Between the lines 

14 June 2018 tbs.pm/66741

GRANADA TELEVISION

Date: 29 July 1968
Announcer: Don Murray Henderson (authority announcement); Frank Whitby (continuity)
Music: Prelude for Granada (also known as New March for Granada)
(William Walton)

 

When Granada moved from the pan-North weekday contract to a seven day franchise in the North-West only, there was a sudden revolution in its presentation style. This has often been put down to the departure from the region of the ABC influence. The dynamic presentation style of the former weekend contractor had tended to overshadow Granada’s dour and low-key approach, and the fact that the two day contractor had had a higher profile than the five-day one, spoke volumes about the minimalist approach that Granada had previously used.

The departure of ABC from the Northern scene, off to pastures new on London weekdays, gave Granada an opportunity for a re-think and they began to adopt some of the ABC ideas that they had formerly avoided.

The main problem with the image was the question of how Northern for Granada to be, when now only covering half of the former Northern region?

It was clear that the long lived slogan ‘from the North, this is Granada’ would need to be looked at, and the question of the arrow trademark would also have to be reviewed. An internal company debate discussed the merits of a new slogan ‘from the North-West’ but this seemed a less clearly defined concept at a time when broadcasting regions were largely defined by BBC radio practice. The term ‘Granada in the North-West’ appeared on local news shows and even had a jingle, but unlike its predecessor, was not used on networked idents, and the new jingle was very unpopular with the Bernsteins and did not persist. As for the arrow, it was decided initially to drop the concept and concentrate on the Granada name itself.

This policy was reversed a year later when a modified arrow made a reappearance, but for the initial phase of the new contracts, symbols were out and plain names were in. Transmission was still in black and white of course. An updating effect was achieved by replacing the traditional Granada typeface Keystone Bold Italic (the Letraset name; it is professionally available under the name Stymie) with a non-italicised font. Though liked by designers, the more conservative viewer may have sensed with dismay, a step away from established Granada tradition. Oddly, the italicised version of the type was kept on the illuminated signwork of the Granada building in Manchester, and was still there unamended forty years later, but has now sadly been removed in an act of cultural vandalism.

The then-fashionable new practice of ‘plain name without symbol’ was bolstered by the simultaneous launch policies of London Weekend, Thames and Harlech. Of the ‘big five’ only ATV and the new Yorkshire company maintained the tradition of geometrical icons for company recognition.

So it was that on launch day for the new contract period, the Granada identification caption newly consisted of the word GRANADA sandwiched between two horizontal lines – here at the end of the music but also seen in silence after the Walton piece had finished and before the announcer spoke. There was no arrow in sight and the familiar ‘from the North’ slogan was missing. As one concession to style, it was decreed that the word ‘GRANADA’ would always appear underlined. This policy was maintained for some time thereafter, including special ITA permission for use on the Picasso tuning signal.

Granada were the first company to look at the opening sequence and ask themselves how the purpose of this essentially ‘engineers procedure’ could be made more viewer friendly. To show a static caption for three or four minutes had been the standard for many years and it was thought that this daily event could be ‘beefed up’ by the introduction of a schools’ style countdown clock, leading up to the start of that session of company output.

With the further permission of the ITA, the Picasso card was cut down to a nominal two minutes and then a two minute countdown clock followed over the middle section of the music. Since November 1967 the company had been using the specially commissioned ‘New March for Granada’ by Sir William Walton and the structure of this excellent piece lent itself well to a middle section clock feature. Bernstein had approached Walton personally, as a composer from the North, and Bernstein was reputed to have paid Walton £5,000 for the piece, a large sum at the time.

This commission was made in 1962, but the payment neglected to include Musicians’ Union fees and Granada was faced with a large bill for its use. The company disputed the required payment and the music was left in limbo until 1967 – a whole 5 years! – when agreement was reached and the piece finally had its debut.

Some evidence of the new laid back Granada style can be deduced from the use of the casual ‘Good Evening!’ printed below the company name during the last verse. With weekday openings now at 4.40pm this was an ideal gesture, and an alternative variant was available for the new weekend morning openings when transmission hours were longer. Again this greeting was absent from schools’ start-up sessions.

This refreshed style of opening lasted Granada for many years, although a modified arrow motif was reintroduced into the ident about a year later.

Granada’s special ITA permission to use their own typeface on the Picasso caption was followed by the Authority allowing other companies to do the same, but the offer was taken up only by Granada and Grampian as far as records show. The Picasso card was swept away eighteen months later with the arrival of colour and so this ‘house typeface’ waiver period was a rare and short lived part of tuning signal history.


This article is based on another article by the same author that originally appeared in a slightly different form before 2000 as well as new material. It has been published with the addition of the animated Granada Television start-up recreation by Dave Jeffery.

You Say

2 responses to this article

NHewit 26 November 2018 at 1:13 pm

I can remember watching this start up sequence at my Grandmas, the television always was turned on at about 16.30, so that it could warm up in time for Peyton Place at 17.20, Granada at this time did not show ‘Crossroads’. The countdown caption was quite innovative and meant that as children we were not constantly questioning the adults about when the programmes would start.
I only saw the Granada opening sequence at Grandmas, usually on a Wednesday. When at home mum in common with most Middle class mothers had a preference for the BBC Children’s, which she regarded to be more educational.
The only time we viewed Channel 9 children’s programmes was when dad arrived home from work early, he particularly liked Thunderbirds and as a Country Western enthusiast ‘Five O Clock Club’ on Fridays, when Muriel Young’s co presenter was Country singer, Wally Whyton!
As we grew older we were able to chose our own viewing and Thames TV’S Magpie and the Tomorrow People were always viewed as was Southern TV’S, Freewheelers!

NHewit 30 November 2018 at 4:29 pm

One Granada Children’s programme that I enjoyed was ‘Anything You Can Do’, an Inter ITV Regional Knock out competition presented by the ubiquitous Chris Kelly, who also presented Campaign and was later to present the Companies Network Children’s Film Review Programme, ‘Clapper Board’.
Anything You Can Do involved Competitions in a diverse range of subjects, including the Performing Arts and Hobbies, the final part of each programme was a general knowledge quiz. Inevitably the regional Franchise areas with the larger populations had an advantage and it was not unusual for one of the Network Franchises to make it to the final, Thames/LWT, ATV, Granada or Yorkshire, some years both finalists represented the Big Five, particularly if they had been competing against the small fry, Channel, Westward, Grampian or Ulster in previous heats. The larger Regions such as Anglia, (which at the time the programme was produced still had the Belmont UHF transmitter and was broadcasting to an area extending from Southend to Bridlington), HTV and Southern were the only ones able to compete with the Network Regions and frequently one of the three reached the semi-final and on occasions the final itself. All the competitors performed against a green screen on which the respective Regional Franchise Logos were attached. The home company, Granada as I recall seemed to fare quite well, invariably reaching the quarter final, usually the semis and at least once the final itself, possibly due to some judicious scheduling on the part of the producers which saw Thames/LWT and ATV head to head in one of the earlier heats.
The programme was transmitted in the early seventies on Wednesdays. Wednesday at that time seemed to be the day when Granada provided at least one of the Network Children’s programmes; its original pop programme, ‘Lift Off with Ayshea’,(Brough) was also transmitted on a Wednesday The larger regional franchises, initially Southern with ‘Freewheelers’ and ‘Run Around’, later HTV West with the,’Clifton House Mystery’ and ‘Westway’, also seemed to make their Network Children,s TV appearance on Wednesday, Thames the bulk provider was curiously absent, even though on some Monday’s and Fridays all the Network Children’s programmes originated from Teddington Lock, Middlesex !

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