Tonight’s Granada TV… in 1960 

28 March 2018 tbs.pm/65804

It’s Monday 28 March 1960 and the start of another Granada week. ABC Weekend Television allows itself a lie-in but Quay Street is up and running for five days of networking from the Emley Moor and Winter Hill transmitters across ‘northern’ England – Lancashire, the North Wales coast and the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire. The massive ‘pan-north’ region is probably the most coveted of all ITA franchises and we’re eight years away from it being split under the 1968 franchise round, with Yorkshire Television winning the Ridings.

Granada is less than four years old (its fourth birthday will be on 3 May) and it’s yet to take a risk on Tony Warren’s Florizel Street, which will cautiously launch as a short week series in December with the now famous title Coronation Street.

We’ve paid our ‘fourpence’ [about 1¾p in decimal, 37p in 2018 allowing for inflation] for the TV Times (and probably splashed out on Radio Times too), so let’s take a look at what’s inside. We’re going to look at the first day of Granada’s TV week – but first, the cover promotes a new programme that starts on Friday at 6.30, The Adventures of Biggles. This is a Granada-produced series and will run for 44 episodes of 30 minutes apiece and stars Neville Whiting as James Bigglesworth (Biggles is a nickname), with sidekicks John Leyton (Ginger) and David Drummond as Bertie.

So to page 26 for a look at the day’s viewing on the commercial channel. We’re a bit before we realised we lived in ‘Granadaland’ – the term hadn’t yet been dreamed up – and my recollection is that whilst we were vaguely aware that a company called Granada Television provided our programmes, we tended to watch ‘the I.T.A.’ (with full stops after the initials) or ‘the B.B.C.’ There’s another four years before the national broadcaster gets a second channel, so ‘turn over’ and ‘what’s on the other side?’ were common expressions in households ‘with television’ – or at least, those that had forked out for a separate tuner for ITV or bought (or rented) a new set that could receive both channels and had the additional aerial strapped to the chimney stack.

The northward pointing Granada ‘arrow’ appears at the top of the page with the channel numbers 9 (Winter Hill) & 10 (Emley Moor). The corporate Granada typeface (known as ‘Stymie’) is already established and whilst there are on-screen changes over the years, the style generally remains in place until 2010 when the iconic lettering is finally and sadly removed from what is the first operational building in the country designed specifically for television production (BBC Television Centre is still to open for business some three months from now). For the inquisitive, there’s more to be had on Granada fonts by referring to Dave Jeffery’s comprehensive article Granada Writes (February 2002).

Start up commences around 11.30 until Discovery – the only schools programme scheduled – goes on air at 11.40. It’s Granada’s own production and this is No. 10 in the series, designed for sixth form science students. Sir Edward Bullard presents ‘Tasks for the Future’. Bullard, a Norfolk man by birth was a respected geophysicist who laid much of the founding work in the field of marine geophysics. Eric Harrison who came to Granada prior to its opening from BBC North directs.

Closedown from 12.10 means an afternoon of the testcard until the Granada March and start up for NEWS A bulletin in Welsh at 4.20 but on Channel 9 from Winter Hill only, followed by Dewch I Mewn (roughly ‘Come In…’). Listed as ‘songs and topical discussion from Wales’, the show featured Owen Edwards, Mair Williams and Colin Jones with direction by Pauline Shaw, who later went on to direct episodes of Coronation Street from 1961-1965.

So let’s settle down now to the teatime programming offered by Granada. We’re into the hour before the news and children’s programming rules under the watchful eye of the Children’s Advisory Committee, set up under the 1954 Television Act. Firstly, it’s Seeing Sport from ATV, a series that looks at a different sport each week and we’re told by TVTimes that the Boat Race is in the news so appropriately, ‘young viewers’ are taken to Putney to learn the techniques of rowing. The instructor (and commentator) is Derek Drury of Emmanuel School, Wandsworth and future coach of both Oxford and Cambridge boat race teams, with Peter Lloyd. Michael Style is the director.

Swashbuckling adventure (often aimed, it seems, at boys) was a feature of children’s television of the time (Robin Hood, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Lancelot et al) and at 5.25, we see the self-effacing Roger Moore in his first major television role Ivanhoe. The series was based on the work of Sir Walter Scott’s novel and was a Screen Gems (Columbia)/Sydney Box co-production. The Executive Producer was Peter Rogers (later, Carry On…) with tonight’s episode being directed by Lance Comfort. Much of the series of 39 episodes was filmed at ABPC’s Elstree Studios, the county of Buckinghamshire and some in California. The series was filmed in black and white, although the pilot was in colour.

