rhyl on the north Wales coast and Wrexham until Teledu Cymru (WWN) opened in the area in 1962.

Granada’s own Criss Cross Quiz kicks off the evening at 5.0 (there was also a Junior Criss Cross Quiz). The noughts and crosses general knowledge quiz was a popular contest of the day and was based on the US NBC series Tic Tac Dough. Asking the questions in this edition is Mark Kelly but strangely, I can find no reference to this presenter in any research.

If this show had been produced today, there’s no doubt computer graphics would be employed for the noughts and crosses board but there are fond memories of the rotating categories (accompanied by appropriate jingle) often getting stuck or being turned too far (and then turned back!) One can imagine the mechanical set up behind the board being revolved by some hapless youth, eager to further his Granada career…

The ‘Junior’ version rang alongside the ‘grown ups’ quiz, presenters in both versions through the years included amongst others Bob Holness (a great father-figure later in Central’s Blockbusters), Chris Kelly, Jeremy Hawk, Peter Wheeler, Bill Grundy and Barbara Kelly (Braden), who always appeared to me not to have a clue of what the quiz show was all about. Pop singer Mike Sarne (Will I What?) seemed a strange choice of presenter for a time but to be fair, he had a reasonable career in acting, writing and directing too although I personally do not recollect his stint on CCQ.

There’s a ‘first in a new series’ at 5.25. Pony Express was a US import created by California National Productions and set in 1860 and was based around the Central Overland Express Company, a stagecoach whose remit was to deliver the mail at all costs, travelling thousands of miles across the hostile American west. The TV listing shows a newspaper advertisement:

‘WANTED. Young skinny wiry fellows, not over eighteen… Must be expert riders and willing to risk death daily… Orphans preferred…’

Watch out for ‘Indians’ and mountain lions!

We go to news at 5.55, plainly listed as News and ‘From ITN’. No pussyfooting around with a grand title in those days… but there are fond memories of the great ITN theme Non-Stop by John Malcolm, used for all main bulletins at the time. It was (and still is) a great composition but far too jolly for today’s news climate.

Another US TV series follows at 6.5 – a Screen Gems production first broadcast on ABC (US) – Our Man Higgins, starring our very own Stanley Holloway as an English butler (what else?). American series were aired through the week in this time slot – others were Grindl (Imogen Coca); The Beverley Hillbillies (Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer Jr, Nancy Kulp); and The Patty Duke Show (Patty Duke, William Schallert).

Granada’s flagship local news magazine Scene at 6.30 goes on air at… 6.30 (but sometimes 6.35). The title is sufficient – we aren’t told this is a Granada TV production on the listing but of course, all Granadalanders know that this is their very own local and regional news programme. In fact, Scene was getting the highest ratings of any regional magazine programme in the UK. The ITA itself recognised that it was the ‘best regional magazine on ITV’. Praise indeed.

Mike Scott in 1967

Presenters aren’t credited, but among them over the years were Michael Scott, Bill Grundy and Michael Parkinson. On the production team was John (Johnnie) Hamp who was responsible for the appearance on Scene of The Beatles, Cilla Black and others. He went on to produce some notable musical TV specials featuring The Music of Lennon and McCartney, The Bacharach Sound and later produced The Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club.

Granada takes A-R’s Double Your Money at 7.0 – the ‘popular quiz game with the £1,000 Treasure Trail’ starring Hughie Green. The show’s roots spring from Radio Luxembourg, transferring to ITV on its launch in 1955. ‘Chirpy’ cockney Monica Rose, a former contestant on the show, was retained by Green as one of his female hostesses and she appeared from 1963–68; there was briefly a ‘singing’ spot’ on the show with Julie Demarco. Rose remained for a time on DYM’s spinoff, Yorkshire TV’s The Sky’s the Limit. She remained in showbusiness until 1977 and married a Baptist minister but sadly took her own life in 1994 after severe depression.

Green’s history is now well known but there’s no doubt of his popularity at the time and he went on to host – (again, another Luxembourg radio show that transferred to television) – ABC’s (later Thames’) Opportunity Knocks!

Alfie Bass and Bill Fraser star in Bootsie and Snudge at 7.30 (this is a Thursday, so no Coronation Street) along with appearances by Clive Dunn (Dad’s Army) and Robert Dorning as the ‘Hon Sec’. The show was a spin off from The Army Game, a ‘National Service’ comedy and another Granada sitcom. If you lived through this era, you will remember Claude Snudge’s catch phrase ‘I’ll be leaving you now, Sir’, ever hoping for some small financial recompense…

Another western at 8.0 – NBC’s The Deputy starring Henry Fonda as (Chief) Marshall Simon Fry. Note De Forest Kelly is listed as ‘Farley’, later Dr (Bones) McCoy in Star Trek. Fonda played the lead in only six of the 76 episodes made however, with his duties in Silver City being delegated to his Deputy Clay McCord (Allen Case).