It’s 5.55 and ITN brings us the news – it could have been Tim Brinton in the chair but we don’t get told. Brinton arrived at ITN from the BBC in 1959 and remains there until 1962. He later becomes a Kent county councillor and Liberal MP for Gravesend. Ten minutes was deemed enough time for the news at teatime and even the later bulletin at 9.25 offers only the same amount of time. It’s hard to explain to the current generation that there was a time when 24-hour news channels (an endeavour in which ITN later failed miserably) were unknown.

Scene at 6.30 hasn’t yet materialised, so Northern Newscast goes live at 6.5 – ‘Granada’s own bulletin’ that brings us up to date with ‘the latest news of the North to the North’. When Scene starts in 1963, the 6.5 slot becomes half an hour of American sitcommery, although Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds is chopped in half by Granada when it hits the ITV network in September 1965, with Granada starting it a month later at 5.25, with Part 2 after the 5.55 news. (What were they thinking of?)

I’m at a loss to say much about Who Goes Next? at 6.10 but it appears to be a political discussion with two MPs – Richard Crossman (he of the ‘Diaries’) and Peter Thorneycroft, Journalist. Satirist Malcolm Muggeridge, arch Monty Python’s Life of Brian opponent (and later, it turns out, ‘serial groper’ at the BBC) is in there too. (Who remembers him in the short-lived 1965 satirical BBC3, the show that morphed out of TW3 and Not so Much a Programme…?)

Mr Jinks and Yogi Bear

Enough of the serious stuff for the moment, let’s have a bit of American cartoon humour at 6.30 with Huckleberry Hound and his friends Yogi Bear and Pixie and Dixie the two cute little mice that resembled Jerry from Tom and Jerry. The time slot suggests it’s not really aimed at children. ‘Mr Jinks’ isn’t listed (think ‘Tom’ but nicer) but listen out for that catch phrase… ‘I hate those meeces to pieces!’ Hanna-Barbera (William Hanna and Joseph Barbera) Productions was part of the TV diet and remained so through the 60s, with other series such as Quick Draw McGraw (which included Snagglepuss (‘Heavens to Murgatroyd!’), The Flintstones (alarmingly, although not of course seen in UK airings, Fred, Barney and Wilma happily promoted Winston cigarettes, one of the sponsors of the show), The Jetsons and one of my favourites, Jonny Quest. There were more, but I digress, as it’s seven o’clock and time for Sea Hunt.

Lloyd Bridges stars in this ‘thrilling underwater adventure’ – a syndicated series produced by Ziv Television Programs and United Artists Television. Four series were made with production ceasing in 1961 after 155 episodes. Bridges (Mike Nelson, a former US Navy frogman) was for a period blacklisted as a member of the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre whose connections with communist activities was viewed as subversive by the House (of Representatives) un-American Activities Committee. The series was for Bridges therefore, a gateway to redemption.

Hughie Green (‘the comedy master of quiz)’ draws the viewers in for the evening with Associated-Rediffusion’s Double Your Money billed as ‘another programme of questions, laughter and big money prizes’. The organist (there was always an organist on this show and others such as Take Your Pick) is Robin Richmond. I’ve no evidence, but the presence of an organist on this strand of early ITV shows (and even later with the late Peter Fenn on Anglia’s Sale of the Century), seems to have its roots in music hall, seaside entertainment and the local picture houses. Note that this is an ‘Associated-Rediffusion Network Presentation’ – the series was produced by Arlington Television and Radio Ltd but later, it became a sole A-R production until the company lost its franchise in 1968.

Granada takes ATV’s The Arthur Haynes Show at 8.0. Haynes was an amazingly popular entertainer of the time and appeared in over 150 shows for ATV, winning the Variety Club’s ITV Personality of the Year award in 1961. His ‘tramp’ persona was dreamed up by Johnny Speight and became more or less what he is now remembered for. Singer Aileen Cochrane appears in this edition of the show (she later married ATV’s Val Parnell). Nicholas Parsons is the straight man and his regular appearances sets him up for his career in television, although he had acting experience from the end of the 2nd World War and, (pub quizzers please note), was the voice of Tex Tucker in Gerry Anderson’s Four Feather Falls. Colin Clews produces, whose extensive credits later include Grotbags, Emu’s Wide World, Emu’s World, Des O’Connor Entertains, Shut That Door!, The Golden Shot, and Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

There’s nothing like a good western series on 1960s telly and Wagon Train is remembered by today’s babyboomers for those wagons that wended their weary way from Missouri to the great west. Not that we knew, but its fifth season was shot in colour to boost sales of RCA ‘Color’ sets but strangely reverted to black and white when it transferred from NBC to ABC (US) for its sixth season.

With just over two and a half hours’ viewing left before closedown, we switch to the newsroom of ITN for the latest stories and then ATV provides a networked production in Probation Officer. This was the first hour-long drama shown on ITV and writer Julian Bond used many real-life cases in his research. IMDb tells me that the series was even used to support a piece of legislation to the House of Commons. Jack Howarth, yet to be cast as ex-Lancashire Fusilier Albert Tatlock in Coronation Street, is listed as Mr Boyd. I’ve discovered that Howarth (who later was awarded the MBE) ran his own theatre in Colwyn Bay from 1935 and his ashes are buried in the town.

Elaine Grand presenting ‘Good Afternoon’ on Thames in 1977

Granada’s Searchlight at 10.30 ‘turns its beam’ on hire purchase, still seen by some at the time as something not quite respectable. Bill Grundy introduces and Elaine Grand interviews. A Canadian by birth, Ms Grand worked for CBC (Canada) before arriving in England to join the emerging commercial channel. Peter Denton, in his Guardian obituary, describes Grand as an interviewer of ‘perception and intuition’. Before coming to England, she was in the 1950s ‘simply the most famous woman in Canada’ due to her work with the Canadian public broadcaster. She later worked at Thames, alongside Mavis Nicholson, Mary Parkinson and Judith Chalmers. Early appearances of Ms Grand saw her working on Granada’s ground-breaking coverage of the Rochdale by-election of 1958, the first time an election was covered in full by British television and which became the template for much of future election broadcasting.

There’s a quick look at the News Headlines at 11.0 before the lights go out on Quay Street after Monday’s Feature Film: Ghost Ship (1952). The film stars the dashing Dermot Walsh and Hazel Court (to whom Walsh was married at the time). Notably, Joss Ackland (listed in TVTimes as ‘Josh’) plays Ron and Ian Carmichael (Bertie Wooster of the 1965s BBC Television series World of Wooster) has a brief part, although he’s not shown in the cast list here. Interestingly, IMDb notes ‘music by Eric Spear’ – the composer who wrote the theme for Coronation Street and much earlier, BBC’s The Grove Family.

Another Granada day is over at precisely the stroke of midnight – but don’t expect a friendly in-vision continuity announcer to smile and say Goodnight. The Bernsteins would have none of it, considering such frivolity as not in keeping with the company image. We have to wait until Sidney Bernstein retires in the 1970s before (amongst others) Messrs Pope, Foster and Weston grace our screens. If you really want an in-vision continuity fix however, there’s just four days to your ABC Weekend feast.

It’ll be worth the wait.


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6 responses to this article

Alan Keeling 27 March 2018 at 3:48 pm

Studying the service area map for Granada, it’s understandable that Granada could be also received in the middle and Northern parts of the Midlands (ATV) region.

Alan Keeling 27 March 2018 at 4:07 pm

In the 6.30 slot, The Huckleberry Hound Show is much loved by adults as well as children and spawned a spin-off series called The Yogi Bear Show also shown on Granada.

Alan Keeling 27 March 2018 at 4:18 pm

Another US series in the 7pm prime slot is Sea Hunt (1958/61) starring Lloyd Bridges as deep sea diver Mike Nelson. Another series with a colour pilot episode entitled, Mark of the Octopus.

Arthur Nibble 28 March 2018 at 12:10 pm

I’ve never seen or noticed a feature film that’s just one hour long before.

steve brown 28 March 2018 at 3:13 pm

And here’s another fact about Jack Howarth-when he was drama teacher at the Rydal school in Colwyn Bay,one of his pupils was William Roach,who would both meet up again in Coronation Street

Bernard Robinson 21 May 2018 at 1:41 am

Scene at 6.30 was introduced by ex Radio London (pirate) DJ Earl Richmond when I stayed one weekend in 1967 with a Uni friend in Ainsdale arriving on the Friday.
Also in 1958, Southern featured Tales of Popeye at 5.25pm on a Monday(Granada night) and Thursday, parented by Granada TV.

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