Hancock’s Half Hour/The Tony Hancock Show (BBC radio and television) was staple viewing in the late 50s and early 60s, but at 8.30, we see that ATV had lured him to the commercial channel. Here it’s plainly listed as ‘starring Tony Hancock’ but appearing with the lad from East Cheam at various points in this 13 episode series were Denholm Elliot, Wilfrid Lawson, Fanny Rowe, Patrick Cargill and others. Writers included Terry Nation, Dennis Spooner and Ray Alan. IMDb lists Hancock himself as Executive Producer throughout its run.

Andrew Gardner (1932-1999)

It’s News (‘from ITN’) at 9.0 (a 15 minute newscast) and like the 5.55 bulletin, we won’t know who the newscaster is until we tune in. It’s likely however that Sandy Gall, Alastair Burnet or Andrew Gardner would have been one of the hosts at the time. We’re four years before the News at Ten era ushered in a fixed roster of newscasters.

This Week was A-R’s networked flagship weekly current affairs show that Granada takes at 9.15 (although its own pioneering World in Action was generally harder hitting albeit a different beast). Brian Connell introduces and there’s a host of well-known reporters of the day. The preamble tells us its remit: ‘The crimes, controversies, scandals, the triumphs and disasters which affect us all are brought into focus’… This is clever (whether intentional or not), as the opening titles begin with a full-on shot of a turret camera rotating its lenses (‘bringing into focus’?) Well, maybe. The theme music was from Sibelius’ Karelia Suite – to my mind a great piece of music that fitted This Week perfectly. The series was replaced by TV Eye in 1979, although there was a revival by Thames in 1986 until the company lost its franchise to Carlton.

A-R continues to dominate the evening at 9.45 with its Tales of Mystery – ‘adapted for television by John Richmond’. This supernatural tale, ‘A Case of Eavesdropping’, stars John Laurie (later Private Fraser in Dad’s Army) as Algernon Blackwood (the author) who introduces the story. The series ended in 1963, so this was likely to have been its last run.

More from A-R at 10.15 with It Happened Like This and The Man Who Would not Play Cards. Billed as Stories from ‘Sapper’, notable players are Tony Britton and David Hemmings. Danvers Walker is also listed – is this Bob Danvers-Walker? I don’t know. (Answers on a postcard please).

It’s getting late and there’s just an hour of telly to go before the white dot. But before the cat gets put out, there’s another ITN bulletin, News Headlines at 11.0 followed by Northern Newscast (Granada’s Northern news bulletin). It’s interesting as ITV generally referred to ‘newscasts’, rather than ‘The News’ and certainly, ITN referred to its presenters as newscasters not newsreaders. There are subtle differences and arguably the same thing, although a reader is seen as more of an ‘anchor’.

After the national headlines and Northern Newscast, ITN gets another slot with Roving Report, which takes a ‘longer look at life and events overseas’. Listed as an ITN production the word ‘roving’ was much in vogue, signifying how television brings the world into the home. No electronic news gathering yet, so cans of film were rushed back to the UK as quickly as the transport of the day would allow.

A repeat of Four Just Men finishes off our evening with the Granada TV Network. Jack Hawkins, Dan Dailey, Richard Conte and Vittorio De Sica star in ‘Justice for Gino’ as ‘the quartet formed to fight injustice’. Distributed by Lew Grade’s ITC, the series was made by Sapphire Films. Sapphire was also responsible for The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and The Buccaneers, all widely taken by the ITV network.

It really is time for bed now, with Granada using every single allowable minute to the stroke of midnight.

Me? I’m off to bed myself, ready for the next start up on Friday – the last ‘Granada day’ of the week before it signs off until Monday, making way for a dazzling ABC Weekend from Saturday morning, complete with much welcome in-vision continuity and two glorious days of that wonderful ident.

And yes, I will switch off and put out the cat.

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You Say

5 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 14 February 2018 at 3:32 pm

A new western series began at 5.25 called Pony Express (1959/60) starring Grant Sullivan, Granada began the series at episode 2, or the second of 2 pilot episodes of this one season western, ideal for younger audiences.

Alan Keeling 14 February 2018 at 3:41 pm

After the ITN News came Our Man Higgins (1962/63), a likeable one season US sitcom featuring Stanley Holloway as the typical English butler to an American family, on its forth episode.

Alan Keeling 14 February 2018 at 3:52 pm

The Deputy (1959/62) was a prime time Western series. A Top Gun production for Revue Studios, it ran for two seasons. Granada was on its second season with episode 25. The last US show of the evening.

Alan Keeling 14 February 2018 at 4:04 pm

The final programme of the day was The Four Just Men (1959 ITC/Sapphire) and a first repeat run with the final episode of this rotating character series. Granada repeated this series again in 1970/71.

Arthur Nibble 16 February 2018 at 11:21 am

Going back to the ads, I’ve never heard of Geeps cough pastilles before, but makers Smith Kendon (owned in the recent past by Kraft and Wrigley’s) are well known for those round tins of travel sweets you find in chemists.

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